Next Level Escape – The Artefact

The Artefact (Game duration 93 minutes)

Fury team 1: Lilyana BonevaVenelin GornishkiMonika Gornishka

Fury 1 time: 42:42 minutes

Fury team 2: Velina TomovaHristo TomovAnton KonduzovVanya Stoitseva and Bistra-Dona Konduzova

Fury 2 time: 51:00 minutes

Fury team 3: Veronika ManchevaMiroslav ManchevIvan VladimirovDimitar Smilyanov and Nadezhda Danabasheva

Fury 3 time: 40:58 minutes

Date: January 27, 2024

Nadezhda Danabasheva:
If you have time for just one escape room in Romania, it’s this one.

Since we started playing in Romania, I can draw a parallel with Sofia. The rooms are relatively small in size; most puzzles are on the easier side. The so-called “immerse” is more desirable, as in most cases, the experience is realized with prop items from AliExpress, and very few rooms are genuinely built for enthusiasts. It doesn’t bother me in any way; I’m an escape room junkie, I can play anything at any time and have fun. But those I remember are few. The Artifact will stay with me for a long time.

The last room of the day, number 9. We’re tired; we just had our first bite. No way to anticipate what will happen, but in this life, the most beautiful rooms happen almost unexpectedly and always when my batteries are about to turn out. And rooms like this recharge me; I don’t feel the passing of time or that my feet are sore. And here, as before, I had the feeling just before the end that the record would be ours. It happened; call it a premonition, call it self-confidence, but it’s a very interesting feeling, and it usually holds true.

Here, I meet my favorite random person; sometimes life brings you some, I call them rare Pokémon, and the feeling is like leveling up in life afterward. The owner greets us, a short man, pleasantly rounded, wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt, which already makes him quite likable. When he speaks, he clasps his hands over his little belly, as if supporting himself and providing some comfort. We pass through a covered yard where a car is parked, a place that resembles a production site. We enter a room that feels like a tent (the photos are in it). Nothing gives away the epic spaces and endeavors that will follow.

We talk, get to know him, and learn about the creation of the room. Right from the start, he shared with us that he is neurodivergent and has Asperger’s Syndrome. I tell him that my son is on the spectrum, and I completely understand what he’s talking about, starting to understand certain details in his behavior. He mentions that he is antisocial and finds it challenging to talk to people; his English is not good. Well, it’s good; some words just escape him, but we communicate perfectly about the room’s story. He mainly created it with friends over three years. He recycled and refurbished all the electronics himself (it turns out he does it professionally). Every board, every lamp, everything he brought back to life with these two hands, and the new electronics in the room are only the water dispenser and air purifier. And, in case you didn’t know, there’s a lot, a lot of electronics in an escape room. I’m impressed!

He raises the curtain to show us the “heart” of his creation. Dozens, even hundreds of cables converge on a board controlled by him and AI (again, he wrote everything himself with Python). I’m even more impressed, and the game hasn’t even started yet.

As seen in the photos, the theme is Egyptian; the entire game takes place in the chambers of the pyramid. And what a pyramid it is… everywhere, the walls are white, the drawings are fresh, lively. I understand that he did them himself; he says he used a tablet and National Geographic movies, frame by frame, while showing the real pyramid we draw. And then the next frame, and so on… dozens of meters of hieroglyphs, gods, symbols… I can’t imagine how much effort this is for one person, what attention to detail. And he just casually told us it was great, it is quiet here, step by step, day by day, and it happened.

As expected, when I knew who we were dealing with, he used real mythology, and everything in the room was aligned with it. Absolute giant!

I won’t tell you about the game. The puzzles are perfectly aligned with the atmosphere and the time that represents the theme. Perfectly tuned. In size, this is humongous, especially for this part of Europe. I won’t say a word about the props from the movie studio. Not even about the sarcophagus because, finally, there’s a realistic sarcophagus!

Entering the pyramid, we ask about the record. 45 minutes from some guys from Terpeca. Do you know what Terpeca is? We know, nodding affirmatively. It was a mixed team: one Brit, two players from Greece, and two players from Spain. Excellent, let’s see how we’ll we do.

I’ll only say that all day, we tried to showcase to each other every puzzle we encountered, how things are solved, and how they are done. Here, in the penultimate room, I have the feeling (since we don’t have a clock on the wall, pyramid, ancient Egypt, and so on) that we are doing well with time, very well. Everything works out for us almost flawlessly. Miro asked me something, but because I felt my 6th feeling tickling, I just said later, later, let’s solve the next one.

In the last room, the artifact slowly reveals itself. Mitko says, 40 minutes. Three seconds later, I grabbed the Artifact and ran, ran for my life. And I screamed to the team, “RUN! RUN YOU FOOLS!”. 40:58 minutes is the new record for the room, and it can easily be beaten, I’m telling you.

And Bucharest is a 6-hour drive away from Sofia. If you beat us, please ping me, I’ll be glad to know you had the same experience as we did.

P.S. He asked where we know about the room, he has no publicity. If possible, let’s leave him a review. I’ve got you…

Anton Konduzov:

Since Nadia has already documented it, I will just add 1-2 touches.

The name – Next Level Escape is absolutely fitting for this room. We enter a tent. The tent is in a garage. The garage is in some semi-industrial area of Bucharest. And inside the tent, it’s about Egypt. “Aaaa”, I say to the “non-English speaking” owner, “we are starting an expedition and that’s why we are in a tent, like in the desert”. His eyes lit up. Honestly, he was so happy that I made the connection with the desert.

After we entered and went through the room (not for a record, again I think we deliberately slowed down at one point, to look around) I noticed that always, at every moment, you know what to do. It’s naturally set up in such a way that it becomes clear where you are going, how you throw yourself (non-translatable joke), and similar.

One of the last puzzles is a masterpiece (others are too, just the last one touched my heart the most). The man has done something so historically accurate, that I was in shock. I, as a collector of random and meaningless facts, couldn’t explain to the others why this was so cool there, but let me tell you – in the conversation after the room with the owner, it became clear to me that there is nothing accidental in the whole room. Neither the story (a true myth), nor the arrangement of the puzzles, nor the drawings and statues are random in this experience. This man single-handedly raised the level of all rooms in Romania.

In the end, he gave us a gift. A casting. Kudos, dude!

Our photos 👻😮‍💨

Our photos 𓂀𓂀𓂀𓋹𓁈𓃠𓆃☥𓅓𓆣

And The Artifact remains for you as a memory. You’ve found it; you carry it home. When I finally assemble the escape memorabilia cabinet, this memory will occupy a central place in it.