Demise of the Gricers
The review of this game could be very short and effortless from my side. I could just quote what is stated in the website, where the game is described as: “an unforgettable adventure with a game unlike anything else, multiple actors, technical systems, an oppressive, industrial yet beautiful audiovisual atmosphere to sparkle you with and a fictional world that you want to immerse yourself in, all on a fantastic location” and such a quote would perfectly sum up, what we experienced without needing to add anything else.
But because I am not lazy, I would like to complement such a perfect description with a few comments on our experience, so I will start from the very beginning.
Entered, the company behind this experience made itself a name with the game “I can hear you”, which landed in position 56 in TERPECA 2021. The game started already in 2018, but as we found out talking with the owners, they excluded themselves from the escape room industry for quite some time. For different reasons we never got the opportunity to play it until they had to close it. It is said that Heiner wakes up in the middle of the night consumed by the feeling of emptiness that not having played that game left inside him.
Heiner made a solemn promise in front of the TERPECA list, that that would never happen again and the moment the pre-sale for the new game of this company opened, he eagerly suggested to buy a ticket, which I did. At that moment, I had not read anything about the game and I was not even sure if a game, which was explicitly advertised as not being an escape game was going to be to my liking, although I had heard many positive comments about their previous game. The name of the game did not say anything to me and as far as I could tell Gricers was just some surname.
I imagine that the vast majority of the readers has no clue what “gricer” means, even including those who speak English as their mother tongue. A look at the Oxford dictionary reveals that gricer is an informal British term to refer to a “fanatical railway enthusiast”, which gave me the idea that a “fanatical escape room enthusiast” should be called a “heiner”.
Back to the original topic, on our way to the venue I was thinking that it does not appear that a real-life horror game and gricer are two terms that relate to each other, but surprisingly it does and I will not say more, as that would be spoiling the experience. Instead, I will tell you, that it was extremely refreshing to play a scary game, with a highly original topic, with an elaborated inventive narrative and which is conveyed during the game in a great way. As a matter of fact, the game objective and the progress in the game is strictly linked to the narrative.
The location is obviously connected to said topic and in Heiner’s words it is possibly the most impressing setting ever and I agree, also because the “setting” extends beyond what is the game as such. But again, I do not want to elaborate on that, because that would also be a spoiler.
It must also be said that the game is explicitly advertised as not being an escape room, particularly as it does not have any puzzles. However, in the broader definition of an escape game, namely as an immersive game in which you need to fulfill certain objectives by completing tasks within a certain frame of time, it might be considered one. The closest game I can think of in this format is “Stay in the Dark”, which is a good reference on what to approximately expect from such an experience.
It is not a game for everyone, in the first place it is a scary game, and in the second place it requires a certain degree of mobility, including climbing and crawling beyond of what you typically find in escape rooms and for a longer period. But for those among you who enjoy scary games, this game would be like a horror game 3.0. It has unique game dynamics, that I really loved and that are also one of the reasons why it is a great deal of physical exercise. Said game dynamics are connected with an exclusive piece of technology, which I can unfortunately not share with you, but which plays a fundamental role in the game.
The acting was good and played an important part of the game. I cannot confirm nor deny this, but a reliable witness mentioned that Heiner was heard screaming and one of our team members seriously considered abandoning the game.
The review would not be complete if I do not mention that another of our team mates had to abandon the game, due to a luckily not major accident in the outside part of the game, which without spoiling anything is a non-secured area which at night, as we confirmed, can be a problem. Suggestions were made on how to improve this and we hope that the owners implement them in order to avoid something like that happening again. I recommend to play at night because the horror experience at the beginning is maximized and because I can hardly imagine having the energy to play more after the game. If you do and independently of the improvements that can be made, use your common sense, and avoid acting in an unsafe manner.
To conclude I can say that this game was one of the best horror games I’ve ever played, excelling in pretty much all categories: setting, narrative, acting, flow and I would not be surprised to see it landing very high in the next Terpeca. The game is only available from Fr to Su and only with a few slots each day given its length, so plan your trip to Belgium (which as a side note has many excellent games) and reserve your spot.