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Review: Nosferatu – Van Helsing’s Secret

RATING: 5 Keys          RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 11:26

The dark, ominous lair of a vampire hides many secrets – some of which we must keep even from our own teammates if we hope to survive.


Story

It is the 1900s in London England. You and a group of strangers have been hired for a mysterious mission and sent to a dingy basement apartment in a very old section of the city by your employer, a cloaked and hooded figure known only as Van Helsing. The details of the job will be revealed when you arrive, the only information you have so far is that you need to work together with the assembled team, it pays very well and involves dangerous and possibly illegal activities. Armed only with candles you descend to the cellar one hour before night falls filled with apprehension and foreboding! You see that the thick iron bound door has been opened and that a case with a note has been left for you by Van Helsing but there is no sign of your employer! As you enter the room you see a single word carved into the door – NOSFERATU!

 It should come as no surprise that when working for a figure as shadowy as Van Helsing, our quest will be full of mystery and peril. Escape the Netherworld creates a deliciously devilish storyworld, and drops us deep within it well before we even enter Nosferatu’s basement lair.
Prior to stepping foot in the room itself, each member of the team is, in secret, issued their own unique character role. Not only do these characters play into the storyworld, but they give each person distinctive abilities as well as their own directive that must be achieved in order to emerge victories.
Scenic

Describing Nosferatu’s lair as simply a “dingy basement apartment” is downplaying things to say the least. Entering with expectations established from the game’s own narrative, we were immediately blown away.

The space is gorgeous. Far more ornate mansion or elaborate museum than basement apartment – every inch of the initial chamber is intricately detailed from floor to ceiling.  Lavish furnishings and opulent finishes scream of wealth and high standing in society, while dim lighting casts shadows in every corner clearly implying something fare more sinister is afoot.

As if the bloody corpse on the floor wasn’t enough to tell that story on its own.

Naturally this finely finished room hides a dark, dank tomb to serve as the suitable resting place of any self-respecting vampire. Disguised by a hidden passage, it creates both a flowing mood that is both a juxtaposition to the first room while at the same time a logical extension of where the storyworld would naturally end up.

Puzzles

Nosferatu – Van Helsing’s secret offers a series of dark challenges that, while at times ominous, remain always in tune with the storyworld. More importantly, each step of the journey is logical and intuitive, offering a satisfying flow for both newer players as well as an ample challenge to our experienced group.
But – if things prove a bit too daunting, help is readily available, thanks to a clever hint system that takes the form of a moving, animatronic raven. Much like the in-character communique experienced in Sasquatch – Bigfoot’s Revenge, Escape the Netherworld continues to raise the bar by removing the “necessary evils” of typical gameplay that oftentimes pull players out of the storyworld.
And speaking of story – we touched on the individual character roles assigned to each player, and how they directly impact the gameplay. In true Van Helsing fashion, players will need to keep secrets from their teammates, while they simultaneously work together with them to both achieve their own objectives and solve the over-arcing mystery of Nosferatu. Simply completing the game itself, but not realizing those individual objectives will result in a loss. This added layer creates a truly unique flow for Nosferatu – Van Helsing’s Secret that very few other games in the country can match.

Overall

The Netherworld, at its core, is a seasonal haunted attraction just outside of Atlanta, GA. It’s almost as if stating their location is a moot point, though, as this venue has garnered a reputation to be known across the country as one of the greatest haunts in existence.

What this does, however, is sometimes set rather lofty expectations for everything they do. Escape the Netherworld comes pre-programmed with some mighty big shoes to fill. Thankfully, they not only meet those expectations, but in some cases actually manage to exceed them.

Each of their games carries the layer of impeccable scenic quality you would obviously come to expect from this venue if you’d had the opportunity to visit even one of their annual haunts – but the layer of story immersion is significantly greater. Where the Netherworld is experiential, things happen more around you than to you. Escape the Netherworld makes you the star.

Each game conjures a unique storyworld to drop players into- and each narrative builds to a surprising climax – both in story and in action that physically plays out right in front of you. Admittedly, while Nosferatu – Van Helsing’s Secret had perhaps the weakest ending of the three original Escape the Netherworld games, when comparing it to the broader spectrum of offerings in venues across the United States, it still stands tall.

But it’s the added layer of story, casting players into unique roles with abilities and consequences the likes of which we’ve never seen before that truly sets this game apart and makes it another worthy jewel in Escape the Netherworld’s dark crown.

 

Venue Details

Venue:  Escape the Netherworld

Location: Stone Mountain, Georgia

Number of Games: 3

GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 8 people

Group Type: Can be booked either Public or Private.

Cost: $28 per person (public) / $35 per person (private, requires a minimum of four)

EAR Disclaimer

We thank Escape the Netherworld for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.

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Escape the Netherworld - Nosferatu - Van Helsing's Secret
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