Beneath the Surface

8.1 Overall
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Before getting into this review, I’d like to point out that our visit to Outbreak Escape Games occurred during the first few months of them being in their space and running their operation. A number of our notes regarding the Pre-Room experience may not apply as they did during our visit, so please keep this in mind. Here we go!

Outbreak: the sudden or violent start of something unwelcome. In the case of Outbreak Escape Games, that unwelcome something is portals. Hired by Outbreak Inc., teams must traverse these doorways in order to contain the outbreak.

Arriving at the address of Outbreak Escape Games, we were unable to find the entrance. After a while of searching, we luckily saw one of the staff exiting the building, and followed as they led us inside. It was explained that the alleyway that leads to the entrance is being cleared and lit in the near future, as well as the addition of a sandwich board to guide guests to the entrance. Inside, the lobby area is welcoming and has a cool feel. There are refreshments available, and a number of games ready to be played. Preceding the beginning of Beneath the Surface, we were given two introductions: a video that introduced the concept of Outbreak and portals, and then a shorter, less detailed verbal introduction to the story and room. While the Outbreak introduction was well done and effective, it may serve its purpose better if displayed in the lobby rather than in the room.

There are a lot of pieces to the set of this escape room. Luckily a lot of these pieces are stuck in place, which helps prevent red herrings. The bunker setting is enhanced by the electrical boxes and wiring, as well as the heating ducts, all of which is inaccessible to the escapers. The room is large, especially for a midtown Toronto company, and is more than ample for the maximum of eight players. Another factor that is worth mentioning is the outstanding use of lighting. The lighting design in the room reacts to the progression of the story, and adds to the ambience; one of the best uses of lighting we’ve seen up to this point.

An amazing balance of story development, lighting design, and the use of audio unite resulting in a strong immersion factor. The story is interesting and well developed, driving you through the room and puzzles therein, and leaves you eager to find out what is coming next. The lighting and audio both sets the mood and enhances the progression of the story. The ending of the room was the only wrench in the works. While the story had a great ending, the change in set design was jarring (and incomplete, at the time), and was definitely not as strong as the rest of the room.

Following along the immersive line of thought, the puzzles within this escape room fit into both the theme and the story. While linear in design, the immersion of the room picks up the slack, and team members who are not directly involved in a specific puzzle are able to continue exploring the room. That being said, a number of the puzzles promote teamwork and the brainstorming of solutions, rather than focusing on physical solutions.

Beneath the Surface is a very enjoyable escape room that effectively utilizes story, audio and setting to present an exceedingly immersive experience. It’s a creepy, twisting trip though the first of Outbreak’s portals; a trip that escape addicts will very much enjoy.

Final Verdict:


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