Escape Stories Wuppertal – Asylum of Fear – Horror Escape Room
Dieser Beitrag ist auch verfügbar auf: Deutsch (German)
Wuppertal / 2 – 6 Players / Price: 35 Euro – 84,50 Euro per person / Rating: 9.8
Location: Obere Sehlhofstraße 5, 42889 Wuppertal
Date of Play: 30.10.2022
Group Size: 4
Languages: German / English
A day before All Saints’ Day, we ventured into the premises of Escape Stories Wuppertal, treating ourselves to a spooky preview of Halloween. Read on to find out just how creepy it was and whether Asylum of Fear is worth trying outside the Halloween season.
Escape Stories Wuppertal has two locations in Wuppertal, offering a total of eight escape rooms and two outdoor escape games. We visited their Barmen location, where the rooms The Dark Forest—an immersive thriller—and Asylum of Fear—a horror escape room—are located. Both immersive adventures and upcoming rooms at this location are part of the secret village of Floresti, providing a common theme for all experiences.
Asylum of Fear is largely based on the experience “The Sanatorium” from Lockhill in Athens, but the journey to Wuppertal was more convenient for us.
We arrived by car and were fortunate to find a parking space in front of the building, as parking is unfortunately limited. Having already immersed ourselves in the creepy atmosphere with The Dark Forest earlier that day (see the review here), we proceeded directly to the second room. We climbed the stairs, stored our belongings in a locker, and were greeted by a masked, black-clad individual in silence.
Silently, they led us to the village square of Floresti, which alone is worth a visit. A dark, central square was created, dominated by a 3-meter-high statue and several surrounding house facades, resembling a horror film from the black-and-white era. In one of the branching corridors, we had the opportunity to use the restroom while the masked figure waited with an ominous gaze. The entire pre-game setup was well-executed and heightened the anticipation.
As a final act, the masked person led us in front of the locked gates of the asylum and left us alone. Immediately afterward, we heard someone speaking to us behind one of the locked doors: a former inmate of the asylum asked us to go in on his behalf and retrieve something important. He provided us with some basic clues and added that he could communicate with us through a communication point in the asylum, and there was a possibility that some other inmates might still be there. Through a slit in the door, he handed us a key, and the game truly began in the small courtyard of the asylum.
Asylum of Fear
The foul stench of decay fills your nostrils as you make your way through the fog to the Asylum of Floresti. The institution, as the tale goes, was closed in the 80s. Some patients and staff have not been seen since, but what happened? Are the rumors about the mad Dr. Sterling true? Did he indeed conduct inhuman experiments on his patients? One thing is certain—the asylum has not been entered for years, but the screams that echo from the building at night pique your curiosity.
Fog. That might be the visual impression that will stick with us the most, if the entire backdrop weren’t so insanely (pun intended!) atmospheric and meticulously crafted. Old structures, hanging plastic sheets that we developed a love-hate relationship with, damp elements, and other details commonly associated with an asylum contribute to the feeling of slipping into the world of Silent Hill. The visual elements were further enhanced by a pounding soundtrack that alone can cause a racing heart, as well as the strategic use or non-use of light.
At times, the flashlights were more of a hindrance due to their reflection in the fog than they were of practical use. At least we had something to hold onto. But few things are worse for the mind than doubt: Is someone there ahead, or is it just imagination? Did the shadow move?
The soundtrack repeatedly led us astray because, as in a horror movie, we expected something to happen at the climax of the music, when it becomes truly nerve-wracking. The fact that this was sometimes the case and sometimes not meant there was hardly a moment when we could catch our breath.
Through our conversation with the former inmate, we already had a mission and some background information that prompted us to enter the asylum in the first place. As we unlocked more and more of the map, new revelations about past events in the mental institution also emerged. However, anyone expecting a grand Hollywood-style story will be disappointed, as that is definitely not the focus of Asylum. Instead, the spotlight—appropriately integrated into the context—is on interacting with the characters.
As with many immersive experiences in the horror genre, the focus is not necessarily on puzzles. These are reduced and kept simple because the emphasis is often on more mundane things, such as escaping. However, there were more puzzle elements here than we expected. The exploration phase proved to be challenging, in line with the environment and the still-present inhabitants of the asylum. We couldn’t roam freely and carefree because of them. Step by step, we worked our way through the asylum, solving logic puzzles, examining corners and nooks, and combining acquired knowledge. While not numerous or overly complex, the puzzles were challenging, especially when dealing with a pulse of 180!
Particularly challenging for our mental state was a task that could only be solved cooperatively—but that didn’t mean we were all in the same location.
In this type of room, one can no longer speak of game masters but rather actors. One of these actors and our informant in times of need was the former inmate. Communication took place via an intercom system, available only at one location in the facility. Otherwise, it would have been too easy.
Far more intriguing, however, was the existence of the other inhabitants of the asylum, each with their own quirks and instructions on how to survive encounters with them. Their combined and sometimes very athletic performances led to magnificent moments in the game. The timing and the actors’ performances were spot-on, making Asylum of Fear a truly immersive experience.
If I found The Dark Forest already a frightening and entertaining experience, Asylum of Fear elevated that emotional experience several levels higher.
I had so much fun in the asylum, even though I was simultaneously on the edge of my seat with tension. Do you remember when, as kids, someone would hide to scare us, and after the “Boo,” we’d scream with joy and run away to avoid getting caught? That’s exactly it, only much darker, psychological, and more frightening in its execution—that’s Asylum.
Even though I’ll probably prefer well-made and immersive rooms outside the horror genre, after my visit to Wuppertal, I can better understand the preference of many players for horror rooms. It’s not just a fascinating experience to go through emotions like fear, palpitations, or tension in the safe environment of an escape room, but it’s also another sensation—that of daring oneself. Whether it’s just entering the location, possibly backing out, and recognizing the current limits of one’s psyche, or persevering courageously until the end. Horror experiences like this can leave a sense of exhilaration in that moment.
At this point, I want to express my gratitude again to our two fellow players who made the whole game more bearable for me by their mere presence.
In conclusion, it should be noted that this kind of immersive horror room only works if players fully embrace it. It’s not the moment to prove your coolness. It’s the moment to just run away in panic. And that’s perfectly fine.
Escape Stories Wuppertal wonderfully demonstrates with their current horror experiences, The Dark Forest and Asylum of Fear, that horror is not always the same. While players in The Dark Forest may already find themselves out of breath, Asylum of Fear slows down the pace, making it even more intense and thus more psychological. Through sound, fog, setting, and inhabitants, danger constantly surrounds you, and it seems like there’s no escaping it.
Even though the experience in the asylum might seem much more predictable due to the given rules, it only adds more pressure. Here, fear takes center stage more than the mere shock moment, and the feeling goes much deeper, potentially being more exhausting for some individuals. Especially considering the puzzles, which come across as much more challenging in this context than in The Dark Forest.
Fans of Silent Hill and The Last of Us will thoroughly enjoy this. A thoroughly successful horror experience all around.
Escape Maniac Transparency Pledge: We were invited by Escape Stories Wuppertal and did not have to pay for playing “Asylum of Fear.”