Outside the room
One game done, it was straight back in for LockIn Escape‘s Jail Break room. A quick briefing from the host and we were left on our own to escape.
You are sent on a secret mission by your principal from the biggest criminal organisation to rescue two very important convicted prisoners who are being detained in the most secured cell in the jail, pending the death sentence. You and your fellow team members have carefully devised an escape plan. To execute the escape plan, you are now disguised as an officer and have gained access into the cell where your targets are held. Your goal is to interact with the secret prisoner and ensure that everyone successfully tunnels out of the cell before the alarms sounds and the guards return.
Inside the room
I immediately liked the layout of this prison break game. It’s pretty clear from the moment you arrive that it’s not the sort of game that’s going to be very expansive but, compared to, say, Breakout Liverpool’s Indian room, there’s enough separation to make the two roles feel very different while not so much that you feel entirely out of the game when you’re stuck behind bars. I also liked that they made use of period handcuffs (although they somewhat spoiled that by having modern handcuffs adorning the walls…). In terms of the more general theming, it was reasonably sparse but worked well.
The imprisonment and forced separation brings the same tension in this game as in others – do you make breaking out of jail a real challenge, at the risk of frustrating your team, or do you make it simple but render the segregation somewhat irrelevant to the game? I think they probably got the balance just right here but, because of a flaw in our observation and search, we ended up getting stuck for far too long. We eventually opted for taking a clue, and I can’t help but wonder, in retrospect, if the failure in searching was partly down to that segregation. There’s always that little bit of doubt in your mind as to whether there’s any point at all in searching your part of the room, so you’re probably not as thorough. And on this occasion, the fault lay on my side…
As with the other Lockin Escape game, they opt for harder puzzles rather than sheer number. With three of us in the room, that was OK, but with the full complement I’d have been seriously bored. What puzzles they did have were enjoyable although, be warned, there’s a skill-based puzzle that may have some teams feeling quite frustrated, and there’s another challenge that might be a bit annoying for players who are less flexible/tall. Once again, I was impressed by the variety of solutions in a game that’s already a couple of years old, with a couple of mechanical puzzles and a tech one thrown in. Nothing earth-shattering but there are games opening now that don’t meet that level of ingenuity.
One thing I really liked was that they’d used the segregation to force each player to play their own role in the game. Often, information can easily be passed back and forth between the players, but here there were some puzzles that could genuinely only be solved by one or two of the players. One place where they missed a trick was in getting the players to have to work together from inside and outside the cell to solve puzzles. For me, that’s often the highlight of a game: where it’s impossible to solve a puzzle individually and instead you have to work through it as a team.
We escaped in about 52 minutes having taken a couple of clues. Clues came over the walkie-talkie, which worked reasonably well.
I enjoyed this game and I’d recommend it, but I think it’s showing its age. There’s enough here to challenge novice players but, for enthusiasts, the low number of puzzles won’t quite make up for the added difficulty, and the extra non-padlock puzzles in the game are no longer enough to wow players.
Detailed Room Ratings