Escape Stories Wuppertal – The Dark Forest – Horror Escape Room
Dieser Beitrag ist auch verfügbar auf: Deutsch (German)
Wuppertal / 2 – 6 Players / Price 35 Euro – 84,50 Euro per Person / Rating: 9.7
Location: Obere Sehlhofstraße 5, 42889 Wuppertal
Date of Play: 30.10.2022
Group Size: 4
One 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 how scary it actually was and whether The Dark Forest is worth experiencing outside the Halloween season.
While Germany’s density of horror experience providers may not yet match that of other countries or cities like Athens, there is a positive trend towards immersive experiences with actors. While there have been rooms with morbid and eerie themes for a while, operators in Germany are now increasingly focusing on immersive experiences with actors.
After Malte had already played Litchver Woodland in Athens, on which The Dark Forest is largely based, it was now our turn to explore the dark forest near the village of Floristi.
Escape Stories Wuppertal has two locations in Wuppertal, offering a total of eight escape rooms and two outdoor escape games. We drove to their location in Wuppertal Barmen, where their horror escape experiences The Dark Forest—a supposedly 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, which will serve as the common theme for all experiences.
We arrived by car and were fortunate to find a parking space in front of the building, as they are unfortunately scarce. Before entering the actual game location, there was an information sheet with the rules of the room for us to read and sign. The doors then opened automatically for us, and we entered a foyer. In contrast to some other countries, here you still have the option to lock your belongings in a locker and use the restroom. Up to that point, we hadn’t encountered anyone else.
Once all players had gathered, a rustic door to a dark hunting lodge opened, where we finally encountered the first person, and the cinematic execution of the room began. The briefing for the room was given to us by the owner of the hunting lodge, and that alone was a small experience. The game master remained in character and always had a fitting reaction to our behavior, setting the immersive experience in the right mood for the forest. Then, finally, it was time for us to enter the forest.
The Dark Forest
Trembling, you stare at the peculiar clues in your hands. Over and over, you mentally read the cryptic lines that your friends have left for you. Fog veils the dark forest. You hear mysterious whispers. What lurks there among the gnarled trees? Elusive shadows dart back and forth. You recall the last warning from the villagers: “Never enter the forest at night, or it will be your last.” All clues to the whereabouts of your friends lead to a weathered cabin at the edge of the woods. Do you dare to follow the trail?
As soon as we set foot in the forest, the heartbeat increased, and it didn’t come down quickly. The atmospheric density is breathtaking, and the starting sequence in the forest is cinematically staged, giving us the feeling of being in the Blair Witch Project. It’s dark, damp, cool, and foggy, with visibility rarely exceeding a meter – flashlights are of little help.
Effectively portraying a forest in an indoor experience has been attempted by many, making it even more commendable that, thanks to a few trees with real bark and cinematic sound and light effects, the feeling of being in a forest comes across very well.
In the game, moments of tension and sheer panic, where we are chased through the forest, skillfully alternate with moments of (perceived) relaxation, all accompanied by a supporting and driving music that reaches its climax at certain turning points in the game. In a horror movie, I would have muted it long ago, except that this option wasn’t available to us here.
The story begins with the briefing in the hunting lodge and unfolds through the room itself, the actors, and a dramatized flashback scene. Like a thread, the story guides us deeper into the puzzle of missing persons in the Dark Forest and the associated paranormal activities.
The rules set up in the hunting lodge help us stay alive. The rule never to leave the group was my personal favorite because group cohesion provided the necessary sense of security to complete the room for me. The second rule, to run as soon as we are being pursued by something, is a rule we gladly followed. And for longer than we initially assumed.
The focus in The Dark Forest is clearly more on the immersive experience than on the puzzles. This is primarily due to the fact that the brain in a room like this is more inclined towards “survival” than “cerebral challenges.” Nevertheless, as a team, tasks need to be solved, which fit well into the context of the room and generally range from low to medium difficulty under normal conditions. The emphasis here is mostly on finding and combining discovered elements.
In this type of room, we can no longer speak of Game Masters but rather actors. Their acting skills and ability to improvise, along with the sound, room, and lighting effects, contributed significantly to the room’s actual immersion.
The hint guidance was implemented very originally and skillfully in the context of the room. The timing of the performers was always on point and perfectly synchronized with sound and light. This is where we noticed that it was a well-coordinated and trained team.
I definitely belong to the group of people who watch horror movies with a pillow in front of their faces and have a vivid imagination. For me, The Dark Forest was undoubtedly a challenge that I wanted to face.
The mind is, of course, 100 percent aware that everything is just played and staged. And precisely because of that, it’s fascinating to see what the room still does to the body. I don’t know when was the last time I had an adrenaline rush and heart palpitations of this intensity. Yes, my body was in an exceptional state, but it was actually a mix of fear and fun.
I still smile when I think back to the moments when the four of us tried to fit through a door simultaneously, just to escape the situation as quickly as possible.
In addition to the actual performance of the room, revealing completely different emotional worlds and making a horror story from television tangible, the debriefing was also skillfully and reconcilingly designed with our own reactions. So, I can’t help but say that this room left me euphoric. Also, because I didn’t even feel the need to quit the game during play. At this point, thanks again to our two fellow players who made the whole game more bearable for me just by being there.
In conclusion, it should be said that this type of immersive horror room only works if the players also embrace it. It’s not the moment to prove your coolness. It’s the moment to just panic and run away. And that’s perfectly fine.
Escape Maniac Transparency Pledge: We were invited by Escape Stories Wuppertal and did not have to pay for playing “Asylum of Fear.”