THE BASEMENT – The Study [Review]

Lifestyles of the twisted and criminally insane.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: October 16, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 55 minutes

Price: $34 – $46 per ticket depending upon time of booking

Story & setting

This was the third and final chapter (so far) in the disturbing story of playful cannibal Edward Tandy.

In the first chapter, Ed locked us up in his torture basement and filled it with some puzzles so that we could solve our way out. We failed… but he graciously decided not to eat us. Yet.

In the second chapter, Ed tossed us into his boiler room and filled it with some puzzles so that we could solve our way out. This time we succeeded and now we were roaming his home.

As expected, Ed’s home didn’t have a beautiful open floor plan, sun room, and herb garden. It was dark, creepy, and gross. As with the previous two chapters, the environment was superbly designed to maximize the yuck factor. It looked great in a dingy, “this is the worst place on earth to die” sort of way.

Image of the Study. A bookcase with a few books on it, a taxidermied buck, and a boarded up window.

The key difference in The Study was that in the narrative, this was no longer a game. We were freely exploring our captor’s home and he was pissed.

Puzzles

In The Basement the puzzles felt completely tacked on to the set, but in The Boiler Room the puzzles felt like they were planned in conjunction with the set. The Study‘s puzzles weren’t tacked on, but they didn’t always feel natural either.

The previous games established a premise that allowed for the puzzles to feel a little trite and gamey, because we were literally being toyed with. The Study had a larger burden of carrying a narrative through the interactions. In some cases it did so disturbingly well; in others, the puzzles once again felt like old-school room escape puzzles tacked on, just because.

Standouts

This was another game with an actor. He was playing a very different role than in The Basement; he was terrifyingly compelling. There was a key interaction with the actor that I cannot explain in detail without spoiling, but it was incredibly well done and so disturbing.

The set was great. There were a few large set pieces that were exceptionally well executed.

For one bold and lucky player… or the one who just went for it (like I did), there was a series of some of the most memorable moments that I have had in room escaping. Isolated and alone, I experienced many of The Study’s finest moments. They were challenging, nerve-wracking, and at their peak, engaged my fight-or-flight response in a way that no other room escape experience ever has.

Shortcomings

That incredible series of events that absolutely blew my mind… no one else on my team got to experience any of it. Some of them were relieved; many of them felt cheated.

While much of The Study was intense and interesting, the first act was surprisingly mundane.

The Study didn’t always live up to its “you’re no longer playing a game, this is real life” promise. Some of the puzzles were strangely out of place and broke the fiction by reminding us that we were playing a game.

The Study contained an interaction that I think should have been edited out for the betterment of the escape room community. If you’re interested in a deeper, slightly spoilery discussion of this, check out our review of The Basement.

The ending was simultaneously cool yet anti-climactic.

Should I play THE BASEMENT’s The Study?

The Study had an awesome set, a great actor, and a few incredible set pieces. There were more than a few great interactions and some of the very best moments I’ve seen in an escape experience. To make the most of this experience, check out our tips for playing with actors.

On the flip side, The Study included some fairly mundane moments and it couldn’t consistently hold its “real life” narrative together.

Additionally, only one teammate will get to experience the very best that The Study has to offer. That last piece is the real kicker. If only one player is bold enough to want those incredible private moments, then it’s a win for everyone. If more than one player wants it, it’s a winner-takes-all scenario.

As with THE BASEMENT’s other games, if you’re in reasonably good health, aren’t too afraid, and are looking for an immersive adventure with a really cool set, then The Study is a superb pick. If you’re a puzzle lover, The Study is an interesting game; it’s far superior to The Basement and a little less compelling than The Boiler Room.

Book your session with THE BASEMENT’s The Study, 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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