RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 5:00
Every time we’ve faced the zombie apocalypse, we could always take solace in the fact that it’s just make-believe. Well, not anymore. These zombies are real, and we are f*#%ed!
Nightmare Survival masterfully creates a storyworld that carries a deeper sense of urgency than any I’ve encountered before. There’s no more “what if’s.” The zombie apocalypse IS real, and we’re living it…
At least for now.
For the first time in a zombie game, there are logical consequences to your actions. This isn’t just another situation of “tag you’re it, now you have to sing a nonsense song or do a nonsense dance to get back in the game.” (Yes, those exist, and yes, we have endured them.)
In Nightmare Survival, not only must you escape, but you must do so uninflected. And like any “good” life-threatening illness, symptoms don’t set in instantly. Once infected by a zombie’s contaminated touch, you have thirty minutes of life left as you know it.
That’s thirty relentless minutes of freaking out while you try to find one of several antidotes hidden throughout this game’s TWENTY-ONE rooms. And if you don’t, expect to turn into a flesh-hungry undead monster yourself.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Find a cure, or YOU become a ZOMBIE in this game, meaning you effectively switch teams and play AGAINST your friends – or at least the ones left who are lucky enough to remain human.
How’s that for realistic consequences?!
Nightmare Survival has the benefit of inhabiting the space of an exiting seasonal attraction, The Haunted Lair. As such, this monster of a 21 room game comes with already installed, detailed, intricate sets and scenic decor.
Throughout each room, hopeful survivors are tasked with searching each of the spaces, absolutely full of props. There’s not one empty drawer. There’s not a single vacant shelf. And while this may sound like a minimal observation, it’s truly something that only further sets this venue apart from other Escape Rooms.
How many times have you played a room that has you searching a desk, to find each drawer empty except for the one puzzle object you need for the next step? Conversely, how many of you have even one single empty drawer in your house? It’s not realistic, and it hurts the level of immersion provided by the storyworld. This is just another of the areas in which Nightmare Survival excels.
Dark corridors, atmospheric lighting and literally countless zombies hiding in the shadows waiting to make you their latest feast create a level of scenic immersion unlike any other. Nightmare Survival, simply put, is one of the best horror-themed attractions you’ll ever find – and the fact that it’s an Escape Room at the same time just makes it even better.
By their nature, the puzzles here are on the simpler side when compared to an average Escape Room. Normally, this wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing, but as we’ve already learned, there’s just nothing normal about Nightmare Survival.
Simpler puzzles seem incredibly difficult within the context you encounter them. The urgency created by the numerous live actors chasing you through the rooms would make challenging puzzles far too frustrating to be solved. What results here is a level of difficulty that is essentially perfect for what they’re aiming to achieve.
The seemingly countless live actors are as much a part of the puzzle as the locks on each door. Besides searching for clues and advancing through the rooms, true survivors need to be mindful of where the zombies are at all times, and be ready to defend themselves against those zombies!
It’s no secret that the only way to kill a zombie in real life is a head shot. Destroying the brain is the only way to eliminate one of these brain-hungry beasts – and Nightmare Survival fully embraces that tactic. I hope you’ve got good aim, because to survive this nightmare you’ll need to either stab or shoot (with foam bullets) a zombie in the head before it gets to you first, or your potentially last thirty minutes as a living being begin.
Nightmare Survival also achieves something standard Escape Rooms really can’t: strategy matters. You need a game plan to survive this zombie apocalypse, and how you manage to play out that plan will impact your odds of survival dramatically. I. Loved. That.
Choices you make can also greatly impact your experience. Guard your trust wisely. Some people may be there to help you, while others may be there to hurt you – but it’s up to you to figure out where your trust is deserved. Factor in the added layer that your own team mates can turn into zombies, and Nightmare Survival creates a delicious layer of paranoia that will shake even the most experienced players. You just NEVER know who to trust, and even with the very best of team intentions, this battle with the undead can quickly turn into an every man for himself situation.
Nightmare Survival, as an attraction, is perhaps the most impressive “dark horse” I’ve ever encountered. Prior to arriving, we knew nearly nothing about the venue. Their website is, to say the least, modest. Upon arrival, their exterior is equally modest. The first room of the game is modest. And then all hell breaks loose.
Barely into the second room of twenty-one (yes, there are really, legitimately twenty-one rooms in this game) I turned to the rest of my group and said “holy cow this is cool!” And that level of excitement carried on for the full 90 minutes of this game play experience (or, the 85 of those minutes we needed to become only the second team to ever survive.)
Prior to entering this sprawling house and being left for (un)dead, you’re given a briefing on how to combat the zombies (safely), issued your weapons – two knives and a gun – some ammo and a small stock of antidotes – armbands that when tied around your bicep represent you’ve found a cure after being infected. Don’t worry – there are more hidden throughout this games twenty-one rooms… but you have to find them… while being hunted… with time running out…
Ok, you know what – do worry.
And that’s just the thing – it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Haunted Attractions. It’s what got me into Escape Rooms in the first place. Being a veteran of Haunts means I really don’t scare at this point. I appreciate them, but they don’t make me nervous. Nightmare Survival made me nervous as all hell!
The space is overwhelming – in the best possible way. I found myself constantly worried I’d be next to get infected. There’s a massive layer of real-world consequences this game creates unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any other game I’ve ever played.
Nightmare Survival also eliminates that “safe zone” other traditional haunts often have — you know the one — “don’t touch the actors and the actor’s won’t touch you.” Well, they will touch you. They’ll grab you – and their rotted flesh will leave black soot anywhere they touch you. The venue wisely issues marked T-Shirts, which serve both to protect your own clothing as well as help identify you throughout the game to keep track of who has been infected. Don’t plan to visit this venue wearing your Sunday Best. Nothing will actually ruin your clothing, but just the same, you will get dirty. It’s also worth noting that you’ll be doing a lot of running for your life, so wear sensible, comfortable shoes (no heels!)
Simply put, Nightmare Survival is one of the coolest Escape Room / Haunt / Interactive Attractions I’ve ever experienced, and combines the three genres flawlessly for one overall 90-minute non-stop “wow” moment. This is a must-visit attraction.
I’d just like to point out that of our team of three, only one survived the zombie apocalypse. I am the one. And I have absolutely no shame in admitting I used the other two as literal human shields to get me to the end.
They would have wanted it that way.
Venue: Nightmare Survival
Location: Palm Bay, Florida
Number of Games: 0
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 90 minutes
Capacity: 10 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: This venue has closed.
We thank Nightmare Survival for inviting us to review this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.