Logic Locks – Time Crimes [Review]

Puzzle Trunk Time Machine

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands (portable)

Date Played: May 9, 2018

Team size: 9-18; we recommend 9-10

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: It’s complicated. Contact Logic Locks. The game is also available for resale.

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Time Crimes was the third game we’ve played from Logic Locks and the first portable game designed primarily for corporate groups that we’ve played in Europe.

Portable corporate games are a different beast from standard escape rooms. With no set, they rely exclusively on a collection of props, puzzles, and game flow. These all came together in Time Crimes. There were tons of puzzles, the props looked good, and the game generally flowed well. While Time Crimes had a lot of content, we think any teams approaching the 18 player maximum, wouldn’t get to appreciate the experience Logic Locks has created.

I’m not sure how broadly available Time Crimes will be for the general player base, but if you like puzzle- driven games, this one is worth checking out.

In-game: A table of assorted puzzle components including a number of locked books, a map, and other

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Time travelers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Large volume of challenging puzzles
  • Humor
  • It comes to you

Story

A rogue time-traveling agent had lured us into his plot to change history. It was up to our crew to jump through time and unravel his plans.

In-game: A table of assorted puzzle components including a Chinese zodiac, a locked box, and other strange puzzle components.

Setup

Time Crimes came in three large packages that we were instructed to spread out across different tables, with a computer projecting the remaining content. The game was overseen by an in-character gamemaster who was eager to engage with us… even when one of our teammates humorously yet aggressively pushed the boundaries of standard player/ gamemaster interaction.

Sera looking into the camera wearing a fedora with an expression that screams, "Come at me bro!" The team puzzles in the background.
This photo really captures Sera’s essence.

The boxes contained a wide variety of props representing items acquired from different eras in the past, present, and future. These props looked good when compared with other portable escape games.

In our case, we played in a hotel meeting room, but this thing could be played anywhere that you can comfortably fit the props.

The team working on some puzzles.

Gameplay

Logic Locks’ Time Crimes was a standard portable escape room with a bit of added technology and a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Lisa & Sharon focused and collaborating on a puzzle.

Analysis

+ Time Crimes began with a more dramatic introduction than we’ve seen from most portable escape rooms. There was more to it than opening a trunk or two.

Time Crimes contained tons of puzzles. We had just about the most intense team that I could imagine and Time Crimes kept us busy far longer than anyone had expected.

David smelling a prop.
Oh look… I’m huffing a prop.

+ Compared to most portable escape rooms, the puzzles in Time Crimes were more challenging.

– Some of the challenge came from detailed searching of the game items. If we missed a crucial detail, it would be impossible to solve the puzzle correctly. Sometimes we knew we were searching-failing. Other times we had no idea why a solution didn’t work.

+/- Time Crimes opened up into 3 separate puzzle tracks. Our gamemaster encouraged us to lay these out such that we wouldn’t confuse the tracks. With a large group, it would be possible – even natural, I’d think – for one player to play through one puzzle track and never see the others.

– There was a lot of content in Time Crimes, but 18 people seems like entirely too many players.

+ There was a tech-driven series of interactions in Time Crimes. This was unusual for a portable escape room. It brought the entire group together for interactions that everyone could experience together.

Lisa intensely puzzling.

– It was challenging to follow the story because we spent the majority of our time with individual puzzles, most of which were thematic, but did not carry the narrative. We had to have retained enough story details as they had been presented to make meaningful decisions at the end.

+ There were some genuinely funny moments in Time Crimes. This is the kind of game where you should puzzle hard, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

Lisa: Focused. Sera: Superhero. Sharan: Focused. David: Stoned.
The range of facial expressions in this photo.

+ Logic Locks took some splendid in-game photos. I don’t know if they do this for every team, but they should. It was good fun.

Tips for Playing

  • Time Crimes needed to be set up in a relatively large space. It worked well in a hotel meeting room, where we played it. (We wouldn’t have been able to play it comfortably in our one-bedroom apartment.)

Book your session with Logic Locks’ Time Crimes and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Logic Locks comped our tickets for this game.

