Brooklyn Escape Room – The Haunted [Review]

Come play with us!

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date played: March 13, 2017

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket Tuesday РFriday, $35 per ticket Saturday РSunday

Story & setting

We entered a haunted home to uncover the secret within and the way out.

From the moment we stepped inside, we were met with a sense of foreboding. The set was dark and ominous.

It was also wide open. The large space was a bedroom, living room, and study all rolled into one (kind of like a New York apartment). It was decorated with antique furniture from an unspecified time in the past.

In-game closeup of an old clock with a lock built in. The clock face is is fogged over.


While the set was interactive, there wasn’t a lot of puzzling in¬†The Haunted.¬†

We mainly searched for objects and determined how they were connected. This took some trial and error.


Some of these object-set interactions initiated exciting, tech-driven responses from the escape room.

Brooklyn Escape Room created a few amusing atmospheric touches that made some of us jump… but it wasn’t ever terrifying.

The Haunted¬†used spaces in ways we didn’t see coming.


While at times Brooklyn Escape Room manipulated spaces well, other spaces felt underused or incomplete.

The Haunted¬†relied heavily on technology, some of which was finicky. In one instance, we successfully completed an interaction, triggering a response, but we continued to try to complete that interaction for the remainder of the game because the technology didn’t give us enough feedback.

Additionally, especially given the antique props, the wiring needed to be more completely integrated into the construction of the space.

The gamespace was too dusty for my liking. There’s a difference between dirty-looking and actually dirty.

Should I play Brooklyn Escape Room’s The Haunted?

We enjoyed The Haunted. It had some neat tricks that made us both jump and laugh.

If you gravitate toward puzzles,¬†take heed:¬†The Haunted¬†was¬†primarily searching and connecting. There wasn’t too much to puzzle through.

If you prefer atmosphere and set-piece interaction, The Haunted probably won’t melt your brain, but¬†you’ll find a lot to enjoy.

This game would be approachable for newer players. It likely won’t be too challenging for those well versed in escape room technology, but it will still be fun.

Book your hour with Brooklyn Escape Room’s The Haunted, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Brooklyn Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

Brooklyn Escape Room – Shelter R [Review]

[At the time of this review, Brooklyn Escape Room was called Claustrophobia and this escape room was called Vault 13.]

The nuclear Fallout bunker.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date played: October 9, 2016

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket weekdays, $35 per ticket weekends

2016 Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Story & setting

We had spent a generation living in a vault beneath the earth, the product of nuclear holocaust. The life support systems had begun to fail and we had 60 minutes to escape.

Vault 13 was the escape room version of the video game series Fallout; it was loaded with references.

A vending machine for

On a barely related note, my longtime guitar teacher Billy Roues had a song featured in Fallout: New Vegas and also played our wedding (with very different music).

Vault 13 looked superb. Aesthetically speaking, it was one of the most impressively designed and constructed gamespaces we’ve encountered in New York City. It was filled with solid, beautiful, post-apocalyptically setpieces. Nearly all of it was custom construction.

A view of the Vault. There is an old diner bench, a workbench, and a large radio. On the rusty walls hands a picture of a pinup girl.
This was the most mundane corner of the game… but it doesn’t give anything away.

It’s also important to note that while the company is named “Claustrophobia” their gamespace was not even remotely claustrophobic.


The two games we have played from Claustrophobia leaned heavily on immersive adventure and were decidedly less puzzley than those from most other companies. Every task and puzzle in Vault 13 advanced the narrative.

This ultimately lead to a game that was more about observing, scavenging, and making connections than it was about solving puzzles. That said, making those connections was a generally fun experience and it wasn’t always easy.


Vault 13 contained one of the most badass, video-gamey escape room interactions I have ever seen. After we did it, I wanted to do it again. (Sadly, that wasn’t an option.)

It also had one of the most brilliant applications of a reasonably common escape room interaction that I have seen to date. It was elegant and clever.

Countdown clock illuminated with nixie tubes. The clock is part of the
Nixie clocks are too damn cool.

Vault 13’s custom constructed scenery and props were a blast. They allowed – and occasionally encouraged – a bit of destructive behavior, and these setpieces could take a beating.


