RATING: 6 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 18:31
When I was a kid, I used to think nothing could be more painful than a skinned knee. But then I got tortured by Bloody Elbow.
It is the 14th century, and everyone is ruled by Holy Inquisition. You have been accused of witchcraft and incarcerated to await your awful death by the hands of an executioner nicknamed “Bloody Elbow”. He is famous for his love of disgusting tortures and violence, leading to a slow and agonizing death. You have only one hour to try your fate and escape the dreadful dungeon in the guarded castle!
Quest Room immediately and abruptly drops us into a very real world of immersion and consequences. After being blindfolded, restrained and left for dead in a dark, dank dungeon, the first glow of light we see reveals a horrific site — one of our own friends is literally lying on his back, tied down to a torture table. Our concern for him quickly lessens when we realize that things are not much better off for us – chained up and locked inside not one but two caged cells.
Needless to say, the sense of urgency is instantly clear. This isn’t just another jail cell for us to escape. Very bad things clearly happen in this dungeon, and if we don’t find our way out quickly, Bloody Elbow will revel in making them happen to us next.
This adventure doesn’t just start off strong; it stays incredibly strong throughout its heavily narrative-driven course of puzzles. We encounter other prisoners, and even a nasty beast that guards the castle. This is a story that is impossible to not get lost in; one where we are cast in a very active role challenging us to escape something straight out of a high-budget horror movie.
It’s dark, filthy, rundown and foreboding. And while those words aren’t typically the best compliment one can receive – there’s a true art to creating something in seemingly such a state of disrepair while having it maintain a sense of believable authenticity. Make no mistake: Bloody Elbow’s dungeon is unquestionably a very real – and very dangerous place.
This, in fact, is something that we’d learn would be a trend from Quest Room as a brand. Simply put, the quality of their scenic across all of their rooms is easily in company with the best sets we’ve seen in a game.
Bloody Elbow makes use of some truly compelling hidden passages (and some not so hidden) to create a sense of adventure so real you can taste it – and in some cases in the darkness, literally feel its fur brush across your own flesh.
With so much to already rave about, it may be surprising to say “Puzzles are where Bloody Elbow really shines.” But they absolutely are. This game is jam-packed with story-driven puzzles that further the narrative and build towards our ultimate escape from the dungeon.
Every single step was incredibly intuitive, and they provided a satisfying challenge for our very experienced team, but yet would still be achievable for a more novice group.
Even the game’s hint system was in character, with pre-recorded clues left for us by a past prisoner who faced a similar fate to our own. This sort of thing works wonders for keeping us solidly locked into a storyworld without ever breaking the fourth wall.
But it was how far outside the box Bloody Elbow gets with some of its puzzle steps that really made us scream. (Well, that — and the furry thing in the darkness, of course.) Truth be told, Bloody Elbow doesn’t just offer up puzzles that are outside the box. There isn’t even a box with some of these. The box is gone. The box has been chopped up into a thousand pieces with a chainsaw. And best of all – where most games with this type of unique moment are just that – a moment – Bloody Elbow manages to do it several times throughout the course of it’s gameplay.
And each one of those times left us second guessing ourselves just the same on whether or not we really should proceed with our current course of action. I. Love. That. Feeling.
Bloody Elbow – and Quest Room as a whole – came to us pretty highly recommended, but even still, we weren’t really sure what to expect. With an industry full of such widely-ranging levels of quality, a fairly brand new venue can always be a bit of a wild card. And at the end of the day, recommended or not, it is our firm policy to always form our own, completely unbiased opinion.
Quest Room blew us away.
Their modest lobby hides portals into some of the most elaborately themed, immersively story-driven worlds we’ve ever entered. But it’s their puzzles that really set them apart – taking bold steps to be different in an industry that sometimes feels more and more the same.
And though both games of their initial offerings – Bloody Elbow and Da Vinci’s Challenge are top notch attractions, it’s Bloody Elbow that sits firmly among the top of our list thanks to its incredibly clever, incredibly original gameplay.
Quest Room has instantly become a top tier venue to watch in the already standard-setting Southern California market – a fact that only makes us more excited to hear of their expansion plans. Several new games are already in development, to soon be followed by a concept which, if it pans out as was described to us, will be something that is sure to get Quest Room industry-wide attention.
Venue: Quest Room
Location: Los Angeles, California
Number of Games: 2
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $99+ per group
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We thank Quest Room for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.