Book therapy before playing!
The big day for your trip to Europe, that you have been planning for so long, has come. Your meeting point with your friends is at the Larisa’s train station, and nothing will ruin it. Or maybe it will.. When you get there you find out that your train has left two hours earlier even though your tickets are right.
Now you have to find a place to spend the night, but all the hotels in the area are full. Fortunately, the weird train conductor is the only one that can help you. He will offer you his mother’s old guest house to spend the night…
Wake Up by Station 33 is one of the games that was ranked in the TERPECA awards so we decided that it should be one of the stops we made when we were in Athens. We’d played a number of horror games already but strangely we decided we’d play even more and this is one game that we knew very little about.
Wake Up is another one of those games that comes in three different modes, and in the words of Station 33:
• Atmospherical riddle room – act included – (more riddles and the spirits are there to help you complete your mission)
• Psychological thriller with -act included- (less riddles but be careful, the spirits are there to distract you from your mission)
• Intelligent mode Only for strong minded players: More and harder riddles than the psychological riddles than the psychological thriller mode but with all its action and thrill.
It was of course a no brainer, we had to book in for the ‘Intelligent riddle room’ mode, arguably the hardest and most intense of the modes.
Normally I would talk about how we arrived and were welcomed by our GM etc, etc.. But not at Station 33, there was no warm welcome here. This experience is all about immersion, and that starts even before you step through the door to the venue and as you may expect from a horror experience, the host is not exactly full of sunshine and rainbows.
We were shown into a dark waiting area where our host, fully in character, asked questions that were pertinent to our experience. There was a cabinet where we could lock up our belongings, and we were told to lock up anything that would give off light, including our smart watches.
There is a toilet on site but it’s only accessible before or after the game. Unfortunately one of our team needed to use it pre-game but due to going straight into the experience they didn’t feel like they could ask. In hindsight, it would have been fine, and even worked with the narrative, if they had asked, so if you need to go don’t be shy. It made for a very uncomfortable experience for that team member and I’ve never seen them so relieved to finish a game!
Anyway, after a number of unpleasant minutes in the reception area it was finally time to start the game and head to our ‘room’. With strict instructions about what we should and shouldn’t do, we followed our host around the corner and had one of the strangest starts to a game that we’ve ever had.
This game started strong with a unique way to transport us into the game, and then continued to use some cool tech to push us through the game. It is 100% a horror experience so it is dark for most of the experience and there is at least one live actor nearby at all times. That being said, there was a narrative to the game, which was that we were essentially travelling through nightmares although I must admit with all the jump scares, I lost track of the story and just focussed on trying to get through the game.
The game was quite physical in many ways, with plenty of climbing, crawling and shuffling away as fast as possible from creatures in the darkness. Equally there were a number of occasions where we were just alone with the darkness so we could get on with solving the puzzles at hand.
Lighting was a big part of Wake Up and it was used to make it more immersive, in a way that the Greeks seem to have mastered. We were provided with some very dimly lit (electric) candles but there wasn’t enough for everyone so we pretty much had to stick together if we wanted to be involved in solving puzzles. Extra candles would have been nice as it made it quite hard and slow to explore the spaces that we found ourselves in.
The room design was interesting and we found it very easy to get lost. The space was massive and the way we moved between areas was not always the same, this certainly helped with that ‘nightmarish’ feeling of helplessness. At one point the game took a much more sinister twist and I really can’t talk about it without any spoilers, but it was an experience that one of our teammates will certainly never forget.
Despite this being 100% a horror experience, it still had puzzles. Like we’ve found with most of these horror experiences, there was a linear style of gameplay where one puzzle/experience led into the next. This meant that the live actors always knew where we would be and where we would be going next – no escape!
The darkness and terror no doubt added to the difficulty of this room, but the puzzles, although varied, weren’t themselves overly challenging (with a few exceptions that certainly were more of a challenge.) Generally they fitted into; searching, observation, teamwork, communication, and many of the puzzles/spaces were a bit more physical.
This game was very theatrical and they carried that theme throughout. Yes, there were padlocks here and there, but also a lot of tech which when used correctly made the whole experience much more impressive.
I quite liked the clue system in this game, it was essentially a walkie-talkie but was disguised as a pillow – very much a comfort pillow that Liz seemed to enjoy holding on tightly to. At times thanks to the noises in the room it made it difficult to hear what was being said, but generally it was fine. At one point Liz said “I love that clues come from a pillow” and the pillow beautifully responded with “I love you too”.
Our GM, who we later found out was called Georgia, did a great job of reading the room and she would pop through a little clue when we were looking a bit lost. There were occasions where we did need to ask for help, but we never had to wait for long.
This is probably the best section to mention about the live actors in the game, yes, there was definitely more than one, and they were very impressive. They seemed to know the spaces they were in perfectly and always knew where to appear for maximum effect. At times it felt perhaps a little too much as we wanted to just progress with the game/puzzles but had to stop and wait for a scare before we could continue again.
Wake Up was a visually impressive experience and I can see why horror aficionados love it. I think we had been spoiled by other experiences so this one didn’t grip us as much as it possibly should have, but it is still a game we will likely never forget.
One section of the game possibly traumatised one of our team members for life, but that meant that Wake Up gave us one of the most entertaining post-game alcohol-required debriefs we’ve ever had.
Team: 4 players – no idea on time… or was it all a dream?
Address: Chomatianou 33, Athina 104 39