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Review: Smuggler’s Den

RATING: 5 Keys          RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 6:15

Sometimes it’s good to be left completely in the dark!


The DeLaporte Family coffers have run dry and the city is threatening to put the house up for a tax sale. You are called to investigate the dark and cramped wine cellar, as it was rumored that Silver Dollar Sam and his band of rum runners once used it as a storehouse. Can you find enough loot to help save the DeLaporte home, or will you be stuck forever by one of the many booby traps?

Whoa, hold on. Back up. I can’t even start talking about this game without first lauding the venue’s story. That’s right: from the moment you step foot in the door of an innocent-looking perfume shop, you’re whisked away to the whimsical world of the DeLaporte mansion. There are actual puzzles to solve (and rewards to be won) while you await your host or hostess who is, of course, also in character. Even the electronic waivers are cleverly hidden inside of guest books. It’s a perfect blend of elements that mix together to give Escape My Room a unique feel that’s difficult to find anywhere else.

Anyway, where was I…? Oh, yes, the Smuggler’s Den. As the venue’s newest game, this room continues an overarching plot that sends players on a perilous trip to the mansion’s wine cellars in search of the hidden treasure left by Silver Dollar Sam. Of course, smugglers are prone to hiding their stashes behind many tricks and traps, and before long everything goes pitch black. Yes, you read that correctly: you will be doing roughly half of this room in complete and total darkness, with absolutely no light source of any kind to help you.


Because of this unique concept, it’s hard to talk too much about the scenic quality of the room. While you do indeed start out in a well-lit (and well-decorated) wine cellar, once you’ve entered the game’s second phase there is absolutely nothing to see except the very faint glow of an emergency exit door. Curse you, building regulations!

Despite this, you’ll still feel plenty of different patterns and textures that stay true to the theme. Oh, and that thing in the corner you’ll be feeling up along the way? Well, let’s just say that I don’t know what it is, and at this point I’m not entirely sure I want to know.

As if its lobby wasn’t evidence enough, Escape My Room also takes immersion to the next level in each of their games by getting rid of the classic “countdown timer on a TV monitor” trope and replacing it, instead, with an antique radio that not only plays some old-timey music for you while you raid the storehouse, but also functions as your clock. Further into the game, this music turns to radio silence and the only sounds you’ll hear are dripping water, the screech of bats and wind whistling through the cave you’re trapped in. It’s these little touches that can make a good room great, and Escape My Room has, of course, upped the bar even further.


It should be no secret by now that Smuggler’s Den favors the dexterous. With most of the action occurring in complete darkness, the types of puzzles it can employ are somewhat limited. Despite this, each challenge you’ll stumble upon presents a new and unique challenge that feels completely different (see what I did there?) from anything you’ve done previously.

The beginning of the game is an excellent warm-up for what’s to come. Its puzzles stay true to the wine cellar theme through bottles, labels and overgrown walls right up until the lights go out and the path leading into the smuggler’s den is revealed.

Throughout the game you’re also asked to collect the silver dollars hidden by the smugglers, a task that is easier said than done once you begin fumbling around for them in the dark. As if escaping this room isn’t a big enough challenge itself, you’re also graded on how many coins you’ve found by the end. It’s a perfect task to keep those less “puzzle-savvy” in your group occupied while also being a beautiful ribbon to tie together what is already an excellent repertoire of activities.


Going into this game, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When you think of darkness in rooms, you tend to assume you’ll have a flashlight or lantern–anything to light the way. You’ll find none of that here. This was a completely new experience for me. For Escape My Room, it was definitely a gamble. A game with no lights is tricky for many reasons, not only because of the small pool of puzzles and locks available but also because of physical safety. Luckily, it paid off beautifully, offering guests a truly unique experience that they will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

This may very well be my new favorite venue I’ve ever played at. From the unique lobby that’s almost like a puzzle in and of itself to the games themselves, Escape My Room has thought of everything, and it makes for a seamless experience that flows smoothly from start to finish. I, for one, can’t wait to go back for my next chance to get lost in the DeLaporte mansion.

Venue Details

Venue: Escape My Room

Location: New Orleans, Lousiana

Number of Games: 4


Duration: 45 minutes

Capacity: 6 people

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

Cost: $30 per person

EAR Disclaimer

We thank Escape My Room for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.

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