A few weeks ago, my good friend Jeff Heimbuch (writer for HorrorBuzz.com) informed me that it was imperative that I check out a new escape room called “The Bunker Experience” located in Pasadena, CA. Trusting most things that Jeff tells me, I rounded up a bunch of my friends and got into escape room mentality. Not knowing what to expect, we were excited to see what this new escape room had to offer and right off the bat they did not disappoint. What sets “The Bunker Experience” apart from most other escape rooms is that it starts the minute you get there and their storyline is unlike anything else I’ve experienced.
“The Bunker Experience” is designed to look as if it’s become a post-apocalyptic bunker. We are survivors of an attack at the hand of Vandals who will stop at nothing to kill us (and quite possibly eat us). Going above ground is not an option as Global Warming has wiped out the majority of the population and caused us to not be able to handle the elements. Our mission is to find a specific map before the leader of the Vandals does and get ourselves to safety. Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not, but that’s what makes this experience so much fun.
As soon as we arrived, before even opening the door, a woman appeared as though she had literally just crawled out of a bunker. Dirt on her face and typical post-apocalyptic clothing enveloped her and we were told that we had to act fast. We all quickly signed waivers (don’t worry, you will be fine) and were ushered into quite a large basement where we were approached by another woman who gave us the low down on what was going on, while also checking us for radioactive materials. Once deemed safe from radiation, she quickly told us that we would have 40 minutes to find a map in order to escape. At this point there was a loud noise and all hell broke loose and we were told to run! All of this happened within a short period of time, probably about 5 minutes, and it was both jarring and exciting.
The first thing I noticed upon entry into our escape room was the design. It was impeccably done with careful attention to detail so that it looked like a real bunker. Also, the space was huge, much bigger than any other escape room that I’ve done thus far. Knowing we had no time to spare, we immediately got to work deciphering all the hidden clues throughout the space. “The Bunker Experience” doesn’t hold back when it comes to hard clues and it took us a good portion of our time to figure out the first part of what needed to be done. I’m not the best at escape rooms but I’m not stupid and I’ll tell you, this experience had me stumped from beginning to end. I felt useless and maybe it was because I was really tired or maybe because my brain wasn’t working properly, but if I didn’t have my teammates I would have been locked in the bunker eaten by cannibals. Though the puzzles were hard and at times a bit misleading, we were able to get the majority of them done; in actuality we were only one puzzle away from solving the entire thing! If we had had an hour we would have escaped with no problem.
Speaking of time, that is the only critique I can give “The Bunker Experience” as I like when escape games give the participant a full hour. This is the second one I’ve done where it’s been less than an hour and I always feel like if I had just a few minutes more I would have been able to solve all the puzzles. However, with a shorter time frame this adds a sense of urgency that may not be felt as much as when there is an hour to figure everything out. I will say we definitely all felt like we were racing against the clock which added a heightened level to everything, which in a way, made the whole experience that much more thrilling.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with “The Bunker Experience” and very happy that Jeff helped spread the word to me. There are certain elements of this escape room that I’m keeping tight lipped on because it adds a whole other layer to the experience, but believe me when I say you want to make sure you escape. I absolutely loved the theme of this escape game as well as the design and attention to detail. The puzzles were definitely harder than ones I’ve done before but it was still enjoyable nonetheless and the use of different scenarios in which to crack all the codes was a lot of fun. However, the ending is what sealed the deal for me and really brought “The Bunker Experience” to a whole new level. I look forward to experiencing the next chapter in their post-apocalyptic story as well as their Halloween event next month.