A fun horror room!
Austin, Texas, 2019. The state is shocked at the consecutive abductions and findings of dismembered bodies. According to the local Authorities, a serial killer is striking terror and agony in the local community. Nothing and no one seems able to stop him.
This day was an ‘Escapepolis’ day. We had just played Cosmos 05 at their Gazi location, and then we jumped in a taxi to head over to their Galatsi venue. There was no doubt we were in the right place, the impressive frontage of the building made it abundantly obvious that this was the right location, which was useful as it didn’t feel like it would be a location for escape rooms.
Once we were buzzed into the building we couldn’t help but notice that this venue and décor seemed to be heavily inspired by the art-deco movement, very nice! It was a bit of an odd space and felt like it probably used to be a bar as there was an outside but covered waiting area (and a proper inside one too). When we arrived we were welcomed by one of the GMs (didn’t get his name) and were able to make use of the free water fountain and a biscuit or two.
We were given the health and safety briefing in the main waiting area before being led down the corridor to the entrance to the room. I do enjoy it when a venue decorates the hallway outside their rooms too, and that’s what Escapepolis do – I must admit, it made me want to play many of their other games simply because of the hallway decoration.
Outside of the room we were given our mission briefing, and also some warnings about The Butcher himself, ominous. We were very kindly given two torches (although more would have been nice for a team of four), and a paper bag each to put over our heads. With our vision suitably obscured, we were guided into the room for our mission to begin.
Like many of the great escape room experiences in Athens, this was another horror themed game and it had a live actor. The room itself was pretty dark so with limited torches it made it hard for us to split up and move around independently of each other. Couple that with the often loud music and it made it harder to communicate with our team if we were separated.
The game starts off in quite a contained space but soon opens up into a much bigger playing area, with plenty of little hiding areas where your eyes start to play tricks on you. Each of the spaces we encountered felt like they belonged in the story and the flow between the spaces was natural and worked well – arguably perfect for a horror experience.
Obviously with horror games the more you put in, the more you get out. We all played along and hid when the Butcher appeared as we didn’t want to be caught, but there is a system they have in place should anyone not play along. There is a warning, or rather a piece of advice that the GM gives you before you go in the room, make sure you heed it!
The immersion in this game was helped by the use of noise and light. The sound design was integral to creating a very tense atmosphere and also to alerting us to when areas were safe, providing jump scares and also for warnings. The way that the light and sound was used to show us that the Butcher was approaching was a master class in room design.
What was different about this game compared to some of the other horror experiences we played was that the Butcher wasn’t there to catch us, although he would if he had to, he was there to complete his own task and we were spectators who were along for the ride. In the sense of the story he didn’t know we were there, until the narrative meant he needed to, and even that was done in a very clever way.
This game was solid from start to end, and the end felt like we were watching a Hollywood feature film come to its climax. I love a nice and clear ending to a game, and there was no doubt that we had reached the finale.
This game created two additional puzzles by making it dark, and making the music loud – so there was a case of difficulty by darkness and also communication with teammates became a challenge. Saying that, as this game had a totally linear structure we technically didn’t need to split up from our team mates that often, and the lack of light also made that a challenge.
The puzzles generally felt pretty fair and I can’t recall any point where we really struggled with what we had to do, decent signposting in the room also helped with that. What was nice was that although this was a horror experience, it wasn’t light on puzzles and we found there was plenty to keep us going; searching, observation, audio, following directions, logic, colours, and wordplay all made an appearance in this room and generally culminated in a code or a key for a padlock.
The clue system was built into the story which was a nice touch. I don’t think it spoils anything to say that in the room you find a walkie-talkie which was luckily left by a previous victim of the butcher’s, a police officer. Unfortunately with all the noise in the room it was very hard to understand what was being said over the walkie-talkie, which meant having to ask for things to be repeated multiple times, or simply guessing what was said.
The live actor was great and in a weird way we found ourselves growing close to him and building up some form of rapport. OK, he wanted to kill us, but the reasons behind it were quite sad. Still, great acting and performance from Mr Butcher!
This game felt like more of a traditional live actor horror escape room rather than some of the others we played, and that’s not a bad thing. The puzzles were solid, the story was good, and the set was suitably terrifying. Playing this game made us want to go on and play more games at this location, if we only had more time!
Team: 4 players, unsure of time
Address: 105 Veikou Ave., Galatsi, 111 46