Outside the room
We’d played Exit Strategy‘s other game a few months ago and felt it was a solid entry to the genre but it lacked something truly memorable. Their new room Nostromo promised to address that gap. It had been on my to do list for a while without quite making it to the top spot, but some spare time before a visit to Liverpool and some fortuitous last-minute availability had us heading over to tackle the game as a couple.
I love going to smaller operations because they really care about the customers – the lady recognised us from our visit several months before and was keen to chat about how we’d found it and tell us a bit about the background to the game, and generally seemed genuinely interested in our visit.
The story we got wasn’t great, which is a shame, because I think they could really have done something good here to set the scene and give you more context for why you had to solve all these puzzles. So, on the one hand, I felt we were given too little information but, on the other, we were given too much – being told the first few steps that we’d need to take (find this to do that, then solve these puzzles to do something else). The website gives a far better intro:
“In Nostromo, you enter an abandoned spacecraft. We suspect that the Reptilians have killed the crew, disabled the critical systems on the craft set it on a course to crash to Earth and fled. In one hour the craft will enter the Earth’s gravitational field, the point of no return. You must convince the onboard computer HAL to change course… but how?”
Inside the room
I love games which impress you as you walk through the door, and this was one of those games. This room looked suitably space station-like: silver walls, big computer terminal (without wishing to give too much away, using large, green fixed-width text feels so much better than a Windows Desktop!) and a whole host of other tech-looking functions that drew you in.
In fact, the tech is where this room really stood out – there was a lot of sciency/technology-related stuff, which was great for two reasons: firstly, it fitted with the theme – science experiments and technology both belong here. Secondly, it actually worked, which was really quite impressive given the amount of tech involved. Some of it was somewhat arbitrary puzzles that didn’t really make sense in the story, but most felt on theme. In fact, with a bit more work, I think they could have had a really good story behind most of the elements explaining why you were carrying them out.
The flow of the puzzles was nice – from the start it was reasonably obvious what you had to do to complete the game and that it would be broadly a linear progression with paired puzzles at each stage. With two players in the room, that wasn’t such a big deal, but with four players I think that would really have come into its own: you’d be continually splitting into two groups to solve puzzles and then coming back together for the next stage.
There was one minor reset issue which spoiled the flow of the game a bit while we tried to get past a puzzle. It was an unfortunate occurrence but the way the game has been created meant that, to get round it, we no longer needed to solve the final puzzle. While it didn’t massively affect our enjoyment – the games master spotted it reasonably quickly – mis-sets are inevitable and they really need to have a way to deal with them without affecting the gameplay. Missing out the final puzzle in the game was a minor let-down but one that affected those final few minutes in the room which are so important to your lasting impression.
We escaped with about 7 minutes remaining having had about five clues.
We really enjoyed this game because of the set design, the fun technology and the way the puzzles fitted nicely into the theme. The semi-linear nature of it worked well for us to build a nice flow and you had enough props from later puzzles available earlier in the game that you had a decent amount of thinking time for problems.
I’d recommend this game in particular to all the science and computer geeks out there (of which I count myself one!) but I think most players will find this plenty of fun.
Detailed Room Ratings