Wrocław, Aug 2021
At time of writing Abandoned Hotel is not yet officially open; we were lucky enough to be the first non-test group to try it. There were a number of really excellent games that I played on this visit to Poland, the best of which compare well to the strongest games in the UK. Even so, Abandoned Hotel stood out as the best of the 35 games on the trip, with a clear margin between it and the nearest rivals. This is the sort of game that makes the case for the concept of premium escape rooms that are priced and marketed at a different level to others.
The quality was on show from the game’s introduction, as it should be. This took place in a far more immersive way than the typical story explanation. I’m aware that companies can sometimes put extra effort into a game when it’s new, so I hope they maintain the same level of style once the game has been running for a year or three.
This game immerses you in an environment that’s impressive both on a large scale and in the detail. While playing I lost track of where I was and how much time had passed; I was focused on enjoying the experience not worrying about the time limit. It built its illusion using not just technical trickery and ingenious use of space, but also an acting performance that was so much more interesting than simple jump scares. I’m not going to say too much about that for spoiler reasons, but it was an integral part of the game and evolved in a good way as the game went on.
Abandoned Hotel is certainly a game with a scary edge to it, as well as plenty as gore. However, it entirely avoids the horror tropes of grim, grotty rooms with blood scrawls and plastic body parts. The decor here is aesthetically successful even when disturbing.
And then the puzzles managed to be not just interesting and sufficiently challenging, but also deeply woven into the narrative and the surroundings. I particularly liked some of the subtle effects with audio or light that helped provide feedback that we were trying the right thing, or not.
Some games are worth travelling for; this is one of them.