Vienna Escape Review: Sherlockd

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

Sherlockd was another venue that we were recommended to try by a couple of owners and, since it only had a single game at the time, we tacked it onto the end of a trip to Real Escape Wien, which was just round the corner. The place itself didn’t seem too exciting: it’s in the basement of what looks like a residential building on the outskirts of the city centre; and the host, while polite, wasn’t as enthusiastic as most. However, things became much more impressive once inside the room.

Holmes (4 stars)

There’s no pretence of a story here: Holmes has been trapped in a room and has to escape. The website description includes this information, so I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention that Holmes is a shrinking room: the slower you are at solving the game, the harder it becomes (don’t worry – this is more about awkwardness than difficulty). Fortunately, that was never really an issue, as we made rapid enough progress that we weren’t even aware that the space was shrinking. I suspect most teams will get to experience that at least a little.

The room decoration is delightfully surreal, with various references to Sherlock Holmes and the centrepiece decoration also being a very physical part of a significant puzzle. That isn’t the only puzzle which is a real part of the room. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something satisfying about playing a puzzle that couldn’t just be moved about between games, either because it’s physically attached or because it would make no sense elsewhere.

The puzzles were all very logical and really covered a variety of areas – physical puzzles, teamwork puzzles, maths, logic, searching. You name it, this game is going to have it. It seemed to lack a strong finale, indeed it seemed generally to be weaker as time went on, but it was overall still a very strong, fun game.

The two-team version of this room is well worth a mention here. Usually, that would just mean an identical room next door with two teams competing to see which completes the puzzles first. This makes the game much more adversarial, with each stage completed giving you the option to make your life easier or your opponents’ more difficult. I don’t think enthusiasts will particularly want to play it, but I can imagine it being a lot of fun for corporate experiences.

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

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