 

Boom Chicago – Escape Through the Movies [Review]

Yes and!

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date Played: May 11, 2018

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: €40 per ticket

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Boom Chicago is an improv comedy troupe whose escape games explore comedy. Escape Through the Movies wove us through a large assortment of backstage spaces throughout their theater. Each new area that we entered took us into a new iconic movie for puzzles and laughs.

While it was a bit uneven in both aesthetics and gameplay, Escape Through the Movies was a fun assortment of unusual segments that didn’t take itself seriously. It presented great moments.

If you’re in Amsterdam, go with the right group and the correct mindset to experience one of the rare comedic escape rooms created by people who get comedy.

In-game: Promo images of a man operating an old film projector.

Who is this for?

  • Movie buffs
  • Comedy fans
  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who are comfortable going up and down stairs

Why play?

  • Comedy
  • Classic movie moments
  • It’s different

Story

The movies are real worlds and Hannibal Lecter wanted to bridge the gap between our reality and the movies. History’s worst movie villains would conquer our reality unless we stopped them. 

In-game: Promo images of a Matrix-y looking cyber punk woman in black leather and and sunglasses. She is lit and gesturing dramatically.

Setting

Boom Chicago is, first and foremost, an improv comedy theater. Escape Through The Movies was built in various rooms throughout their backstage area. It spanned multiple floors and each new space represented a different movie (or series).

The set design was uneven. Some segments look beautiful, while others seemed thrown together.

In-game: Promo images of 3 hands manipulating a matrix of 8 light switches.

Gameplay

Boom Chicago’s Escape Through the Movies was a standard escape room with some other types of gameplay mixed in. It had a lower level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, light interaction with an actor, and puzzling.

A woman crouched and walking cautiously through a dark vent or tunnel.

Analysis

Escape Through the Movies began with a typical escape room set and game flow. The setting was charming. It set the stage for our strange adventure.

– As we left the first set, we entered into an uneven fantasy world. Some sets seemed to strive for realism, while others did not. Boom Chicago seemed to struggle with how realistic to make this humorous adventure.

+ Boom Chicago chose this plot well. It could justify just about anything… so it took us through some of the most unexpected scenes. And it worked.

+ Boom Chicago added sequences that didn’t follow typical escape room gameplay. Some parts were a little intense and others were silly, but these segments were where Escape Through the Movies really shined.

– The puzzles – and other puzzley activities – didn’t give quite enough feedback. We’d wonder whether we were approaching them correctly.

+ Boom Chicago achieved a massive escape room milestone in creating an iconic movie interaction that so many other companies have clearly wanted to build, but simply didn’t know how to make it work.

– The timing wasn’t always on point. We’d solve something and the escape room would react, but off cue. This confused us.

– We traversed a lot of different sets in Escape Through the Movies. While we enjoyed the concept, it meant we walked through a lot of wholly undesigned space, which broke the fiction. In one instance, Boom Chicago needed better stage directions. We accidentally walked past one scene without stopping to experience it. (Our gamemaster directed us back.)

+ Some scenes were purely jokes. No puzzle/activity content. Boom Chicago pulled this off.

– The ending lacked the drama of some of the early scenes. It had fanfare, but the final solve wasn’t epic enough to serve as a conclusion to such a large-scale experience.

+ Boom Chicago specializes in comedy. Escape Through the Movies didn’t take itself too seriously. It made fun of its subject matter and we laughed along with it.

+ Boom Chicago has a spacious lobby with a bar. It’s a fun place to hang out before or after playing Escape Through the Movies.

Tips for Visiting

  • Boom Chicago is accessible from Amsterdam City Center. It is right near the Anne Frank House.
  • We recommend Long Pura for an Indonesian meal across the street.
  • All players need to be able to walk up and down stairs.

Book your hour with Boom Chicago’s Escape Through the Movies, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Locked Amsterdam – The Liebermann Conspiracy [Review]

One fine art break-in.