Because the set was so sturdy, we were told that there weren’t any special rules and we could pretty much go nuts in the room. That was largely true, until our gamemaster pointed out a section that we had to be careful with. That one delicate section was also Vault 13‘s most confusing and unrefined segment. It would benefit from more polish.

There were some painfully sharp edges in one of the doorways. A little bit of Sugru would soften those edges and protect players.

At times, lighting was kind of a pain in the ass. We had one handheld flashlight between the four of us.

A few of the props were shockingly heavy. While they were awesome, I can easily imagine them being too unwieldy for some groups.

Should I play Claustrophobia’s Vault 13?

Vault 13 is among the most impressive immersive room escapes in the New York City boroughs. It was beautiful, solidly constructed, and a ton of fun to occupy for an hour.

While Vault 13 was open for business when we played, it was still under active iteration. We usually wait until a game has been operating for at least a month before we play it. We didn’t do that this time because we were going to be in the neighborhood. In retrospect, I wish we waited a little while longer because I get the impression that this game will be even better in a month or two.

As¬†long as you aren’t expecting intense puzzles, Vault 13 will deliver a great experience.

Book your hour with Claustrophobia’s Vault 13, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Claustrophobia comped our tickets for this game.

Brooklyn Escape Room – Medieval Dungeon [Review]

[At the time of this review, Brooklyn Escape Room was called Claustrophobia and this escape room was called The Dungeon.]

It’s not really claustrophobic.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date played: June 27, 2016

Team size: 2-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket on week days, $40 per ticket on weekends

Story & setting

We were locked up in a medieval European dungeon, awaiting execution. The executioner’s axe would fall in one hour unless we escaped first.

The Dungeon was lushly themed. It was dark and (electronically) candlelit. Everything from doors, to floor, to ceiling screamed “DUNGEON.” That said, it was not a particularly scary set, nor was it loaded with tight spaces (despite¬†the company’s name).

Image of a dark, candlelit, stone walled, wood doored dungeon hallway. It's very detailed.
That’s just the entryway.

The story wasn’t relevant as we played¬†game. However, it didn’t matter because the environment created the experience.


This was a room escape centered on observation and interaction.

The Dungeon was less puzzley and more of a task-driven experience. The game felt a lot like a point-and-click escape room in that we had to identify objects of relevance and then determine where and how to use them.


The Dungeon¬†excelled in ambiance fabrication. We have encountered few rooms that can rival¬†The Dungeon’s set detail.

On the strength of the sets alone, The Dungeon achieved a high level of immersion.

A sharp torture implement hanging from a wooden wall, with blood painted onto the edge.
The ‘blood’ means “do not touch.”


Our gamemaster blindfolded us with burlap and led us into the dungeon. The entryway was short, I had to duck very low to avoid bopping my head on the spikes hanging from the door frame. When the game started and I realized how little the blindfolds hid, I was annoyed. It was a lot of hoopla to get started, especially since the Claustrophobia designers could have adjusted the placement of one object to render the blindfolds completely unnecessary.

Claustrophobia - The Dungeon - Entry
The external entrance: It was more detailed than most escape rooms.

Our team felt a little too babysat by our gamemaster. He would remind us not to touch the items marked “do not touch” whenever we neared them. While in his introduction he said we would receive only three hints upon asking for them, he continually¬†gave us¬†additional, unrequested hints.

The final puzzle, while fun, felt strangely out of place and anticlimactic. This feeling of anticlimax may have been amplified by the puzzle failing on us twice in the same place.

Should I play Claustrophobia’s The Dungeon?

The Dungeon was a fun space to explore. It looked incredible and had more than a few excellent interactions.

The Dungeon leaned heavily on feeling. If you are looking to play around in an immersive environment, then you won’t find much better. The one caveat I’d add is that you must be mobile and ready and willing to crawl on a hard surface.

If you love escape room video games, then this is an excellent physical recreation of the genre.

Claustrophobia is the world’s largest escape room franchise, operating more than 150 locations worldwide. Based in Moscow, this is their first game in North America. That alone is likely reason enough for an ardent escape room enthusiast to pay them a visit.

If you’re looking for a challenging puzzle room, then you might not love what The Dungeon has to offer. It was much more about the adventure.

Book your hour with Claustrophobia’s The Dungeon, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Claustrophobia comped our tickets for this game.