Sarajevo, Apr 2017
When we visited Sarajevo’s first (but no longer only) escape venue, finding it involved navigation of a deserted industrial estate quite some way out from the city centre – but they’re in the process of relocating to a very central location, so it should be far more accessible in the future.
The game is a throwback to early escape rooms, with no story and little theming, just a room somewhat sparsely adorned with period furniture, and a series of padlocks to progress through.
Most of it is strictly linear. Each opened lock reveals clues required for the following lock, though some elements for later puzzles accumulate a few at a time, and there’s also more searching required than you’d expect from the comparatively bare room.
Although it’s as bare-bones as any room I’ve played, it’s not a bad room. Few of the elements will be novel or exciting to enthusiasts, but there’s a good amount of variety, ranging from a couple of unimaginative pen-and-paper style puzzles to some more clever and physical ideas. The most ambitious element failed to work for us and the operator had to come in and fix it – but in later discussion we realised we might have accidentally disabled it while turning off the ambient music… Clearly it’s a weakness of a room for players to be able to mistakenly sabotage a puzzle like that, but I’m still putting most of the blame for that hiccup on us not the room!
Escape rooms have only just reached Sarajevo, and as an introduction to the genre this room is primitive but satisfactory enough. Players who’ve tried more high-concept games elsewhere will find it disappointingly bland, and probably a little too easy. It’s been built with a decent instinct for puzzle design though; the operator plans to build a couple of new rooms after moving location, so hopefully those will be able to build on that with more ambitious theming and budget.