PanIQ Escape Room: Insane Asylum 2

Game experience: ENTERTAINING
Immersion4,0 stars    Puzzles4,0 stars    Hosting   2,5 stars
Plus Minus
The oppressive atmosphere. The gamemastering process.

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PanIQ Escape Room is one of the two Georgetown escape venues in DC, the other being Escape Room Live. Contrarily to the latter, you won’t be grouped with strangers in this franchised escape venue. You can find in the small reception hall a nice selection of jigsaws to warm up your neurones, and a water fountain to refresh your throat. The venue features three scenarios: a murder mystery (Perfect Crime), an intriguing caveman adventure (Primal Quest) and the one we played, Insane Asylum 2. The latter is their most difficult room, with an escape rate of 15%; I played it with the manager from Escape Artist, another DC venue (which I will review some day), whom I had met the day before.

DC - PanIQ escape room - Reception hall.jpg

“The year is 1956. You have been kidnapped by the CIA and being used as a guinea-pig for their mind control program known as MK-ULTRA. Doctors have held you inside a padded room for weeks now. There was an emergency at the other side of the institution, so the staff is gone for a while. Probably this is your last chance to escape before they completely brainwash you.”

DC - PanIQ escape room - Motto & franchise.jpg

The immersion was very decent, with a succession of spooky places that express well the uncanny nature of the place. The scenario is not a central element of the game – the whole thing was more about solving puzzles in an eerie atmosphere.

DC - PanIQ escape room - Insane Asylum 2 - Curtain.jpeg

There was a nice variety of puzzles, including several dexterity-based ones. One of those seemed to me extremely difficult, and I was happy we could use a loophole in the device to solve it. There was not so much item searching, but a few elements were not so easy to find. One puzzle involved a perception-changing element that was totally new to me and felt quite magical. There were a little bit too many padlocks to my taste though.

DC - PanIQ escape room - Insane Asylum 2 - Room.jpeg

The presentation of the scenario by the gamemaster was slightly confusing. We could communicate with him through a walkie talkie, but It was very difficult to understand him, which was frustrating. Eventually, he entered the room a few times to give us hints, which seriously damaged the immersion into the oppressive atmosphere. Also, we sometimes received other frequencies on the walkie talkie, which was confusing. The gamemaster had to handle three groups in three rooms at the same time, from the welcoming to the debriefing and room reset, which was way too much to handle for one single person.

DC - PanIQ escape room - Motto.jpg

With 15% success rate, this game is difficult and we didn’t escape it – 4 players would have been a good team size. Overall, this was a good game, that could have been an even better experience with a more polished gamemastering process (this seems to be a recurring problem in DC, if I believe my experience at Escape Room Live). I certainly recommend playing it if you like this kind of morbid atmosphere!

Game tested in July 2018 (Photos 1, 4 & 5: PanIQ Escape Room / photos 2, 3 & 6: Escape The World)

Other review: Escape room guys

(let me know if you reviewed this room, so that I can list you here)

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