VR horror escape room thoughts.

DISCLAIMER: These posts should not be taken as reviews. They should be taken as my interpretation of what the attraction is like. See “what is scary” for more details.

Tonight we went to Merle Hay Mall to check out Future Nightmares and White Rabbit VR Arcade. Future Nightmares had just started a show, so we roamed down to check out the VR offerings:

We chose to do House of Fear: Call of Blood (I think — it was the one set in an asylum). Here are our thoughts on the experience.

Virtual Reality

You wear a virtual reality helmet to do this experience. You see three-dimensional video and headphones give you stereo sound. You can hear things from beside you, and even hear other members of your group (up to four at a time) as they talk, and they can hear you. This allows you to communicate during the experience.

In each hand you hold a controller. In the helmet, you will see digital “hands” floating in front of you. You will be able to pick up and drop objects, and even swing an axe or use a saw 😉 Instead of walking around, you point the controller where you want to go and press a button. You then teleport to that location. Other buttons let you rotate your view left or right, allowing you to be seated (if in a wheelchair, or just unable to stand for an hour) and still turn around.

If you do step too far, a “wall” appears in the game letting you know you are at the boundary. This prevents you from walking out of the area you are in.

Time Limit

The game begins with a tutorial to explain how to use the controller. The game is timed, so your 60 minutes begins counting down. In the game we played, we could see our virtual hands floating in front of us. The left hand had a watch and you could look at it and see how much time was left. There were no on-screen counters or displays to take you “out” of the game. (There would occasionally be the words “STEP BACK” if you got too close to something.)

Escape Room meets Haunt

If you have ever been to an escape room, you know they are usually just one (or a few) rooms you are stuck in as you solve puzzles (mostly trying to find numeric codes to unlock combination locks.)

The White Rabbit experience is virtual, so it can be much larger. Ours took place over two floors of an asylum and contained many rooms. We could freely explore from room to room, trying to figure out how to get through a locked door, or up some stairs we couldn’t get to.

Objects could be picked up and carried (such as a flashlight or an axe). Some objects were crucial to getting to new areas (such as a key, or a door key card). Sometimes there were puzzles. What do you need to put out a fire? And where do you find it?

Everything was creepy. Dead bodies, giant spiders, scary nurses, attacking monsters and more. Some things would “jump” out at you, and others would appear down a hallway and come straight at you. It was quite the adrenaline rush!

Experience not required

We have played escape rooms before, which really helped us out. If we saw a number, we figured it would probably be used to open a lock or at a keypad (it was). If we saw weird symbols on a wall, we knew to remember where they were since we expected to need to use them later. Every lock meant there was probably a key somewhere. Some of the puzzles were very easy to figure out (like using a key to open a door), and others took a few steps (what did the baby crib need, and where did you get it?).

This game helped out by having painted white arrows appear on the floor guiding us to the next step (or, in one case, actually pointing to a clue — though we did not realize that at first). Objects that were goals would be glowing, letting you know you needed to do something with them. That should help first timers out considerably. (We were told that was a game option. The game we played would have been MUCH harder without these clues.)

Much like getting to the end of a haunted house, this experience had an end as well…if you could figure it out in the allotted time. In our case, two of us were able to make it through all the rooms and figure out all the puzzles in 38 minutes. Knowing what we now know, I expect we could go back and do it in under 20 (assuming the game is always the same).

Is it a haunted house?

No. It is not a haunted house. It is a haunted house themed escape room. BUT, when “walking” through the asylum, things could appear and scream at you or chase you down the halls. Things would pop out at you, or crawl out from under a bed. This was VERY much like a haunted house. Unlike a haunted house that forces you from scene to scene, you could freely explore the environment (within limits; once you get to the second floor, the gate closes and you cannot go back downstairs). This means you could run and hide from the monsters, but it was more fun to go find an axe and fight back — something you never get to do in a haunted house 😉

Is it worth $35?

We have played escape rooms that were $27 on up to $60 (Universal Great Movie Escape). There are some that are less, and I am sure some that are more. $35 is certainly within reason of standard escape room pricing – and would be dirt cheap if this were a physical place built to the scale of what you encounter inside the game.

If you are expecting a ten minute “people jumping out at you” experience, this is not it. If you like creepy environments, and want to actively participate in them, this is far more unique than your typical $25 haunted house.

As always, your milage may vary. Nothing can match the claustrophobic feeling of crawling through that opening hallway at Linn’s Haunted House, but no haunted house gives you a two story asylum to freely explore. It’s a very different experience.

Drop by the mall and take a look. It might be one of the funnest things you’ve ever tried.

And if you play the same one, let me know if the bats make you jump. They sure got me.

Future Nightmares & White Rabbit VR added to the calendar

Future Nightmares asked to be added to the calendar. I originally didn’t plan to have them, or White Rabbit VR, anywhere but the index since they are not traditional haunted houses and that’s what this site is about. What do you consider them? Please leave a comment.

For now, they have both been added. Future Nightmares pointed out:

…the amount of pro haunted house props from Distortions Unlimited and Fright Props inside Future Nightmares are well above most average haunts in Des Moines…. that is why we are definitely a HAUNT… the only difference …. you don’t go through a dark maze… so we are 100% Handicap accessible… unlike most places in des moines everyone gets the same exact intense show !

We have a story and the audience participates in scenerios with tons of high end Haunted house FX and animatronics around them THE WHOLE TIME… 

But I guess if walking a maze is what qualifies as a “Haunt” for this… 

then yea I guess not ….

Future Nightmares

Works for me 🙂 What say you?