Warsaw Escape Review: Dom Zagadek

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

Dom Zagadek is another venue with two locations. The original site is in the centre of the city, a short walk from the old town, while the new one is in an industrial zone out of town and is known as Dom Zagadek VR (don’t worry – they have three proper escape rooms there).

We were given a friendly welcome by our host, who then provided us with introduction sheets to read for our games. In the UK I’d instantly worry about that kind of thing but, given the potential language barrier, I think that’s a reasonable choice – indeed, there was one place later in the holiday where the intro was somewhat stilted because the host chose to read the intro out herself.

All the games here were of a good standard. Which one you prefer will depend very much on your tastes – Full Moon was the prettiest but had a lot of similar padlocks, Back to the Future was full of cool puzzles, and Pyramid had probably my favourite physical puzzle of the weekend and really felt like a game that flowed well.

Pyramid (3.5 stars)

Our first game in the venue was up in the attic of the building and had – unsurprisingly, given the title – an Egyptian theme. You could almost imagine that the sloping roof represented the sides of the pyramid, but the theming didn’t get much beyond that and a few stencilled images around the space. In fact, the decoration and general finish was pretty disappointing.

Fortunately, the puzzles were more interesting. As with a few games we played over the weekend, there was a tendency to use the same decoding method several times, which I found a little tedious. It’s fine to make the players do it once but, after that, you lose the magic and leave them with relatively dull taskwork. The physical puzzles were the strongest offering, with one in particular really impressing by requiring a reasonable amount of skill, a bit of teamwork and a pinch of luck. That wasn’t the only physical interaction: there were at least a couple more in the game, one of which also required teamwork.

The game flowed, all the puzzles were logical and I don’t recall needing a single clue in our ~40-minute escape, which added up to a great experience. The finale had a fun reveal which, much to our embarrassment, we managed to entirely miss for a minute. If you ever play this game, that will probably fill you with astonishment…

Back to the Future (3.5 stars)

IP is a little more… er, fluid in Eastern Europe, so it wasn’t entirely surprising to find a film-based escape room on offer. To be honest, there aren’t a huge number of references in the game, and most of the puzzles could have fitted into any lighthearted escape room, especially one with a slightly retro theme. That said, there were enough references to carry the theme, and a couple of them worked really well.

This definitely felt like an adult playground with a pile of fun activities to get stuck into throughout the game. There were probably three or four genuinely original puzzles that helped this game stand out from the crowd, particularly on the more physical puzzles.

My biggest criticism of this game is that it didn’t always flow as well as it might have done. On several occasions we didn’t really know where we were meant to continue, and so ended up trying our hand at puzzles that weren’t ready to be played. It’s a tough balance to not spoon-feed teams while still giving them enough direction to feel like they’re constantly moving forward.

I was really looking forward to the finale of this game but ended up being slightly disappointed. There was an obvious ending they could have dialled up but, instead and for reasons I can’t understand, they chose to use escape room logic. Overall, however, still a thoroughly fun game to play.

Full Moon (4 stars)

I must admit that I wasn’t amazingly excited about playing a werewolf-based game. I didn’t see it as a theme that I was desperate to experience, but my interest grew as soon as I crossed the threshold. This was a genuinely pretty room that gave the impression of a medieval castle. In fact, looking back, there really wasn’t much about the room that said werewolf – you could just as easily have made it the Knight’s Room or similar.

That prettiness in decoration was carried over to mechanisms within the room. Several of the solutions resulted in having to interact with the room in a variety of ways that really added to the fun. That was a great choice, but it also makes you painfully aware that the remainder of the room is filled with four-digit padlocks. I’m not against padlocks (there were several in the Pyramid room too) but, when it gets to the point that you’re trying four-digit code after four-digit code in 5+ locks, the novelty wears off.

The mission in the game is to retrieve an ancient artifact and, as you move further into the game, you really start to feel the progress towards that end goal. They could easily have just used a locked box with another padlock to finish the game, but there was far more theatre here, with a fitting ending to the game.

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

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