Vienna Escape Review: Logikeller

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

It’s never great when you turn up at a venue and they don’t speak your language. Yes, we were in Vienna, but we’d booked on their English language website and said that we wanted to play in English, so I was kind of expecting there would be someone who could vaguely communicate with us. At least we were able to communicate via a TV screen in the room so, whenever we needed a clue, he could write something up rather than struggle through a walkie-talkie conversation. Often that just left us more confused, but usually (presumably after a bit of Google translating) the GM managed to get the message across.

It was another aspect of the cluing system that really hurt the overall experience here. The games had some interesting content, but it felt like they just didn’t give out clues until a certain point in time regardless of how quickly you’d progressed. The upshot was that we got truly and thoroughly bored in a room to the point where we all sat on the ground doing nothing in the hope that our GM would finally intervene. That wasn’t helped by him being in charge of all three rooms and so having to go off for a few minutes here and there to tend to his other charges. It’s particularly galling when you’re utterly stuck in a room and you can hear him resetting the game you’ve just played.

The GM was generally friendly but seemed obsessed that we would break things (I obviously look the type) and cheekily gave us what we thought was a clue but was in fact just making his reset easier…

(and apologies if some of the elements of these games are mixed up – they didn’t massively stand out from one another).

Spy Game (3.5 star)

Don’t expect strong stories in the Logikeller games but, even by their standard, this was weak. We had to go in and stop a terrorist cell. Even now, I’m not really sure what our purpose was – to stop a bomb going off, I think. The room itself isn’t much to look at either – it’s down in the basement, with bare walls, and feels grim and dingy compared to the average Viennese games. The puzzles are where this experience is at its strongest: there’s a couple of high-tech puzzles, another one that makes use of a serious-looking piece of equipment and, finally, one that makes clever use of part of an entirely separate puzzle. That kind of thing really brings a smile to my face, but the poor cluing took all the enjoyment away for us and we left feeling fairly disappointed.

And that clue was pretty much necessary because there’s a puzzle in this room that will require a clue for virtually every team, with the exception of those that have already seen the technology elsewhere. We’d already tried to do what was suggested and thought that we’d obviously got it wrong. When we finally got a clue, we could only just see the solution (and some of us couldn’t even make that work). My guess is that it was much clearer when the room first opened but has become worn over time, with the result that it doesn’t work very well at all now. They’ve slowly got used to people needing clues for it and, while it still just about works, they just accept its current condition.

007 – Behind Bars (3 star)

I was pretty sure that 007 should be able to rescue himself, but it turns out I was wrong: it was down to our extraction team to get the job done. So, the story was clear this time, if simple, but there was the same grim, drab setting (granted that, with it being a prison game, this was perhaps more acceptable). Once again, we had to get our enjoyment from the puzzles, which were reasonable but nothing spectacular. There was a pretty cool piece of equipment in the middle of the game which provided for a very satisfying solution to a puzzle (once we’d worked out how to actually use it – turns out that we weren’t reading the instructions very carefully…).

Those of you who are keen searchers may find this room a decent challenge. Certainly, the hardest hide was one that I found by pure fluke, partly out of frustration at not being able to take clues. And, once again, this room was ruined by needing a clue. We got almost to the end of the adventure but then hit a brick wall. We knew we were doing pretty well because we’d been told that it would take us 20 minutes to get out of the first stage of the game, and we’d cleared that in a little over five minutes, so it was doubly frustrating when we asked for our only clue and just had to wait. And wait. And wait.

Master Thief  (3 star)

Warning: if you don’t like heights, this probably isn’t the game for you. Also, at least one team member is likely to be crawling in the dark. I won’t spoil it any more than that but, if that makes you nervous, get in touch with them before you book.

Like the other two games in this venue, this was another drab basement set, although this time its starkness was somewhat reduced by the slightly more plentiful furniture. The story (as far as I could tell from the GM) was that we needed to break into the vault and steal some money.

Bleak setting, brief story so… what about the puzzles? Well, once again, they were generally good but with a few issues that reduced the fun. One search seemed to be really hard, with the potential for accidentally knocking the thing you were searching for into an irretrievable location. The main puzzle was slightly tedious because it was poorly implemented: we knew exactly what we had to do but kept getting it wrong. The joy of the puzzle, for me, is in spotting how to solve it, and everything after that is work. Doing that work once is OK, but doing it twice is dull. Doing it a third and a fourth time because the props are ambiguous is rage-inducing.

Things didn’t improve for the final puzzle. While there was a specific solution to the final code, there was something about how you got there that made it feel like you’d almost certainly misunderstood the puzzle. Not the best way to end the game.

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

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