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Review: Mysterious Stranger

5 Keys

RATING: 5 Keys         RESULT: Loss          REMAINING: X:XX

The husband and wife team at this SoCal venue are ready to turn you into an honorary government spy… the question is; which side will you choose in the end?


You live a simple life in a simple time. Nothing out of the ordinary happens to you, until now. Five minutes ago you received a mysterious phone call. The caller stated that they work for the government and they need your help. Your neighbor has been detained and they believe he has created a device that will destroy America. The device is set to activate within the hour and they will not be able to reach it in time. They need you to go to his house and steal the device

This is the story that’s presented on Steal and Escape’s website. By first read, it seems like this one is just another version of one of The Four Unforgivable Themes™ that we come across in many escape room venues. After playing it though, I am going to change my previous statement slightly. It turns out in the end to be a fusion of two of the themes thanks to an interesting twist discovered, and no I’m not telling what it is. I’m not saying this is in a negative way whatsoever, these guys take these themes and present you with a life-like scenario that is entertaining to the end.

If you ever wanted to simulate what it feels like to break into a house without the fear of getting arrested, then this is the place for you!


Mysterious Stranger’s scenic quality for its rooms were definitely detailed enough to fit the story well. The first scene puts you “outside” at night in front of a lovely façade of your neighbor’s house complete with a white picket fence surrounding the front yard of (fake) grass. Obviously the task at hand is to get in through the front door.

Once you’re in, the next room is a somewhat split area as a small living room and office/study. Much of the furniture and décor is reminiscent of a simpler era (maybe the 40’s or 50’s) which includes a typewriter, record player, even a vintage radio. There are also some very patriotic details throughout the room, especially on the walls.

There are a couple other details here that need recognition. In most escape rooms, teams are normally given either sheets of blank paper or are provided with a whiteboard mounted somewhere to be able to write down notes. Here, instead, you are given this awesome looking, leather-bound journal for all your notating needs.

The second awesome detail is the timer. The norm for most games is a digital countdown clock placed somewhere high on a wall that is plainly visible in the first room. Here there is no countdown clock but instead you get… wait for it… a pocket watch!

When they said you live a simple life in a simple time, they weren’t kidding!


The more escape rooms I play, the more I’m realizing that I’m growing bored of key and combination lock heavy games. Keep in mind this my own personal preference that I’m developing here and I don’t expect any game to not have a fair share of them. Luckily for me though, this one relied more on mostly tech-savvy puzzles that were for the most part intuitive. A few were refreshingly clever as well.

There was one in particular I solved that I especially enjoyed. At first I was worried I needed prior knowledge about a certain topic (that I’m not too familiar with) to solve it. Shortly after though my worries were lifted when I realized that any knowledge that I needed of the topic was provided for me (as it always should be in any game no matter the topic!).

On the flip side though, there was another object based puzzle that we weren’t really sure exactly what we were supposed do to retrieve an item we needed out of it. At one point we even thought we broke something. It turns out we weren’t going about it the way it was supposed to be done. Apparently it would have worked better with more people working on it. The website did state that because of the difficulty of the game, the scenario would be altered and certain puzzles would be removed if teams had less than four players.

I think one was missed here!


Even though we didn’t “steal the device” in time, that didn’t stop the fact that Mysterious Stranger was an enjoyable game for myself and my friend who had never played an escape room before. The owners were nice enough to let us play through the rest of the game after time ran out so we could see the ending, where we discovered that interesting twist.

These two escape rooms are another great literal example of a “Mom and Pop” business, with this game being completely created, designed, built, and operated by them. They also do something fantastic from a marketing stand point that I personally have yet to see any other place do. Once you arrive and check in for your game, if you also “check in” on social media (like Facebook) and tag Steal and Escape, you receive an extra five minutes added to your game time! As many escape room enthusiasts can probably agree with, even one extra minute could be the difference between a victory or a loss. With one click, you now get five! In exchange, the venue now gets more exposure leading to potential new customers. That’s genius!

Steal and Escape has more games in the works coming soon and you can bet next time I’m in the San Diego area I’ll be paying them another visit!

Venue Details

Venue:  Steal and Escape

Location: San Diego, California

Number of Games: 1


Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 6 people

Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.

Cost: $25 per person

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