Escape The Backrooms is an early access title that follows the trend that has gained popularity on the internet in the last two years. It plunges the player into a reality made up of repetitive and impossible rooms, populated by terrifying entities. It promises tachycardia, and fans will find plenty to sink their teeth into.

Escape The Backrooms is currently in early access on Steam, developed by a single person who goes by the name Fancy. Since August 11, 2022, they have made available a game that they initially thought as a private project to scare their friends. The large following their updates on their YouTube channel generated convinced them to turn it into a full-fledged game for the mainstream market. New levels are added regularly, and through the official Discord server, Fancy states that there are plans to release the title for consoles after its launch.

The Backrooms

If this name means nothing to you, let me explain. The phenomenon of the Backrooms is closely related to that of liminal spaces, which have gained significant relevance on the web in recent years. These are images or short videos, often accompanied by melancholic and evocative music, that mainly depict places like completely empty and lifeless school hallways, shopping malls, old houses, or urban landscapes, often at night. These are places that evoke childhood memories and dream moments, taking on a strongly nostalgic and sometimes unsettling and distressing tone for most viewers, especially for those belonging to the so-called Generation Z, born in the mid to late nineties.

May 12, 2019. 4chan, section dedicated to the paranormal. The first images of the Backrooms begin to circulate in a thread asking to post images that seem “off.” An anonymous user posts what appears to be a photo of a room with yellow walls and floors and fluorescent lights, claiming that one could end up there by accident by slipping “between the folds of reality.” The image gained great success and was widely discussed in many forums.

Escape The Backrooms - Room

A nightmare we’ve all had…

Fast forward to January 7, 2022. Kane Pixels, a brilliant and young VFX director and artist, publishes a video called “The Backrooms (Found Footage)”, which reaches and surpasses one million views in a few weeks. In this disturbing video set in 1996, shot from a first-person perspective simulated with a handheld camera, the protagonist ends up under mysterious circumstances in a dimension made up of identical rooms and corridors, reminiscent of the back rooms (hence the name) found in shopping malls and offices, like storages.

It doesn’t take long for the unfortunate protagonist to encounter a terrifying entity that begins to hunt him in what seems like an endless and disorienting labyrinth. The phenomenon literally explodes on the web in the following months, Kane Pixels releases more videos, and a plethora of content creators start working to emulate its success, producing more and more themed videos and expanding the fictional and strangely fascinating world of the Backrooms.

Nowadays, the Backrooms are viral on the internet, and for a good reason. The spell they cast on viewers is very hard to resist; few are not somehow influenced by the nostalgic yet suffocating aura of this dreamlike and absurd reality. Add a few monstrous entities that populate its corners, and the game is set: with a few simple moves, you’ve created a genuine modern horror cult. Come on, don’t lie… you’ve all seen something similar in your nightmares. We recently talked about this with the review of the bold Superliminal, and it’s only natural that video games on this theme emerge.

A powerful and well-executed formula

Escape The Backrooms is not the first or the last product inspired by Kane Pixels‘ videos, and although it is still in early access, it’s already easy to say that it is the most faithful reproduction of the trend, a true replica made with dedication and passion by a developer who promises a lot for the future. In the depths of the numerous and varied levels, we can find absurd situations that lurk on the edge of the dreamlike, terrifying creatures, and well-crafted puzzles.

We are part of a team sent to explore the Backrooms through a sort of headquarter set up in one of the rare safe places. Our predecessors have left notes and advice on how to avoid and repel dangers, and reading them will be mandatory because there is no way to defend ourselves from the entities. We can blind some with a flashlight, and deceive others, but most of the time we will just have to flee.

The developer meticulously crafted all the rooms, they are rich in disturbing details and convey oppression and discomfort. It’s sometimes challenging to look around the corner; often, we’ll find ourselves jumping in our seats and even having to literally push ourselves to continue. We will search for solutions to puzzles or the exit with palpitations, aware that something is watching us… and maybe silently following us. We’ll also have to keep an eye on our sanity, assaulted by the nightmare surrounding us. The presence of an inventory with consumable items found in the rooms encourages exploration of this absurd dimension. The addition of multiplayer during development completes the picture, ensuring increasing fun and replayability.

Escape The Backrooms - Inventory

An early access destined for great things

Let’s be clear: Escape The Backrooms is still in the preliminary phase. Often, we encounter annoying bugs, such as model and character overlap, and the checkpoints are sometimes too far apart, leading to inevitable frustration. However, considering that this is a one-person project and taking into account all its other merits, I personally believe that we can overlook these flaws. Furthermore, communicating and reporting any issues to the developer is simple and effective, thanks also to the very active Discord server.

Escape The Backrooms is a project that really promises a lot and will definitely make headlines. The phenomenon is still popular and growing today, and we finally have a quality video game on the matter. A real dream for those who longed for such a possibility back in 2019, like myself. It’s clear that Fancy has extensively researched through YouTube videos and forums before working on the game, and fans can only rejoice. I can’t wait to see the continuation of this work, which truly deserves a lot of attention and media coverage. I believe it fully embodies the spirit of the independent gaming market, representing both an internet phenomenon born from the minds of imaginative young people and the essence of functional horror; playing on anxiety and paranoia. Give it a chance… and hope not to slip between the folds of reality yourself!

I’ve been a gamer, amateur writer and technophile since 2006. I personally prefer games that can offer a good challenge, and I’m a great enthusiast of retrogaming. I love to dissect every single backstory behind messages, development and secrets of videogames, which I consider proper work of arts.