The Bunker

7.3 Overall
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Puzzle Design
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The Bunker

  • Played September 2016
  • Los Angeles

  • 60 minutes
  • 2-6 players
  • $24-$32 Weekdays, $28-$36 Weekends

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PanIQ Room is tucked away in a rather out-of-the way location on the outskirts of Hollywood. Despite the unimpressive initial appearance, it houses two classic rooms that have been on the scene ever since escape rooms started popping up around Los Angeles. The Bunker is their harder room.

I know it’s called The Bunker, but the PanIQ Room is still pretty hard to find. Hidden behind a row of trees and a line of traffic just off one of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles County, you might drive right past it even with a GPS. Even when you pull into their parking lot (which is just a few square meters of cement on a dusty lot), you’ll wonder if you’re in the right place, as the escape rooms themselves are in a converted house that looks almost exactly like your dear grandmother’s cottage. The waiting room is clean, but threadbare and very small. The hosts are gregarious and more than willing to chat before and after the game.

Thankfully, the effort goes where it matters. The room has some wear-and-tear on it and your hands will have that funky metallic smell afterward, but it’s fitting since you’re supposed to be in an enemy war bunker. The room is well-built, although as the room progresses there are several points where you’ll need to be a bit careful if you don’t want to hurt yourself. The people running the room seem very, very keen on upkeep; though there are several elements in the room that seem somewhat delicate and the owner commented afterward that people break things quite often, the fact that nothing was out of place during our run is a testament to how much the owners care for their rooms.

The description on the website says that you’re trying to destroy evidence in an enemy bunker, but there’s none of that in this room, which can make the actual escape a bit confusing. The room itself is filled with barrels, chests, bullet shells, and files that you would expect out of a bunker during a war, but aside from being generally war-themed, the plot is unfocused. However, the room does make great use of dim lights, epic music, and tight spaces to create a sense of urgency that will get your blood pumping (BONUS: There’s a Casino Royale-esque touch that you’ll appreciate if you’re a James Bond fan.)

Some rooms will dazzle you with their creativity, but this room hands a definite advantage to people who have done many escape rooms. Many of the puzzles are completely identical to the ones from their competitors, and you’ll blaze through parts of this room because you’ll know exactly what to do. That being said, if you’ve never done an escape room this would be an awesome challenge. There’s a great variety of puzzles, as well as an unusually large emphasis on how good you are at noticing and remembering details.

The room starts fairly normally but starts to become heart-pounding as the game progresses and they start to take away your light sources. You know a room is doing the whole “descent into darkness” thing correctly when you have people hiding behind others or running back toward a light. This is the Bunker’s saving grace, as the room is fairly standard and the excitement is maintained by the fact that you really don’t know what’s hiding in that corner…

The Bunker will be your jam if you’re fairly new to escape rooms but you’re still looking for a challenge. However, it might teeter on too easy if you’ve done any number of rooms. Either way, players of all levels will find that this is a thrilling room, a feat that is rare in non-horror rooms.

Final Verdict:


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