This is part of a series of articles on games in Edinburgh – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.
Can You Escape? run a couple of games out of their Edinburgh location. We’d only been able to book into Operation Odyssey because Operation Deadlock had a minimum booking of three people. Having played their Operation Lone Eagle in York, I was curious to see what they had up in their flagship venue – I’d heard great things about Odyssey but, while Lone Eagle had been good, it was still a long way short of the reviews I’d been reading about the Edinburgh game.
It’s a relatively small reception, with just enough room for the team to perch while waiting for their game. Around the space there’s a plethora of previous player pictures; every team gets a photo stuck on the wall with their time. I like that, not least because you can take a look around to see if you can spot familiar faces and see what sort of time they got.
Operation Odyssey (5 stars)
If I have a vision for the escape rooms of the future, Can You Escape? is probably the closest to delivering it. Operation Odyssey had so many of the elements that I’m looking for in an escape room that it was hard not to enjoy it. So what exactly did it do?
Firstly, there was a little bit of theatre before we started the game, with the intro being given in character. And more followed as soon as we were inside the game, with us having to gain access to the spaceship before the main part of the mission began. Once inside, there was a very, very clear structure to the experience. It was obvious what we had to do from soon after we started, and there was a clear display of how far along the road we were towards that ultimate goal.
There’s an aspect to the game that reminded me of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes’ Needy mode – something that doesn’t really take you towards your ultimate goal but which means you have to keep performing certain actions. That may or may not be a positive to you but, for me, it was a nice innovation that didn’t take away from the gameplay. Several of the puzzles required significant communication and teamwork, which is, after all, what most attracted me to escape rooms in the first place. The puzzles were varied, and each set of puzzles had a specific theme that bound them together (some more clearly than others, admittedly).
As always with a good game, there was a clear finale, although I have to confess that it felt at odds with the rest of the game – up until then, everything had been beautifully polished, and this was, quite deliberately, silly. The puzzles all made sense (although one was very much outside-the-room knowledge and, while a little tongue-in-cheek, jarred with the more on-theme aspects of the game).
Was it all perfect? No, but the bits that weren’t were fairly minor. It felt a little too corporate and clean – it’s probably a bit unfair but I love games which have a home-made touch to them, and this felt a little cold and, as mentioned above, the finale felt at odds with the rest of the game – way less professional although still good fun.
We came out of this game in 43 minutes without having taken any clues and with big smiles on our faces. I’d heard a lot of people rating this game highly, and now I can see why: it is a well designed game, with lots of fun puzzles that involve plenty of team work and set in a pretty space. What’s not to love?
That’s all on Can You Escape? – want to read more about Edinburgh games? Click here to head back to the main Edinburgh page.