The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel [Review]

“I feel you will have to deal with this matter in the harshest possible way, Mr. Torrance.” -Grady

Location:  at home

Date Played: December 18, 2020

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 100+ minutes

Price: about $29

REA Reaction

The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel was a beautiful disaster.

The deck of game cards. One card is flipped, the key for Room 237.

This is only the second game that we’re reviewing that we didn’t complete… and if you’re new here, we’ve played a silly amount of escape games in every imaginable format. It simply wasn’t fun in spite of a great effort. I’m going to examine why.

Nailing The Brand

From a creative direction standpoint, The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel was a triumph. It looked and read perfectly. Narratively, this was a brilliant adaptation of the film’s world.

A series of booklets that pertain to different characters.

I have to imagine that there is a brand manager out there who has this thing mounted on their wall like a trophy.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an aesthetic piece; it was a game.

A game map with a character piece.

Bad Feels & Confusion

Initially we were sucked into the beauty and cleverness of the presentation. As we explored, however, the problems became far more unnerving than the story’s horror.

I attribute most of the issues to sloppy systems. Interestingly, The Shining used the same system as Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion (which we loved). The key difference between the games was theming and severity. Scooby felt playful, chaotic, and childish. The rules felt loose, like they were there to keep the game on rails. The Shining felt severe and punitive. It appeared to do everything that it could to dissuade us from exploring the world. I assume that this was intentional to create atmosphere, but there’s such a thing as too much.

Numbered envelopes from the Overlook Hotel.

In the end, we reached a point where we got stuck. All options seemed to lead nowhere. We started over, and found ourselves bound up at the exact same place. It was at that point that we decided that this wasn’t enjoyable.

Final Thoughts

The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel felt like it was undertested. We’re not the best puzzlers in the world, but we’re well practiced and reasonably skilled. If we got lost in the game twice, and felt that quitting was the best option, then something still needed to be ironed out before mass production.

There’s something great here; it just needed more time in the oven. In its current state, this was raw, and I don’t recommend consuming it.

The Shining Escape From The Overlook Hotel game box, depicts a man wielding an axe with blood dripping from the blade.

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