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date Played: May 6, 2018

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: ranging from €23 per ticket to €41.50 per ticket depending on team size and weekday or evening/weekend

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

In The Liebermann Conspiracy we set out on a heist, explored elaborate technological interactions, and navigated through a diverse collection of elegant sets. We saw a lot of things we hadn’t seen before, and had a lot of fun, even when we more or less lost the narrative at the end of the game.

I’m glad that we played this one because we almost didn’t (read on to learn more about that). If you’re in Amsterdam and willing to take a short taxi ride, Locked Amsterdam is a really interesting place to play.

In game: a storage area with a ladder going up to the next floor.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Neat gadgets
  • The break-in moments

Story

Journalist Hugo Laanen was hiding after his encounter with the Russian secret service in Locked Amsterdam’s first escape room, The Submarine. While Laanen was maintaining a low profile, he learned of a global conspiracy by the Liebermann Group. Since he was in hiding, he had reached out to us to investigate on his behalf.

In game: a closeup of a server rack.

Setting

The Liebermann Conspiracy’s sets were especially diverse, each space looking nothing like the previous ones. We began in a raw, yet realistic storage area, and progressed from there.

Gameplay

Locked Amsterdam’s The Liebermann Conspiracy was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

In game: a storage area with shelving covered in computer and cleaning equipment.

Analysis

+ We brought our tools with us to break in. And break in we did. These small details made for an exciting opening and supported the narrative.

+ The gamespace was composed of custom construction. This was impressive.

+ We were mesmerized by an in-game gadget and how Locked Amsterdam worked it into this escape room.

+ Locked Amsterdam turned a spatial constraint into an intense in-game moment.

+ We enjoyed many of the puzzles in this escape room.

– A flaw in a technological implementation allowed an observant player on our team to circumvent a major puzzle.

+/- We found three possible solutions to one puzzle. Locked Amsterdam didn’t mind that we hacked together something unintended – and we liked our other solutions better than the intended one – but we wished the intended solution had been less clunky.

– While it started out narratively strong, our sense of world broke down late in the game. The Liebermann Conspiracy evolved into an escape room with puzzles for puzzles’ sake, rather than a puzzle-driven adventure.

+ We traversed multiple sets. Each felt so different from the last. We especially loved one artistic late-game set. It was unexpected, but felt legit.

– The final gamespace felt plain and empty. This contributed to the scene feeling forced and out of place.

– The Liebermann Conspiracy lacked a climatic moment. Its best moments were early on and it didn’t build to a finale.

The Liebermann Conspiracy is a 90-minute escape room. While we did spend time waiting for various in-game tech in predominantly linear parts of the game, we didn’t have to feel time pressure because of this.

? Ok… Now for an uncomfortable subject. If we hadn’t enjoyed The Submarine on our last trip to Amsterdam, we would never have booked The Liebermann Conspiracy; we probably would have skipped Locked Amsterdam entirely. In our minds, the name seemed to imply a game related to an anti-Jewish conspiracy theory. Rest assured that this escape room was not anti-Semitic. This was just a name with no stated deeper meaning. Your reaction to the name will likely vary based on whether or not you live in an area where you meet enough Jews to recognize Jewish names. All of that being said, a name change wouldn’t be the worst idea, because I am glad that we played this escape room.

Tips for Visiting

  • You’ll have to taxi or Uber from the city center.
  • At least one player needs to be able to climb a ladder and move swiftly.

Book your hour with Locked Amsterdam’s The Liebermann Conspiracy, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Logic Locks – Catacombs [Review]

Say your prayers.

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date Played: May 6, 2018

Team size: 3-6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: ranging from €24.83 per ticket to €49.67 per ticket depending on team size

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Since we had enjoyed Logic Lock’s first game, we booked their latest creation The Catacombs without doing much research… We were surprised when we arrived at a beautiful old church and even more surprised when we descended into the church’s basement. Then we were utterly stunned by the size, detail, and quality of The Catacombs. It was epic, dark, scary, funny, and intense with a great set of puzzles that felt natural in their otherworldly space.

