Room 54 – Swamp of Sorrows [Review]

D&D&Escape

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: February 29, 2020

Team size: 1-5; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 2.5 hours for insanity mode (reviewed here), 1.5 hours for horror mode, 1.5 hours for mystery mode

Price: from €54 per team of 1 to €140 per team of 5 for insanity mode (reviewed here)

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating:  We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Few things excite me as much as seeing an escape room company put a completely new spin on the format. Room 54 did just that with Swamp of Sorrows by mixing escape rooms with fantasy role-playing.

Now, I’ve played games that have role-play components and character cards. None of them committed the way Room 54 did. It was novel to explore an escape room loaded with actor interactions, a rich story, and a battle system that sounded silly at first… but we got really into it.

Post game photo - the team looking into a candle in a dungeon.

Whenever we find a company pushing boundaries, some things inevitably don’t quite work. Room 54 combined a lot of game mechanics in Swamp of Sorrows and they didn’t all mesh together as cleanly as intended. There was too much lore and mechanics at the outset of the experience, the set felt cobbled together, and the puzzles frequently seemed tacked on.

When this game was at its best, however, the story, setting, and gameplay merged to create magic… and that was what we were there for.

Swamp of Sorrow had its flaws, but it was fabulously interesting. Personally, I’d rather play a bold game with flaws than an unremarkable one that doesn’t make any mistakes. If you’re looking for a novel experience and you’re willing to lean into the role-playing elements, Room 54’s imaginative playground is waiting for you.

Who is this for?

  • Dungeons & Dragons fans (or fans of other RPG systems)
  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Novel role-playing & combat mechanics
  • Some strong and unusual interactions
  • An interesting approach to escape room storytelling

Story

After selecting a character (warrior, bard, mage, thief, priest), and learning our individual backstories, we adventured into the ominous Swamp of Sorrows. Our mission was to free the imprisoned embodiment of nature… and fulfill our own individual quests.

In-game: A water well.
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Great Escape – Survivor [Review]

“We’re going to talk about this game forever.” -Dan Egnor

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: March 3, 2020

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: from €50 per team of 2 to €105 per team of 7

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating:  We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Survivor was one of those rare, unforgettable games… one of those games that left me amazed that it exists at all. Survivor was a game that – as one of my travel companions said – I’ll be talking about forever.

In-game: A man sitting on a rock in a cave.
Image via Great Escape

This game took place over 2 acts.

The first act consisted of a reasonably traditional escape room experience. The set was lovely and the puzzles were mediocre, but the weak puzzle flow was smoothed over by a helpful character who swiftly jumped in front of otherwise obvious flaws in game design. The actor did this so effectively that we honestly enjoyed what would have been a disaster in almost any other game.

In-game: A cargo net under a thatch roof.
Image via Great Escape

The second act… I can’t spoil it. The most memorable part of this game was realizing what the second act was. The second act was a physical challenge. Great Escape’s booking page warns:

  • “Not suitable for people with fear of heights.
  • Athletic clothing is necessary.
  • Require basic physical abilities.
  • Recommended players to carry a second pair of shoes and socks.”

You can infer quite a bit from those warnings.

So the question that I’ve been pondering since playing this game was:

“Did I like Survivor?”

My feelings were and remain complicated:

  • I’m glad that I played it, but this game was not for me, not at all.
  • Lisa would have loved it, but she missed it due to her real job.
  • I’m honestly amazed that anyone thought to build this thing, and I legitimately wonder if the building can handle the weight of this game.

I recommend this for people who like physical adventure and have good balance. (That’s my struggle, if I’m being honest.) Be prepared for a workout because Survivor was a wild ride.

Who is this for?

  • The physically fit
  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A hilarious actor/ gamemaster
  • The reveal of the last act 👀

Story

We were a group of explorers traveling by hot air balloon when a storm had brought us down on an uninhabited island. We’d created a raft and attempted to leave, but another storm had dragged us back to the other side of the island, where we hadn’t yet ventured.

