The first fail is always bitter ▪ The Basement LA
COMPANY: The Basement LA
ADDRESS: 12909 Foothill Blvd, Sylmar, CA 91342
GAME: The Basement PREMISE: You and your friends have been kidnapped by Edward Tandy -- a cannibalistic serial killer with a fine taste for unique electronics, taxidermy, and of course human flesh. He has created a sick and twisted game of sorts in his deceased mother's home. He hopes to weed out the unintelligent and find those who are worthy of escaping by his late mother's standards.
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 02/25/2018.
Just came back from "Ch 1: The Basement". Updated review right here. ("Ch 2: The Elevator Shaft" review can be found below in my previous review section. Yes, I did the story out of order.) It's my policy to reveal as few spoilers as possible, but there is some pertinent info about the room that I need to bring up to illustrate certain points. So be warned, fairly light spoilers ahead.
Let's get something out of the way. The Basement: LA is rated one of the best escape venues in the west coast, if not the entire nation. So this goes without saying, you are playing in a set that is of Hollywood movie set quality. So I am not going to address how superb the props, the lighting, the sound effects, etc were. They were all excellent. Moving on ;)
Chapter 1 has max capacity of 10 people, non-private game setting. So you could be stuffed in this horror survival game with strangers. Usually, I am totally against it. The camaraderie between existing friends usually works out better in these games... But having played today with 5 people total, and FAILED TO GTFO on time, I gonna dare saying forming a team with at least 7-8 people will give you a much better success probability. (This room has a dismal 12.5% success rate. It's a very hard room.) So even if you get assigned with strangers, just be friendly and courteous and communicate! It may work out for the best.
Another thing, instead of the usual 1 hour, you only get 45 minutes to do whatever you need to do to escape. That's really tough considering the massive list of things you gotta do in there. So again, form a big group of friends that work well together. You'll thank yourself later.
(Btw, if you check in via Yelp, you get a marginally useful, legit-ly weak flash light to help you in your game. It didn't do sh*t, lol. While it doesn't hurt to get this little help, it was barely of help by design/nature, I am guessing, because it would actually deter you from looking for another key item during the game. Or maybe the battery inside died on me with my bad luck. Who knows?)
The puzzles themselves, strangely, aren't really puzzles. This is my main gripe about The Basement. I *like* solving puzzles. & usually, when I go into an escape room, it is very obvious what are the puzzles that I need to decipher to move on. This game was not the case at all! It is definitely not a, "here, solve this puzzle, open this lock" type of deal.
What's "worse", the clues they gave us were cryptic as heck! Oh, lordy!
To best explain: The Basement was more in line with a horror survival video game, where you collect key items and apply them--so it's more of a scavenger hunt. As other reviewers have mentioned, you'll spend a large portion of your very limited time to look for pieces of clue and put them together as a whole. And as realistic as it got, these were all hidden very well. You gotta work for them. You seriously would turn the place all over, upside down, just to wonder, "Did I collect everything yet?"
To make the room even more complex, this game is non-linear. You really have no certain idea where to start, and where to go next. It adds to the somewhat unwanted confusion, but also appropriately strengthens the immersion of panicked atmosphere of being kidnapped by a cannibal killer.
Therefore, if you like the puzzle-solving type of game, this may actually be a different kind of tea for ya! Me, being the aforementioned, felt a bit cheated. Scavenging for random pieces of papers well hidden in the cracks and crannies of furniture wasn't really my thing. But hey, it could be yours.
Btw, Chapter 1 is what they call a "performance based" experience--that's just their artsy way of saying (spoiler!) there is an actor in there with ya. The actor functions as both a live prop to further solidify the story, and also your built-in clue system. The clues given are dependent on the actor that you get, and might not be super obvious, so don't depend on them to get you out. You will still need your own wits to do most of the heavy lifting.
Finally, just to vent out my frustration, there is a clear rule emphasized by the staff on not touching or unplugging live wire/power outlet. And guess what? (Spoiler!) That's kinda what you had to do for one clue? Wth? It's creative, but I rather do without this one, for safety and fair-gaming reasons.
Though we did not manage to escape in time, and in fact, we were pretty far from completion of the game (probably just half way through or at most 75% done), everybody still enjoyed what the venue had to offer. We made a pact to (maybe) retry the room in the future. Since there are two versions of this game, why not? We'll probably do better whilst getting a non-identical game. I look forward to it.