Traveling: Escape rooms in Athens (Greece) - part 1Posted on 2019-12-09
In June 2018 Liz Cable proposed in the UK enthusiasts group an Escape trip in Athens during Easter 2019. Heiner from Escape Roomers got enthusiastic about the idea and started spreading the word among his contacts. When he informed me about it, I was not sure, but a certain point the idea got hold of me and I was in. Not only for a long weekend, as the plan originally foresaw, but for a longer stay, which is what Heiner did. The originally organized trip turned, thanks to Heiner’s mastery in planning, into a week full of escapes with new and old partners in crime: from the UK Liz, Jackie and James, from Germany Roxy, Andy and Heiner, as well as some local enthusiasts Dimitris, Kostas, Panayotis and even Maria and Minas from escapenest.gr, a reference site for Greek players (only in Greek). Athens has a very respectable number of Escape Rooms (more than 250) and therefore it is only by its numbers a very interesting destination. In this trip I also found out, that the quality of the rooms is amazing. If you have not been to Athens, you are missing one of the best destinations for escape room enthusiasts in Europe, but I will leave the conclusions of this trip for the end of the article. I played 37 rooms, so buckle up for a long review, which will be delivered in two parts in (almost) chronological order. This is part 1.
I arrived on Sunday’s night. If you thought that it would be a night for resting and recovering of the trip, you were mistaken. Right after arrival in the apartment, we left to play the first room (my first room, as Heiner was already there).
The Darkwood Village
This company has currently one room, called Mrs. Rose’s House. We played as a team of 4. They have a another room in construction called The Church and a limited in time experience for larger groups called Dark.
Mrs. Rose’s house (2-6 players, 90 min)
What a start of the trip! Before Athens, my experience with horror escape rooms was restricted to a couple of rooms I had played in Barcelona, so I was not sure what to expect and whether I would enjoy them. We arrived at this relatively isolated location. It was late and already the wait outside of the door was building our expectations.
This room is one of the best horror rooms I have played. The atmosphere starts the moment you enter the venue. I would love to tell you more but I do not want to ruin the experience of entering the venue and experiencing it by yourself. If the reception already gets you in the mood, the game introduction makes it better and then all of a sudden you are in the game. A fantastic ambiance, as you enter and you cannot believe your eyes. People that are afraid, would probably leave the game already at this moment, because you know that evil is waiting for you.
Especially considering the story (no spoiler, as it is in the website), which mentions that in a village at the outskirts of London a mother loses his child who was playing with other children in the village and attempts to capture the soul of his lost child in a doll. What could possibly go wrong? 😉
Indeed, evil will h(a)unt you in this room…you will be chased and scared, in a well-achieved space and with a good deal of nice puzzles. This room set the bar high for everything that was yet to come, and for me it is one of the “cannot be missed rooms” if you like horror ones. If you don’t, I advise you to keep out of Mrs. Rose’s property.
On this day we spent the whole day playing rooms from Escaped.
Escaped is one of the largest companies in Athens. Usually, when a company has such a large number of rooms in a city, you do not expect great quality. Well…this is not the case here, on the contrary, Escaped was one of my favorite companies in Athens, as it offers an amazing variety of Escape Rooms with different topics and dynamics. They have two venues, one in Peristeri (with two rooms) and one in Egaleo (with 9 rooms). Another great thing of this company is that their site and room descriptions is also in English. Almost all of their rooms can be played in English.
We played Other Side in Peristeri and afterwards Paranoic II, Zygote, Grim Reaper and 20.000 Leagues Under The Sea. On Day 6 we also played Ashecliffe Asylum, which for the sake of clarity I am reviewing together with the other games of this venue. We were really happy to meet the owner George Zafiri, who even was so kind of taking us from one venue to the other, facilitating our tight schedule.
Otherside (2-4 players, 80 min)
As you can imagine from the name, at least if you are familiar with the series, the escape room is based on Stranger Things. I am a fan of the series, and it was my first game related to this subject, and what a game it was! We played it as a team of two, which made it specially challenging, but we made it. This room does not have actors, as opposed to the other rooms we later played, but it was one of my favorites, not only due to the theme, but also based on the whole flow of the game, with many puzzles, and a fantastic ambiance, that makes you feel being part of the story in Hawkings. For the people that do not like horror rooms and love clever puzzles in a wonderful atmosphere and for Stranger Thing’s fans, this room must be definitely in the to-do list.
Paranoic II (3-6 players, 90 min)
This room is a sequel of Paranoic, which is also a room of this company, that we did not play. The best description that can be given about this room is the one on the website: “A live 90 minutes game in a 100 square metres "island", with real scenery, live acting, physical tasks, original riddles and 100% action awaits you!”. This room is for brave souls only and it demands a considerable amount of physical action. There is a reason for the helmets you see in the picture. It is for 3-6 players (I would advise against more than 4 though if you are experienced), and the 3 people are physically required for completing certain tasks. It is not an easy room and it has quite a number of puzzles, the large space and darkness (and what lurks in there) makes it particularly challenging. We exited at the very last moment. There was one mechanism of the game, which I was not particularly fond of, but all in all it was a completely new experience for me, that showed me a totally different concept to what I was used to in the Netherlands (and elsewhere). Not to mention that I saw Heiner flying, which one would say it is something physically impossible. It is advisable to bring an extra pair of socks and shoes (and I would even add an extra set of clothes).
