The doctor will see you now.
Location: Zwolle, The Netherlands
Date Played: May 6, 2018
Team size: 4-7; we recommend 4-5
Duration: 75 minutes
Price: €135 per group
The Experiment balanced horror with silliness. The Great Escape deliberately designed every moment of this escape room. While the puzzles were not narrative driven, they were fun to solve and they worked with the decor and the acting to deliver an exhilarating experience.
It’s worth traveling out of your way – and it probably is out of your way, if you’re a tourist to Amsterdam – to Zwolle to play the experiment.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Story seekers
- Puzzle lovers
- Scenery snobs
- Players with at least some experience
- Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
- Intense actor-driven moments
- Immersive gameplay
- Fun and unusual interactions
One of our friends had asked us to accompany him to an experiment he’d signed up for. As soon as we settled into the waiting room, we realized that this experiment was something more sinister… and we need to escape.
We entered a medical waiting room. Chairs lined the walls. The waiting room was decorated with the typical plants, wall hangings, toys, and reading material that we would have expected. (I guess the cliched medical waiting room aesthetic is transcontinental.) All of this foreshadowed the medical theming of the rest of the experience.
The Great Escape’s The Experiment was an escape room that included elements of interactive theater. It had a higher level of difficulty and a high level of tension.
Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling, with a bit of improv as well.
+ Through acting, set design, and scent, The Great Escape built the world of The Experiment elegantly and effectively.
+ As we entered the gamespace, we were greeted with a new environment. More than the look, the smell alerted us to the nature of this experience. It worked brilliantly.
+ In the first scene, we got to know the characters. In the scripted part, the actors played off each other. This enabled The Great Escape to develop a menacing character without alarming the players. Interjected throughout the scene were the less scripted interactions with us, which further developed the characters’ roles as well as our place in the game’s world.
– While the puzzles played well, many of them felt arbitrary. They were more escape room-y than mechanisms to drive the plot forward.
+ That said, we enjoyed solving these tangible, large-scale puzzles, and their silliness contributed to the absurdity that balanced the horror-vibe.
– In one scene of The Experiment, we encountered multiple combination locks with identical digit structure. We recommend more variety to make this scene play more smoothly and not stifle forward momentum.
– Height was an advantage. One late-game puzzle presented a lot of information just slightly too high for me to comfortably work with it. The irony was that, given the type of puzzle it was, I was the natural person to solve it… and my three +6-foot (182cm) teammates looked on.
+ The hint system was charming. It worked with the staging.
+/- The Experiment built to a dramatic escape. Our teammates had differing opinions about this ending depending on the roles we took in accomplishing it. From my vantage point (which I shared with David), our clandestine escape operation delivered a dramatic conclusion. Our teammates in another role would have liked more threat of danger/ failure at this juncture. Their ending felt too soft for the experience.
+/- For people who are afraid of the concept of an escape room, The Experiment embodied exactly what they fear: being trapped in an uncomfortable setting that’s just a bit scary. These feelings can be off-putting. For the right players, however, these feelings can also be energizing and exhilarating.
+ The Experiment was silly-scary. It wasn’t overly horror, but it was intense. The acting, environment, and puzzles came together really well to deliver a deliberately crafted experience.
+ Hats off to the actors who delivered The Experiment to us in their second language. They did a phenomenal job.
Tips for Visiting
- Drive over an hour from central Amsterdam.
- All players must be comfortable with potentially playing a portion of the experience in their own spaces, without their teammates.
- At least one teammate needs to be able to climb a ladder.
- Brush up on the dos and don’ts of playing escape rooms with live actors.
Book your hour with The Great Escape’s The Experiment, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: The Great Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.