Location: Washington, DC
Players: 2-9 (We recommend 2-3)
Price: Varies, see here for details.
Time to Escape: 60 Minutes
Doctors have loads of paperwork to go through…
From the Insomnia Escape website:
Detective thriller in a psychiatric hospital. Investigate the mystery, but don’t lose your mind…The early 1970s. You are a group of journalists sent to investigate strange things that happen around St Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital…An unsettling atmosphere of a mental asylum and unexpected scenario twists in the new thriller detective escape room The Patient.
I always like a good spooky hospital thriller, from abandoned, ghost-infested asylums to the labs of mad doctors, I eat up this sort of theme! I was a little disappointed about the set up of this hospital, however, as it seemed clean and sterile, just the sort of hospital we’ve seen a bit too much of in our escape journeys, but I was hoping that we could peel away this sanitary veneer to uncover the dark secrets beneath!
Though the set wasn’t quite what we expected, it is competently designed and does present a doctor’s office fairly well. The most interesting thing about the room, however, is the two patients locked up beyond a couple of cell doors. The technology presented to bring these patients to life is pretty astounding, and interacting with them is definitely the most fun part of the game. The acting is little more than okay, but the tech that brings their actions to life more than makes up for it. The climax of the room is a great finish, and getting there does feel urgent, overall. The room starts out with some very engaging puzzles and interactions, and while it lasts, everything is streamlined. Unfortunately, as clues pile up, even the most organized groups will start to have some issues keeping everything straight. There are some really great ideas housed within The Patient, and it may be worth the price to some players just to see some of these innovations.
The Patient felt more like an at home subscription mystery box, as a lot of the game was bogged down in paper notes and written clues, rather than using the room to it’s fullest. In fact, as an at home experience, I think this could be a pretty great mystery, but as it currently stands as an escape room, it feels very bare on the whole. The game flow is very much mired in piles and piles of paper evidence, and though the technology is cool, the cool factor wears off quite a bit during the long stretches between said interactions. As the room is strictly linear, and somewhat small, the adventure does not support the five players we had, much less the maximum nine that can be fit in the game. I’d say the sweet spot is two or three, and that third player will probably still have a fair bit of down time. The story isn’t well conveyed by the game itself, and though the outline is there, it never really shines like an escape room story should. Most of the revelations are underwhelming and take a leap of logic to grasp.
Beyond the game flow hiccups, the connections between puzzles and inputs leave a lot to be desired, and the inputs themselves can be incredibly fiddly to work with, and with so many red herrings and random rabbit trails to go down, players will end up futzing about with them to the point of frustration. The puzzles themselves, beyond the vagary and overall frustration of their presentation, are eminently forgettable, with no real mind blowing moments at any point. On the whole, the experience just falls flat.
The Patient just fails to excite. While there are cool technological touches here and there, the small size of the room, conjoined with banal puzzling, frustrating amounts of paper, and an overly linear set up, doom the experience to mediocrity. While not a bad game, it certainly needs a fair bit of work to be recommendable. However, with a small team, there is a neat surprise or two, but there are much better games to be played in the area. You can book your time at the St. Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital here.
Full Disclosure: Insomnia Escape provided media discounted tickets for our game.