A Weekend in Paris: Escape Hunt

I’d only previously played Escape Hunt‘s games over in London. Those experiences weren’t great and, based on stories I’d heard from Vienna, Amsterdam and Brussels, I wasn’t particularly inspired to try any more of them. That is, until I headed to Paris, where a couple of enthusiasts had said good things about their Metro game in particular, so I decided to give them another go.

As with their other venues, the reception is beautiful, with big leather sofas and lots of space for teams to hang around before the game – in fact, probably for more teams than there are rooms, with a separate space downstairs next to their Metro room. A quick intro from the manager and we headed into the game.

We played as a two and finished in 50 minutes. It’s probably perfect for a team of three but, if you get the chance, it’s a really fun game to play as a couple.

The Metro (3.5 stars)

The moment I walked into the game, I knew that this Escape Hunt experience was different. The centrepiece is beautiful and, while there are plenty of bare spaces in the room, it more than makes up for them. That’s not to say it’s a one-trick pony: there’s at least one other really impressive prop and, overall, I think most enthusiasts will be reasonably impressed.

Right from the start of the game, there was a real sense of anticipation, as we could clearly see into the next space. There’s something exciting about that – almost like the game’s teasing you with its treasures. More generally, the transitions between spaces within the game were a particular highlight.

As you dive into the puzzles, you start coming across things that are less impressive. A couple of clues have been scrawled onto the walls almost as an afterthought (or maybe they were attempting to upgrade the puzzles but not thinking about how they were downgrading the room). Similarly, as you get close to the end of the game, you come across something that can surely only be a puzzle that’s been partially removed. Aside from the fact that it distracted us from the game as we tried to work out what to do with it, leaving the puzzle there only served to make me feel like I was missing out on an experience.

Puzzles in the game varied in quality. I really enjoyed a couple of them, with their original mechanics and clear, unambiguous solutions. The hardest puzzle frustrated me, though. Firstly, we didn’t get anywhere to write down our working, which was frustrating as a pair because it meant we had to remember so much of the information; and secondly, it was a somewhat long puzzle with two equally valid solutions. It would have been easy for them to make it clear which one to use but, by failing to do so (and by us being unlucky), we had to work our way through a somewhat painful puzzle twice. The game is pretty much entirely linear (if you ignore the part where we accidentally solved a puzzle out of order and then got very confused when we found the last clue for it well after the puzzle was complete…).

What you need to do to complete this game becomes clear relatively early on and, while it was never going to be super exciting, I was disappointed that the experience reached its conclusion unexpectedly. You’re collecting a set of items during the game and you suddenly receive a double delivery from the final puzzle. Worse still, the step to actually complete the game was a little temperamental, so not only did that ending arrive earlier than expected but, just when we should have been getting a surge of excitement at completing the game, we instead got a phone call over the clue system to tell us that we needed to wiggle the pieces a bit…

This game is enjoyable, and there are definitely some highlights, but there were just too many places where it was weak – clumsily added clues, ambiguity in a key puzzle, a broken puzzle that hadn’t been fully removed, and an ending that was doubly flat. The end result was that we walked away having merely enjoyed a game that I really felt we should have loved.

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