THE BASEMENT – The Boiler Room [Review]

“Into the garbage chute…”

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: October 16, 2016

Team size: up to 4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 35 minutes

Price: $28 – $40 per ticket depending upon time of booking

Story & setting

Following from the events of THE BASEMENT’s first game, The Boiler Room operated under the statistically correct assumption that our group had lost the first game to serial killer Edward Tandy. The cannibalistic Mr. Tandy, however, likes to play with his food, so he decided to drop us in another creepy puzzle trap.

This small 35-minute game took place in a space that was roughly the size of the large coffee table in THE BASEMENT’s lobby and was themed as the waste disposal system of Tandy’s lair. Somehow the folks at THE BASEMENT managed to resist the urge to make Star Wars trash compactor jokes.

Close up of a wall with copper piping and a gauge on it. It looks like blood is dripping down the wall.

The scenery and set design in The Boiler Room was beyond reproach. The place looked awesome. It was a dark, creepy, and fun place to play. This held true throughout all three games that I played at THE BASEMENT.

Puzzles

There weren’t a ton of puzzles in The Boiler Room. The game derived challenge from clever tasks that made great use of the environment. This was probably the strongest task-based game I have played to date.

There was one set of puzzles that felt incredibly satisfying to solve, but at one point also suffered from a bit of wear that made a critical component far more difficult to interact with than it should have been.

Standouts

There was an exceptional set piece in this game. It was outrageous and I cannot describe it without a spoiler, so I won’t even try.

The tiny space was loaded with interesting interactions.

The environment of The Boiler Room was badass.

Close up of a wall with copper piping and ivy.

The introduction rules video was legitimately hilarious. They showed a variation of the video before The Basement as well, but I played them out of order and saw it – and love it – here first.

The Boiler Room was also THE BASEMENT’s most approachable and best game. It was dark, creepy, and intense, but it wasn’t scary.

Shortcomings

As mentioned earlier, there was a tiny but significant component that had worn in such a way that it was unreasonably difficult to interact with. Having spoken with a number of others who had recently played The Boiler Room, our team was not the only team to struggle with this.

That incredible set piece had a couple of issues. For one, it was so unusual that determining how to properly interact with it was a strange and unclued challenge. Our gamemaster had to yell into the room to tell us to use it properly.

Additionally, a portion of the mechanism to operate said set piece was wet. This normally wouldn’t have been an issue, except that The Boiler Room had an unusual and specific rule: “You never have to get wet to win this game.”

Upon feeling moisture, we initially concluded that we should stop advancing. That was incorrect and created a surprising complication. The “don’t get wet” rule wasn’t in reference to trace amounts of water; that wasn’t clear to us.

Should I play THE BASEMENT’s The Boiler Room?

I had a ton of fun in The Boiler Room. It was lean, creative, and unexpected.

While it wasn’t the most puzzle-laden of games, it was a great adventure with fast pacing, an incredible set, and good flow.

If you have a medical issue that limits your mobility, or vision problems that cannot be corrected with lenses, you should probably sit this one out. The Boiler Room might also provide insurmountable challenges to larger folks. If you’re claustrophobic, you should absolutely take a pass. It’s tough to say more without spoiling critical pieces of the game, but feel free to write in if you want to discuss this in more detail.

If you can play The Boiler Room, you should. It’s expensive at $28-$40 for 35 minutes, but it lived up to the hype… and there was a lot of hype.

Book your session with THE BASEMENT’s The Boiler Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: The Basement provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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