Prague Escape Review: EscapeX, Chess Key Room and the Padlock

This is part of a series of articles on games in Prague – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.


The newest of the venues that we visited while we were in Prague, EscapeX had only a single game which had been open just three weeks. The owner (also our GM) was friendly and, as a bonus, the venue was right off Wenceslas Square, so very accessible. We’d looked around on Solve Prague for potential last-minute escape rooms and a picture of one of the props in the game convinced me that it might have some merit.

Pragueception (4.5 stars)

Don’t be fooled by the start to this game. It may look as bare as you can imagine but the overall set is amazing. It’s also a tough start – and, again, don’t let that worry you. Personally, I think it’s a mistake making the first puzzle in the game tricky (and, in this case, deliberately misleading), but that’s very much a matter of opinion.

Once you’re past that, though, it flows well with logical puzzles that kept us thinking long enough to be enjoyable without feeling too frustrated. The real high point is the decor and general ambiance, though. This is a game about breaking into someone’s memories and, on that front, it absolutely delivers. There were parts of this room that were a true joy to be in, and I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to take a sit-down, forget about the game for a few minutes and enjoy the atmosphere. There were other parts that were absolutely not a joy to be in but in a good way – if you want to know more, though, you’ll have to play! This game wowed me on at least three occasions, and that is very high praise.

It’s a generally linear game, so it was perfect for a couple of enthusiasts and we finished in just over 40 minutes – if you were taking four experienced players, you might find that you tripped over each other. Finally, in case it’s relevant, I should mention that the game is influenced by the Inception film and it walks that line well – no one would say it rips off the film, but fans will delight in the references – some subtle, some not so.

Chess Key Room

If you’re going to have a vampire-themed game, then playing it deep underground late at night is definitely the right option. A bit scary, admittedly, but definitely the way to do it. The GM (and owner, I think) was very flexible – allowing us to organise a slightly later than usual slot to accommodate our other games and very polite when we turned up slightly later (technical issues at the previous game!). Chess Key Room has got an impressive start to the experience – it’s a pitch black venue downstairs and, on the way down, our GM lit torches on the wall. I suspect you wouldn’t get away with that in the UK for safety reasons, but it really was perfect for this game.

Chess Key Room (4 star)

Another stunning set. Chess Key Room isn’t as expansive as many of the games in Prague but, with high ceilings and good decoration, it more than made up for it in the quality of the space. The crypt of the vampire is a beautiful centrepiece for the room. It’s a relatively open game with several different clue trails to follow, which allows you a little time to find your feet in the game before you have to really get moving – you’re bound to solve some of the puzzles on offer without clues. There’s a mix of detailed searching, directed searching, simple puzzles and a couple of more involved puzzles, but nothing too taxing on the brain. They make up for that by sheer number of puzzles – this is a game where we really wish we’d played with an extra person.

It wasn’t all perfect – the use of walkie-talkies broke the atmosphere a little (although it still fitted with the story) and at times caused some hold-ups in us understanding the hints we were given. There was also a disappointing repeated use of laminated cards which didn’t fit with the rest of the room. Those were relatively minor complaints in what was an impressive, busy room that kept us going for the full 60 minutes (and, sadly, another two after that) in spite of a handful of clues.

The Padlock

Legend has it that somewhere in Prague there lies a 99-minute game. Leaflets were on display at various other games and, whenever we mentioned the Padlock to owners, their eyes lit up. We could only make one of their slots though, 10pm and, as luck would have it, the previous games had run late and to their full length, so it was well past 10 when we got there. It’s a relatively new addition to the scene, which meant we were fortunate enough to have the owner hosting us – always a good thing. It’s clear that he’s a real enthusiast and, for example, knew about EscapeX which had only just opened.

Mission 53 (4.5 star)

A video briefing is a great way to start this game and, while the subtitles left a little to be desired, it set the scene nicely before we were ushered inside.  I say inside, but this game begins in the outdoors. Well, sort of. It *felt* like it was outdoors. Genuinely. So much so that I actually had to go to the back of the set and convince myself that it was definitely not just the back garden of the venue, even though it was pitch black outside and just late evening in the game. This is a stunning start to a game. It’s clear that this is the kind of company that thrives on storytelling – the video, the opening setting, your journey through different locations and then, with the luxury of the long duration, they let the story unfold gently through the game.

There’s a decent set of puzzles for you to get stuck into, and they’re pretty varied. Some weren’t the most exciting, but they kept us going throughout and only one or two of them were frustrating. The biggest annoyance we felt was actually something where it looked like a physical challenge but wasn’t.  Not only was it frustrating at the time but the consequence of attempting to “solve”it was unpleasant. Fortunately, there’s plenty of time to get over that frustration in a 99-minute room so, unlike what might have happened with a shorter game, that had long since been put to one side by the time we got to the finale. One of the puzzles was a little breakable (a key ended up irretrievably positioned) but, as with the best games, the owner handled it well – getting us past the problem without breaking immersion.

We’d been told that this was a tough game and, having played eight already that day and having no idea how far through the game we were, we took clues slightly sooner than usual. The upshot of that was us finishing in a little over 70 minutes having taken around five clues. This game felt significantly bigger than a sixty-minute game but I can see a pair finishing without clues in well under the 99-minutes offered so bear that in mind when considering your cluing strategy.

That’s all on these venues – want to read more about Prague games? Click here to head back to the main Prague page.


  1. // Reply

    This series is making it really tempting to book a return visit to Prague!

  2. // Reply

    Don’t worry – the remaining six games aren’t going to be so tempting so if you’ve not already wavered, you’re safe 😉

    Glad someone’s reading them though! I wasn’t really expecting much notice to be taken of them – just hoping that they’d be useful when I eventually post them to the enthusiasts’ lists (which I’m planning either in response to specific questions or in one big dump once I’ve written up Budapest, Vienna, Amsterdam and Brussels!).

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