Dream Labs – The Tale of the Heartless Pirate – Escape Room Bad Steben

Bad Steben / 2 – 6 players / Price: 29.83 – 49.50 Euro per person / Rating: 10

Location: Wenzstraße 1a, 95138 Bad Steben

Group size: 2

Date of Play: 29.12.2023

Languages: German/ English

The greatest surprises are experienced in the most unlikely places. How many of you have heard of Bad Steben? Exactly. A small town with just under 3000 inhabitants in northern Bavaria held the biggest surprise of the year for us. We visited Dream Labs and played ‘The Tale of the Heartless Pirate.’ What this game did to our hearts, you can read about here.

Dream Labs is located in the small, sleepy spa town of Bad Steben. The premises of Dream Labs are situated in a kind of mini-pedestrian zone in an old former clothing store.

From the outside and even upon entering, one would not think that this is an escape room provider. Rather, it feels like entering a high-tech medical practice. Everything is styled in 100% white, and in the shop windows, you only see references to the theme of dream journeys.

Upon entering, we were immediately captivated by the world of Dream Labs. It even smelled like a practice. Behind the counter, the owner, dressed entirely in a white lab outfit, approached us and prepared us for the upcoming dream journey. We had to register briefly on an iPad and answer two questions about our dream behavior. After storing our belongings in a locker, we were then taken to our ‘treatment room’ for our ‘Dream Pod,’ which was supposed to enable lucid dreaming.

And so the adventure was about to begin. No briefing, nothing; we were just supposed to dream.

The Tale of the Heartless Pirate

Die Legende vom herzlosen Piraten
Die Legende vom herzlosen Piraten

Davy Jones? Dead. Jack Sparrow? Out of the window. Barbossa? Wiped out. Even the toughest pirates just sit at home and howl quietly: For the cruel spirit of the heartless pirate is wreaking its murderous havoc! The Caribbean is no longer the free pirate playground it once was. But these threatening circumstances won’t stop you from embarking on the greatest treasure hunt of your life! As amateur buccaneers, you incompetent landlubbers enter a chaotic world full of humour and danger – and brave your way through the once bustling pirate hotspots and the dense jungle of Isla Bonita. Will you manage to find the glorious treasure before the ghost of the heartless pirate snatches you up?

The room

When the Dream Pod opened, we found ourselves in our dream, or rather, in a pirate tavern. The setting of ‘The Tale of the Heartless Pirate’ is filled with Easter eggs and clever ideas. Rarely have we had such a well-styled experience as here. The world is diverse, with a lot of attention to detail, and, above all, high-quality in its execution. From the selection of materials to their design, nothing was left to chance. The environment, smell, light, and sound make this adventure feel like reality, to the point where one can hardly believe that this experience is not a dream. From start to finish, a coherent story is told through the environment and the tasks encountered in this adventure

The tasks

“The Tale of the Heartless Pirate” makes no secret that one of the greatest PC adventure classics of all time, “Monkey Island,” was an inspiration. Therefore, you should not expect too many traditional escape room puzzles, but rather humorous, twisted point-and-click tasks: collecting absurd items to combine or use them in other ways, manipulating the game environment, and engaging in “interpersonal” interaction. No matter how peculiar some tasks may seem, they always make 100% sense within the story and the world created here.


To refer to someone as a Game Master here wouldn’t do justice to the overall concept of the adventure. Along the way, we had the pleasure of encountering various ‘companions’ who not only guided us through the story but also provided us with humorously subtle hints between the lines. Everything was so understated, yet perfectly timed, that we hardly noticed it. Instead, a big grin was constantly brought to our faces throughout the entire time.

Sebastian’s conclusion

Rarely have I experienced everything coming together as seamlessly as it does here. The moment you step into the premises of Dream Labs, you will find yourself in a different world, and you will believe and marvel once your dream begins in the Dream Pod. Especially the use of the Dream Pod is both so simple and yet efficient as an entry into an adventure that I could hardly have expected the feeling it generated in me.

What the teams at Dream Labs and The Room Labs have developed here is close to perfection, if not perfect for many of you out there. “The Tale of the Heartless Pirate” is a meticulously crafted escape adventure, to which one can perhaps attribute some criticisms, but not that an immense amount of love and humor hasn’t been poured into it. Every second, you can feel the pure passion for storytelling, the craftsmanship, and thus the rare ability to create a believable world.

“The Tale of the Heartless Pirate” might not be for you if you’re seeking pure puzzle fun. But this adventure is for everyone out there who wants to dream, have fun, and just forget everything around them for 75 minutes. Whether you’re an experienced escape room enthusiast or have just discovered the hobby, this humorous pirate adventure is for all of you out there.

And yes, even if some might question it like we did. The Dome in the Netherlands was the benchmark with its 10/10 for me and for others too. However, I can’t help but draw the 10 for a second time in my life. Even though it’s not comparable to The Dome, because what Dream Labs has created here is different, but equally unique for me.

“The Tale of the Heartless Pirate” is, for me, at the end of 2023/beginning of 2024, the first 10/10 room in Germany among those I have had the privilege to play so far.

Maria’s Conclusion

I can hardly add anything different to Sebastian’s conclusion and the well-deserved high rating, except that I can’t wait to play the room again with our children in no more than (!) two years. I felt so transported back to my youth, as if I were personally Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island. As I drifted off to sleep at night, I still had a grin on my face, mentally going through the room again and again. I look forward to the next rooms from Dream Labs, but until then: Head to Bad Steben!

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