Vienna Escape Review: Fox in a Box

This is part of a series of articles on games in Vienna – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.

Note that this venue has now been rebranded as Locks and Clocks and the games upgraded.

Since this trip was part of Red Bull Mind Gamers, and Fox in a Box were involved with that, we were invited along to play some games at the local franchise. The venue is impressive and, I’d guess, very much aimed at the corporate market with a spacious, well decorated waiting area.

This was a unique experience for me during the trip – we came along with some of the people who were behind the Red Bull Mind Gamers competition and mixed up with them for our first game. Since some of us had already played The Bunker/Zombie Lab, our teams were pretty much pre-determined and I ended up playing with three relative strangers. That would usually fill me with fear, but we’d chatted over dinner and it was clear they were all fun, so I was looking forward to seeing how it would turn out (albeit slightly nervous about them realising that my “expert” status was totally undeserved!).

The Bunker (4 star)

The start of The Bunker is very much a traditional escape room: search, piece things together and slowly open the various locked spaces in the room. The puzzles weren’t amazingly complicated but we were a new team and went pretty slowly. There’s no real story beyond having to defuse a bomb, and you know that before you walk through the door. Add to that a room which, while reasonably well presented as a military office, wasn’t a stunning backdrop, and I was already thinking it would be a pretty average game.

As we progressed, however, things improved. There’s a very clear structure to the end game and some really fun hands-on puzzles, two of which strongly encourage teamwork. Perhaps there was a part of me that was getting to know my teammates better, perhaps it was the added stress of the clock running down, but by the end of the game I was really enjoying things. Overall, the puzzles made sense, although there were certainly one or two that were a little fiddly, and my only complaint was with a particularly dull search where we eventually took a clue.

It’s worth mentioning that the clue system is a little unusual here. You can’t get another clue for ten minutes after requesting the previous one, and each clue is delivered through a mailbox after a short delay. That made clue-taking surprisingly tactical – with twelve minutes left, even if you felt you might be able to solve the puzzle you were stuck on, you should probably take a clue so that you’d have the chance to take one right at the death if necessary.

Prison (3.5 star)

This is a fairly traditional, split-team prison game where, as usual in these scenarios, your first job is to reunite the players. They’ve added a little theatre to the game by giving the briefing in character, which our GM (and also the manager of the venue) did well.

Much as I hate to admit it (because we struggled a fair bit), the puzzles were reasonably straightforward, and enthusiasts really shouldn’t need the three clues we did. As for décor, there’s not much you can say when it comes to prison games – they’re all very much the same: solid prison bars, bleak decoration and usually some sort of warden’s office/area for you to escape to. This did what you’d expect – not much more, not much less.

As I said, the puzzles are straightforward with a mixture of observation, searching, physical interaction and ciphers. Nothing in this game was bad, but nothing really stood out either beyond one humorous idea they used (which we’d actually spotted but still needed a clue for…).  New players will undoubtedly enjoy the game, but experienced players are unlikely to see anything new.

Zombie Lab (3.5 star)

Technically, I didn’t play this game here, but I did play in Madrid, so I’ve included a review. A quick look inside the room suggested the game was fairly similar and the production values slightly higher.

That’s all on Fox in a Box – want to read more about Vienna’s games? Click here to head back to the main Vienna page.

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