“Poop your pants” Scary!
The sanatorium is no longer used. From what I’ve read, it was used for both the mentally and the physically impaired and the living conditions in that place were truly horrendous. The strange thing is the other day I was passing by, I swear I think I heard someone screaming from the inside. I surely must have been mistaken though because it was closed down long ago.
– Excerpt from the diary of Professor Nathan Jones
If there was a company that we had been hearing a lot about recently, it was Lockhill. We were told many many times, by many different people that we must play the games by Lockhill, so we did. Well, two of them anyway. We had just played Chapel and Catacombs at the other Lockhill location and we were truly blown away by it – there’s a reason it ranked number one in the TERPECA 2022 awards. The Sanitorium ranked 54 in that list, but it’s still one hell of an experience!
Before you even play The Sanitorium you have to make a choice; Day Mode, Night Mode, or Midnight Mode. In a nutshell;
- Day Mode: More Puzzles, No Horror
- Night Mode: More Horror, Easy Puzzles
- Midnight Mode: 2.5 hours long with all the horror and all the puzzles
Being the gluttons for punishment that we are, we decided to go for Midnight mode, and oh my god – what an experience! I’m not sure I’ve ever booked an escape room where it comes with an advisory message that you should bring an extra pair of shoes, and it was good advice although I’d add perhaps an extra pair of underwear too!
This Lockhill location is again easy to find and just a short walk from a metro station. The building it is in is a bit odd as it felt more like a residential or office block so to find a full on horror escape room there felt a bit strange. But once we stepped through the door, it was like everything changed and we entered a totally different world.
We were greeted by Thomas, a resident of Lockhill and we also met Tabitha (sister to Bathilda the baker in Chapel and Catacombs). It was quite clear that once again, Lockhill were going for full blown immersion in the story. We never actually saw Thomas’s face and he stayed in character throughout our entire experience, from the moment we entered until the moment we left.
It’s also worth noting that although the FAQ’s on Lockhill’s website advise that you can play only one of their games or any and all of their games in whatever order you wish, the story of The Sanitorium seems to follow on directly from Voodoo Shop. We didn’t actually play Voodoo Shop or Lockwood Manor, as we were short on time and they aren’t as highly regarded as the others, so we missed out a little on the narrative. We also played this after Chapel and Catacombs, but the team was aware and did try to adjust the narrative slightly to make it make sense. So top tip, if you’re a completionist, you may want to play in this order: Lockwood Manor, Voodoo Shop, Sanatorium, Chapel and Catacombs – you’ll get much more from the story this way. (But if you’re crunched for time, definitely just go Sanitorium, then Chapel since we can’t actually recommend the others.)
I could write pages about simply the waiting and briefing areas of The Sanitorium, but really you just have to go and experience it. Even the fact that this venue is a different location to Chapel and Catacombs was written into the story, they thought of everything. I would say it was a comfortable waiting area, but really it was designed to make you uneasy as what was lurking in the dark, and that feeling never left us.
Thomas gave us the briefing for our mission and also gave us some very specific health and safety points. Make sure you listen closely as it really is for your safety and very important. Someone who was on the team playing the game before us apparently got injured in the game, so listen carefully (we had no injuries at all, so it is safe if you follow instructions).
Where to begin?! You enter from a non-descript corridor into another world, and that’s just the reception/waiting area. Entering the room itself is like going deeper into this incredibly creepy and disturbing world and the more we explored, the more we wanted to escape. Each space we entered was more terrifying than the last, and one area specifically took it to a whole new level.
This game was incredibly dark and very foggy which at times made it almost impossible to see, but we were provided with one torch each. I feel like lighting was used in another clever way in this game, but I’m not sure if I imagined it or if it was true – either way, while I was in this game it felt comforting to me (in a weird way).
The atmosphere in this game were cranked up to 11. Not only was it dark and foggy, but flickering lights, intense music, creepy noises. Everything was designed to make you poop your pants. Even the room designs themselves added to the scare factor. There were confined areas and more vast areas, but even these larger spaces left plenty of opportunities for your eyes (and the live actors) to play tricks on you.
Because we chose Midnight Mode, not only did we have to avoid the numerous live actors but we also had to solve puzzles. I’m pleased to say that the puzzles were numerous and positioned just right considering the darkness and the pure adrenaline coursing through our veins.
The game played out in a mostly linear fashion but there was plenty to explore and so much back and forth between the areas. Not one of our team was ever at a loss for something to do, even if that something was simply keeping guard. Yes, we had to avoid the actors but there were times where we had to actively interact with them, gulp!
I’ll be honest, I can’t really remember the puzzle types in The Sanitorium, this game was about so much more than the puzzles. What I can remember of the puzzles is that they were fair, and plentiful enough for this experience. Even when you think you may have nothing to do, there’s always something you can do to either progress the story or simply get back to the action quicker.
I’m going to include live actors in this section, although really they deserve their own area as they were incredible. I have never had an escape room experience like this where truly every turn, every flicker of light and every mouse fart was so damned terrifying. Bravo to Lockhill, this was simply perfect.
So yes, this room has live actors, and that is plural as there are more than one, they also come with specific instructions about what happens if they catch you, and trust me, you don’t want to be caught. One of our team was indeed caught, and that’s a story he’ll be telling for years to come!
Ordinarily clues or assistance would have come through a phone in the game. Unfortunately for us the phone had crapped out so we couldn’t utilise that for help. Fortunately Thomas and Tabitha were brave enough to come to the windows of the Sanitorium to give us assistance when needed. The perfect in-character work around to a bit of dodgy tech. .
This entire experience truly felt like we were in a live adaptation of a Resident Evil or Silent Hill video game. It. Was. Incredible.
I don’t know how Lockhill do what they do, but they deserve all the plaudits. If you play, play Midnight mode, just don’t forget your change of underwear (and shoes).
Thanks to the Lockhill games we also came up with a new word to warn our teammates of an encroaching live actor, “Spoop!”. It’s like a spook, but makes you poop a little.
Team: 4 players – no idea on time
Address: Deligiorgi 55-59, Platia Karaiskaki,10437