Van Escape

7.9 Overall
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On a cold fall evening in the not too distant past, a group of us made our way to NOWAYOUT Escape Rooms to try out their latest room, called Van Escape. Personally I didn’t know too much going in but given the quality of their two previous rooms, The Red Market and 13 Sedah Ave, I was once again expecting another stellar adventure. Once we’d made our way there (it can be a little tricky to find, so plan a little extra time), we were warmly greeted by their staff. As before, you’ll find good signage, plenty of parking, a clean and spacious if slightly spartan lobby, and friendly staff.

Now NOWAYOUT are known for their scary, horror-themed rooms, and Van Escape continues that theme. It bills itself as “the world’s first and only fully immersive abduction simulator” and in that respect it delivers 100%. You really will feel like you’re being abducted, so to the faint of heart, beware! As you can probably guess from the description, you will find yourself in a fairly confined space, so the room is limited to either one or two players. Taller people may find it slightly more of a challenge. The room quality is top-notch and apart from one or two pieces of painted plywood giving off that “home-made escape room” vibe, everything looks and feels great. There’s really not much to find fault with here as it doesn’t get much more real than this.

Likewise the immersion is excellent. There’s some slight story development as you play the room, but mostly where this room excels is the ambience. In terms of suspending your disbelief and making you feel part of the story, few rooms do it better than this one. Again we must emphasize that this is not for the faint-hearted and you probably wouldn’t want to bring kids to it either, but for those who like a good scare it’s hard to beat.

The puzzles unfortunately we felt were a little weaker. A few team members felt there were too many arbitrary associations between different pieces of information. We also found a couple of red herrings scattered around. The puzzles are fairly linear, but given that this room is designed for either one or two people that’s unlikely to be much of a problem. We’d classify this room as being more appropriate for advanced players, so make sure to bring your thinking cap or a really smart friend and don’t be afraid to ask for hints if you get stuck.

Overall this room elicited a range of reactions from our team members. The immersion is top-notch, and if experiencing a “fully immersive abduction simulator” is your idea of a good time you won’t go wrong. Some of us found the puzzles a little frustrating while for others they weren’t a problem. But overall, if you like scary and you don’t mind a few challenging puzzles, you’re sure to enjoy this one.

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