Prepare to be terrorised
Your friend Sarah Jones had been looking into a way of making quick money and decided to take part in an experiment for a new drug at Dr Greuber’s clinic. Since Sarah left you haven’t heard from her so have decided to head over to the clinic to check that everything is okay. Upon entering, it’s very clear that Dr Greuber doesn’t run a normal clinic! He doesn’t appreciate unwanted visitors and is said to have laid traps around his workplace to gas potential victims if they aren’t clever and brave enough to escape within 60 minutes!
When you have an escape room addiction, it’s very hard to just play one game in a day. So we don’t even try to fight it. (Especially since we started blogging to justify the addiction 😀) Day Two of our epic two-week/60(ish) game road trip continued with our next game at Break Escape in Loughborough. We began with Sands of Time bright and early at 9:00 am, and having successfully managed to escape the tomb, it was time to take on the game that is the main reason we’d heard so much about Break Escape: Nerve Klinik. Is there a better time to face off against unknown horrors than 10:00 am on a Saturday morning?
Horror experiences are a love them or leave them sort of thing. Although I actually loved our first true horror experience, Zoe in LA, I’m amongst the “Eh, they’re alright” crowd; i.e. we won’t actively seek them out, but we also don’t actively avoid a game intended to frighten me to the point of peeing my pants. (FYI, I have yet to find one that accomplishes this goal.) When we see people looking for recommendations for truly terrifying games, Nerve Klinik is recommended alongside the likes of The Butcher and Edith as being one of the most terrifying experiences in England. It even snagged the top slot in ScareCon’s 2020 Scare Awards for “Best New Scary Room Escape.” But the question remains: would Nerve Klinik live up to the hype?
Covid-19 Procedures: NHS Track and Trace was in use at Break Escape, and there were hand sanitising stations throughout the public spaces. Break Escape have installed ozone air purifiers throughout the venue and games should undergo a cleaning regime between teams. Start times are staggered to hopefully keep teams from crossing over in reception. The company’s website states that temperatures will be checked upon arrival, although ours were not. At the time we played (May 2021) we were informed that masks were optional (we chose to keep ours on), and our hosts were not wearing PPE.
The atmosphere for Nerve Klinik began building before we even stepped through the doors into Dr. Gruber’s clinic. In a darkened stairwell with ominous music and screams permeating the air, Ally and Tim told us the story of the good Doctor, his previous patients and our dear friend Sarah. Thus, with the mood set, we ventured forth, through the dark and into the clinic.
As our eyes adjusted to the gloom inside, the atmosphere continued to build, with plenty of jump scares, and frightening moments. Nerve Klinik felt semi-linear, which is probably good, since most teams I imagine are too afraid to split up, but there are opportunities to investigate things independently of one another, if you’re willing to brave it. (And a few parts will require you to be very brave, and comfortable with tight spaces.) But even with one thing leading to another, the game flowed well, with the tension ramping up as we approached the climax of the game, and a feeling of relief as we finally emerged from the clinic.
I debated about mentioning this for fear of spoilers, but as Break Escape themselves mention it on their website, it is worth noting that part of what makes Nerve Klinik a horror experience rather than a horror themed escape room is the use of a live actor to ramp up the thrills and chills. When done right, live-actor horror games can be some of the most immersive out there, and Nerve Klinik started out that way. I was jumpy even before the door shut behind me. But for an experience to be truly scary to me, the focus should be on the threat of what might happen, particularly in a situation where I know that I can’t actually be hurt. Jump scares and a shadowy figure stalking toward you, are, in my mind, infinitely more threatening and allows me to suspend my disbelief, and imagine that it’s possible that something might actually happen. Nerve Klinik has pretty much perfected the jump scare. However, I will say that I was genuinely more frightened before we ever met our rather angry spirit than I was after we were introduced. (FYI, there’s a reason that the game has a strict age limit of 16+, and it’s not just from the murder theming. Be prepared for some rather strong language from the angry weapon wielding ghosty.)
Like most horror games, the emphasis in Nerve Klinik is more on the atmosphere than the puzzles. But that’s not to say that the game was devoid of puzzles or that the ones that were present were poor (some were actually pretty clever). There were enough puzzles throughout the game to make it clear that this was an escape room, not just a horror experience, and amazingly, despite the poor lighting in places, the puzzles didn’t really rely on the darkness to make them more difficult.
The puzzles fit within the theme, with plenty of searching (including some sneaky hiding places), logic, pattern recognition, codes and observation, plus some more physical elements. I particularly enjoyed one puzzle that revolved around a padlock style that was a throwback to my childhood (although this had some extra instructions thrown in to simplify it, as I think people tend to find that particular lock style too difficult), but the final puzzle of the game was one massive logic puzzle, which was a little hard to keep track of. We got there in the end though, after a few search fails, and managed to defeat Dr Greuber and release the spirits.
I love a clever clue system, and Nerve Klinik certainly had that. Well, I guess technically there were two. First, there were some friendly spirits of Dr. Greuber’s previous victims were trapped in the clinic who were happy to help with nudges along the way to ensure you succeeded in your mission. Occasionally these voices were a bit difficult to understand – we really couldn’t make them out, but they could also communicate in a secondary fashion. It’s the secondary communication tool that I found particularly clever. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was beautiful and effective in its simplicity, as long as you follow the lights. Ally and Tim knew just when to let the spirits guide us along, with clues being perfectly timed to avoid frustration. (And also when to try to frighten the life out of us.)
If being terrorised isn’t your cup of tea, then Nerve Klinik is probably one to avoid. However, if you’re a fan of scare attractions and puzzles, then step right up – the doctor will see you now.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 40:00
Address: 58/59 Baxter Gate, Loughborough, LE11 1TH