Outside the room
Ah, Breakout Liverpool. No one forgets their first time, and you were mine. Losing, that is. I’ve not forgotten. Fortunately, I’ve been back since then and evened up the score with a trip to the Cowboys side of Wanted. This time I was back to play the other side of that game, Indians (and yes, before I go any further, I’ll admit that it’s a questionable choice of name and theme). According to their website, it’s their hardest room with just a 5% escape rate, or at least it was when it opened in 2015. I wasn’t nervous though – this time I’d come along with a couple of very experienced players, so I was just curious to see how it would differ.
You’ve been wrongly imprisoned for cattle rustling and you need to escape the cell within the hour and find out who the real criminal is.
Inside the room
It isn’t a spoiler to say that the game starts off in a jailhouse where you need to break out a team member before transitioning to the saloon for the final exit. If you’ve played Cowboys, you’ll already have seen the layout and, even if you haven’t, they walk you through the other rooms to get you to your start point, so you’ll know what each area looks like before you begin. Having already played Cowboys, I knew what to expect – a saloon that was a decent effort but spoiled by the fact that it was taking advantage of a kitchen that used to be housed here, so has stainless steel sinks and the like, and a small cell house where the game begins. It’s not the best theming in the world but it was good enough to do the job. Having said that, transitioning from the jailhouse direct into a saloon was kind of strange.
In spite of having been in part of the game before, I was still surprised at just how bare it felt. While there’s obviously a tension between making a room look authentic and not filling it with red herrings, the result of having so little in the way of props meant that the few puzzle pieces we did have felt oddly out of place. Or perhaps they just felt out of place full stop – some of them didn’t really fit in with the theme at all.
The other aspect of the theme, beyond puzzles and decor, was that the team was split up, which is always an interesting mechanic. You start off in such a small room that it really didn’t affect things other than meaning we had to split search duties a little. In my opinion, it didn’t add to the room much, but I guess it helps with the story, and at least the proximity of all the players meant that it was less frustrating when we took a while to get the jail door open.
And boy did it take a while to reunite our team! There weren’t many puzzles in this game (maybe ten or so from start to finish), but a couple of them required leaps of logic that I was really uncomfortable with. In particular, what was a really central puzzle left me utterly bemused. Even after having it explained to us, it seemed entirely arbitrary as a solution, and that left me feeling for the rest of the game like all bets were off as to whether puzzles had to make any sense at all.
Aside from the puzzle that I hated, there were a couple more which were overly ambiguous and one that involved some tedious counting. That’s not to say that there weren’t any good puzzles – there were a couple that I really liked, and the remainder were perfectly reasonable, if not massively exciting.
We escaped with 44 minutes 20 seconds on the clock. The host knew we were experienced, and so held off giving us clues till we were pretty much desperate. The upshot of that was that there were large portions of the game where we were frustrated and clutching at straws.
The game sets out to be tough and it succeeds in that, but it felt like it was through having puzzles that required a leap of logic and certainly not through having a large number of puzzles. With a fairly dull set, no interesting story development and some frustrating puzzles, I can’t recommend this game. Novices should probably stick to easier games and, for experienced players, I’d recommend no more than three players.
Detailed Room Ratings