Questomatica – Arcade Invasion [Review]

Arcade Invsion is one of the best escape rooms in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms in Amsterdam.

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:¬†‚ā¨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]

The Architect is one of the best escape rooms in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms in Amsterdam.

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:¬†‚ā¨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 Vault, a 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]

Judgment Day is one of the best escape rooms in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms in Amsterdam.

“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:¬†‚ā¨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]

The Lab Room is one of the best escape rooms around Amsterdam, Netherlands. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms in the Amsterdam area.

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 ‚ā¨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!

Wake Up! is one of the best escape rooms in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms in Amsterdam.

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:¬†‚ā¨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 Up! is 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.