Bucharest, May 2018
You’d think that we, collectively as a culture, would had seen enough slasher movies to know not to approach the creepy old cabin deep in the woods, no matter how lost we might be – but that’s what you’ve done, and good thing too, because in this instance the creepy cabin is a damn fine escape room.
As suggested by the website description and explained in the briefing, it’s a split team start with some players starting restrained inside the cabin and the others outside, with part of the room being very convincingly presented as an outdoor area. That split start hit a good balance where it was free from unnecessary barriers to communication, and where the setup naturally leads players to focus on the correct things that they need to reunite the team before they get going on everything else.
The story is a ghostly spooky one not a serial killer theme, creepy in the way that so much Victorian photography is creepy. In fact, much of the design style reminded me as much of an old time spiritualist’s parlour as an abandoned cabin, and it uses some interesting mechanisms designed as old-fashioned technology and occultist paraphernalia. Clue components are consistently well made and attractively designed, and if at a couple of points mechanisms were a little fiddly to trigger that was never difficult to get past.
Comparing Cabin to their Harry Potter game, they share a top-notch design aesthetic, but where the other game takes the players on an exuberant adventure, Cabin is subtler and less obviously linear, with a play style that tends more to the intellectual and investigative. The cabin has a history, and the game requires you to piece that history together. But though it felt more thoughtful, that’s in the midst of some excellent atmospherics, using lighting and audio to keep you on your toes.
Both games at Inside Rooms are beautiful, and our group was split on which we preferred. I would give the edge to Cabin, for the way it layers on atmosphere and story throughout the game almost unnoticed as you progress through the puzzles, before bringing it all to a fittingly cool conclusion. But if in doubt: play both.