This side of the island was full of surprises.

In-game: The interior of a cabin.
Image via Great Escape
Continue reading “Great Escape – Survivor [Review]”

Mystery Lab – The Requiem [Review]

“How big is this place?”

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: March 2, 2020

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: from €28 per player for teams of 2 to €18 per player for teams of 6

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating:  We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Requiem was a thrilling adventure through a massive set.

This was the second exorcism escape game that we played in Athens, but it was completely different from El Exorcista. This game was far less frightening and far more player- and set-driven… and the set had a lot to offer.

For me, The Requiem was among the most fun experiences that I had in Athens. I genuinely loved exploring the game’s world. I say this because as you read the analysis section, you’ll find a lot of criticism. The weakness of The Requiem was in Mystery Lab not fully seeing their designs through to completion from a game design standpoint. They repeatedly built something incredible, but left us wanting more from it.

Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly recommend The Requiem because of its strengths. The sense of adventure was palpable.

Who is this for?

  • Horror fans
  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • It was huge
  • The set was captivating
  • It was thrilling

Story

Priest Jeremiah’s Godwine had sent an urgent letter to the Vatican requesting assistance with a demonic exorcism. We were sent to investigate.

Continue reading “Mystery Lab – The Requiem [Review]”

No Exit Escape Rooms – El Exorcista [Review]

Deliver us from evil.

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: March 1, 2020

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

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: from €90 per team of 3 players to €115 per team of 5 players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating:  We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

That was intense.

El Exorcista was unlike anything else that we’ve ever played. Imagine if the movie The Exorcist was completely reimagined as a hybrid escape room/ immersive theatre/ haunted house.

The actors were outrageously talented and (probably) not performing in their native language. Some of the moments that they brought to life blew our minds.

In-game: an alter in a crypt covered in candles.

El Exorcista’s puzzles were probably the weakest part of the experience. Much like Zoe, the gameplay functioned more as gates, keeping us physically engaged with the experience. (It’s worth noting that while this was a scary game, it was nowhere near the sphincter-clenching terror of Zoe, and that’s probably a good thing.)

Athens had quite a few must-play escape rooms and El Exorcista absolutely sits among that pantheon. It was unique and it left us with so many unforgettable memories.

Who is this for?

  • Horror fans
  • Story seekers
  • Practical effects snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Breathtaking theatrics
  • Strong horror storytelling

Story

A young woman had been possessed by a demon. An exorcist named Father Damian sought to draw the beast out of her, but his strength wasn’t enough. He needed help.

In-game: The corner of a home, with a radio, and comedy and tragedy masks.
Continue reading “No Exit Escape Rooms – El Exorcista [Review]”

Escapepolis – Cosmos 05 Death in Space [Review]

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dave.”

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: March 1, 2020

Team size: 1-5; we recommend 4

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: from €70 per team of 2 to €100 per team of 5

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A] Push To Release

REA Reaction

Of all of the games that we played in Greece, Cosmos 05 Death in Space felt like a hybrid of Greek escape room style blended with influences from other parts of the world.

In-game: A seat in a cryo-freeze pod.

As with other Greek games, it was intensely story-driven with a rich world. At the same time, it was more compact and decidedly more puzzle-focused than every other escape room that we played in Athens.

By and large, this was a polished experience. However, the puzzles could have benefited from deeper integration into the already beautiful set.

Not only do I recommend Cosmos 05 Death in Space, but I think that this would be a good starting game for an escape room adventure in Athens.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • A strong opening scene
  • The AI character interactions
  • Well crafted, layered puzzles
  • A detailed and creative narrative

Story

Our interstellar crew had thawed from cryo-sleep on approach to our destination, Kepler-186f. As we regained consciousness, we were confronted by our ship’s AI supercomputer, ERIK… who seemed committed to prematurely ending our voyage by any means necessary.

In-game: Cosmos 05 ship door.
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