The Nightmare Asylum 2017
The Nightmare Asylum is an extremely small haunt put on by a local mechanic shop. We have visited this haunt in the past and we must first say that we really respect and admire what they do!
They have a really original concept of incorporating escape room elements into the haunt. They were doing it way before everyone started jumping on the escape room bandwagon in the past few years. Don't get us wrong, we love escape rooms almost as much as we love haunts so it's okay with us if more haunts continue to jump onboard.
In addition to the escape room aspects, they mix in a lot of winning ingredients - ducking for extended amounts of time under low ceilings, darkness, small spaces, feeling trapped, cool animatronics - but are still figuring out that perfect recipe.
This haunt was done on a budget very unlike your Netherworlds and Paranoias out there. The sets weren't very detailed and costuming was very basic. Also, there is a lot of silence, and not the type of silence that fills you with a sense of impending dread... just silence. Lighting seemed to be lacking in areas where it was actually needed, especially when trying to use a lock mechanism, making already difficult tasks much harder. Then there were brighter areas that should have been darker to disguise the surrounding environment.
In most of the puzzle rooms, we did not even have time to realize we were in a puzzle room before the actor in that room started directing us. Damn... give us a chance to get to the door, see the lock, and discover the clues ourselves.
This small haunt really has the potential to be amazing with a few adjustments to their execution. With some added lighting in those puzzle rooms to highlight the locks and a little more thought into the clues and how the actors should interact (or not) with the people in those rooms could go a LONG way in increasing the scare factor. We sincerely hope they continue doing what they do and improving every year!