This is part of a series of articles on games in Amsterdam – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.
MyEscape.Club is a small venue just outside the heart of Amsterdam with, at the time of writing, two games. Back to the USSR is very much an introductory game (although we made hard work of it), with some very clear direction, while Judgement Day is a little more advanced and sees you taking on something that feels more like a military mission. I’d highly recommend both – if you’re an enthusiast, why not use Back to the USSR as a warm-up?
Back to the USSR (4 stars)
This isn’t the prettiest of rooms in the world, but I think that’s very much the intention – it’s a utilitarian look to match the Eastern European setting of the game. To add to the immersion, the room is adorned with Communist props – whether that’s Russian equipment or posters of Lenin – some of which are just for decoration but most of which are part of the game itself.
There’s a very clear structure to the game right from the outset – you need to complete eight tasks, each of which will give you a code that you can use to illuminate a light on the wall. Once you’ve got all eight, your work is done and you can escape. To make matters even more straightforward, each of the puzzles is clearly signposted although, much to my embarrassment, we didn’t notice that for much of the game.
In terms of puzzles, they’re pretty much entirely parallelised, so there’s plenty of opportunity to ponder any tasks you might get stuck on while you look at something else. They’re nicely balanced with a couple involving heavy communication, some physical puzzles and a few observational ones. As mentioned above, they make good use of authentic Russian props to help embed the puzzles in the game, although there were a couple of places where the puzzles stood out a bit from the room.
It’s not the sort of game where you should expect any story – you’re a scientist’s assistant trying to get all the tasks for the day done – but you’ll encounter some humorous asides that help bring the experience to life a little. The nature of the parallel puzzle paths also means there’s no real finale – the end of the game comes when you complete the last of those eight puzzles.
Judgement Day (4.5 stars)
Ugh. Darkness. This really isn’t the way I wanted to start the game. I was playing with five people, three of whom I’d met literally ten minutes before (including David and Lisa from Room Escape Artist), so only two light sources wasn’t ideal. It doesn’t even make sense in the storyline – we’re breaking into a military bunker, so why wouldn’t we take enough torches with us? There’s also not enough room for five people to wander round right at the start.
It felt like an age till we got going, and there was at least one more moment in the game where our large team really got in the way – there’s a puzzle that you need to solve where the access precludes more than one or two people seeing what’s happening. In a game which was almost entirely linear from start to end, that was a real problem – not only did we not get to take part in the fun bit but we also had absolutely no clue what they were doing.
And then, things started to turn round. We got more light and space, and consequently it became easier to get involved with the puzzles. They continued to be linear, but there was usually plenty of space around them so multiple people could attempt to solve in parallel. Overall, the puzzles were enjoyable – the majority were on theme and, with a couple of exceptions, they made sense within the story. There was a nice range not just in puzzle types but in how they were presented. Some weren’t even obviously puzzles, others felt more like just a step in the mission of destroying the AI technology. Some felt like exactly what you might do in order to break into a (not amazingly well defended!) military bunker.
This game felt like a real mission – it had you crawling, climbing, breaking in, hacking, coming up with creative solutions and eventually rushing out with the adrenaline of a goal accomplished…
Want to read David and Lisa’s viewpoint? Then head on over to the RoomEscapeArtist’s site and check out their review.
That’s all about MyEscape.Club – want to read more about Dutch games? Click here to head back to the main Amsterdam page.