Escape from the Jail

I went back to San Fran­cis­co in April to play SCRAP’s lat­est escape room, Escape from the Jail, with my usu­al crew plus a few new people.

Escape from the Jail


If you are unfa­mil­iar with SCRAP, they are a great escape game com­pa­ny and claim to have pio­neered the indus­try. I am not sure if that is true, but they were def­i­nite­ly the first I per­son­al­ly had heard of. My first game, The Crazy Last Will of Dr. Mad, was an excel­lent intro­duc­tion to escape games. Since then, I have played more of SCRAP’s games than any oth­er com­pa­ny’s. They keep things inter­est­ing by hav­ing three dif­fer­ent for­mats of games:

  1. Escape Room” — Your team is any­where from four to twelve play­ers. The team books exclu­sive access to a room for a spe­cif­ic time slot. You tear it apart look­ing for clues to solve puz­zles and “win” by find­ing the key to phys­i­cal­ly get your­selves out of the room.
  2. Escape Game” — Your team is always six play­ers. The team gets one table in a large con­fer­ence room, with any­where from twen­ty to thir­ty oth­er teams also play­ing at the same time. Each team gets a dupli­cate copy of the puz­zles and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly tries to solve them. Tech­ni­cal­ly every team can “win” by putting down the cor­rect “final answer” on your answer sheet.
  3. Escape Park” — Your team can be any num­ber of play­ers. The team runs around a large open area such as a city neigh­bor­hood or sports sta­di­um. Each team gets a dupli­cate copy of the puz­zles and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly tries to solve them. Tech­ni­cal­ly every team can “win” by putting down the cor­rect “final answer” on your answer sheet.

(My names, not theirs.) These dif­fer­ent for­mats allow SCRAP to put unique twists on their games as well as roll out new games much more often than com­pet­ing com­pa­nies that only do “tra­di­tion­al” escape rooms.

Escape from the Jail

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SCRAP’s most recent offer­ing was Escape from the Jail, which is in the “escape room” for­mat. The game is still cur­rent­ly run­ning, so I do not want to give away too much. Obvi­ous­ly, the theme is a prison set­ting. The sto­ry is that we were false­ly accused of a crime and have to escape before we are exe­cut­ed. SCRAP’s observers were described to us as ghosts of past pris­on­ers; I appre­ci­ate that they always have an expla­na­tion of why staff is in the room with you.

Besides the usu­al safe­ty rules (no run­ning, do not touch things marked as not part of the game, etc.), there were a cou­ple of new wrin­kles. First, our team was split in two, and locked into adjoin­ing cells with a sol­id wall in between. One staff mem­ber role-played a prison guard rather than just a silent observ­er. He enforced the prison-spe­cif­ic rules, includ­ing no talk­ing between cells! If you have played any escape games before, you know how vital com­mu­ni­ca­tion with team mem­bers is, so this lim­i­ta­tion made the game very interesting.


The puz­zle for­mat was very sim­i­lar to pre­vi­ous SCRAP games — you solve small­er puz­zles through­out the room and they feed into a “mas­ter puz­zle” cross­word that you have to ref­er­ence over and over. As usu­al, the puz­zles are well designed and fair­ly dif­fi­cult, but can be solved pure­ly through skill and with­out need of out­side knowledge.

Physical Challenges

It is hard to hold this against SCRAP, since it is not real­ly their style to have any phys­i­cal chal­lenges, thought I would like to see more of this type of thing from their escape room sce­nar­ios. I think the most dif­fi­cult thing we had to do was use hand tools to take apart a locked box.


My group of escape artists knows most of the SCRAP staff by name, but they have been hir­ing more and more late­ly. The staffers are this par­tic­u­lar game were all new to us, but they were well trained, and the guard was outstanding.


SCRAP games are always fun to me because their puz­zle design is great brinks­man­ship — we are always around the final puz­zle when time is up! The oth­er impor­tant fac­tor to me is involve­ment — there needs to be enough mate­r­i­al for every team mem­ber to be work­ing on some­thing at a giv­en time. SCRAP usu­al­ly nails this because of their ten­den­cy to reuse puz­zle pieces. Even if there are not enough new puz­zles for mem­bers to work on, some­one can and should be review­ing pre­vi­ous puz­zles to see if they can be applied.

Over­all, it was a great game. And true to team tra­di­tion, we failed with final key in hand, rac­ing for the exit door!

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