The Courtyard

9.6 Overall
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The Courtyard

  • Played May 2019
  • Sylmar, CA 91342

  • 45 minutes
  • 2-10 players
  • $35 weekdays, $39 weekends, private rooms available
  • No, however they will soon offer a family friendly rendition of this room

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Ask any escape room enthusiast in Southern California what’s on their top 10 best-rooms-ever list and it’s almost certain that it will include at least 1 of THE BASEMENT’S 4 rooms. These folks have perhaps the strongest reputation for immersion around town and we were lucky enough to play in their most recent creation, THE COURTYARD, the 4th chapter in a cohesive story about escaping Serial killer Edward Tandy’s horrific home. 

This part of the adventure has us escaping a nightmarish kidnapping situation (experienced via the previous 3 rooms), leaving us with one final obstacle course: the walled up yard. 

Upon entering the room itself, one is greeted with some of the best production value any of us have experienced… ever. 

These folks have recreated an entire outdoor situation, complete with fog, trees, a night sky, an RV, a house, rowdy neighbors and shocking elements we won’t dare spoil. Let’s just say there are technological and theatrical “x-factors” so creative and so imaginative that it’s kind of mind boggling that the room builders even pulled it off. 

Most impressively, a live actor, vital to the story, also serves as a clever piece of the intellectual challenge. 

Never before have we seen interactive human performance (in our case, by actress Veronica) be the literal mechanics of a complex escape room puzzle. This is some seriously next level stuff: the challenges, mainly technological prop gimmicks (as opposed to, say, the common trope of padlock hunting, in which there is zero of here), intertwined deeply with mythology. 

Communication and teamwork are mandatory, as it’s a large room (or rather, yard) with multiple “sections” that various team members will have to explore simultaneously. It’s this sort of “yelling to each other from across the building” that makes for a great bonding experience amongst freaked out friends. One player, in one section, activates a “cause” while another player, in another section of the room, has to observe the “effect.” The Basement clearly understands this dynamic, magnifying this tension via incredible production value and suspense (the 45-minute time limit really amps up the fear of failure, too). This company recently added the option to reserve private rooms. Due to the intimacy, fear and dynamic team-based-challenges, it probably wise to go with this option. Bring a group of smart friends you communicate well with and make this a special life experience.

It is difficult to critique this room with any specifics as we want to keep all the surprises shrouded in secrecy, so let’s just summarize it like this:

The Basement is the sort of company Walt Disney would have created if he saw too many horror movies as a kid. The craft, imagination, immersion, puzzles and fun are all the top of their game, all blended together into 4 incredible experiences. The Courtyard is no exception – it’s awe inspiring and entertaining on the highest level, a mixture of love, craftsmanship and bonkers production value that demands to be played. This is one of the best rooms we have ever done and it seems most people around Los Angeles, a city overflowing with incredible escape experiences, agree this easily sits on the top of the mountain. 

Final Verdict:

9.6/10

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