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A few months ago, we heard about a terrifying haunted house in Honancho, a neighborhood in western Tokyo. Unfortunately, our backlog of terror entertainment was a little jammed up, and we weren’t able to get to it right away, but this week we finally went to check out Obaken.

In addition to the horror movie-inspired creepy sights and sounds you’d expect from any decent haunted house, Obaken also takes a page from video games, with multiple levels, customizable settings, and even a continue system.

Obaken is located just a few minutes from Honancho subway station, and as we walked towards the haunted house, we found ourselves looking forward to the chill of fear giving us some respite from the broiling Tokyo heat. Situated on one floor of an unassuming mixed-use office building in a largely residential area, we might have walked right past it if not for the posters on the windows advertising its current program, Six Exits.

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Since we’d called ahead, one of the employees. Mr. Yoshizawa, came out to greet us. Like the other members of the Obaken team, Yoshizawa works at a visual effects company staffed by a group of horror aficionados. Their love for the genre first led them to convert part of their office into a haunted house, and when their ambitions grew larger than the available floor space allowed, they decided to open Obaken in its current dedicated location.

▼ Yoshizawa’s “No horror, no life” t-shirt stands in stark contrast to the trappings of death he surrounds himself with.

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Yoshizawa served as the script writer and main designer for the Six Exits program, which combines the scares of a haunted house with the puzzle-solving activities of the “escape games” that are currently in vogue in Japan. He’s a particularly huge fan of horror/torture porn franchise Saw, which he cites as an influence in the program’s atmosphere, but you don’t need to be familiar with the films to enjoy (or be terrified by) Six Exits.

As the name implies, Six Exits is a series of six rooms, each with a puzzle that must be cleared in order to advance to the next. All the while, you’re assailed by bone-chilling sights and sounds, which won’t do much to aid you concentration. The very first puzzle we faced also required a bit of fine motor skills, which can be pretty difficult to utilize when you’re trembling with fear.

▼ Part of the first room’s interior

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Each room has a time limit, and if you go over, that’s the end of your game. Embarrassingly, we couldn’t even crack the first puzzle in the allotted time. Thankfully, though, Obaken has a continue system (although technically it’s the much more violent-sounding “revenge” system).

Adult admission costs 800 yen (US$7.90), while high schoolers get in for 700 and younger kids for 600. If you run out of time, though, you can continue from where you left off for an additional 200 yen. Since we weren’t ready to go home with our tail between our legs, we decided to give the first puzzle another crack. This time we cleared it and then got through the second room, too, before finally getting stumped in room three.

▼ Yeah, it’s pretty nasty stuff…

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▼ Obaken’s terror extends to the audio realm.

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Aside from the continues, another video game-style touch is the option to request fewer ghosts before starting, in case you’re more in the mood for a light scare than full-on trauma.

Yoshizawa tells us the goal of Obaken is “to let people feel like what it’s like to be the main character in a horror movie.” With up to 200 customers a day coming on weekends, that’s a pretty big cast, but the haunted house definitely delivers on its promise, right down to the high mortality rate of its would-be heroes. Only about five percent of players clear the entire game, and as of yet, no one has done it without continuing. So if you’ve got the smarts and guts, stop by Obaken (there’s a map here), and tell Yoshizawa that RocketNews24 sent you.

Related: Obaken
Photos © RocketNews24
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