Location: Ashland, VA
Date Played: October 2, 2021
Team size: 2; we recommend 2
Duration: 10 minutes
Price: $10 per player
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
We’ve played a handful of games in pure darkness, and generally like the genre in spite of the fact that it comes with a number of hurdles that are difficult to overcome.
Two of the more common issues that we see are:
- Darkness becomes less scary over time.
- There is a limited range of puzzle and challenge types that can be incorporated in a full-dark environment.
RED VEIN Escape’s solution to both of these problems was to make a very short experience, and it worked.
The dark and cramped space was elevated by a brilliant pre-game performance, and the gameplay itself worked with the sightless environment.
Phobia was short and small, but it got the job done. It works well as an add-on if you’re already visiting one of RED VEIN’s other escape rooms.
If this kind of play appeals to you, it’s a fun implementation of the dark-game concept.
If it isn’t your thing, or you’re on a budget, skip this one. It isn’t an expensive game, but it is expensive for what it is: $10 per person for 10 minutes in a closet without any aesthetic design. It might be the most expensive escape room per square foot that I’ve ever played.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Puzzle lovers
- Fear fans
- Any experience level
- Best for players with at least some experience
- Perfect game length for this style of game
- Brilliant use of a small space
- Game introduction that enhances anticipation
Paranormal researchers investigating the effect of fear on the human mind and body had enrolled us in a short study. All we had to do was enter a chamber and figure out how to exit it within 10 minutes.
There wasn’t much to see. The entire game occurred in a small pitch-black room. The experience was largely tactile and psychological.
RED VEIN Escape’s Phobia was a 10-minute, dark escape room. The challenge was in the environment.
Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, and communicating.
➕ The gamemaster’s sincere, in-character introduction built suspense. This introduction heightened anticipation and enhanced the experience.
➕ 10 minutes was the right game length. We didn’t have time to fully adjust, so the darkness was impactful the entire time. The constrained gameplay didn’t overstay its welcome.
➖ While the short duration helped limit its impact, there was a tiny amount of light bleed which did affect the late-game in subtle ways.
➕ Given the constraint of darkness, the puzzles were well varied, in interaction design and thinking style.
➕ The finale shined.
➕ Players wear surgical gloves in Phobia (which RED VEIN Escape provides). This made us more confident to explore with our hands.
➖ At $1 per minute per person, Phobia was expensive. If you’re thrilled about the concept, it’s a stellar implementation of a dark room. If you’re on the fence, however, the value may not be worth the price.
➕ Phobia was a clever use of a small space.
Tips For Visiting
- There is a parking lot.
Book your session with RED VEIN Escape’s Phobia, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: RED VEIN Escape comped our tickets for this game.