Room Name: Son of Sam
Business: Terror DTLA
Date of Visit: 7/25/2020
Number of Players: 1-7
Our Group Size: 2
You are trapped inside your home during a summer heatwave. A power blackout has blanketed your neighborhood in fear as a serial killer moves quietly through the darkness. You must work together to solve the mystery and survive the night. Could this terrifying copycat killer of the infamous 1977 Son of Sam murders be lurking now outside your own front door?
Solve puzzles, search rooms, complete challenges, battle evil forces, live the story, and survive the fear! Rated: M for mature. Gameplay Level: Easy. Players: 1-7. Requirements: PC or laptop, headphones, internet connection.
Difficulty (official): Easy
Difficulty (experience): Easy
Time to Escape: About an hour, including a couple of breaks
Review: Note: Terror DTLA gave us complimentary access for this experience.
It’s been over a year since our last escape room and being confined to our homes due to COVID isn’t exactly a fun escape (real life pandemic escape room: 0/10, do not recommend.) We saw several ads for virtual experiences and decided to give Son of Sam a shot. I’m always nervous about horror themed rooms since I hate jump scares, but one in the comfort of my own home? Sign me up (with all the lights on in the middle of the day, thank you!)
Terror DTLA’s core business is centered around providing haunted house experiences in an immersive, interactive experience that have some escape room elements and they seem to want to bring that same encounter into Son of Sam. The company has several suggestions for doing this game as a socially distanced group, including designating other people as readers, physical experience performers, and a designated reporter to take notes and photos. We really appreciated how they strive to provide as much of a ‘real’ experience as possible while still adhering to social distancing guidelines. Doing virtual escapes as a group over internet channels is a newly developing field, and it was evident that Terror DTLA really put in the work to make this as close to a physical room as possible.
The experience really reminded us of 1980s slasher films, down to the pretty girls with twisted ankles. We had a couple of technical issues at the start when we couldn’t find a couple of buttons, but the game is very streamlined and we were able to get back on track with minimal time lost (the game itself is untimed but suggests the experience could take around an hour). The streamlining does work against itself in some cases — in one instance, we found the key to proceeding to the next section right away (without exploring the rest of the area), and missed a couple of items that would have made some things a bit more understandable. The game does allow you to go back and continue to explore an area before moving on to the next chapter but you may experience a couple of (admittedly minor) elements to the game in an order that may not have been intended. We were also a bit irritated at the amount of pixel hunting we encountered during the game. There are several objects that appear to be clickable as they stand out from the rest of the graphics but were red herrings, while others felt a bit more hidden in the game’s artwork.
The immersive aspect was very original! At several points, the game stops and asks for you to perform something physical (such as finding objects, taking photos, etc.) and provides background music to keep the tense, creepy aura throughout. It provided the extra element that made the game go beyond the computer screen. We think that this game may have benefited more from additional ARG elements (such as calling numbers to reach automated messages or getting periodic emails or texts to keep the immersion up.) This was probably our favorite part of the experience.
Terror DTLA stresses that this game is meant to be beginner-friendly, and we agree. The few puzzles presented are simple and provide a good welcome to people new to the escape game genre. This could be a little frustrating to escape room vets, however, who may be looking for a deeper challenge. When interacting with some objects in the game the user is advised they are locked or to keep looking. The game unfortunately doesn’t make use of them later with a key or as a clue to a new puzzle. This is something to keep in mind as experienced players know to immediately open and search through everything. We would have also liked to have seen an additional endgame puzzle or a little less direction from the game for the final puzzle — it felt like our hands were being held through the climax.
Overall, we had a fun time with it! We would recommend playing this with new players, and definitely at night with all the lights off to really push up the atmosphere. Follow all of the instructions, turn the lights down, get up, and complete the tasks the game asks you to. This is a fun foray into virtual escaping, and we’re excited to see what else Terror DTLA has up their bloodstained sleeve.
Rating: 3 / 5.
Fear Factor: PG. There’s no gore, but it does keep you feeling uneasy.
Things to note: This is packaged as an immersive horror experience with some light escape room elements and delivers on that promise. You will need to use a computer with working Internet access for this experience. A laptop may be preferred over a desktop PC. Playing with friends remotely is encouraged but you will have to manage streaming the game to your party from your own computer.