Outside the room
As part of a family holiday in the South of Spain, we decided to head along to a local escape room. The nearest city was Málaga, which was around an hour away, but a quick visit to TripAdvisor (see – it is useful!) turned up a room just half an hour away in the seaside resort of Torre del Mar. Torrenigma looked interesting but, to be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope – a game with no competitors would surely be a basic affair full of counting puzzles and UV torches…
Finding a parking space was the first challenge we had to overcome – it may have been a pretty miserable day, but it was still the height of summer season, so the plentiful parking space was pretty much entirely taken. If you’re going during the summer holidays, I’d recommend leaving a little extra time to avoid undue stress.
Once inside, we had a full introduction from the host. He was more than capable of doing the briefing in English but, with three quarters of the team being fluent Spanish speakers, I was overruled and the briefing was done in Spanish. Don’t worry – the clues in the game are all available in perfectly translated English.
Afterwards, we hung around and chatted to him about his background and game. He’s a former art director for adverts and music videos, which probably explains the creative touches, and he spent a couple of years over in Canada. The game is self-designed and built, and that love really shone through in the experience.
A thunderstorm interrupts your pleasant walk through the woods. You find shelter rapidly and hide in a deserted mansion nearby, gaining access through its half-open door. You can tell that there is something wrong about this place. The decor is strange, even disturbing… but at least you’re safe from that damned storm…
Inside the room
The final part of the briefing takes place inside the room itself with a minute-long video that sets the scene for your adventure. It may have questionable English subtitling (the only bad translations we saw), but I was impressed that they’d managed to create a reasonable backstory for the game, including a justification for why you only have a limited time to complete your mission. It’s the eeriest part of the expertience, but they’d kindly turned on an extra light in the room to dial back the creepiness so that our six-year-old wouldn’t get too freaked out. Don’t worry though – from the video onward, there’s nothing remotely scary about the room.
First impressions were good. While it may be a classic “old study” game, it’s beautifully presented, and the puzzles are subtly camouflaged into the game to prevent the immersion being broken. The only – minor – criticism I have is that they made use of a fair number of padlocks that looked incongruous in the 1930s setting. Interspersed in the decoration were subtle references to some of the influences on the game – see if you can spot anything related to Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe or Alone in the Dark!
Talking about the story in this game is tricky. There’s nothing very definitive beyond retrieving the amulet, but a few references here and there to what happened to the family that owned the house helped set the scene. Nothing very concrete – just hints for you to fill the blanks. For me it worked well – those who care about the story can immerse themselves in that world, while those who are just there for the mental workout can bypass the narrative entirely.
As for puzzles, that’s where this game was in its element. In total there was a good number of fairly challenging examples. Several were reasonably standard, but they’d put their own twist on them to keep things interesting, and a couple were genuinely novel. The final big puzzle of the game in particular was a really nice addition that was a simple but effective way of generating a solution that I’ve not seen in any of the other rooms I’ve played.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s a significant search angle to the game that’s worth bringing out. Firstly, there’s the conventional searching that you’d expect in any game, albeit probably a little tougher than average. Secondly, there’s a sidequest to retrieve five towers (the torres of Torrenigma, presumably). They contribute to your final score, but be warned: some of them are incredibly difficult to find. Only four teams have found all five (and two of those didn’t escape the room!). Even if we’d been given an hour just to search for them, I’m not convinced we would have found them all.
Following the final puzzle, there’s a good ending to the game that sees you find the titular amulet and escape the room. I found that the search for the five towers slightly distracted us at that point – as is usual in an escape room, we weren’t 100% certain when the game was going to finish, and we didn’t want to risk waiting around in case it turned out there were a bunch more puzzles to solve. As it happens, escaping without finding all the towers was probably the correct decision, as the final score is more dependent on your time than the number of towers you find (and we’d never have found the towers anyway…).
We escaped in 42 minutes, collecting three towers along the way. They’re fairly clue-happy (in a good way), so we probably got around five or so nudges during the game.
It’s always hard to judge a game that you go into with low expectations, especially when you’re accompanied by young children. Trying to look at it objectively, I think this is a really strong room that would stand up well in any market. It’s got plenty of interesting and logical puzzles, is well decorated and weaves in a story that you can choose to take or leave.
If you’re an enthusiast, I’d probably suggest taking along three or four people, while first-timers could probably do with one or two more, as a little more brainpower and searching will be helpful.
Detailed Room Ratings