It’s the beginning of Halloween season. Escape Rooms are still popular. (If you’re not sure what an Escape Room is, read my previous review here). Based on these two facts, it was a no-brainer that I’d want to try The Basement. Since Escape Rooms really took off at the beginning of the year, I’ve heard from multiple sources that the Basement is one of the best ones in town. With a horror theme, it promised an atmosphere that would heighten the sense of urgency that always comes along with these rooms. I was hoping it would be a combination of good puzzles and great interactive horror like Delusion from last year.
The first thing to notice about the Basement is that it can handle up to 12 people. My group was only 5, so we found out we’d be trapped with 4 other people that we didn’t know. 9 people was a lot, but still only 75% of maximum capacity. With a time limit of 45 minutes, I was originally worried that there wasn’t going to be enough stuff to keep everyone occupied. Boy, was I wrong. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Right from the introduction, the Basement lived up to its promise of a scary environment. I don’t want to give anything away, but even the way in which we entered the room was thematically creepy. Once the time started and the escaping had begun, everyone scattered to various sections of the room, as is typical at the start of these rooms. (Keep this sentence in mind for my next article!) The room was filled with the usual Escape Room trappings–scraps of paper, locks, keypads, drawers–but also with grisly props. We were in a cannibal serial killer’s basement, after all.
Those scary props, and remarkably effective use of darkness, were the standout features of the room. There were various dark sections of the room, some hidden and some not, that were harder to solve simply because people were hesitant to enter them. Without being able to see, or only being able to see dim shapes, people got into the spirit of the room and were afraid to be as thorough with their investigation as they were with the other parts of the room. This applied to me as well. Eventually I did thoroughly explore one dark area and found useful information. But later there was another, DARKER area–as in, pitch black–and this one freaked me right out. Vaguely, let’s say that sometimes darkness is nothing to be afraid of…but other times, there really are things hidden in it. So, after screaming and running away, I enlisted some fellow solvers to help out. Once again, being squeamish put a huge damper on our problem-solving skills as there were just some things that nobody wanted to do, even though we knew we had to, so when our half-hearted effort turned up a good clue, we called it a day and left before being thorough. This ended up being our downfall.
We did get delayed by a few puzzles, especially on two that were so similar to each other as to have their answers easily be mixed up. The puzzle similarity was a bit of a bummer. It’s hard enough to escape without having information that could apply to two different areas. Unless, of course, there was a way to differentiate them that we just didn’t see. Ultimately, we did not escape in time and were knocked out by gas, so the killer could store us and eat us at his leisure. Afterwards, we asked many questions of the staff about clues we missed, but they were reticent to spill the beans. They told us we were about 90% done, and almost everything would have fallen into place if we’d solved one particular puzzle. We didn’t feel TOO bad, since their posted success rate is only 12.5% for first-time players. They get a lot of repeat business from people hoping to escape the second time, but even having gone through it once, the said the second-time success rate is only about 46%! If we were really about 90% done, I have no doubt that we’d escape the second time through…but is that last 10% enough incentive to do the whole thing again? Hmmm…
The staff was all great. Everything was run professionally and courteously. The “haunter” took time to talk to us and answer a lot of questions after we were done. The waiting room had plenty of seats, and a variety of shirts to buy if you want to boast of your accomplishments. Plus, they have other rooms! The Boiler Room is the sequel and is already open. See my review of it here. They are currently constructing The Study, scheduled to open on 10/9. I can’t wait to go back! The Basement is open Wednesday through Sunday and have availability as late as 1:00 am on weekends. Videos, reservations, directions, and more can all be found at their website, www.thebasementla.com