This is part of a series of articles on games in Prague – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.
Locked In Prague
Locked In Prague has a couple of games, but we played it as part of a nine-game day, so we could only squeeze in Insomnia. It’s a bit out of the way but reasonably close to Chess Key Room and the Padlock, so it’s worth trying to line up your visit with them (warning: the route you have to take between them is surprisingly long, so I’d recommend putting the Padlock in the middle). Breakout Prague, which we didn’t play, is nearby too, if you fancy turning it into an escape crawl.
Insomnia (3.5 star)
This room aims to recreate the feeling of insomnia and achieves it through a variety of lighting and audio effects. For a few minutes that might have been brilliant but, if you have to suffer through almost an hour of it, then you appreciate it a little less. For me it was acceptable, for Mrs Logic it was unpleasant. Others will no doubt see it as an amazing experience – you can probably make up your own mind about how it will appeal to you.
This is a game with plenty of exploration but where it’s not always clear what’s required of you. You’re split up at the start, which was tough with two people, especially since we were communicating over the pretty loud background noise that the game provided. Eventually we started to make real progress, but it’s very stop-start, with poor lighting making some of the puzzles difficult and the logic occasionally seeming a bit questionable. We needed a few clues (via walkie-talkie – not the easiest to understand from a foreign accent in a loud environment) along the way but often that was with reasonable puzzles – I guess that insomnia was getting to us.
It wasn’t till afterwards that I realised that the set was quite impressive, varying significantly during the game from boring to minimalist (in an interesting way) to surreal. In another game I think I’d have enjoyed that a bit more, but here I was just too distracted. Hmmm. That all sounds very negative but, in truth, there’s a decent game here if you can get past, or don’t mind, the sound effects. Sadly, we couldn’t.
On to our final games of the trip at the Getaway venue on the outskirts of the centre. Once again, we’d lucked out and got the owner hosting us. In fact, we talked for about twenty minutes beforehand (and considerably longer afterwards) about the industry, enthusiasts and how to clue games. If that’s your cup of tea, then make sure to reach out in advance and I’m sure he’ll drop by – the hosting slots are two hours long specifically so you won’t feel rushed.
The Prison (3.5 stars)
Getaway’s games are very much on the traditional end of the scale. Expect plenty of padlocks, very little in the way of high-tech gadgets and lots of searching for numbers. There’s not a huge amount of theming to them – you’re locked in a small room to start with and then you have to progress through the game to find some secret files that will allow you to escape. The puzzles are almost entirely unmemorable except for the ones that frustrated me. Looking back, one of those isn’t as bad as I felt at the time, but I’ve come to realise that others really were quite poor.
There’s not a huge amount to say about the game beyond that. A couple of years ago, I think I’d have found this game a lot of fun but, with just two players, it felt less fun and more work. Trying to get inside the designer’s mind to work out what we were meant to do at various points was frustrating – for example, we spent a few minutes trying to solve a physical puzzle before eventually asking for a clue and being told that it was impossible at that moment because we didn’t have access to the right space.
In fact, that was probably my number one complaint in this place – the owner seemed happy to leave us to frustrate ourselves. Don’t get me wrong – when we asked for a clue, they were always given (although we sometimes needed them to be repeated a couple of times to understand what he was saying), but I feel he should have spotted when we were doing something that would inevitably lead us to frustration and ask if we wanted help. Perhaps it was because he knew we were enthusiasts and he thought we wanted to be left alone but, if so, he obviously hadn’t listened to us when we had told him otherwise beforehand.
The end result was that we got along to the final part of the game with very little time remaining. I think that’s how Getaway design their games – likely requiring hints along the way and aiming to get you to experience the full hour. That would be fine, sort of, were it not for the last puzzles (in both games) having twists that made them just a little bit more frantic than necessary, which meant that escaping felt more like a lottery than a skill-based achievement. I caution you – don’t think you’re finished till the door opens! We finally got to that point at 61 minutes.
The Crime Scene (3.5 stars)
While marginally higher-tech than the Prison, this is another very traditional game. It’s not just a series of puzzles, though – you’re identifying a murderer and have to pick up a series of clues along the way in order to escape. That gave it a better sense of progress and stopped it feeling like merely a set of unrelated puzzles. While there was definite similarity in puzzle style between the two rooms, there wasn’t a huge amount of overlap – you’ll get a benefit from having played the other room because you’ll recognise certain choices, but it’s not huge and it certainly didn’t take away from the game itself.
Perhaps it was because this came at the end of a long four days of escaping, but we felt significant frustration in this game. Firstly, there seemed to be a few puzzles where we were having to stretch to the answers – we didn’t have that satisfying confidence of having definitely got the right answer that you have when you solve a good puzzle – we were trying codes in hope more than certainty far too often. Secondly, we hit a problem with the hints again. As well as similar issues to the previous game, this time round we asked a specific question about a particular prop. Although the answer was strictly correct, it caused me to leave the prop entirely alone because I thought it was just decoration. A good host, in my opinion, would have called back on seeing my response and suggested that his answer might have misled me. If me trying not to break your room leads me to not solving a puzzle, then you need to do something about it. If I’d played the games in the other order, I might not have been quite so careful in room two…
Overall, this felt like a slightly better room than the prison game but, when it came down to it, it was a series of reasonably standard puzzles with relatively little theme or decoration and some frustrating moments. A week later, I remember the frustrations far better than the room itself, and that can never be a good thing.
That’s all on these venues – want to read more about Prague games? Click here to head back to the main Prague page.