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Review: Mystery of the Black Dahlia

RATING: 2 Keys          RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 15:00

Join us as we solve a cold case that’s decades old, though we’re still not entirely sure how we did it.


One of America’s oldest and most notorious cold cases involved the murder of a beautiful, young, aspiring actress near Hollywood, California. There were many persons of interest and a handful of serious suspects. No murder weapon was ever located. The body had been severed at the waist along with many other disturbing injuries requiring surgical precision.

Stepping back in time, its your job to enter the study of the lead suspect, a well known local doctor to the Hollywood elite. Can you find and recover the instruments used to commit this grizzly crime?

Our suspicion leads us to the home of the doctor, but we’ll need to find evidence of his crime to close this case once and for all. Luckily by now, we’ve solved more cold cases than probably any other detectives in history. It’s time to do what we do best and solve a series of convoluted puzzles to find the exit code that makes us a hero.




While Escape Cocoa Beach managed to evoke the spirit of a lived in apartment in 2325 Tremont Street, it’s becoming more and more apparent that their “thing” is wide empty spaces sparsely populated with vintage furniture. Mystery of the Black Dahlia follows much the same pattern, with very little inside the space to relay the scene, time period or location you’re intended to be entering.

Once we uncover the doctor’s secret room – where his grisliest of acts were committed – we still are not quite left with the imprint of just how deranged and depraved this individual truly was. Beyond her severed remains, nothing really indicates to us his obsession with this aspiring young starlet.


Mystery of the Black Dahlia’s puzzles were a bit of a mixed bag. Some tried their best to connect to the story while others felt like puzzles for puzzles’ sake.

Equally hot and cold is the fact that there is a bit of tech used within this game – for better or for worse. The thing about tech-based puzzles is they still need to make sense within the story world – and simply put, placing a candlestick on the correct flat surface would never have opened something for us if this were a real place true to its narrative intent. As bad as puzzles for puzzles’ sake can be, Mystery of the Black Dahlia shows us there can also exist tech for tech’s sake, and it really doesn’t add much more than further confusion in this setting.

We found a few of the puzzles to also lack intuitive connections in their attempt to align the narrative with the game. Moments of “well, you should have known this because the character…” doesn’t really work in a game of logic. This point is compounded by the fact that those character motivations were not even clear in the first place.


Escape Cocoa Beach’s newest attempt is, needless to say, not among our favorites – even for the venue. Much of this game left us confused or frustrated. We didn’t feel challenged by it, but rather hindered by it.

We have a bigger issue with something that’s become more clear with each new game we experience at Escape Cocoa Beach  – they all start to tend to feel the same. I’ve said so many times in the past that the best venues are ones that feel like each game was designed by a completely different designer, because their flows, stories, settings and puzzles are all so unique that there is simply no relatable crossover between them.

Unfortunately at Escape Cocoa Beach, that is not the case on any level. Each game is set in “old office / apartment room” full of the same styled outdated furnishings and bland, plain walls. Each story, though completely different cases, begins to blend together when they’re all, in essence, “solve another cold case.” And worst of all, every single one of their games puts me into a world that I can literally find anywhere. I have a kitchen or a bedroom in my house. I even have an office. I want to be transported into a world I cannot see in my every day life. To me, that has and always will be the definition of the “escape” of an escape game. It’s not about escaping the room; that’s short-sighted. No – it’s about escaping reality, and escaping reality is just not something I can do when every game is a mundane real-world space, executed in the most minimal of ways.

We believe in talking to the owners of Escape Cocoa Beach that it is their intent to continue to improve their product. Any time we’ve visited, they have been very eager to receive our feedback, and for that we have great respect for them. We also appreciate their hospitality and the welcoming spirit they show each and every one of their guests. There are times when – as cliche as this may seem – reporting the facts “hurts us more than it hurts you.” Escape Cocoa Beach, with the passionate team we know to be behind it is a venue that we very much want to support- but in the case of their newest game, we owe it as a service to our readers to dutifully maintain our role of simply and honestly reporting on the game as we experienced it.

We hope Escape Cocoa Beach does continue to grow and improve – and we honestly believe that they will. We look forward to what the future holds for this venue.


Venue Details

Venue:  Escape Cocoa Beach

Location: Cocoa Beach, Florida

Number of Game4


Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 10 people

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

Cost: $29 per person

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