RATING: 6 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 7:20
With all of our experience, you’d think we would eventually wise up and stop accepting every invitation to come over for dinner.
The world is still fuzzy. The dark room you open your eyes into is unfamiliar and uninviting. You thought you were going to a concert. The man driving you and your friends to the nearby town seemed so nice, but the smile he flashed as you drifted off will haunt you forever, even if you manage to make it out of here. As panic sets in, you realize you have two choices: stay here and resign yourself to being this man’s next meal, or do everything you can to escape THE CANNIBAL’S DEN!
Cannibal’s Den very quickly tosses us in the pot of its incredibly immersive world with an absolutely epic opening moment wherein we directly encounter THE Cannibal himself. Not on a tv screen. Not in an audio recording. He’s looming over us, with a friggin’ chain saw. But this is still an escape game, after all – so naturally he’ll be leaving us for just a short while, establishing a classic window of potential breakout. And to it, each step along the way draws us deeper and deeper into this dark, thrilling world, building to a tantalizing narrative climax.
Even the hint system is fully in theme – thanks to the help of one of our cannibal’s prior captives, communicating to us from her own cage elsewhere in his den. Pay close attention to his surveillance system if you’re lucky enough to make it so far; the chilling realization that our helpful voice can actually be *seen* speaking from her cage is enough to make even the bravest feel the gravity of the situation we find ourselves trapped in.
With each new Quest Room game we challenge, you’d think we’d begin to simply expect a higher level of scenic quality – yet somehow, they continue to blow us away time and time again. Cannibal’s Den – being one of their newer games, is unquestionably a step above.
From captive cages and further into the house – a space we clearly were not meant to see, the tone becomes more foreboding by the second. Even once out of his damp, dark, dank cellar, the more brightly lit living quarters are somehow all the more terrifying. Completely distressed, well beyond the point of simple disrepair – filthy, and covered in blood.
Naturally (?), the kitchen is full of body parts – severed, of course. Some stewing in pots of actual water, others rotting on the counter tops with even more frozen in the fridge to keep them fresh. If you wanted a sense of urgency, I’d say this more than qualifies.
If you’re lucky (??) enough to make it into the cannibal’s den itself, an even more unnerving mood is cast by the realization of what he’s doing with pieces of his victims that were not simply eaten. And then there’s the walls lined with newspaper clippings – their headlines each casting light on one of his horrific crimes like some sick scrap book of his morbid memories.
Every inch of Cannibal’s Den is dripping with as much story as it is blood. It’s equal parts chilling and inspiring, truly finding the perfect balance of intense, horrific immersion.
Quest Room goes to great lengths to ensure that every single puzzle within Cannibal’s Den is so deeply entrenched within its psychotic storyworld that they feel like organic actions one might take to desperately escape this cannibal in real life. Logical and intuitive progression mixes with a taboo sense of danger that is as thrilling to solve as it is to simply witness it pan out in front of you.
If it seems like there’s some puzzle tech you’ve never experienced before – that’s for very good reason; Quest Room created some incredible new gadgets to help… pass the time until dinner. Combine that tech with some brilliant physical steps as well as a handful of real life “MacGyver moments” and you have the recipe for an exceptionally memorable overall experience.
One of the most unique split starts we’ve ever seen finds you separated from your fellow captives in as many as four completely unique ways. (To get the full, true experience here, you might want to get cooked alive in at least a party of three.) Unlike other large scale, split start games, you’re not locked away alone in a room solving basic puzzles; everything you do fits unnervingly into the world – using physical items left behind by your captor in unique and original ways as a sort of last ditch effort to help save each other before it’s too late. Simply put, it was the most satisfying moment of reuniting we’ve ever felt in any spit start adventure.
Cannibal’s Den further reinvents the wheel by adding solid consequences to your attempted escape. Get caught and a whole new layer of danger might be introduced as a menacing roadblock on your journey to freedom. The terms here are simple – figure out how to solve it, or die. Like, really, die. In a sort of mini-game-within-a-game, if you lose that moment, your game ENDS. Regardless of how much time you have left. Regardless of how well you may have been doing up until that point. If you die, it’s all over. (Don’t worry – the moment is obvious, and it’s solution should be almost nearly as obvious as well — but this added meaty layer on top of an already delicious experience just makes things taste all the more sweet.)
Quest Room set a mighty high bar with their earlier batch of games. Bloody Elbow remains one of the most innovative, genre-taboo-redefining experiences we’ve ever seen. In situations like that, where you start off already on such a high, it’s often times difficult to live up to, and damn near impossible to surpass. We entered Cannibal’s Den with lofty expectations, and in a sense, found ourselves almost nervous that they might not be met.
Well, that nervousness quickly shifted when half-way through the game, I found myself literally barricading the kitchen door and locking it from the inside, “just in case he tries to come back.” Me. Haunt guy. Barricaded a door to an empty room in terror. That’s how well Cannibal’s Den gets inside your head. That’s how real it feels.
At the end of the day, we never could decide if we liked Cannibal’s Den more than Bloody Elbow. Both have such stand-out strong points. Both are such well-polished games. Both are so highly story-driven, and immersive to such a degree that there’s just no question the danger we are in is real, and we are not characters in, but rather trapped in their worlds. And at the end of the day, why decide? Quest Room is now home to two of the country’s very best games, and with several more opening on the horizon, we’re just salivating at the thought of getting another taste.
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
Escape Authority readers save 10% using code EAUTH
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.