The Panic Room Gravesend: The Happy Institute

Following on from Resurgency, we headed across the road and went straight into The Happy Institute. It’s got quite a unique story to it, and we had no idea what to expect…

“Welcome to The Happy Institute! Are you ready to face the darkness inside and make the change to happiness? It’s only a pill away… What’s the worst that could happen?

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone were happy? Here at the Happy Institute, testing is going swimmingly with our newest mood enhancer and cognitive supplement; Risus. You have been invited to test the drug in its most recent strain, to help suppress those pesky negative emotions. RESULTS CLASSIFIED. SIDE EFFECTS GUARANTEED”

The Happy Institute at The Panic Room Gravesend

Horror games: dark, unpleasant spaces, usually with a touch of the paranormal, or the ongoing fear of getting killed by a crazed murderer. Not here.

The Happy Institute is one of the most unique horror games we’ve come across. A bright white, clean, clinical environment greets you upon entry, as you set about checking yourself in with a very happy doctor.

Much like within The Panic Room’s huge Dino Land experience, this is very much a host-led experience. There’s many parts of the game where you’re on your own, and while this is something that might put some people off, we loved every interaction with Dr. Bliss.

I should also try to get across the level of scare for those who might be 50/50 on giving it a go. I hate horror rooms, and do try to play the softer versions of terror-filled games – I’m an absolute coward. However, while this room definitely was unsettling, it wasn’t too terrifying – some really well done jump scares and tense moments were in place, and it definitely can fall into the horror category while not being unbearable.

My one and only criticism of this room is that the puzzles play second fiddle to the experience a little. At one point of the game, it did become more puzzle focused, but they weren’t the most exciting or fun puzzles that the Panic Room has to offer.

This doesn’t majorly detract from the overall experience though, which is a brilliantly unique, bizarre experience. We were guided through by a hilariously creepy and unsettling character, and without a doubt, the pills worked, as we came out of the room with massive smiles on our faces.

Host: As mentioned, our experience was led by Dr. Bliss. Our host William played the part absolutely perfectly. He nailed every interaction and was one of our biggest highlights of the day. Creating an experience like this can be risky, as it relies so heavily on getting the character right, but they’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about here. Superb.
Clue System: Clues were delivered in a variety of ways by Dr Bliss.
Success: Yes, we escaped in 56:13.


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