The Basement: A dark, dank basement. A deranged serial killer who likes to play games. An hour to escape. You’ve done this before. You know the drill.
So this was it. We had finally made it. After years of hearing about the allegedly BEST escape room in the world, we finally had the chance to play it. Prior to this day we had several missed opportunities to play owing mostly to the fact that they require a certain minimum number of players for optimal game play. Everywhere we have visited people have asked us: Have you played the basement? Now we could finally say: “YES!”
Much to our disappointment, however, we felt, in our humble opinion, that the Basement has been much exaggerated and definitely overhyped. Our theory on this is that many so-called escape room review bloggers have never actually played the games they recommend but only pass on what they have “heard” from others (most of whom are first-time escape room players). But to give credit where credit is due, let’s start with the positive.
Pros: The set design was cool! Not the best of the best, but still pretty darned cool. The dark lighting and added effects created the spooky ambience befitting of its reputation. The fear factor was definitely heightened in the minutes waiting before the start of the game and the whole group was mentally prepared to be scared silly by the trailers and overview videos. The game master was likewise instrumental to creating a sense of terror and preparing us for the feeling that we were really about to be locked away fighting for our lives.
Cons: It wasn’t scary. Wait, maybe that should go in the pros? Yes, that is definitely a pro. Let me repeat: IT IS NOT SCARY. For those of you who HATE HAUNTED HOUSES (you know who you are), you can breathe a sigh of relief. I personally love haunted houses (though usually not in combination with escape rooms) but this was definitely not a haunted house in any way. There was a surprise sound or spooky element here and there but nothing terrifying at all. So never fear, my fretful friends who may have steered away from this place based on the promos. The reason why we have placed this fact in the cons section, however, is based on the fact that their entire advertising campaign and hype is focused on being a terrifying experience. It was, in fact, not terrifying.
With that out of the way, now we can evaluate it as a normal escape room. As you know we love puzzles (like all escape room fanatics) and focus mostly on looking at quality of puzzles, logic of puzzles, and game flow. The Basement suffered on all these accounts. First, the puzzles were not all aligned to the theme of the room. Some were random and most were not puzzles at all but merely objects or codes to find. Finding objects in a dark and dirty (faux dirt) room with only one flashlight between twelve people is nearly impossible. The logic of a few of the puzzzles was questionable. Game flow was severely complicated by the sheer number of players packed into the room. Twelve people? Communication is nearly impossible. Twelve people and a linear, one puzzle at a time room? Definitely impossible. We did not escape. We were close, we were told. But we did not escape. This was not for want of trying or lack of experience but due to the fact that twelve people were crammed into a dark room with 1-2 flashlights and very well-hidden codes and objects. Reduce the number of people and provide us proper lighting and then we will be able to see well enough and communicate well enough to easily solve the simple puzzles in this room.
Our recommendation? Play it to say you’ve played it but we found it mostly just overhped and overcrowded. The large number of people in the room made for an unenjoyable escape room experience especially when compared to the vast majority of other escape room companies out there. Southern California has so many other AMAZING escape rooms – give some of those a try.
Cover photo taken at Countdown Live .
We are escape room fanatics who have played over 300 games in the U.S. and Europe. We love the art of escapology and we wanted to share our adventures in playing room escapes with you!
Rooms Played: 352