On the beginning of this year, I was for two weeks in Brno (in Czechia) with my friends. I noticed that Brno is in fact pretty close to Vienna, so I thought we couldn't miss this opportunity and organized a weekend trip for escape rooms there, where visiting Going Underground was meant to be its pinnacle. And, oh boy, it definitely was. For the record, it claimed #13 spot worldwide in Top Escape Rooms 2019 Project even though it was visited by less people than ones it was surrounded with in standings, hence it was tougher to get there based on the methodology behind this ranking.
It has just happened, that less than month earlier I visited another great escape room - American School Story (in Wrocław - Poland) and I noted some similarities. They both made me realize something that is now vital for my great escape room experience. It is a carefully crafted scenario that develops throughout the game. Have you ever been in an escape room, where you were told in the introduction "you are trapped somewhere by somebody and now you need to escape" and after an hour of solving puzzles you opened the last door, but that was it for the story? Of course you have been, it is like that in almost every escape room. But well, it is not the case here. That carefully planned scenario makes you feel like you are really the protagonist of the story, a central character of it. It is kind of ironic and paradoxal that at the same time you feel like a protagonist that everything depends on, which is a consequence of a fact that you are 1000th puppet that follows carefully planned scenario that goes more or less exactly the same every game. There are some games when what you do actually has an effect on how story develops, but I do not think that not having storyline branchings is a disadvantage and by no means I meant something bad in my previous sentence, because as I said, carefully planned developing scenario of events is basically now a key factor to me for a top tier experience. Somehow it happened that the third game that I hold in my personal TOP 3 up to date (Poltergeist in Prague) has this property as well. I can't look at escape rooms the same as I did before, after visiting these ones. Both American School Story and Going Underground made me think about them everyday for a week after the visit.
From the description on the site, I got an impression that this room has historical background. Its introductory video was definitely WW2-ish vibes. When I found that out, I have to admit I was not very excited about this theme. But do not let that discourage you, that room definitely has some surprises :).
Regarding production value and set design... Its quality is over the top. You can see great interior, all kinds of well prepared props, great use of available space and tech tricks that other places wouldn't be able to pull off. I would guess this was the most expensive room to build I've ever been to and you can see it at every step.
Puzzles are well-thought as well. There is a big variety of them. Almost all kinds of them, not repetitive at all, very well executed. There is even a very tricky and cute one that makes you very surprised and satisfied after you get an idea and I think that my reaction after one of my friends got an intended idea: "I am pretty sure we hacked this one", says it all.
I could go on and on mentioning good things about this escape room. And I think I could be writing this review for almost indefinitely long and I will still think that I missed something important that I should have mentioned. But this has to end somewhere.
And try to beat our time our time of 43 minutes :D (not a record though). Even though I can't say this was a 90-minutes experience for us, I hope I managed to take the best out of it and enjoy it to the fullest anyway.
And do not let the price put you off. This experience is worth any money. Ok, maybe not any :P, but I definitely think this was one of the best spent money in my life since ratio quality/price is still incredible, I would definitely not exchange this one into 10 other average escape rooms.
By the way, make sure to book your spot a lot in advance (you need to factor in the risk that there are no spots available for a weekend you are interested in if you are looking into it less than 2 weeks in advance).
On Crime Runners site it is called "a premium experience". I have to admit that such language is a bit off-putting to me, but as I hope I convinced you - not many other places deserve such titles like this one and I can definitely understand that apart from being appealing to enthusiasts, it has to convince casual customers as well.
One of my observations regarding Vienna's escape room market is that it doesn't offer you a lot of very good games. You would expect from basically any city that there are some good escape rooms there, some average ones, some poor ones, but that there are smooth gradual transitions between them. This is not the case in Vienna. You have this monster called Going Underground that absolutely crushes everything else. Do not get me wrong, there are some escape rooms there that are worth playing as well, for example I really enjoyed Western Jailbreak and Bergwerk, but the gap in quality is huge. If I were to put them in context of Polish ranking, I think Going Underground would take first place, while other ones would linger around TOP100 at best. Without this escape room, you could drop Vienna as an escape room hot-spot, but this one alone makes trip here worth it.
In my new rating scale that I decided to adapt (1-horrible, 2-ok, possibly flawed, 3-good, worth doing, 4-very good, 5-extraordinary) I grade this at:
Set design, production value: 5
Something original: 4
Did I have fun?: 5
But if I allowed myself rating out of 1-5 bounds, this would be 6546. Not having perfect score in "something original" is not a disgrace since I give 5s there if something basically changes the traditional format of a game and it indeed had traditional format, but it was the best one out of these traditional ones I've ever been to (and there are 187 ERs on my counter currently).
Ocena ogólna: 10/10
Poziom trudności: Średni