A few weeks ago, on a very, very rainy California afternoon, I had the chance to check out “The Basement: A Live Escape Room Experience” in Sylmar, California.  I had heard from many people that this was one of the best escape rooms to go through so my excitement level and expectations were fairly high.  I’m beyond thrilled to report that the experience lived up to the hype!  “The Basement”‘s story centers around an individual named Edward Tandy who just so happens to be a cannibalistic serial killer.  Because of this, he’s created a twisted game for his victims inside the basement of his deceased mother’s home.  Though his goal is to feast on the flesh of all that are there, those who are able to escape his clutches and solve his terrifying game, will be able to leave, unscathed.  Those who don’t… well, I think you can figure out what happens to those poor folks…

I don’t want to give too much away because this is an escape room that is unlike a lot of others out there.  I will say this, you do have to sign a waiver and if you aren’t a fan of a few enclosed spaces than you might want to skip this one.  Out of all the escape games that I’ve done, this is definitely the one that made me feel on edge and a bit scared.  I knew in the end I would be able to leave the experience, but something about the ambiance and the design of the basement unnerved me.  As much as I loved that feeling, I have to admit, a part of me was definitely nervous that there was something, or someone, lurking in the dark shadows.

When my team and I began, we were told to remember not to overthink things.  I can’t stress this enough!  Regardless of if you do “The Basement” or another escape room, your best bet for escaping is to try and not overthink.  Our group sadly did not escape and I think one of the biggest reasons was because we were so focused on making things way more complicated than they were.  With that said, the puzzles aren’t necessarily easy, but they are solvable, unlike some other escape games I know of.  Also, the basement area is pretty large and I was impressed with how they used the space to it’s maximum potential.  Additionally, I need to thank “The Basement” for having their air conditioning running.  I don’t understand why so many escape rooms barely have any air flowing through the space, so it’s always appreciative when I find one that does.

As for scares, I kind of touched upon the ambiance earlier, but it definitely had the creep level dialed up to 10.  Anytime the lights would dim or go out for a few second, I immediately would think to myself, “yup, this is how I’m going to die.”  I applaud the creators of “The Basement” for making a truly unnerving game and for being one of only two escape rooms to get me to scream out loud.  What really sets them apart from other escape games in the area is their use of different techniques throughout the entire experience.  To the surprise at the beginning (no, I’m not going to give it away), to the infusion of hidden spaces and actors, it makes for quite a terrifyingly fun and unique experience. Also, added brownie points for using  images of me from social media to make the game that much more enjoyable.

Overall, “The Basement” holds true to being the #1 best escape game in the USA.  With thrills and chills from start to finish, you can’t really go wrong.  Having puzzles that were difficult but solvable is definitely a plus in my book and creating a spine chilling atmosphere that leaves you feeling unsettled is something I would love to see in more escape games.  Also, having an added element that makes you question what you are about to experience was a great way to get participants ready for what was to come.  My only critique would be that I wish the game was an hour long instead of 45 minutes.  Other than that, there is literally nothing bad I can say about “The Basement” and its an experience I will be recommending to my friends who enjoy these types of games.  Along with “The Basement,” there is also the “Boiler Room” and “The Study”, both of which I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about and both that I’m looking forward to trying out soon.

Shannon M.

For more information on “The Basement” visit their website at www.thebasementla.com and follow them on social media on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thebasementescaperoom, Twitter @basementla, and Instagram @thebasementla.

Shannon McGrew
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