A summary link will be posted here when all parts of the guide are published.
Early last year, just before lockdown kicked in across much of Europe, I took a four-day trip to the Netherlands and Belgium to play some of the best games that region has to offer. The standard is ridiculously high, and despite already having made three escape room trips to the area, we still managed to visit 10+ games that were world-class (and another ten that were merely very, very good!). This is part of a series of posts that rounds up the set of games I’ve played across those countries – this time focusing on the south east part of the Netherlands (well, a bit of the east too).
I’ll link the high-level summary here when I’ve posted the full set. If you’re planning a trip across the whole of the Netherlands (rather than just this area), I recommend you start there.
Next Level Escape Rooms in Eindhoven has two games, although we only played the second experience, Catch Me if You Can. It’s one of those rooms that pack a ridiculous quantity of game into sixty minutes. The set is absolutely gorgeous throughout and really shows off their versatility. They wow you right from the start and manage to deliver puzzles that engage alongside that. While there’s a story that provides a context for the experience, I think their real focus is on taking you on a journey, and they delivered on that perfectly: it really conveyed the sense of chasing an international criminal. The action seemed to lose pace a little in the middle of the experience (or maybe we did!), but there was a fun frantic ending to the room that was the perfect finale for this game. Definitely a game to play if you’re heading to the Netherlands.
I’d visited Kamer 237’s eponymous game on a previous visit, so on this occasion I was just playing The Concierge, a room designed for precisely two players. It’s hugely different from their other offering in almost every way. The one commonality is the top-quality decoration, with a beautiful rendition of a concierge’s office that was delightful to spend time in. The puzzles have taken a big step up, and I was impressed by the variety and fun they’d added to that side of the experience. For us, that gave the room more of a flow, and no more so than when they deliver a relatively stressful finale that takes advantage of the team size to add some adrenaline to the endgame.
Their original game, Kamer 237 is a beautiful, expansive game with some great reveals. At the time we played, I felt it was let down by a few of the puzzles. but at least a couple of them have been improved since our visit and, even if that weren’t the case, I’d still highly recommend dropping by.
PS If you’re looking for an even bigger range of great Dutch escape rooms, the photo above was taken in this venue and contains flyers from some of the best games in the Netherlands (and beyond!) that the owner has visited.
You can read the full reviews here, but Project Escape in Nijmegen is, amongst other games, home to Ramkraak (Ram Raid), an exciting game that has you ramraiding a company to steal some of its intellectual property. There are lots of positives here, but two things particularly stand out: the immersion from start to finish that helps to thoroughly embed you in the game, and the way they include variable difficulty in the experience to add to the pressure for even the most experienced players. This is another game I’d strongly recommend if you’re in the region. Full reviews here.
The two games at Space Mission: The Launch and Sabotage are absolutely stunning from a visual and immersion point of view. They’ve created a pair of experiences that interact beautifully, telling two sides of the same story, creating a space that they share and yet are separated within, delivering an impressive sense of story and generally setting you up for an amazing experience. Unfortunately, that was let down by puzzles that were confusing at times, sometimes physically difficult to complete (in a bad way) and generally got in the way of the flow of the game far too often. That said, if you’re planning a big trip, I think the experience is impressive enough to be worth a visit. Full reviews here.
Source Code and Submarine were a pair of really interesting games. The first was super-advanced, with a high-tech set that gave a real feeling of exploration but had some technical issues and a couple of dubious puzzles. The latter was a better-implemented much more conventional game, but the puzzles lacked polish: a little too simple for too long at the beginning and then repetitive at the end in a way that didn’t work for our group. If you’re passing by on a big trip then I think Source Code is worth playing just for the movie-like feel that it delivers for the players. Full reviews here.