This is part of a series of articles on games in Warsaw – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.
House Escape has three venues across Warsaw, with a total of nine different games, so the first thing to do is make sure you go to the right place. We’d heard decent things about the company, and its location near both our hotel and the central station worked well to play our final game in the centre of the city.
We played Sixth Sense (which turned out to be a serial killer room) and Submarine. I wouldn’t recommend either to enthusiasts, although both showed some promise and I get the feeling that they’re trying to improve them. The core of each game was solid, but there were aspects that left us feeling disappointed and frustrated with the overall experience. The GMing came across as unhelpful at times and, while that may have been down to the language barrier, it left us feeling less enthusiastic about the rooms.
Submarine (3.5 stars)
We were led into the rooms with blindfolds, which usually I’m against because, really, how much does it matter? In this case it worked well, however: when I lifted my mask and looked around, I was impressed by what they’d produced. The room I was in was packed with piping that really gave the feeling of being inside a serious vessel. Yes – the room I was in. This is a split game where some of your team members will go in the strong side and some in the observant side. Those aren’t massive distinctions but be aware that the stronger side will have to go to some physical effort.
The décor wasn’t all quite as good as that first impression, but it definitely carried the game for me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their claim to be the best-looking submarine game in Poland was true. While things were quite bare at times, it wasn’t just the pipework that carried the theme.
I loved the realism of parts of this game, with puzzles that almost felt like you were trying to save a drowning sub. That, combined with the split game set-up, the feeling that you were split across different parts of the boat working as a team to get the job done, really carried the story. Unfortunately, there were two things they’d done that broke down that immersion. Firstly, at one point there’s a puzzle that gives you feedback, but the way that feedback is given is reversed from the norm. As a result, we tried everything in our power to do the exact opposite of what we were meant to do. Nothing gave you a clue that what we were doing was wrong and, by the time we’d overcome the challenge, it had really dented our faith in the game.
Later on, we encountered a puzzle that fitted incredibly well in the theme and looked like it was a perfect element for the end game. It later turned out that what we’d expected was exactly what they’d originally had in the game. Unfortunately, they’d decided to retire it in favour of something “easier” for players. The result was that we spent a very frustrating fifteen minutes trying to solve the wrong puzzle when we should have been looking at something that was very much escape room logic. It wasn’t helped by some of their hints coming across as pretty unhelpful.
The other issue we hit in this game was a missing English translation. They’d put that in by the time our second team played, so I’m guessing that was just an oversight when setting the room, but it caused a huge amount of frustration and, again, caused us to lose our faith in the room.
All that sounds negative, but I think there’s a really solid room here. If they fixed up that opening puzzle and reverted the closing puzzle to use real logic and not escape room logic, I think they’d have a genuinely impressive game that would immerse the players in the submarine disaster. As it is, I just feel you’re likely to leave frustrated.
Sixth Sense/Zodiac (3 stars)
To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what the name of this game is. When we booked it online, it was called Sixth Sense but, when we turned up, they referred to it as Zodiac. Fortunately, we’re not too picky about escape room themes, so it wasn’t the end of the world when we found out it was serial killer-themed…
Again, it’s a game you go into with a blindfold, but this time round that was more to avoid seeing spoilers than for the surprise factor when you got to see the room. It’s an uninspiring start and, while it improves, this isn’t a room you go to for the decoration. Having said that, it was quite a faithful rendition of a 70s apartment where I appreciated the effort they’d gone to to both get the right theming and not make it feel run down.
This isn’t a game where I felt the experience flowed. The puzzles never felt quite as natural to solve as I’d have liked and, at times, it felt like you had to make leaps of logic. One in particular required knowledge that might be second nature to a Pole but wasn’t to us as foreigners. Add onto that puzzles that you didn’t need to solve to finish the game, as well as one which was misleading, and you might start to feel like that blindfold had never really been lifted.
The biggest problem in this game is a point where it seems pretty obvious that there’s a destructible puzzle. Fortunately, that didn’t hold us up because our sister team had warned us that, while it might look that way, there was nothing destructible in the room. They weren’t so lucky and spent an extended period carefully picking up props and placing them back exactly where they were while also trying to solve a non-existent puzzle. I’m sure you can imagine the frustration that would have caused.
The finale to this game would have been impressive but for the fact that it relied on you speaking Polish. Hopefully they’ll change that if they get a few more foreigners through but, in the meantime, I think they should at least develop a separate finish that works a bit better than the current one, which was just a bit strange.
That’s all on House Escape – want to read more about Warsaw games? Click here to head back to the main Warsaw page.