Published May 26th, 2017 @ 11:28 pm EDT by Paul

REVIEW: Fear by Escape Kemah (Kemah, TX)

4/5 Claws

Challenge: 6.5
Awe: 8
Care: 9.5
Theme: 9
Team: 9
Signature Color: Red


“In this room, players are grouped into separate teams, and the challenge hinges on cooperative puzzle solving. Jigsaw has separated the players into two rooms where they can hear, but cannot see, each other. It’s pretty straightforward, and the puzzles are inventive and different. The proprietors really care about the games, and clearly spend a lot of time crafting them. The room is a good time, and my team couldn’t solve it–it has some elements which are way cool, but we did notice that kids who play with their parents seem to have really on-track ideas for solving the room–and their parents usually stop them. So I’ll let you know: it’s okay to rummage around.

The room gets the adrenaline going as much as some others of its type, by means of a couple devices, some guessable, tried-and-true, and fun, and some other elements which are really different and cool. The room could be a little darker, though there’s something about being frightened under broad light that makes the situation feel even more helpless. The puzzles are all themed to the Saw films, though none of them will hurt you. If you’re considering making the long-ish drive from Houston just to play this room, and are looking up reviews to see if it’s worth it, I think that it is, as long as you’re really into escape rooms and would like to see something a little different: this family-run venue does not rely on packaged rooms designed by outside sources, they create it all in-house. They have a knack, I’ve noticed, in all their rooms for coming up with an in-story reason why you’re solving conundra, and it’s surprising sometimes how much that can contribute to the experience.”


“I don’t really like Red rooms; it’s not that I don’t enjoy being scared, it’s that I can’t abide by teammates utterly losing their shit every thirty seconds.  And yet, in Fear, an escape room ‘based on the Saw movies’, this frustration is absolutely appropriate.”

Michael and I were separated in different starting points.  While that did give us an advantage in that he and I trust each other and can take direction from one another, none of our other teammates were helpful.  I applaud the parents of the 12-year-old birthday girl for herding a dozen of her friends to an escape room, but after ten minutes confined with them, my sympathies were with Jigsaw.

Taking some very literal inspiration from the Saw film series, Fear has players reliving many of the franchise’s iconic moments and even though the player’s rational mind we know we are completely safe in an escape room, it’s nearly impossible to prevent yourself from getting creeped out.  There were lots of physical puzzles in this room that, when I had seen them in the films, forced me to question why people always do stupid things like drop their keys in horror movies.  Here it became clear; it’s not out of fear but frustration.  With the screaming and ambient water dripping sounds and clanging pipes, I found it progressively harder to emotionally ‘let go’ of even the smallest mistakes.  I’m usually pretty good at scanning documents for clues, but this time, every wrong option I tried seemed to snowball until I could hardly think clearly.

While Fear did a fantastic job of immersing me into the clutches of the Jigsaw killer, part of me feels like he wasn’t always playing fair.  We made it about 75% of the way through the challenge, but by that point, the teams had been rejoined and things erupted into utter chaos.  Despite our best efforts, even with a team of hard-core escape room fans, I really doubt anyone would have spotted the missing elements we needed to complete the challenges we got stuck on; if I could make just one improvement, it would be to make things a bit easier to see.  It wasn’t so much that I was looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s that I was looking for a specific piece of hay that was supposed to be two shades of yellow lighter than the rest of the pile… under yellow lamps.”

I absolutely recommend this room; the puzzles were clever, teamwork critical and the theme carried out (possibly a little too) flawlessly.  But where Escape Kemah really shines is in their ability to create extremely memorable, awe-inducing moments without spending a fortune on gimmicks.  I might have liked their other rooms more, but this one is still something special.”


609 Bradford Ave Suite 213
Kemah, TX 77565

“We are located in Toucan Alley, on the Second Floor”

(281) 549-7697

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