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Review: The Asylum

5 Keys

RATING: 5 Keys         RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 5:00

Strapped in a straight jacket to my split personality, locked away inside a padded cell. Wait – why is no one shocked by this?


You are suffering from split personality disorder and have been locked in a straight jacket and thrown in the Asylum! Can you work together with your other half in order to escape in time?

The doctor says I have a split personality, but you know it isn’t true, right? Right?! I told them they were wrong, but they wouldn’t believe me. Why wouldn’t they believe me?!

In just a few minutes, they’re going to give me a lobotomy. I’ve got to get out of here, but how? How?! I’m strapped to myself in a tight straight jacket, and locked inside a tiny, padded cell.

I swear I’m not crazy, but no believes me. Not the doctor, not my other personalityno one… no one except for the nurse that tied me up. Just before locking us …. me … in this padded cell, she stopped for a split second, looked deep into my eyes, deep into my soul and quietly, calmly uttered but three words as she pressed something into the palm of my hand before restraining it in the straight jacket.

“I believe you.” 


Originally designed to be a brief, traveling mini-game to showcase their product at various conventions like Midsummer Scream and Scare LA, The Asylum’s infamous padded cell is really, really small. Barely a room large enough to hold both of my personalities at once – that didn’t stop the incredibly talented Cross Roads Escape Games team from creating a space as beautiful – and foreboding as their full scale 60 minute games.

The Asylum’s walls are lined with mismatched, grungy, old padded cushions – you know, to protect me from myself, or, perhaps to protect my other personality from me if he doesn’t do as he’s told. The space is dimly lit, and sealed off from the outside world by a cold, threatening iron door, through which the nurses occasionally peer to observe my current mental state. Judging me.

I’ve never seen the inside of a padded cell before, but if I had — which I haven’t, just to be clear, according to my attorneys — I’m confident this is exactly how it would feel to be trapped within one.


Given The Asylum’s design intent as a sort of appetizer teaser at highly attended conventions, it should come as no surprise that there just could not be very many puzzles within the course of its game flow. What’s most compelling, though, is that at first glance once inside, it’s damn near impossible to find one.

In this teeny, tiny, padded cell, with literally no where to hide anything, everything is so perfectly hidden in plain sight that we… I … had a brief moment asking myself “how is it even possible to hide something in here.” Not that I was talking to myself.

Once you do find them, the Asylum’s puzzles are simple yet exceptionally satisfying – making use of the environment so organically that it just feels like a natural extension of the padded cell.  And most fun of all – while the puzzles lurk in the shadows around you, the locks are each on your physical person — three, in fact, tightly holding together straps on the straight jackets that bound your split personalities together.

And if you manage to gather your wits and clear your crazed mind long enough to free yourself from the straight jackets, you’ll discover the ultimate storyworld payoff: that object pressed into your hand by the nurse – the only person who believed userr, me… from the start is the actual key to our padded cell door, and to our freedom with brain fully intact.


I’ve always loved a good mini game – because I recognize the great equity it can have to hook new players into the escape game world. Think about it – for someone who perhaps has never played an escape game before and doesn’t know for sure if it would truly be “their thing,” it can be a bit daunting to commit a full hour of their time, plus $30+ per person to find out. But with a mini game, it’s an easy sell – the shorter time limit makes it simple to squeeze in between other plans – and hey, if you end up hating it, you’re only out a few bucks and a few minutes of your time.

The Asylum reinvents the wheel for just what a mini game can truly be. It’s so heavily story-driven, with such incredibly well-done scenic theming that there’s simply no way a newbie would walk out and not immediately want to play another full length game. Who would have ever thought that the key to hooking new players on the escape game genre would be to tie them shoulder to shoulder in straight jackets and toss them in a padded cell?

Thankfully, Cross Roads Escape Games did.

And here’s the most exciting part – for the first time outside of specially ticketed conventions, you have the chance to be tossed into a padded cell for yourself. Cross Roads Escape Games has set up this rare holy grail mini game right inside their Anaheim venue, and will be opening it to the public for just three Fridays this Halloween season – October 13, 20 and 27th, from 12pm until 8pm each day. And with such an insanely low ticket cost of merely $5 per person (with a two person requirement per game) you’d belong in a padded cell for real if you pass this one up!

Venue Details

Venue:  Cross Roads Escape Games

Location: Anaheim, California

Number of Games: 3


Duration: 10 minutes

Capacity: 2 people (requires exactly 2)

Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.

Cost: $10 per group (requires minimum purchase of 2 tickets at $5 per person)

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