[At the time of this review, DarkPark was called Escape Challenge.]
Location: Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
Date Played: May 12, 2018
Team size: 4-6; we recommend 4
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: €119 – €129 per group
The Orphanage was dark, with horror overtones. With this newest game, Escape Challenge delivered yet another style of gameplay: The Orphanage had us visiting and revisiting different areas of this abandoned home for girls, letting us get our bearings and then upending any sense of comfort.
The lights, sounds, and impeccable detail from floor to ceiling underscore how carefully this experience was crafted.
If you’re anywhere near Zoetermeer, The Orphanage is a must-play.
Who is this for?
- Horror fans
- Adventure seekers
- Story seekers
- Puzzle lovers
- Scenery snobs
- Players with at least some experience
- Wonderful interaction design
- Brilliant sound and lighting
- Impeccably detailed sets
- Collaborative puzzling
- Frightening moments that are scary even if you see them coming
We entered a long-abandoned girl’s orphanage in search of adventure. As the door closed and the lights flickered, we realized that something was wrong with this place. With our entrance blocked, the only way out was through the orphanage.
The Orphanage was grim with frightening moments. Escape Challenge built an incredible and immersive environment filled with carefully designed lighting cues. From floor to ceiling, they designed every detail of this set. They even weathered the strike plates and other door hardware.
Each and every space within The Orphanage felt lived in, and had clear purpose. It made the set feel real.
Escape Challenge’s The Orphanage was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around searching, building connections, overcoming fear, and puzzling.
+ The intensity of The Orphanage began as soon as we approached the door of Escape Challenge. It set the stage for the experience.
+ Escape Challenge teased the scale of the set in The Orphanage. From the opening moments, we could tell it was expansive, but not quite how expansive. Escape Challenge controlled our movement through it, introducing us to different spaces on their terms.
+ The Orphanage surprised us. After we’d become comfortable with a space, they upended that comfort once again.
+ We loved The Orphanage‘s brilliant take on a childhood game.
– One prop interaction needed additional clueing. We were too gentle with it, and in doing so, erased some of our time.
+ The Orphanage included a variety of challenging puzzles that were fun to solve. We especially liked one dexterity challenge.
– The final segment delivered dramatic intensity, but chaotic puzzling. It didn’t really fit with the deliberately designed puzzle flow of the The Orphanage. Furthermore, the final solve didn’t bring any closure to the story. The concluding scene didn’t match the experience.
Observation: The children in this orphanage had names. Their names came into play multiple times, as we solved various puzzles. These were some of my favorite puzzles. I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to solve these puzzles around Dutch names, which I didn’t recognize and couldn’t easily pronounce. It’s not something I’d ever considered before, and as a name nerd, I was intrigued by this additional challenge. Luckily our Dutch-speaking teammates made this much easier.
Tips for Visiting
- Drive about 1 hour from central Amsterdam.
- Escape Challenge has two different facilities: one in Zoetermeer, the other in Delft.
Book your hour with Escape Challenge’s The Orphanage, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Escape Challenge comped our tickets for this game.