The Room – Beast of Berlin [Review]

The roar in the roaring twenties was the sound of the Beast of Berlin.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Date played: September 4, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from 35€ per ticket for 2 players to 22€ per ticket for 6 players

Story & setting

The notorious serial killer known only as “the Beast of Berlin” had claimed another life. His most recent victim was found boldly placed within the office of Chief Inspector Ernst Gennat, the man hunting for him. Gennat assembled a special commission to track down this killer and bring him to justice.

In-game: A dark and intricate study space with two large comfortable chairs beside a table with snacks and coffee.

Beast of Berlin set us off on our adventure within the latest crime scene, Chief Inspector Gennat’s beautiful office. It looked and felt like a real and functional place.

Puzzles

From a puzzling standpoint, Beast of Berlin played similarly to The Room’s other early game, Go West… but with moderate horror tossed in for intensity.

Beast of Berlin was a puzzler’s room escape. Some of the puzzles carried narrative weight; others were simply good puzzles.

Standouts

Beast of Berlin began in a compelling and strangely beautiful detective’s office from a bygone era. It was a comfortable but intriguing space to explore.

In-game: shot from the perspective of an hold tripoded camera, and overlooking a large office.

The Room’s commitment to set detailing showed in every area of the experience. They fully decorated spaces that we barely spent any time puzzling through. This attention to detail elevated the ambiance and intensity of the surrounding experience. In spite of the level of detail, Beast of Berlin was not plagued by red herrings.

We enjoyed most of the puzzles that we encountered in Beast of Berlin.

Shortcomings

There were a few puzzles that seemed a bit too opaque or worn down.

This detective’s office included a few gorgeous props that were just… props. We would have liked to see them worked into the puzzles.

We spent the majority of Beast of Berlin moving through the escape room without any urgency. The early gameplay was emotionally level, at times even monotonous, and didn’t foreshadow – or push us towards – the excitement that was to come. Then, after the tension escalated, the ending felt small. It didn’t return adequately on the built tension.

Should I play The Room’s Beast of Berlin?

Beast of Berlin started comfortable and relatively standard, but it became far more interesting than it originally appeared.

Note that Beast of Berlin turned dark, both physically and metaphorically. If that’s not your thing, choose one of The Room’s other escape rooms.

Otherwise, regardless of your experience level, there was an intriguing set along with satisfying puzzling to enjoy in Beast of Berlin. It will be challenging, but approachable and exciting.

Following our visit, The Room closed Beast of Berlin for refurbishing. We expect that some of the heavily worn or less integrated puzzling has now been reworked for future players.

Book your hour with The Room’s Beast of Berlin, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

For a local perspective, see Escape Maniac (in German).

Full disclosure: The Room comped our tickets for this game.

The Room – Go West [Review]

Escape the crap.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Date played: September 4, 2017

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from 35€ per ticket for 2 players to 24€ per ticket for 5 players

Story & setting

Go West was set in a 1980s Soviet-controlled East Berlin apartment beside the Berlin Wall. Our application to emigrate to the “Golden West” had been rejected and the Stasi was after us. We had received a tip from a secret source about a way out, but we had to hurry or suffer.

In-game: A drab 1980s living room in East Berlin. A stuffed fish named Erich hangs on the wall.

As an American and student of Cold War history, it was immediately clear that Go West captured the look of a 1980s home in Soviet territory. The color scheme, furniture, and props were almost entirely authentic. I have to imagine that any former East Berliners stepping into this set would experience a strange journey back to when their entire city was held prisoner.

Puzzles

Go West was primarily a puzzle game. That said, The Room created puzzles from period-specific props or used puzzles to carry the narrative and message of the escape room.

Standouts

As Americans, we frequently see different types of 1980s escape rooms built around pop culture references. Go West was not our 1980s, but it was a detailed, accurate, and poignant representation of the time period. The gamespace felt lived in, but not distracting.

In-game: A gridded cocktail table with chess pieces on it, and a large 1980s television set in the distance.
Sign me up for that wallpaper.

Go West made a conscious and deliberate political statement through interaction design. The Room used in-game transitions as the primary vehicle for conveying their opinion.

We were particularly fond of one of the mid-game layered, collaborative puzzles in Go West.

Shortcomings

Much of the puzzling in Go West was from an older era of escape room design. It involved significant searching. Many puzzles were for puzzles’ sake rather than narrative-driven.

Go West was emotionally level for much of the experience. The gameplay didn’t instill urgency until deep into the experience.

Should I play The Room’s Go West?

Yes, you should play Go West. This was The Room’s first game and it was a beautiful and interesting experience.

It was one of the few games that I’ve encountered that communicated a political and historical message.

