Team up with your friends in an online escape room: The Hardin House Mystery review

Image courtesy of Red Lantern Escape Rooms

It’s the year 1988, and we’ve heard stories of the mysterious Hardin House, known for its weird noises, spooky lights, and the disappearance of an archaeologist. A high school classmate has gone missing, and her last known location was at the house. Since we’re amateur detectives, we decided to track her whereabouts. As we unlocked one room after another, we start to uncover the mysteries of The Hardin House Mystery, an online escape room from Red Lantern Escape Rooms. The experience brought back the urgency of escape rooms while sprinkling a bit of imagination found in table-top gaming.

Escape rooms are great ways to bring friends, family members and colleagues together, immersing you inside an interactive area. There are plenty of rooms with high production values, and these truly make you feel like you’re inside a movie. With the usual hour time limit to escape, you can learn a lot about your fellow teammate quickly when they’re under pressure. Physical locations are getting ready to reopen during the pandemic, and many have implemented new safety measures. If you prefer to play with friends online, there is another alternative with online escape rooms.

Red Lantern Escape Rooms delivered a huge, exciting room called Midnight on the Bayou in Orange County, CA. (It is 1,000 square feet!) With 2020 off to a bad start, it recently debuted The Hardin House Mystery, an online escape room where you can play with up to 7 other friends and family members.

Our host for the event is Red Lantern Escape Rooms Creative Director Roy Davis, an enthusiastic showman who guided our team at Hardin House, narrating our journey and delivering fun anecdotes throughout. Like most escape rooms, you’ll have an hour to search the house, solve its puzzles, and unlock its doors to reach the end.

Image courtesy of Red Lantern Escape Rooms

Since this was our first time experiencing an online escape room with friends, we weren’t sure what to expect. The formula is still the same where you will need to put your thinking caps on with your fellow teammates and figure out the puzzles. It’s a bit different with an online escape room because you’ll be looking at still images of rooms. With the host present to help you with hints, your mission is to look at an area in search of clues.

Each room has different locks, and to figure out the answers, you will have to scan the room and say out loud what you want to do. Thanks to the virtual nature of the room, there are fewer rules, and you can be more daring. For example, you can climb a table to reach for an object, or you can play fetch with a dog just because.

We played with a team of 4, but imagining a game with 8 players can look hectic. In a physical location, there really isn’t a need to shout over another since you can split into smaller groups. With a virtual escape room, everyone is looking at the same screen and can see each other on the same screen. This may lead to a lot of talking over each other, but it all depends on the team you’re in and whether they know when to speak and when to listen.

Fans of the ’80s will get a kick out of Hardin House, especially with VHS tapes featuring popular ’80s films and retro video game consoles. Aside from trying to finish the online escape room, there are the optional Easter eggs, so be sure to look all over the place. In the end, we were able to finish the room with some time to spare. The escape rate is 64%, so the odds of you escaping are higher than average.

Final Reaction

Red Lantern Escape Rooms’ The Harden House Mystery was an enjoyable experience filled with ’80s nostalgia and clever puzzles. If you haven’t seen your friends and family members in a while, this is an amusing way to get together for an online adventure. Thanks to the online platform, it feels like a game of Dungeons & Dragons while bringing back the fun puzzles and setups of physical escape room locations.

The Hardin House Mystery can be played with up to 8 players, and the cost is $60 for up to 4 players. ($15 for each additional player.) To book tickets, visit

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