Outside the room
We were on holiday visiting family in the medium-sized town of Sant Cugat just outside Barcelona, so what else could we do than look to see if there was an escape room around. It turns out there were actually two escape rooms in the town. A brief exchange of emails later and we determined that SantQescape was both family-friendly and available to play in English. Perfect!
It’s on a side street just next to the local monastery and – I was pleased to see – made excellent use of this as a backdrop for the game. After a friendly greeting and a quick telling of the story, it was into the game itself.
I can’t remember the exact tale, but it was something along the lines of you having gone into the monastery by a hidden entrance to look for the famed Alchemist Peach, an ornament that had (genuinely!) been discovered during renovation in the 1970s. Inevitably, the door had shut behind you and your mission was to escape although, to my surprise, you didn’t need to bring the peach out with you.
Inside the room
First impressions were great. For a small town room it had plenty of atmosphere and was surprisingly spacious – a huge starting space that was so large they’d put in a room divider to break it up. Worryingly, it was packed with a large number of potential red herrings, and a cursory examination threw up plenty of potential starting points. I found that a real surprise because I’d have thought that, in a place where the vast, vast majority of players will be playing for the first or second time, they’d have opted for a more gentle introduction with an obvious place to begin.
Although we had some theories of where to start, we couldn’t quite work out exactly the right step. After more than ten minutes in the space, we asked for our first clue – only to be told that we’d already got the right idea but hadn’t applied it correctly. When we finally found the “right” way, I was decidedly non-plussed. The solution disappointed me in two different ways: not only are you unlikely to try the right thing but, even if you do, you will really struggle to get a code out of it. In contrast to the room decoration, this suggested a real lack of attention to detail.
Eventually we got going, though, and thereafter it was pretty plain sailing. From time to time there would be something less obvious but, in all honesty, there was little in this room that was difficult (including that first puzzle) and so, with the aid of it being a linear room, we were generally able to focus our attention on the task in hand and make good progress.
The room is mainly simple observational or decoding puzzles, but there were a couple of more interesting elements along the way. One worked well (kudos to Midi-Logic for doing a far better search than her parents), while the other almost failed entirely because the prop required was flawed and it was only through significant perseverance that we managed to make progress. Once you’ve worked out the solution to a puzzle, it should quickly crack under pressure, but here it dragged. Badly.
Eventually we made it to the final puzzle and our means of escape. While the puzzle idea was laudable, the implementation was pretty flawed. The number one issue was that there was no direction – it wasn’t obvious why you had to take the action we did. The only reason we did take it was because we worked out (from a technical point of view) how the puzzle worked and so guessed what we were meant to do. The second issue was that, even once we’d worked out the solution, the puzzle was pretty temperamental: triggering the final action was difficult -or at least I think it was, but there was no feedback when we solved it, so it’s possible that we solved it much faster and then spent the rest of the time not realising we could just walk out…
We escaped in about 35 minutes (exact time unknown because they accidentally reset the clock halfway through, but certainly less than forty minutes). We had two clues along the way. Remember that we were playing with two small children, which typically slows us down significantly.
This game was pretty and played well on the history of the monastery in Sant Cugat but, ultimately, it felt lacking on the puzzle front. There weren’t enough puzzles, the ones that were there lacked direction and sometimes didn’t work very well, and several of the solutions left me unsatisfied.
At the time of writing, I’ve not played any of the Barcelona games but I’d guess, based on their reputation, that a better option would be to jump on the train and head to the centre for a higher quality offering. If you decide to go along here anyway, I’d suggest no more than three adults.
Detailed Room Ratings