Review: The Basement Escape Room

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Brevity/Mt. Diablo by The Story So Far)

I promised this yesterday, but life (by which I mean D&D) got in the way.

Yesterday, I went to The Basement, an escape room in Sylmar. Supposedly, it’s one of the most intense horror-themed escape rooms in the Los Angeles county area.

It absolutely delivered.

All of the little details – from the fact that we had to put hoods over our heads initially, to the poor lighting and the paucity of flashlights, to the ominous digital clock in the corner counting down our forty-five minutes – made The Basement the best escape room experience I’ve had to date.

I’ve been to one escape room before – Escape Room L.A., specifically a room called “the Theatre”. I would have put that room at a solid 8 out of 10 – it was difficult, but not too difficult, and the puzzles were fun and interesting. I went for a friend’s birthday party, and I wasn’t at all disappointed with the money I spent.

After The Basement, I’m now realizing that Escape Room L.A. was more like a 6.

There won’t be any spoilers here, so if you’re looking for cheats, go somewhere else. But suffice to say The Basement was a totally immersive, pretty intense experience that had me, at one point, literally leaping back in fear. There aren’t very many ‘jump scares’ per se, but the terrifying atmosphere of the room builds a kind of pressure that Escape Room L.A. couldn’t hold a candle to.

(In case you’re wondering if I succeeded, the answer is yes – to Escape Room L.A. In The Basement, we were in the process of keying in the final code when the time went out. Suffice to say I’m pretty salty.)

It was another indicator of how real the experience felt that I found myself trying to comfort the actress who played one of the fellow prisoners, despite knowing she was an actress.

The only thing that bugged me about The Basement was the sheer amount of red herrings in the room. In Escape Room L.A., everything that could be messed with ended up yielding some sort of clue or key. In The Basement, there were entire puzzles we didn’t solve which seemed to have no impact on obtaining the final code to exit the room. They were likely alternate puzzles (The Basement has a variant version so if you fail the first time you can come back to a completely new set of puzzles and try again), but it seems sloppy to me to leave the puzzles from the variant version just sitting in the room to waste time on.

If you’re looking for one of those family-friendly escape rooms, I would absolutely recommend you check out Escape Room L.A. It seems like the perfect amount of difficulty and atmosphere for puzzlegoers and moderate thrill-seekers.

If you want an intense, extremely challenging horror experience, I don’t think there’s anything better than The Basement. I would play it over and over again (and I probably will).

Yours, dead and eaten by Edward Tandy,

-R.R. Buck

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