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Review: The Starlet Killer

RATING: 5 Keys          RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 23:44

We’ve all heard the stories; Hollywood’s dark and seedy past; corrupt studio executives taking advantage of naive, young, hopeful starlets. A tale so infamous and widespread you may not even pay attention to its next headlines – until, of course, that next headline is about you.


The year is 1947; the place, Los Angeles California.  You, like so many others, are a young Hollywood starlet looking to make it big in Tinsel Town.  As things go, you find yourself in the apartment of a local talent agent who has promised you fame and fortune.  This is how things are in this town; all it takes is getting to know the right person to make you a star.  

But there’s more to this city than movies, glamour, money and jazz.  In the shadows cast by the bright lights of the city lays a dark and dirty underworld– a world where happily ever after is but a farce.  Deep in this underworld is a man—no–a monster on the prowl, thirsty for the blood of young hopefuls. 

You should have known something was off about a drink call Devil’s Kiss–you thought something tasted funny about that drink–these are the thoughts that run through your mind as your eyes grow impossible to keep open.  You have been drugged! 

As you regain consciousness you overhear someone talking on the phone—“I’ll be back by six o’clock” before the phone slams down.  The front door opens then closes as your captor leaves you for an hour and you make your move!  Can you uncover the secrets of his apartment before it’s too late, or will your demise become yet another Los Angeles legend?

Perhaps no more solidly relative choice of theme possible given its location, The Starlet Killer embraces the seedy underbelly of Hollywood’s darker past. The naive young actress hopeful, the corrupt studio executive with something to hide, and of course a whole lot of cold, hard murder. Captured LA has crafted one of the most immersive stories we’ve seen for a game in the Los Angeles market – one that is easy to become immersed in, quick to instill a solid sense of urgency and so rich in detail that we honestly just didn’t want to leave when it was over.


The Starlet Killer takes place in the apartment of that nefarious talent agent we hear about in its story. Everything in this room is perfectly frozen in time. Antiques fill the space, lined with vintage fabrics and flourishes. An old timey radio plays old timey tunes from the 1930s and 40s.

Bottles of liquor sit on a shelf. Could one of those be the same bottle that was once full of the Devil’s Kiss, the very drink that landed us in this situation in the first place?

And to make matters worse, like any true horror movie, a terrible storm looms above the building, with thunder so near that it flickers the power in the room each time it strikes.

The mood here is ominous, urgent, and foreboding. It’s a delightful kind of unsettling that works magic in making The Starlet Killer one of the most immersive game environments we’ve encountered in a long while.


Captured LA achieves the rare trifecta of game design, crowned with puzzles that are both completely story-driven as well as seamlessly integrated into the scenic environment to give them a logical purpose in their artfully woven narrative.

Puzzles connect to past victims – innocent, naive starlets just like us who, unfortunately for them, just didn’t possess our savvy ability to escape captivity. Some even unfold to reveal the grisly fate that befell those before us, creating a real, true sense of urgency and consequence for players.

A satisfying mix of logic and physical puzzles makes the Starlet Killer a wonderfully balanced game. Equally importantly, every single puzzle step from the beginning to its finale was logical, intuitive, engaging and fun.

Oftentimes in a game, we encounter a puzzle that is more suited for a specific member of our group, and we pass the proverbial football. The Starlet Killer was one of those rare instances where every puzzle step was so well balanced that we each wanted to work towards solving them.


Captured LA moved from its original location, creating a brand new experience from top to bottom. Nothing carried over from their fist game. The Starlet Killer is a completely unique experience, and simply put was one of the most compelling games we’ve played, making a short list of some of our LA area favorites – which, I don’t think I need to point out, is elite company to be in.

The Starlet Killer is proof that Captured LA’s original success was no happy accident. The mom & pop owners/designers clearly have an understanding of what makes an escape game tick – no doubt stemming from the fact that they both are fans of the genre just like us – and more importantly grasp a solid intuition for how to immerse that game into a storyworld in a way few can match. This is a game we highly recommend, from a venue we’re completely in love with.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of sad news for escape room enthusiasts in the Southern California area. Captured LA, at current plan, will be closing its doors at the end of this year, with their last public game currently scheduled for December 18, 2016.  While this is an incredible loss to the Escape Room community, understand that it is for the best possible reason; that wonderful mom & pop team we mentioned is about to become a mom, pop & tot team, and as much as we selfishly want to continue to enjoy their top notch product for years to come, there simply is no question that family absolutely should come first.

We urge our readers across the Southern California area – and we know there are several of you – to make it a top priority to visit Captured LA while you still have the chance. The Starlet Killer is a game not to be missed. And the biggest surprise of all? Captured LA actually has a sort of secret second game, not listed on their website and not available for bookings online! Call in advance or inquire in person about the Midnight Stalker, and please do let us know how it is! We found out about it too late to fit it into our California travel plans.

The Captured LA team is one that absolutely deserves your support. Let’s give them a grand finale they’ll never forget!

Venue Details

Venue:  Captured LA

Location: Los Angeles, California

Number of Games: 2


Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 8 people

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

Cost: $25 per person, only running through December 18, 2016


EAR Disclaimer

We thank Captured LA 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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