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In-Depth Escape Room Reviews

Review: The Boiler Room

RATING: 5 Keys        RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 4:00

Escaping The Basement was only the first step. Edward Tandy’s got more games for you to play and this time, the consequences for failure are quite crushing.

An unassuming exterior hides the best collection of Escape Rooms in the United States!

Story

In this second part of The Basement’s Edward Tandy saga, guests find themselves trapped inside a cramped room with only the lingering memory of gas flowing out of vents in the basement. Escaping that room was the first mistake. Now death is quickly approaching, and Edward didn’t design this space to be gotten out of like he did with his basement. There’s also something about that ceiling making this feel like there’s a… pressing matter to attend to.

The Basement is one of very few venues in the United States that tells a complete story across their games. Each one is a chapter in an ongoing narrative with players at the center. It’s their experience to live through.

Beyond that, players learn more about Edward during the course of every game. In The Boiler Room it’s through journal entry style notes he’s written about a previous victim. Edward feels like a fully fleshed out character by the time guests have seen all three of The Basement’s chapters.

Scenic

With this game, The Basement took a new approach to the typical escape room. Instead of a spacious area with places to hide objects and clues everywhere, they shrunk everything down to a five by five room for four players with almost everything out in the open to see. This sounds like a crazy idea and runs counter to the “fill it with stuff” mentality a bigger room should take. But The Boiler Room is filled with stuff; it’s just tucked away in clever places not apparent on first glance.

A beautifully detailed facade greets guests before they enter the room. Inside, there’s a small window looking out on a rainy landscape, hinting at the outside world. Mood lighting illuminates the space and jitters with electricity surges. Sound effects enhance the feel and atmosphere to add unease. The ceiling dramatically lowers as time progresses giving an ever so subtle indication that failure has consequences attached to it.

The small five by five room adds tension and stress to the experience. It’s cramped. It’s uncomfortable. It’s everything one would want it to be.

A major surprise is hidden in the room that simply should not be spoiled. Suffice it to say it was one of my favorite moments in Escape Rooms. It added a real thrilling sense of adventure to the experience and was unlike anything I’ve seen before or since.

Puzzles

With The Boiler Room, The Basement begins their move away from lock and key and combination based puzzles and into action and object ones. This decision is made both for story and gameplay reasons. The Basement—in story world—is designed to be a challenging game for Edward’s victims, wherein players are solving actual puzzles.

In The Boiler Room guests are working through more realistically styled challenges in order to get out of the space. Whether that’s adjusting valves, stopping security systems, or completing other tasks we won’t spoil here, these play out as actions, not as “puzzles” one would find in a traditional escape room. The Boiler Room takes gameplay to the place where Escape Rooms should be.

Unlike The Basement, The Boiler Room is a fully linear puzzle chain. This is the perfect decision for a room of this size—both in square footage and group number—because it allows a complete concentration on tasks. From a difficulty standpoint we found The Boiler Room easier than The Basement, but still a challenging game. This is partially due to the linearity of it and that concentration factor. The person in the group who can solve a specific puzzle isn’t off on the other side of the room working on something else. They’re already there and ready to go.

Overall

With The Boiler Room, The Basement proved their first game wasn’t a happy accident of design and that they truly know what elements make a great Escape Room experience. This experimentation with form is a welcome change from the standard Escape Room fare available in most markets. It also gives variety to the venue’s offerings with some rooms presenting sweeping challenges for large groups and others built for more intimate setups. It may be difficult to find a group of twelve friends to get together and conquer The Basement together without being paired with strangers, but finding a group of four is easily doable.

The shorter 35 minute game time also can act as a “bite-sized” introduction to the genre. While I usually recommend The Basement’s games be played in order because of the story driven nature of the experience, The Boiler Room would be a good game to bring a first-time friend to because of the shorter time and linear nature of puzzles. It’s much easier to work together when you’re shoulder to shoulder in a small box.

The Boiler Room is another great addition to The Basement’s brand and why they continue to be on the short-list of best venues in the nation.

Venue Details

Venue:  The Basement

Location: Sylmar, California

Number of Games: 3

GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Duration: 35 minutes

Capacity: 4 people

Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.

Cost: $28+ per person (prices vary between weekdays and weekends)

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The Basement - The Boiler Room
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