Zygote (3-6 players, 100 min)
Something was discovered in a metro tunnel expansion, they called it Zygote, but things didn’t go well. Years later an exploration mission takes place and you are part of it. The ambiance is very well achieved, and you really feel you are in a former tunnel, the presence of an actor adds to the whole experience, but not so predominantly as in other games. There are a few tasks that require physically three players, but we were able to play it with two players, thanks to the help of the actor inside the room. We did quite well, in spite of being two and the number of things to do in this room, but failed in the final puzzle, which we found a little bit frustrating in its mechanics. In any case, this is an amazing, challenging and not scary room.
Grim Reaper (3-6 players, 70 minutes)
This room is a journey into the afterlife. The topic sounds quite scary, but it is not a horror experience. Yes, there is darkness, yes, there is an actor, but it is essentially not a horror room. If I was already amazed at the variety of rooms in Escaped, this room contributed further to appreciate the company, as the performance of the actor is literally out of this world. It is impossible to go into details, without spoilers, but other than the great atmosphere and challenging puzzles, the actor makes a huge difference and provides a unique experience. While it is difficult to choose having so many great rooms, Grim Reaper is a must. In hindsight I don't know if a third player is physically required. If you are a team of two it is worth asking, if it is possible to play.
20000 Leagues Under the Sea (3-6 players, 90 minutes)
Loosely based on the famous book, you start this game in a submarine. The ambience is really well-achieved and the use of the space surprising. Again, I am not sure if 3 players are strictly needed, but considering all the tasks and dimensions of the room, it sure is helpful. In this rooms you will interact with actors, and you will have to make choices, the story is very engaging and this room is again of a totally different kind. In any case I can wholeheartedly recommend playing this room as well, especially if you are into clever puzzles, nice setting and actor interaction.
Ashecliffe Asylum (2-5 players, 70 min)
On Day 6, we had some extra time and we played this room as well. While this is not a horror room, the beginning of the game is a little bit scary. If you are only a couple and your partner is afraid of darkness and confinement, I would advise against playing this game. For all the other brave souls, I can really recommend playing it, you will find interesting 'do and think' puzzles and actor interactions. The finale is very nicely conceived and your choices will determine your destiny. The room is based on the movie Shutter Island, and if you saw it you will recognize some elements. So, if you saw the movie and liked it, it is your time of being the protagonist and put your sanity to test.
Great Escape Rooms
Great Escape is another large company, with escape rooms in different venues in Greece and 7 games in Athens. Some of the games involve actors and others do not. We only got to play two rooms: Guantanamo and The Survivor.
Guantanamo (2-6 players, 60 min)
Guantanamo, as you can guess from the name is a prison escape themed room. It is a solid room, but on the other hand the theme has been exploited a lot, so it was not a room particularly surprising. On the other hand, it is nicely made. With the large amounts of game in Athens, it is not a room that particularly stands out. While there are clearly better options, this room can be nicely combined with other rooms in the venue, such as the one mentioned below. For experienced players avoid going in with large numbers.
The Survivor (2-7 players, 90 min)
After playing Guantanamo, I was not sure what to expect about this room, it was not ranked so high compared to other rooms in Athens, but it ended up being one of my favorites non-scary rooms in this trip. This room is in my opinion a top experience in Athens. It is also really fun for playing with several people and it is quite (physically) challenging if you play it as a team of two. It has everything you can wish for, classical thinking puzzles, skill, collaborative and physical tasks. A really nicely done ambiance and to top it all an actor in the room, who plays a fantastic role, and made me laugh a lot. Unless you are physically impaired, this is a room you have to play, while in Athens, you really do, you will thank me later. I wish we had more of rooms like these. Again here an extra pair of shoes and socks is highly recommendable.
This company had recently opened, when we were in Athens, so recently that it didn’t even appear on Google at that time. I do not even know how Heiner found this place, but I imagine it was based on some personal recommendation. Officially, 3 players is the minimum, but I guess this is related to the costs, as we were able to play as a team of two.
Avaton (3-7 players, 90 min)
As it appears to be typical in some of the horror escape rooms in Athens you get in the mood the moment you enter the venue. This room is not for the faint of heart and the beginning in the darkness will test your courage, and that is only the beginning. A very well-achieved ambiance with some nice puzzles (although we got stuck with a couple of them, which could be improved). The strong point of this room lies in the work of the actors, which was in my opinion among the best we played in terms of acting in a horror room. In some horror rooms the actors are mostly dedicated to scare you, in this case you will get a great theatrical experience, combined with a really nice use of effects. The whole story develops in a great way and lets you out with an adrenaline rush, with some really well-made moments. I have to mention also that I was immediately contacted by the owner to ask for feedback, which I gave concerning the puzzles mentioned above. This is also part of a top service. Therefore, also this room deserves my recommendation for the horror fans.
This company has three rooms: Enigma, Psycho and Requiem, from which we played only the last one.
Requiem (2-6 players, 120 min)
Epic adventure in 240m2 is the short description for this 2-hours experience. It is also a horror room, but it is one you cannot miss. It has it all, great ambiance, clever puzzles, amazing use of space, special effects, great acting and cool hint system. The horror here is made in a much more subtle way, so I cannot really say if it makes it a scarier or less scary room, fear is a very subjective thing. In any case the fact, that it is a horror room, does not take away any of its virtues. It is definitely one of the best you can play in Athens. Sometimes when a room is so good, there is not much to say: Play it!
Read on in part 2.
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