We spent most of Up The Game telling everyone we met to play The Catacombs. If you’re anywhere near Amsterdam, please go play The Catacombs. It’s scary, but it’s not over-the-top.

Exterior of the Posthoorn church at Haarlemmerstraat.
The Posthoorn Church at Haarlemmerstraat

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who are fine with a theme that mixes religion and the supernatural
  • Players who are comfortable with a more intense experience

Why play?

  • The legit setting
  • Beautiful sets
  • Interesting puzzles
  • The solo moment
  • The cinematic conclusion

Story

Something evil had awakened the in catacombs of Posthoorn Church at Haarlemmerstraat and we’d been summoned by the priest to determine what manner of wickedness had taken root beneath the church and exorcise it.

In-game: a wall of human skulls lit by a lantern.

Setting

Catacombs was set in the basement beneath the Posthoorn Church at Haarlemmerstraat. While not technically catacombs, it was the next best thing. The building was beautiful and the basement was dark and creepy.

We began our adventure in an exhibit about the church. Things rapidly escalated from there.

Everything was detailed and felt like it belonged in the game’s grim world.

In-game: A skeleton with rotting flesh.

Gameplay

Logic Locks’ Catacombs mixed escape room gameplay with elements of immersive theater. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and engaging.

A painting on the ceiling of the Posthoorn Church at Haarlemmerstraat

Analysis

Catacombs took place under a former church that was no longer operational for religious purposes. The setting added its own drama to the adventure.

+ Logic Locks worked with the constraints of their space to introduce the experience lightly and then ramp up its intensity.

+ The set looked great. As we moved through the gamespaces, they had different looks and feels, but remained part of a cohesive experience. As the narrative became more intense, so did the environment. It worked really well.

In-game: a weathered wall of creepy plaster faces.

+ We met a character who helped guide our experience through Catacombs. The role was crafted to deliver hints and narrative transitions. The actress in our playthrough brought an incredible intensity to the role, which upped the excitement of the entire experience. It was impressive.

+ Our actress delivered her captivating and intense performance in her second language, which we really admire.

– The otherwise excellent acting started out too intense. Our character grabbed our attention, but we had trouble figuring out how we were supposed to relate to her. Because she started out so high, she didn’t have all that much room to escalate tension (but she did find ways to do so).

Catacombs used levity to temper horror, which is fairly common of horror movies as well. For players apprehensive about horror, the comedic angle softens the experience.

+ We enjoyed the puzzles in Catacombs. By combining locks with tech-driven opens, solves felt both ancient and magical.

– One puzzle was ambiguous; it was difficult to read at face value.

– Late in the game we uncovered a journal. It supported multiple puzzles that ran in parallel, across different spaces, and different levels of light. This became a bottleneck.

+ There was a well-designed solo moment with consequences.

+/- Catacombs built to a conclusion that arrived unexpectedly, in an unorthodox manner. For players used to traditional escape rooms, know that Logic Locks used the actor to control the experience and you cannot simply input your way to victory. Go in prepared for this so as not to be frustrated searching for something you won’t find. When the actor is present, give them all of your attention.

+ The culminating scene delivered a dramatic ending. It made us the stars of our own saga. Logic Locks has designed two conclusions; win or lose, the adventure would build to an epic finale.

Tips for Visiting

  • Catacombs is a long walk or quick taxi/ Uber from the city center.
  • Note that Catacombs is in a different location from Eliza’s Heart.
  • At least one player needs to be able to crawl through a tight space.
  • At least one player needs to be comfortable alone in a tight, enclosed space.
  • There are live actors in this escape room. Review our tips for playing with actors.
  • Note that if you aren’t comfortable with a theme about religion and the supernatural, this escape room isn’t for you.

Book your hour with Logic Locks’ Catacombs, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Logic Locks comped our tickets for this game.

 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Room Escape Recommendations

If we had to pick a favorite city to play escape rooms… in all of our travels, Amsterdam tops the list.

Here are our favorite games in and around Amsterdam. Since we like nuance, they are broken out into categories.

A bridge covered in bicycles over a canal in Amsterdam.

