Outside the room
Half an hour after I’d left their other room I was back in the Rombo Code to play “la fuga de Casanova”. This time round it was a bit different because it was our teambuilding event. We’d split 18 people into six groups and then lined up the groups in pairs to play the “battle mode” of this game.
It’s a pretty standard set up, with two identical rooms (technically mirror images), but with a couple of minor differences. The most important one is that when you’re in this room you’re allowed to communicate with your opponents by text (via Whatsapp). More on that later.
The Rombo Code is (still!) a secret organisation devoted to preserving historical documents. Back in the 1700s, Casanova stayed for a short time in Madrid with his lover. Before he was arrested (Historical note: he genuinely was arrested in Spain, for illegal possession of weapons) he managed to give her some of his correspondence for safe keeping, and her family have looked after them ever since. You’ve got one hour to retrieve them for reasons that I can’t quite remember…
Inside the room
I’ve played competitively against my friends on several occasions, but I’ve never taken it very seriously. This time was different though, as I was up against someone with whom I’ve played a lot of escape rooms and everyone on the trip would inevitably ask me how I’d got on. Unfortunately I was playing with a couple of people who weren’t that experienced, so I really wasn’t very confident, especially since the morning team had failed to get out of this very room.
The room was very similar in feel (though not shape nor contents) to the game we’d played earlier. Old furniture, minimum high tech props and a feeling that there might be quite a lot of puzzles to solve. The three of us set to work reasonably methodically, doing a pretty thorough search of the room, throwing up clues, and making progress. The most interesting thing in this room was actually that I was playing with someone who has a very different way of playing escape rooms from me. She was very controlling – wanting to be in the centre of the action most of the time, and reluctant to give up the clues she received when she solved a puzzle (even if it yielded two separate clues!). I try to make sure everyone gets a go, and certainly am not happy if I don’t get to see clues, so I found this a bit frustrating.
The interesting thing wasn’t that though, it was how well we worked together in spite of that. Our brains seem to solve things in different ways, so she’d often solve a problem that I was stuck on and vice versa. It’s the first time I’ve really bought into the idea that someone’s brain might work so differently to mine. Previously I’d always assumed some people had minor differences in their ability to handle different puzzles, but this was much more extreme than I’d imagined.
This room probably had stronger and more varied puzzles than the other, but there were a couple of challenges that seemed a little bit trickier than they should have been which frustrated one of the other teams quite significantly. On the whole most puzzles were still low tech (like the other room), but there were a few more modern puzzles to solve. One area where I felt it was let down a little, was that we frequently would solve one lock, and be given (say) a key that would open another (easy to find) box which had a clue. It felt like that clue might as well have been a step earlier, and cut out the key/ easy to find box. I’m not sure if this was a way of adding more elements to the game, but it felt very artificial to me.
The “battle mode” was a bit of a let down to be honest. Aside from me sending a message to the opposition at the 40 minute mark (that just said “Bye”, even though we were several minutes from the end), we didn’t make any use of it. Indeed, the other team didn’t even look at the phone throughout their time. It would be interesting to see how teams actually used it. Would they use it for trash talking? Would they use it to send deliberately confusing hints to each other, or would they be collaborative… Is it, in fact, just me who’s mean :-).
We escaped with 16 minutes on the clock and no clues requested. More importantly we beat the other team. Even better, the hosts let us go “back stage” and watch as they struggled through the last few steps of the escape. It was quite fun seeing something that we’d just completed being re-enacted.
I enjoyed, in particular, watching them debating how to solve a particular puzzle and then suddenly one of them realising the solution and diving out the conversation, seemingly mid sentence, to try it out.
Even better than beating the other team though was beating ALL the other teams (and I believe, setting a record for this room). In fact, our opposition came second overall having escaped with six minutes to spare, so we both got to keep our status as escapists extraordinaires. Result!
Another solid escape room. I don’t think the battle mode would add much for typical escapers. It might be quite good for people who were trying to help each other escape although, as I mentioned above, that most definitely wasn’t us.
I’d recommend this for parties of six or more who want to play in battle mode, or any team of 3-5 who fancy a rapid sequence of small puzzles and don’t mind about the lack of “big” puzzles.
We headed into the centre for dinner, and ate in “Los Galayos“, just off Plaza Mayor. Downstairs, was a beautiful old cellar room. Perfect for hiding the extranjeros for the evening!
Detailed Room Ratings