This is part of a series of articles on games in Prague– a link will be added here when the summary article is published at the end.
The Padlock has a strong reputation in Prague following rave reviews of their debut game, Mission 53, a 99-minute room with one of the most visually stunning starts that I’ve ever experienced. At just 66 minutes, their new game, Cemetery, is a smaller affair and marks itself as suitable for 1-4 players. Yes, it specifically mentions that it’s playable solo. It’s worth noting, as with many escape rooms in the city, that the games aren’t co-located. If you do head to the Mission 53 venue, it’s a ten- or fifteen-minute walk uphill…
The game had literally only just opened when we passed through Prague. There’s no way I’d have come so early for a game with this pedigree in the UK, but I didn’t know when I’d return to the city, so we decided to play even though it was still bedding in and a couple of pieces of decoration were still to come. It’s worth bearing that in mind, because I fully expect this game to be even better if you head there now.
This game has a dark start. Expect to barely be able to see when you enter the space and, if low light is an issue for you, then get in touch with them beforehand, because there’s almost no light to help you. It’s dark in other ways too – don’t expect a light-hearted romp through the underworld. Cemetery tells a dark story, and there are unsettling moments within the game. These mostly worked well to enhance the vibe, although I found one of the early interactions of that sort more humorous than scary.
Don’t be unsettled by the darkness, though. This game doesn’t use it to make things difficult or to hide a low-quality set. In fact, the set is where this game truly excels. It’s not a huge space, especially not compared to its big sister at their other venue, but it is beautifully decorated. There’s an attention to detail throughout the experience that makes you feel like you really are exploring a cemetery and investigating what lies within.
The puzzles were enjoyable, although relatively few in number. Cemetery is all about creating an experience, and the puzzles are as much geared towards taking you through the story as towards creating a challenge. That’s not to say they’re all easy, but some are very straightforward. I enjoyed that storytelling element, though, in particular the start and end of the experience, both of which had a sense of theatre that helped to cement the game.
It’s worth paying attention during the briefing and the game that follows in order to fully understand the story and, hence, the ending. It’s easy to miss out on and, because of where this game aims itself, I think a key part of enjoying it to the maximum is understanding what’s happening in the finale. And it’s a good finale: well constructed both physically – in terms of how the game comes to a conclusion – and also in the way it adds to the experience.
The team behind The Padlock has created another great game packed full of beautiful decoration and with solid puzzles. From an enthusiast point of view, it felt a little light on challenge, but it’s definitely a game I’d recommend, because the attention to detail is stunning. We played as a team of three, which I’d suggest as a maximum number for enthusiasts, but playing this as a pair (or even solo) would work well too.
That’s all on the Padlock – want to read more about other local games? A link will be added here when the summary article is published at the end.