Market standouts

If you only have time for a few games, play these:

  1. Girl’s Room, Escape Room Netherlands
  2. Catacombs, Logic Locks
  3. The Vault, Sherlocked
  4. The Architect, Sherlocked

Set & scenery-driven

Puzzle-centric

Action movie feel

Tech-heavy

Spooky & scary

Newbie-friendly

Outside of Amsterdam

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

Questomatica – Arcade Invasion [Review]

wakka wakka wakka wub wub wub

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date played: May 7, 2017

Team size: 2-4; we recommend 3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: €105-140 per team

Questomatica was formerly known as Claustrophobia in Amsterdam. 

Story & setting

Our adventure began in the bar of a retired video game hero, the less renowned brother of a heroic duo. While visiting his bar, we uncovered a menace that needed to be stopped.

Arcade Invasion was an amalgamation of late 1970s and mid 1980s video games brought to life through oversized, interactive, tech-driven set pieces. We toggled between being “at the arcade” and “inside the arcade games” as Questomatica recreated iconic moments from iconic video games.

In-game: Close up of an old cash register with an arcade cabinet and a jukebox in the background.

Puzzles

Arcade Invasion was all about big moments and nostalgia.

Much of the challenge in Arcade Invasion was in figuring out how to elicit responses from the set. The puzzles weren’t too difficult once clues became available and we determined how the room would react to various actions.

Standouts

Arcade Invasion brought familiar games off the screen and into our hands. Questomatica did a good job of referencing the true icons. You won’t find yourself straining to get the references.

The set was fully interactive, incredibly sturdy, and adorably strange.

In some segments, the large set pieces forced collaboration, leading to a feeling of team accomplishment.

The technology driving Arcade Invasion was impressive. It was also beautifully hidden. No wear or exposed wiring gave away its secrets. This seamless implementation of technology gave the room escape a magical, fantastical feel.

Shortcomings

Arcade Invasion felt like cool tech on display. As impressive as it was, the technology didn’t seem to support a cohesive vision or narrative. The story was difficult to follow.

It wasn’t intuitive how to interact with the set. Because of this, and a lack of gating for the early puzzles, we spent a lot of time trying to solve things before we had all the appropriate information.

Looking back, the first puzzle felt strange and out of place.

Questomatica may need to adjust at least one camera angle. At one point, we received useless hints because our gamemaster was unaware of what was actually our point of failure.

The final challenge was an exciting interaction, but a weak puzzle.

Should I play Questomatica’s Arcade Invasion?

Arcade Invasion was an exciting, nostalgic, tech-driven, fantastical, and weird adventure. It was a lot of fun.

If you are interested in escape room technology, I highly recommend Arcade Invasion. Few escape rooms hide their magic like Questomatica.

Much of the puzzling was in interpreting how things would work: what action would elicit what response. If you prefer more traditional puzzles, you might be frustrated.

Arcade Invasion doesn’t follow a clear narrative. It doesn’t really make any sense. If you prefer a cohesive mission, this might not be your escape room.

If you grew up playing video games and you’re interested in a fun and slightly bizarre representation of an arcade, look no further. For that, Arcade Invasion is top notch.

Book your hour with Questomatica’s Arcade Invasion, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Questomatica provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Sherlocked – The Architect [Review]

He’s not a software architect; he’s a “real architect.”

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date played: May 7, 2017

Team size: 3-6; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: €119 per team

Story & setting

In the basement of Beurs van Berlage, a commodity exchange turned conference space in Amsterdam, we entered the office of the building’s architect, a member of the famed Society of the Crossed Keys, to uncover the Society’s secrets.

The old trading floor of the Beurs van Berlage; the old stock exchange building that Sherlocked calls home.
The old trading floor of the Beurs van Berlage, Sherlocked’s home.

Beurs van Berlage is a beautiful red brick building constructed at the turn of the 20th century. Downstairs, we entered a unassuming room with wood paneling, heavy wooden furniture, and bygone electronics. This was a spacious office.

Puzzles

The puzzles in The Architect interacted with the room and its props. They worked in different, and sometimes unexpected, ways.

