This is part of a series of articles on games in Warsaw – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.
This second Escape Room/Room Escape venue is a little further out in an otherwise uninteresting part of town. Of course, that means there is a little more space in the waiting area (not to mention the rooms themselves), where they have a variety of games to while away the time if you do turn up early.
The three games here are all better than the three at their other venue. The most impressive, for me, was the Medieval game, which was pretty and fun and had some good puzzles. The Museum lacked the depth of Medieval but had a very solid set and a really enjoyable start. Time Travel was the most ambitious of the games from my point of view, but it was let down a little in its execution, so it would probably be my third choice.
Museum (4 stars)
As we entered this game, I immediately had a good feeling about the experience. The first challenge is to get into the museum itself, but they do a good job of teasing you with just enough of a view inside to know that you’re in for a well decorated experience. It’s not brightly lit (at least, not at the start), but there’s just about enough light to get the opening puzzles done. Add to that an opening puzzle that is almost humorous and I was feeling positive.
The game continued in fine form, with some fun puzzles that required an array of skills. A couple of minor warnings: one puzzle requires a decent maths brain, another needs two members of your party to be reasonably agile, and a third requires a little outside the room knowledge (although, if you don’t have it, it’s easy to brute-force). The maths puzzle was the only one that I felt was unfair. As well as being difficult, there was a relatively straightforward answer to it that didn’t fit the lock we had. That made us doubt whether we were solving a puzzle too early or needed to find a different solution. When we did find the solution, I didn’t like it as much as the other version we’d come up with (and it turned out that, of our three teams, the other two brute-forced the solution, with one having found the same wrong answer as us).
The start of the game flowed beautifully with an array of puzzles, but the game started to stutter a bit from about the midpoint. The puzzles weren’t so clearly directed, they seemed to have the odd flaw and were generally a bit weaker. The final escape reverted to true escape room logic, although at least with some cool technology to make things a bit more fun.
Medieval (4.5 stars)
Medieval was a big chunky room full of wood, armour and swords. It was exactly the sort of game I wanted, given the title and, for me, the best of the six games we played across the company’s two sites. That physicality to the experience played out in several puzzles along the way, with two real highlights that moved the game forward.
If you play this game, don’t be alarmed by a slightly slow and weak start. To my mind, the first couple of puzzles in this game are by far the weakest: it’s not clear that you’ve got everything you need (you’re presented with several potentially incomplete sets of clues), so we spent a fair amount of time wandering round looking for additional clues before being told we had enough to get started. Once we’d got going with that, it was pretty smooth all the way, with a fun sense of exploration throughout the game.
There’s some pretty detailed searching, or what I feel should have been pretty detailed, but our experience was that they’d managed to place the items in such a way that it made finding them relatively easy. The puzzles beyond that varied considerably, with some genuinely original steps as well as well implemented escape room tropes. While there were a few padlocks along the way, they’d taken advantage of technology to trigger the solutions to a few of the puzzles based on the position of items. That worked well to avoid shoehorning numbers into the puzzles and avoid the cycle of entering the same number into a million locks.
There’s an extended finale to this game where you start to understand what you need to do to finish the experience. Careful observation during the game pays dividends, and then there’s just enough trickery at the end to keep you on your toes and make the finish all the sweeter.
Time Machine (3.5 stars)
Of the three games we played, this seemed like it was the most ambitious – the intro video was suggestive of Egyptian, war, time travel and space theming. That sounded very out there until one of my teammates pointed out the similarity to Stargate. Still, it felt a brave choice to try to cover so many themes in one sixty-minute game, and I wasn’t convinced they’d be able to manage it. Inside the game, I found the décor was a bit hit and miss. Some of what they had done was beautifully executed and looked great, some of it showed effort but came up lacking, and some looked quite disappointing. Sadly, when I look back on the game, it’s the rough parts that stick in my memory.
Some games have a sense of exploration based on the layout of the game. Here it was less the layout than the process, but it worked well in terms of conveying some aspects of the game. In fact, I didn’t even notice the mechanism in play until two thirds of the way through the game but, when I did, it impressed me that they’d done a proper implementation of the Time Machine.
After the joys of the Medieval and Museum rooms, the puzzles here were definitely lacking. There were a couple that held my interest, but too many were dull. They made sense – across the experience I think we only used one clue, and that was because we forgot one of the props we’d found. I just never felt we had to put much brainpower into finding solutions.
The finale to the game seemed like a particularly weak ending. I can kind of see where they were going, collecting artefacts from across time but, while we finished it quickly, I didn’t feel that that final puzzle belonged in an escape room. It was a bit like Chinese puzzle boxes. Yes, they’re puzzles, but it’s not something I want people to have to solve under pressure. I’d far rather have retrieved an artefact or a set of artefacts and put them in place to finish the game without requiring this puzzle to be solved.
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