Brussels Escape Review: Chamber Challenge

This is part of a series of articles on games in Brussels – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.

Chamber Challenge is located a fair bit off the beaten track, at least from a tourist perspective. While it’s walkable from the centre, it’s probably three quarters of an hour’s walk, so we jumped in a taxi (pretty much straight off the Eurostar!) to head over and play a couple of games.

Truth be told, the games weren’t amazing, but they were carried by an awesome Chicago-born host who had a real passion for the stories behind the experiences. If you’re lucky enough to be GMed by the owner, then take the time to hear about the history behind both rooms. His enthusiasm is infectious.  After each of the games, he gave us a full walk-through of the puzzles, not only explaining in detail anything we hadn’t understood but also giving players who’d missed out on individual puzzles the chance to see the key parts of the room.

The Lab (3.5 stars)

The lab is a small space with a heavy search component – expect to have to take a hint for at least one of the finds and for other searches to be tough. If I’m going to have to do a detailed search, I guess a small space is good, but there were just so many red herrings to be searched through and the hiding place was so good that, even once we were given the hint, we almost missed what we were looking for.

Aside from that, the puzzles were fairly standard fare, apart from a couple which, while impressive, had significant flaws. One of them had components that could very easily be lost, while another was incredibly ambitious but felt like most teams would struggle and, since it was possible to solve the room without it, would probably skip onwards. I’m still not sure whether that’s a good thing – I guess if a decent proportion of people do manage to solve it, then great, but it left me unsatisfied when we completed the room. More generally, I found that the puzzles felt disorganised – there was no clear flow to the room and, with so many red herrings scattered around, it was next to impossible to work out what was relevant and what wasn’t.

The owner is a former Chemistry teacher so, after the room he talked us through the fascinating story behind Rosalind Franklin, which I’d only been vaguely aware of. It’s not often you get a ten-minute lecture on an interesting subject after a game!

The Boudoir (4 stars)

This Marilyn Monroe-themed room felt like a much more conventional escape room than the Lab. That’s not to say that it was all padlocks and UV light, though! There was plenty of tech where appropriate but equally no aversion to padlocks if that was the easiest way of handling a puzzle. Interestingly, they’d opted to have multiple puzzle paths to some of the solutions, and not just in the sense that you could do A then B or B then A: these were entirely different routes to the same answer. It seemed to work reasonably well in this game by allowing different “intelligence modalities” to choose their own path. When we occasionally solved a puzzle that pointed us back to something we’d already answered, we didn’t seem to skip a beat and just carried on regardless.

Throughout the game, there were references to Marilyn Monroe and, if that wasn’t enough to hold your attention, two of the puzzles were incredibly original – things that I hadn’t seen in all the other escape rooms I’d played before. Both were simple but effective ideas.

In contrast to the Lab, there wasn’t a grand reveal or amazing puzzle to finish the game and, while it was fun overall, you left without that rush of endorphins that would have cemented the experience in your mind.

That’s all on Chamber Challenge – want to read more about Brussels games? Click here to head back to the main Edinburgh page.

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