#NEO #Escape #Rooms #Haunted #Train #Review
Ticket to Hide
Location: Sacramento, CA
Date Played: November 27, 2022
Team Size: 4-6; we recommend 4-5
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $45 per player
Accessibility Consideration: Moving through narrow spaces
Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
NEO Escape Rooms’ Haunted Train took place in a fictionalized rendition of a local historical setting: a ghostly train on the Old Sacramento railroad. It contrasted with NEO Escape Rooms’ first game, Capitol Treasure, which was set in a bureaucratic hall of the California State Capitol building.
Haunted Train departed from the tactile, classic escape room puzzling of Capitol Treasure and leaned into more tech-driven mini-games. Consistent across both games were satisfying-to-solve puzzles that organically emerged from their physical environments.
Both the set and gameplay were impressively polished — until they weren’t. It felt like this train ran out of steam by the very end, with a noticeable dip in tech and some visibly unfinished edges in the final space. This final chunk of the gameplay was still perfectly reasonable and playable, but it wasn’t quite up to the high bar set by the rest of the game.
In talking to one of the creators after our game, we learned that NEO Escape Rooms opened during the pandemic and it became clear that the somewhat unfinished endings and pre-game spaces in both Haunted Train and Capitol Treasure were indeed still works-in-progress. Both these rooms are already great, and they have the potential to be fantastic if NEO Escape Rooms continues to iterate on the unfinished details.
I left NEO Escape Rooms feeling impressed by the 2 games I’d just experienced and hopeful for the youthful creativity that this company brings to the Sacramento escape room scene. If you are in Sacramento, I highly recommend giving them a visit.
Who is this for?
- Scenery snobs
- Train fans
- Any experience level
- A gorgeous train car
- Spooky but not scary gameplay
Decades ago, an entire train on the Sacramento railroad had vanished in thin air. During some recent construction, workers found that exact train — sealed behind a solid wall, perfectly intact. We were sent in to investigate what paranormal forces might be behind this strange occurrence.
Haunted Train opened in a waiting area filled with forgotten baggage. It then opened up into an intricate wood-paneled train car with vaulted ceilings.
NEO Escape Rooms’ Haunted Train was a standard escape room with a low-to-moderate level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around making connections and exploring the environment.
➕ The set of Haunted Train was gorgeous, especially in the main section of the train. There was no shortage of classy wood tones and arched ceilings, evoking the feeling of a spooky train from the previous century wherever you looked.
➖ The entry portal and final area of the set looked unfinished compared to the rest of the game. While the creators had found some scrappy solutions to cover and/ or narratively justify this, I hope they are able to find the time and budget to revisit these areas.
➕ A plethora of creative non-lock inputs were organically integrated into the environment. We enjoyed being able to interact with so many elements of the set, and we were reward for our exploration. I wish sitting on a train were always this fun.
➕ Light was effectively harnessed to set the right mood, direct our attention, and communicate puzzle cluing.
➖ The game ended with a sequence of less-than-inspired puzzles which almost felt like filler, at least in terms of lacking the same level of integration with the set that had characterized the gameplay up to that point.
❓/➖ In theory, Haunted Train picked up where the story of Capitol Treasure had left off, and set us up for NEO Escape Rooms’ forthcoming third game. With outside explanation, I enjoyed how our objectives and outcomes all fed into each other, but very little of this story came through in the gameplay itself. Lacking any direct references or carryover props from the previous game, this narrative connection felt like an afterthought.
Tips For Visiting
- Street parking was available, and NEO Escape Rooms offered validation for a local parking garage.
Book your hour with NEO Escape Rooms’ Haunted Train, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
💙 Contributor at Room Escape Artist
✏️ Writer about all things enigmatic: www.patreon.com/steinium
🧙♂️ Designer of puzzle hunts, alternate reality games, and escape rooms @enigmida
🎻 Fiddler, violist, and composer @baymeleklezmer