Many puzzles relied heavily on observation and communication.

Standouts

We loved a few puzzle mechanics. These were truly memorable escape room moments.

When the narrative took a right turn, the puzzling moved the experience forward. The story and puzzles played off each other to escalate dramatic tension.

Sherlocked created a climactic, exciting conclusion to this adventure.

The puzzling traversed the entire large gamespace in interesting and occasionally unforeseen ways.

Shortcomings

The gamespace was simply too large. The spacious setting and sparse decor dwarfed the scale of the experience.

The setting wasn’t inherently exciting. It was an office.

In a few instances, revised puzzle design could improve the player experience. One puzzle required order preservation, which could easily trip up inquisitive players. Another puzzle could be easily circumvented.

Should I play Sherlocked’s The Architect?

Sherlocked is famous for The Vaulta heist adventure set in the basement of this same building. While not as intense or dramatic, the lesser known The Architect was actually the more complex puzzle experience.

It was also more accessible; you need only to be able to walk downstairs.

The Architect intertwined puzzles, narrative, and a beautiful building. It was not an action movie and the set was less impressive than that of The Vault. Within the puzzles, however, there were still plot twists, cinematic moments, and a puzzle complexity that its more famous brother did not have.

It is a challenging escape room.

If you play escape rooms for the puzzles, at Sherlocked, you may actually enjoy The Architect most. I recommend you book them both and decide for yourself.

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

Full disclosure: Sherlocked provided media discounted tickets for this game.

My Escape Club – Judgment Day [Review]

“Come with me if you want to live.”

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date played: May 6, 2017

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: €22-40 per person depending upon team size

Story & setting

It was 2029 and humanity was losing a war to the machines. We were sent back in time about 10 years to end the threat before it was born.

Staged as a covert raid of a military complex, Judgment Day felt like a bunker. With all the concrete and metal, the set was plenty convincing.

In game: A metal and concrete bunker with a large computer terminal.

Puzzles

Judgment Day was a cinematic mission; all of the interactions told its story. As a byproduct, the room escape wasn’t particularly puzzley. We used deduction to determine next steps, which took effort, but there weren’t pure puzzles.

Standouts

My Escape Club made great use of the set throughout the escape room. The set created some fun and surprising moments.

There were some excellent big moments.

Judgment Day carried a consistent and cohesive narrative from start to finish.

There were a few interactions that were well designed to encourage teamwork between 2 or 3 people.

Shortcomings

Parts of Judgment Day bottlenecked, as there were interactions that only a couple of players could take on.

Judgment Day had a slow and subdued start.

Judgment Day was light on puzzles.

Should I play My Escape Club’s Judgment Day?

If you like your escape rooms to make you feel like the hero of your own movie, then this is exactly what The Governator ordered. Judgment Day was pure adventure with some deduction and lateral thinking.

If you’re looking for a puzzle-driven room escape, this is not the droid you’re looking for.

Regardless of experience level, if this type of adventure sounds appealing to you, then you should suit up to take down the machines.

Book your hour with My Escape Club’s Judgment Day, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: My Escape Club provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escape Room Netherlands – The Lab Room [Review]

When a lab setting isn’t boring as purgatory.

Location: Bunschoten-Spakenburg, The Netherlands

Date played: May 8, 2017

Team size: 4-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from €99 per team

Story & setting

Trapped in a mad doctor’s lab, we had to escape.

The Lab Room was dark and bright, clean and dirty, polished and ragged. While not horror, per se, it kept us on edge. All of the set’s contradictions created an emotional ride. It was the most intense lab scenario we’ve encountered to date.

In-game: Image from the security camera of a menacing lab with a work table, and a cage surrounded by barbed wire.

Puzzles

We puzzled linearly through The Lab Room. With each successive solution, new information and triggered events opened to us.

Much of the puzzling was tech-driven. Props didn’t necessarily open in the manner one would expect.

