Since breaking into (or should we say “out of!”) the scene in the early 2000s, escape rooms have quickly made their way into our lives, on their way to becoming a mainstream hit.
For some, it’s the intellectual thrill of trying to solve a real-life puzzle. For others, it’s simply a great opportunity to reconnect with friends or work colleagues in new ways and create a lasting, meaningful memory together. And don’t forget — it’s also become a great place for your kid’s next birthday party!
However, for a select few, the thrill of an escape room runs much more primal. These are the folks that actually like being locked in room and told there is no way out — unless they find it. These are the people that like the nasty little details of the Torture Chamber, or who like sudden surprises jumping out at them. Yup, these are those hardcore fans who love the scary escape room.
It’s in their honor that we put together our list of the top seven scariest escape rooms we could think of. Do you dare to play them?
- The 13th Gate, Baton Rouge, LA: The 13th gate gets pride of place on our list not only for its unique atmosphere, but also because it also the first escape room we ever did — and now we’re hooked! 13th Gate actually offers six escape rooms, and have even branched out into the VR world with a laser-tag-esque VR shooter themed zombie apocalypse. VR challenges aside, there are still some scares to be had here, with a backwoods Louisiana swamp themed escape room called “Spellbound” that has you escaping a high-priestess’ charms. Perhaps the most frightening one is the airline hijacking escape room called “hijacked.” Not getting on a plane after that one!
- The Escape Room, Winston-Salem, NC: Don’t let the lack-luster name fool you. The Escape Room boasts two fantastic puzzles, one a 1700s high-seas adventure that sees you and your mates hijacked by pirates. But it’s “Purge” that really gets our skin crawling. Sharing the namesake and theme of the horror film, the government had made everything legal for one day. You and your office mates have been kidnapped by an angry co-worker, and need to find a way out of your office building before he comes back. Not so sure how the corporate team building is gonna feel after that one …
- Bates Motel Escape Rooms, Westchester, PA: One of the few things worse than being murdered in the shower is keeping your mom’s dead body in your house and talking to it. That’s the creepy vibe that Bates Motel seeks to play off of, taking cues from the Alfred Hitchcock horror classic, Psycho. You play as a group of thieves trying to rob Mr. Bates’ creepy mansion (because it’s always a great idea to steal from murderous psychos, right?) before he come home.
- The Caretaker: America’s Escape Games, Orlando, FL: Although the facility itself is located in the sunshine state, this game actually takes place in Oregon, where an mastermind geneticist has been hidden away, creating hideous mutations from both human and animal specimens. Adding a bit of moral panic to this already excellent sci-fi setting is the fact that a lonely old man has been trapped within the evil doctor’s schemes and you must break him out. Well regarded as one of the hardest in the country.
- The Torture Chamber: Elk Grove, CA: What, you thought we wouldn’t add our own escape room here? One of the best things about escape rooms is the use of storytelling and imagination to create a shared experience. Sharing that experience is part of the fun and horror of our Torture Chamber, where the American River Killer imprisoned you and plans to kill you. A prior victim left secretive instructions on how to escape, but you must solve each puzzle before the killer returns. A fan favorite of ours, for sure