Uden, Jan 2020
Kamer 237 is based on the horror classic The Shining, a fact that almost caused us to leave it out of our schedule – which would have been a terrible shame, because not only is it an lovely game with some truly memorable moments, it’s also really not a scary game at all, with nothing to worry nervous players beyond a lightly creepy atmosphere. In fact, while it takes much inspiration from The Shining, it seems to also draw on Cluedo for other sections, with an appropriately unthreatening environment.
A mention also goes to how welcoming the venue was – hospitality standards were remarkably good at many of the companies we’ve visited in that country, and Kamer 237 was one of the ones that impressed me in that respect.
This is one of those games where for spoiler reasons I can’t talk about most of the things I most loved about it. Chief amongst those is a certain genius trick that conveyed the altered reality of the hotel as well as working as an interesting puzzle mechanic. I’ve written elsewhere about the power of providing surprise and delight; this managed both, and was already sufficient to make Kamer 237 a special and memorable game.
Having been built a few years ago, Kamer 237 is a bit long in the tooth and that shows in small ways, such as some puzzles that may strike experienced players as a little old-fashioned, and less sophisticated than those in the venue’s more recent game. If there’s one puzzle that teams may find off-putting, then it’s the one that involves a large logic puzzle presented in a formal way that made it a lot easier for me and rather more confusing for teammates who hadn’t seen that approach before.
As a general rule, search tasks work best early in a game, when the players are first discovering and exploring a space, and tend to be a frustrating anticlimax when they’re the final step of a game. Kamer 237 made an exception to that. There’s maybe an opportunity to make the final victory a touch more dramatic, with my favourite moments of the game earlier on, but I certainly emerged grinning anyhow.
By any measure Kamer 237 is an excellent escape room. The venue’s other game demonstrates that their puzzle design has since increased in sophistication, but I’d still put their original game ahead of it as an overall experience, for the ingenuity of the physical layout and for the way the old hotel slowly unfurls its secrets a piece at a time.