Written by Zak Hansen Photography by Steve Macintyre
“There’s nothing to do here.” It’s the call heard ’round Las Cruces—though I’m sure it echoes elsewhere—and one newly rebutted by the Lost Cruces Escape Room, a new way to play in the Mesilla Valley.
For those new to the concept, an escape room is a “live-action adventure game” that puts players, usually in groups, in a locked room with a set of clues to find, tasks to complete, challenges to solve, and mysteries to uncover before time runs out.
While they’re a new idea in Las Cruces, escape rooms have thrived in larger markets for the better part of a decade. Since the escape room is new to Southern New Mexico, owner/operator and new Las Cruces transplant Griffin Allen said his key job in this stage of Lost Cruces’ life is customer education.
Griffin jokes that, locally, “when someone says ‘escape room,’ most people here think it’s a panic shelter to seek refuge when disaster strikes”—given Las Cruces’ proximity to White Sands and the creation of the atomic bomb.
An attention to local detail and a unique Las Cruces spin to Lost Cruces’ games is an integral part of its appeal, all fun and games aside.
Lost Cruces Escape Room’s flagship room—now available for play—is “Ariana’s Wedding,” which focuses on the disappearance of debutante heiress Ariana Mondragon, daughter of multimillionaire coffee mogul Ernesto Mondragon. Ariana is due on her father’s private plane in exactly one hour, but hasn’t been seen in three weeks, last spotted on the back of a motorcycle belonging to her true-love: tattooed, punk-rocker boyfriend Tommy Rotten.
Players are tasked with discovering Ariana’s whereabouts, delivering her to her father and, of course, escaping her father’s lush study, all before the clock strikes noon.
Still to come at Lost Cruces Escape Room, three new games—Manhattan Mission, Lass Cruces, and Fountain of Truth—each with their own mind-bending challenges and unique Las Cruces spin.
“By day, she’s a 25-year-old phlebotomist from Las Cruces, but when the bat-signal, so to speak, goes off, she becomes a superheroine named Lass Cruces and goes off to battle Master O’Pression and his McMinions of Exclusion,” Griffin says of one coming attraction. “She stands for opportunity and advancement for all; however, superheroes are very powerful people, and that power has to be kept in check. The players in the room are Team Lass Cruces, whose duty it is to keep her power in check and make sure she doesn’t transform into Lass Cruces until all the security checks are passed and she is issued her gadgets for her superhero belts.”
Drawing heavily on the region’s atomic history will be Lost Cruces’ third room, The Manhattan Mission. In The Manhattan Mission—not to be confused with the Manhattan Project—players find themselves working to save the world as employees of Silica Blanca Global Tech—not to be confused with White Sands, working to save the world and clear the name of a former project manager wrongly accused and incarcerated for sabotage. As final testing begins on the Gen-5 HarmonyMaker “peacekeeping device,” players will have one hour to prove the test is secretly funded by the evil World Kalamity Faction and stop the detonation of the bomb.
The third coming attraction takes a page right out of local legend. Fountain of Truth is based on the true-life disappearance of lawman Col. Albert Fountain and his eight-year-old son Henry as they made their way home from Lincoln, New Mexico.
“Legacy, honor, and a missing foot locker—contents unknown—are at stake. The sun sets in one hour. Work fast. Cold, dark, desert nights aren’t the only things to fear when you poke a cold case like this one….”
By design, Griffin says, Lost Cruces Escape Room is “all-access, all-ages, family-friendly fun,” which is something of a rarity in the area. It’s great for families and groups of friends, as well as private parties, from birthdays, graduations, quinceañeras, bar and bat mitzvahs, showers, and retirements to weddings and divorces.
Given the core competencies a game like this requires—those indispensable three C’s, communication, collaboration, and cooperation—Lost Cruces Escape Room is also a great destination for corporate and team-building events.
In fact, there are team management strategies built right into the games themselves, though you’d never know it as you try to make your way out.
Lost Cruces Escape Room is “all-access, all-ages, Family-friendly fun” – Griffin allen
Lost Cruces Escape Room’s regular hours are 4:30pm to 10pm Thursdays and Fridays; and noon to 10pm Saturdays and Sundays. Other hours are available for private bookings. Cost is $27.50 per person for public games; private games during regular hours are $198. Private games by appointment outside of regular hours are available for $220 per game, including up to eight players. Visit lostcruces.com, call 323-2112 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.