Outside the room
In an unusual move, Code to Exit had decided to retire the Test after just a few months, which meant that I could make an earlier than expected return to a venue that produces interesting games. I was a little surprised at their decision, but not entirely so. The Test was by far the weakest of their games and, according to the owner, people had been put off by the intellectual challenge. The Forger, themed around the works of Old Masters, seemed a nice addition – still something a little different but a little more approachable with its oil paintings than the intimidating symbols of the Test.
As ever, we quickly found the bright orange frontage of the venue and headed inside to a warm greeting from the owner. We chatted a little about the demise of the previous game and plans for the future – this venue now has three games, so they’re unlikely to expand for a while unless they can find a new venue. I sincerely hope they do, because this is one of the best escape venues in the area.
In the studio of the century’s best forger, you will find plenty of famous paintings. But only one of them is an original! This painting is not only very expensive but is also your only way out; it is the key and the single code to exit this room. You have 60 minutes to find the original and escape from the room!
Inside the room
At first glance, the Forger isn’t the most exciting of rooms. You’re in the studio so, yes, there are various paintings scattered around the room, but otherwise the space is pretty dull and, unless being looked down on by paintings is enough to immerse you, you’ll quickly switch off from the surroundings and start to investigate the room.
Fortunately, the game requires you to get involved with the artwork, so there’s no chance of you ignoring it altogether. While there’s no sense of story to this game (you’re in the workshop of a forger and need to retrieve the one authentic painting), there’s a clear mission and a sense of progress towards that goal. It’s not clear cut, but it’s enough to feel like you’re constantly pulling yourself a step closer to vacating the room.
The puzzles weren’t earth-shattering, but we enjoyed them – they flowed quickly and, in general, they made sense. There was a tendency to generate codes that could fit in multiple padlocks, but it never got sufficiently frustrating to be a problem. One particular puzzle. however, was a significant source of frustration. We’d come up with a solution that was one number too short for the padlock that was left. We tried the padlock with a preceding zero, which didn’t work, then tried to come up with a few alternative approaches. Eventually we asked for a hint only to find out that we needed to add a zero at the *end* of the code. That would never have occurred to me and there was no hint to do that beyond knowing you were a digit short. It was just bizarre, especially considering the sound logic in their other rooms.
That might have been the end of the story had we not accompanied two friends back there a month later, so we know that, following player feedback, they’ve fixed this puzzle and it now has a sensible solution. It’s nice to hear that, occasionally, feedback from enthusiasts helps to improve an experience!
The highlight in this game for me was the finale: they had to create a way in which finding the correct painting would cause the game to come to its end. I was impressed by the way they engineered things to let you identify the picture and then provided a mechanism where that was the only picture that could help you escape the room AND you would be certain, just before it unlocked the door, that you’d made the right choice! It was a great way to end an enjoyable room.
We escaped in around 45 minutes with two clues.
The Forger was a charming game which stacks up well against their other offerings. It’s got solid, fairly varied puzzles, but what drew me in more than anything else was the theme. I’m not particularly into art, but it was enjoyable having challenges themed around Old Masters, and just the sheer originality of the game filled me with delight.
It’s a great game for two enthusiasts. Larger groups may feel a little short of work and space, so I’d probably cap at four players.
Detailed Room Ratings