Dare 2 Escape – The Asylum (Review)

Location: Kissimmee, FL

Players:  2-8 (We recommend 2-5)

Price: $30 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Say hi to Lizzie for me!

Theme:

From the Dare 2 Escape website:

Dare to face the spirits of the abandoned Asylum? The lights have been long turned off, and tonight you and your paranormal team are about to enter The Asylum for the first time since it closed its doors over forty years ago. Rumored to be the home to many restless spirits, you are here trying to contact the spirit of Victoria Sneed, a patient who was unjustly admitted by her father. You have to move quickly as you navigate the darkened halls, for you only have one hour to find evidence of patient Victoria’s unjust admittance and Dr. Tillman’s unsavory activity, and escape before the spirits obtain enough energy to materialize and trap you within the walls of The Asylum forever.

First Impressions:

Dare 2 Escape has some pretty cool promotional posters for each of their rooms, which to me look like the box art for the awesome late 90’s, early 2000’s adventure games that are the reason I got into this hobby. Whether that’s intentional or not, it’s really nostalgic! The lobby is also fantastic, with loads of brainteasers, a Street Fighter arcade cabinet, and a soundtrack full of excellent music. It’s also filled to the brim with horror references, which I loved.

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Just a picture of a benevolent, lovely doll from the poster. Adorable, right?

High Points:

The Asylum is superbly decorated; it is equal parts dingy, old, and abandoned looking, while still obviously a clean and safe environment for the game. A soundtrack plays during the room and sets the tone well, with some thrills included for additional ambiance as players work their way through the dark halls of the Asylum. The theme is excellent, and the storyline kicks off the epic Tillman family saga that runs throughout all four rooms at Dare 2 Escape. Very rarely have we seen an escape room tie all of their rooms together this way, but when it’s done well, it really elevates the whole experience. And from the start, the incorporation of this ongoing storyline is obviously well integrated. The room is filled to the brim with spooky props, none quite as excellent as Lizzie the doll, who was directly pointed out to us at the beginning of the game, and can be seen below. Lizzie is a kind doll and you should absolutely give her a hug when you can.

The game flow itself is very smooth, with distinct non-linear points that culminate in puzzles that lead to satisfying progression into new puzzle threads, and eventually towards escape. All the enigmas inside the Asylum tie into the theme and keep the story going. Said story is mysterious and isn’t just a thin excuse for a puzzle room, it can be felt throughout the experience as an integral part of the adventure. In fact, many of the puzzles and interactions we came across were highly original, boasting layers of great moments of revelation, as well as some highly satisfying props and tools to fiddle with during the hour. One particular puzzle was very subtle, but eminently clever, taking a fairly common escape room trope and turning it into something a bit more fun to solve.

There’s also something I found to be an amazing addition to the room that can ratchet up the fun and spookiness, but will require players to interact with the Asylum in a particular way. I’m being vague about it because I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, but it’s definitely an interesting way to develop the room that is somewhat optional. It is, however, extremely creative, and Dare 2 Escape should definitely be applauded for it’s addition.

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Also, the Asylum is obviously haunted, check out the spectral orb activity there at the bottom of our team photo!

Low Points:

The midpoint of the room feels somewhat tedious, with a particular type of puzzle that drags a bit too long for our liking. It’s also located in somewhat of a narrow area, which will be a choke point for larger groups since the puzzle doesn’t really require too many people around to solve it. An early puzzle relies on some outside knowledge of riddles, but isn’t overly egregious, however, this was an easy puzzle for me, so your mileage may vary. Clues were given via a television screen, so if you need a clue in the late game, you have to do a fair bit of backtracking. It isn’t arduous, but it’s nice to receive clues where you are.

Verdict:

The Asylum is a supremely entertaining room, and is just the beginning of the Tillman Family Saga which spans all four of their rooms. I cannot recommend this one enough, and urge you to check it out if you’re in town. You should start here, for sure, as the saga runs linearly through the rooms, starting with The Asylum, continuing in The Ringmaster, jumping over to The Dig, and culminating in The Archive! They are all stand alone experiences, but for best results story-wise, they should be played in order.  Book your time in the haunted Asylum here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Dare 2 Escape provided our team with discounted tickets.

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