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Review: Traumatized

RATING: 3 Keys          RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 3:03

A horror-centric venue from established Chicagoland haunt Basement of the Dead, Legendary Escape Game’s Traumatized had all the ingredients to be a great game, but ended up settling for being just a good one.


Traumatized puts you into the clutches of Dr. Trauma, a conveniently named serial killer with a medical background who has a penchant for two things: organ harvesting and the Saw movies, apparently.

While he absolutely plans to cut you open and leave you for dead (or at least in a bath tub full of ice) he’s set up some puzzles for you to solve and will allow you to leave freely if you prove your worth.

Sure, why not.

Frankly I’m still stuck on his name, to be honest. Dr. Trauma.


“Your dentist’s name is Crentist? Huhh. Sounds a lot like dentist.” 

“Maybe that’s why he became a dentist.”


Joking aside about the terribly punny character name, the scenic quality in Traumatized is actually top notch. Really well done sets clearly from the hand of someone who understands how to create the mood with established experience from running a successful haunt.

It’s expectantly medical / laboratory in flavor – but does it perhaps better than anything you’ll find anywhere of that theme.

Dim lighting and ambient effects really create a sense of danger, mixed with plenty of creepy decor and a decent amount of gore. (Come on – his hobby is harvesting organs; if you walk into this room surprised to see blood, you simply didn’t do your homework!)

If Escape Authority were solely in the business of rating a game based on its scenic quality alone, there would simply be no question that Traumatized would be a solid 5 Keys.


The puzzles here were a bit of a mixed bag. Some were very in theme and consistent with the story world. Without giving anything away, milestone puzzles lead you to organs Dr. Trauma has harvested.

I actually think that’s kind of cool. It adds credibility to the backstory while enhancing a sense of danger for your own innards.

The problem is while some steps really work, others are clear puzzles for puzzles sake. Like one step that involved a whole lot of math. I mean a whole. Lot. Of. Math.

We’ve said this before – but math isn’t a fun game-based activity one purchases a ticket in hopes of getting to do. Math is homework.

Beyond that, why is a demented serial killer creating puzzles that center firmly around mathematical equations? Nothing about that fits in the story world.

I have no shame in admitting that I brute-forced that code, because frankly the “puzzle” shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

There’s a much bigger point of contention here. Are you familiar with Hungarian Puzzle Boxes? You’re most likely to find them as a waiting room time filler. Where you’re basically never likely to find them is as a vital step of an escape room.

Here’s the thing with Hungarian Puzzle Boxes. For the most part, they are something that is either within your skill set or not. There’s not much grey area with them. What that means is if you are among the many for whom they are not within your skill set, you basically cannot continue to advance throughout this game.

Total. Brick. Wall.

We actually used a clue for ours in Traumatized. I know Puzzle Boxes are not my forte at all, and my friend gave it an honest shot only to learn they’re unfortunately not his either. We even explained to the game master that we understand the mechanics of exactly how to solve it, but sadly lack the dexterity to achieve it.

The game master instead explained to us how the Puzzle Box works, literally almost verbatim repeating the explanation I provided her.

Later in the game, when the Puzzle Box was essentially one of the only things remaining for us, she finally agreed to help us with it- only to awkwardly show she too is among the many who do not possess the dexterity to open the box in the first place. And so the box was never opened.

Allow me to dust off my CTL+C, CTL+V really quick…

I have no shame in admitting that I brute-forced that code, because frankly the “puzzle” shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

And honestly. Are we not even going to address the notion that why would Dr. Crentist DDS use a waiting room Hungarian Puzzle Box to weed out who is worthy to survive within his story world? Honestly?


Traumatized ended up being an interesting mixed bag. It started off really strong, making me an instant fan – but a few questionable at best puzzle choices can really suck the air out of the proverbial balloon and taint an entire experience.

The good news is those issues are very, very easy to change – and doing so would without question bring Traumatized up to a solid 4 Key ranking from us, marking it as truly a great game.

Something I’d be remiss if I didn’t address is our game master. She was more than a little bit condescending – and with a lengthy background in hospitality based attractions – both operationally and later from the design perspective, that is not something I have an easy time tolerating. Talking down to a guest is not ok – and she did that with us on more than one occasion.

After the game, she (and the rest of the staff) were very, very friendly – so honestly that tells me this is more a training issue than a personality issue. Giving clues in an escape game can be a fickle task; one must really understand how to gauge the audience and understand how to help without seeming like they’re calling the player, for lack of a better term, dumb.  She did not exhibit that ability to gauge her comments, but that skill *can* be learned.

At the end of the day, Traumatized is still a good game – even if it should and still could grow into a great one. If you’re a fan of spooky / haunt-type attractions – which I very much am, you’ll enjoy Traumatized if for nothing else the beautiful setting. If you don’t like creepy, or dark, or gore, this is definitely not the game for you!

Venue Details

Venue:  Legendary Escape Games

Location: Aurora, Illinois

Number of Games: 2


Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 10 people

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

Cost: $19 per person

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