Not as scary as you’d expect, but creepy enough to make me not want to go to a real asylum
The Bedlam Institute ran for over 75 years, harbouring those thought mentally unstable to be members of society. Opening first in the late 1800s as a refuge for people who needed help, it soon turned into something far more sinister as the doctors began to perform horrifying experiments and tests on some of the patients. Many of the early patients died as a result of the testing, with them disappeared the majority of the records for the patients in what was to become a large scale cover up by those in charge at the institute.
In the early 1900s things began to change in society and it became harder for the doctors to continue to cover up their foul experiments, so they began to operate in secret, continuing their work but under a guise of progressive and new experimental treatments. Most of the records that were kept on patients were either fabricated or simply destroyed, making it almost impossible to track what was actually performed on the unfortunate souls who were admitted to the asylum.
Fast forward 50 years to the admittance of Annie Sanbrooke, a poor young lady admitted to Bedlam under false pretences, it was clear from the start that she planned to escape…
What happened to her while she was in the institute did she ever escape? You and your party have been sent to discover what happened to Annie and find your own freedom from one of the most evil places imaginable…
Nothing is certain, you’re not sure how you got there and there’s an eerie feeling the place is long since abandoned.
Half of our team live in Ashford so it seemed like a sign when we saw that XScream Escapes had opened up just around the corner, and even better was that they had three rooms! The location isn’t the most exciting as it is an industrial estate just off a main road, but they have a decent sized building which gives them space to fit in their rooms.
The entrance lobby (where exit photos are taken) is pretty cool and you are greeted by a stack of old CRT Tvs when you go in, it would have only been cooler if they had turned on – apparently the owners bought these in bulk from an old TV repair guy who was retiring. Once you’re through the lobby there is a small waiting room with comfortable seating and a fridge full of some free drinks to give you a pre/post-game sugar boost.
The owners have a background working on Thorpe Park Fright Nights so perfect experience to create a more horror-based escape room or two.
We entered the asylum and our briefing was delivered via a TV screen in the room, personally I never feel like this is a good way to do it as even though you are supposed to be focused on the TV, let’s face it you are looking around the room to see what you can do to give yourself a boost.
The first room you enter throws you into the immersiveness and it really has that bleak and cold feel that (I imagine) an asylum would feel like, including that hopelessness of ‘how the hell do I get out of here?’. You can see quite easily where you need to go from here but then you have to work out how to get there.
All the rooms in the asylum felt like they were there for a reason and fitted with the story well and it was nice to progress through the rooms as the story developed.
Once we finally got out of the final door the GM was there to greet us. After the game we had a good chat about their room and plans for the future, and it’s safe to say that these guys aren’t content with what they have and want to grow and improve.
For the most part I’d say we enjoyed the puzzles in this room and they actually played into the story well. I think the main negative is that there was a fair amount of reading with some of them and personally I find excessive reading to ruin the flow of a room, however some people may enjoy the story aspect of it so it really is personal preference.
There were padlocks in this room but not so many that it got annoying and there were points where they had tried to do something different so elements of automation came in. At one point there is a very tech heavy section which was a nice change of scenery from the rest of the room.
They did a really good job in the layout of this room, when you get into it it looks pretty obvious where you will go and the rooms you will encounter, but they even manage to throw in a little surprise just to keep you on your toes.
You could argue that aspects of the room felt cheap and a little worn, but this may have been intended because it actually added to the immersion of the room. If everything was pristine and clean then would it really feel like an old asylum?
The GM was attentive and was obviously keeping a close eye on us, he was able to provide nudges in a timely manner when we looked a bit lost and if we needed any nudges they were delivered via TV screens in the room.
With a background in Thorpe Park Fright Nights you’d expect this to be a scary room, it isn’t. It’s creepy but I wouldn’t class this as a scare room (or it wasn’t when we did it)
Operation Puzzles Room Design GM/Clues Excitement
Team: 5 players
Address: XScream Escapes, Enterprise House, Ashford Rd, Ashford TW15 1XG