Thank you to Erik Blair for helping with this article, Kevin Hsu for filming the experience, and Jon Kobryn for editing the video! Read on to learn more about Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Box and The Séance at Midsummer Scream 2019.
Cross Roads Escape Games in Anaheim, California, is home to one of the most beloved and best escape rooms in Southern California, The Hex Room, which nostalgically parodies horror movie tropes by assigning players character types (i.e., Nerd, Jock, Virgin) and separates them to see if they can escape from a serial killer. With their most recent room, The Psych Ward, they pit teams of friends against each other to see who is the most insane of the bunch. Cross Roads is no stranger to Midsummer Scream, and this year they brought not one, but two experiences for guests to enjoy: The Box, a throwback to The Psych Ward, and The Séance, a tease for their new immersive experience coming in October.
What’s in The Box?!?
The titular box is made for one person. One insane person – and four of their friends. It has been designed by the doctors in the institution to sweat the crazy out of a troublesome patient – in this case, me.
I step inside and sit on a small bench as the box is shut – and locked – around me. Only my head can feel the breeze of the convention hall; my body is subjected to an ever-increasing amount of steam.
The doctor sets the timer for 10 minutes and points to the temperature gauge on the front of the box. “We haven’t had much luck with this experiment in the past, most patients die when the temperature gets into the danger zone. But maybe we’ll be lucky this time.” He walks away from me and my friends who are free to move around the box.
Uh oh… Now the box is really starting to fill up with smoke and it’s getting hot inside…
The Box is a ten-minute escape game for 3-5 players, with one poor soul stuck inside. With four giant magnetic locks keeping one teammate inside, the team must work together to save the restrained patient from the extreme heat. The Box is a great example of collaborative escape room puzzle ideas. The puzzles each required multiple people working together to unlock the four different locks that restrain the patient inside. Whether it meant using multiple people’s hands or figuring out the relationships between what the person inside could determine and what that meant on the outside, this was a truly collaborative experience – even the patient inside the box had levers and buttons to press!
As for the puzzles themselves, they were perfect for the shortened time frame of the experience. They were just hard enough to require some thinking, but not so complicated that we got stuck often. There was a nice linear nature to each puzzle that made it clear which clues went to which puzzles – but the four main puzzles could be tackled in any order, or simultaneously by multiple people. Finally, the sound design was exceptionally helpful for this experience as it made it very clear when we were doing something right. And the loud ‘snap’ as each lock opened was truly satisfying. Cross Roads Escape Games continues to up the ante with clever and well-executed puzzle ideas.
My friends and I sit around the cloth-lined table, pinky-to-pinky with the person next to us, including Madam Ruth, our seer for the experience. Our eyes are glued to the two EMF readers on the table, one marked “Yes,” the other “No.” Which reader would light up this time? Our question hangs heavy in the air.
Cross Roads Escape Games brought a 10-minute immersive experience to Midsummer Scream this year, a tease to their upcoming Séance October event. Madame Ruth welcomes small groups of up to 8 people in her ornately decorated lounge, befitting of a seer. The minimal touching extends no further than the aforementioned pinky fingers connecting, but the interactivity is high. After Madame Ruth introduces herself and her process, she hands the floor to us, enabling us the agency to ask whatever questions of the invisible spirits that we so desire.
But The Séance is not all frivolity; the spirits turn aggressive, flickering the lights and speaking directly to Madame Ruth when she demands the combination to an alphabet lock. There’s more to Madame Ruth than she lets on, and a reason we are sitting here with her today. With a hint of puzzle-solving and mystifying effects, The Séance leaves no doubt that something sinister is happening and entices guests to make a return visit to Madame Ruth to finish the story in October.
Book your reservations to Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Hex Room or The Psych Ward here, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our Event Guide for more immersive and horror entertainment throughout the year.