While Go West has been open for a few years now, it has been meticulously maintained. I have to imagine that it was far better than the norm when it first opened. It still played remarkably well, even if some of the gameplay suggested its age.

You will have to crawl to complete Go West. If that isn’t an issue, you should absolutely experience this room escape regardless of your level of experience with escape rooms.

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

For a local perspective, see Escape Maniac (in German).

Full disclosure: The Room comped our tickets for this game.

The Room – The Lost Treasure [Review]

Lived up to the hype.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Date played: September 4, 2017

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from 35€ per ticket for 2 players to 24€ per ticket for 5 players

Story & setting

A construction crew repairing a Humboldt University building had found a mysterious vault that was not in the blueprints. The government had tapped our archeology team to uncover the secrets contained within its depths.

Our Indiana Jones meets Warehouse 13 meets The Goonies adventure ensued after we navigated our way through a narrow maze and entering a mysterious ancient chamber.

In-game: an assortment of steam punkish items, the Philosopher's Stone, and a glowing bowl of purple orbs.

The Lost Treasure’s set was world-class. It was detailed and gorgeous with hidden nooks and interactions laced throughout the gamespace.

In-game: A light passing through a number of focal points and then reflecting off of a mirror as a beautiful hazy beam.

Puzzles

The Lost Treasure was a fantastic puzzle game. We had plenty to solve and the challenges were real, but fair. Additionally, the puzzles were born of the environment and the adventure.

In-game: An ancient chamber with a large ruined turn table, and assorted animal samples, documents, and books.
I wish this came out a little sharper, but the light fog in the space made wider shots a little difficult.

Most puzzles required or encouraged at least 2 players’ cooperation to resolve.

The Room didn’t beat us over the head with exposition and story. They did, however, enable us to feel our own narrative arc as we worked through the experience.

Standouts

Almost everything…

As mentioned above, the set design was world-class. It was hyper-detailed, but it never felt confusing or burdened with red herrings.

In-game: A collection of beautiful crystals, and stones.

The puzzles were challenging, fair, and well executed.

The interactions, reveals, and general use of technology were phenomenal.

The sound design was among the best that we’ve heard… not that there are all that many companies even striving to include top tier audio.

With a small exception below, the lighting was dramatic and useful.

The use of space, select use of darkness, set transitions, and the overall layout of The Lost Treasure were brilliant.

In-game: an ancient map beside a golden bell.

The historical, mythological, and pop cultural Easter eggs in The Lost Treasure were entertaining and fit well in the game.

The entire final act of The Lost Treasure was fantastic. You are going to want to win this game because the sequence of events at the end blew us away.

Shortcomings

There was one interaction that triggered its feedback a little too early. As a result, I didn’t fully complete the interaction which made for a minor complication that Lisa was petite enough to sneak past. If the feedback came upon the absolute completion of the interaction, this would eliminate the issue entirely.

Our flashlight was a little funky and difficult to control in The Lost Treasure. It’s difficult to discuss without minor spoilers, most of which you learn in the game’s briefing:

Minor flashlight spoiler

We had a sort of haunted flashlight that would disable in certain areas of the game and stay dead for a little while. The effect was cool, but when we wanted a flashlight, it almost never worked, and we never truly needed one anyway. We simply abandoned it.

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The Room’s The Lost Treasure cannot be enjoyed by all players. The game has many tight spaces and you physically have to pass through a narrow passageway to even enter the game. Their booking website is up-front about this stating:

“All players must

  • pass through narrow passages
  • be fit and healthy
  • not have a fear of darkness
  • not suffer from claustrophobia and asthma”

The sizing issue is real and the narrow passageway at the beginning ensures that people who will get stuck in the game cannot even begin it. There are a lot of great things that happen in The Lost Treasure as a direct result of these design decisions, but it’s also a shame that there are some escape room players who simply will never be able to play it.

Should I play The Room’s The Lost Treasure?

If you can fit into The Lost Treasure and aren’t claustrophobic, then without a doubt, you should go play this escape room.

In-game: An assortment of animal samples with a large stuffed bird staring into the camera.

You’ll need at least one or two players who can crawl and are not afraid of the dark to make it through this adventure.

The Lost Treasure was one of the most hyped games that we’ve played to date; it resoundingly beat our expectations.

Lisa and I played this on our own and we methodically tag-teamed nearly every puzzle, taking our time and milking it for all it was worth. When we won in the final minutes, we didn’t want to leave.

I can comfortably declare that to date, I have never had this much fun in an escape room… and this was my 405th escape game.

If you’re near Berlin, please go play The Lost Treasure.

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

For a local perspective, see Escape Maniac (in German).

Full disclosure: The Room comped our tickets for this game.