Standouts

Escape Room Netherlands’ use of set, lighting, and sound design in The Lab Room was brilliant. It both kept us on edge and also functioned as clue structure. More than in most room escapes, lighting was an integral component of the experience.

Not everything was high-tech. There was a great low-tech puzzle that fit well with the laboratory theme.

The technology was well-hidden and seamlessly integrated into the escape room. This wonderful execution drove much of the experience.

The Lab Room was full of surprises. Even when I knew a surprise was coming, I still jumped whenever the room reacted to us.

Shortcomings

The narrative didn’t really come through. The drama was environment and technology driven, but didn’t tell a story in the way that the Girl’s Room did.

Given how well thought-out most of The Lab Room’s details were, some of the puzzles seemed a bit random.

The ending happened abruptly and didn’t really feel like an ending.

Should I play Escape Room Netherlands’ The Lab Room?

The Lab Room was the first escape room in The Netherlands. It set the tone for many of the thrilling adventures, detailed sets, and impressive technology we experienced in our weekend of 10 Dutch escape rooms. Despite its location about 50km outside of Amsterdam, Escape Room Netherlands had a profound impact on the growth of the industry throughout the region.

With this original escape room, Escape Room Netherlands leaned into the set, crafting a gamespace that would elicit reactions from players. They integrated technology masterfully to create the emotional roller coaster of The Lab Room. 

It’s thrilling, but once you know what Escape Room Netherlands did next, it’s rudimentary. For a truly integrated experience, with puzzles, narrative, set, and story, play The Girl’s Room. If that’s too much to handle, emotionally or physically, play The Lab Room instead. It’s older, but it’s on a higher level than many newer escape rooms you’ll find.

Ideally, play them both, in the order in which Escape Room Netherlands created them. You really have to go out of your way to visit Bunschoten-Spakenburg. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but it’s so worth it.

Book your hour with Escape Room Netherlands’  The Lab Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Netherlands provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Questomatica – Wake Up!

I didn’t hit snooze for a change.

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date played: May 7, 2017

Team size: 2-4; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: €85-120 per team depending upon size

Questomatica was formerly known as Claustrophobia in Amsterdam. 

Story & setting

We had to traverse the dreams of a young girl to help her wake up.

Set within the dream rendition of Matilda’s (not the famed character) bedroom, we had to puzzle through the strange challenges that her young mind could throw at us.

The set was compelling and cleanly constructed with an eye for the most minute of details.

In game: the bed and nightstand of a girl named "Matilda." Her name appears on the wall above her bed.

Puzzles

Tech-driven, with some of the finest implementations that I have encountered to date, the wear, seams, and sensors were shockingly well hidden.

There was a good variety of puzzles. They all made great use of the set, creating fun dream-like scenes that worked well within the game’s loose narrative.

Standouts

In tech-driven rooms, I frequently solve at least some of the puzzles by looking for wear, wiring, seams, or other flaws in construction. That was simply impossible in Wake Up! The construction was immaculate.

The dream narrative of the room escape was reinforced by many of the interactions throughout Wake Up!.

The lighting was well executed.

The final puzzle was substantial enough to engage our full team.

Shortcomings

There was a lack of feedback from some of the puzzles. In one instance we solved something and didn’t know that we had. Many of us kept returning to it to try and make it work. Stronger action / reaction for each individual puzzle would improve the experience.

The music got a bit repetitive and clashed with one of the puzzles.

Wake Up! had dramatic moments, but it lacked adventure.

Should I play Questomatica’s Wake Up!?

It’s rare to encounter an escape room that is so perfectly constructed and maintained. It’s so rare that this is literally the first time I’ve seen execution on this level in over 300 escape rooms. That in and of itself is a massive accomplishment.

Questomatica also did a wonderful job of telling an abstract story through the room’s interactions.

Wake Upis a great and approachable game for players of all skill levels, so long as you have the ability to crawl from time to time.

It’s not the most intense, adventurous, or puzzley game, but it more than makes up for that with wonderful technology and the cleanest execution that I have seen to date.

Book your hour with Questomatica’s Wake Up!, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Questomatica provided media discounted tickets for this game.