Belgrade, Mar 2020
The Witch is of course the original game at what used to be known as The Witch Escape Room. I enjoyed both this and their newer Aladdin game; if you’re going to play only one then I’d suggest Aladdin, but if you’re going to play both, then you should definitely play Witch first, for reasons that I won’t go into here. In this game you are witch hunters, in pursuit of a witch who is definitely the evil supernatural creature of traditional folktales – no moral ambiguity here.
Although the decor is quite homemade, with for instance extensive use of cloth to cover walls and equipment that would otherwise clash with the setting, I appreciated the various witchy artefacts that gave it a more convincing feel. Good use of audio helped a great deal too, making for a game that has no real scares but could still be nerve-wracking for nervous players.
The two games at this venue were notable for each having an unusually time consuming puzzle. I really liked the one in Aladdin, and was a bit more ambivalent about the one in Witch. It was interestingly different, and satisfying to complete once we worked out what to do, but the resolution was marred a little by what seemed a very unnecessary ambiguity. For me the game’s weaker points were that plus an earlier step that felt like it involved a touch too much guesswork – although naturally neither of those slowed us down nearly as much as our usual inability to search thoroughly enough.
But even with some rough edges to the puzzles and the decor, Witch was still a strong game. It sets a distinctive atmosphere right from the start, and even if it’s not always strict about sticking to its theme it has enough surprises and stylish ideas that it kept us hooked through to a strong ending. It all added up to an effective experience, one that came together as more than the sum of its individual parts.