Berlin, Nov 2017
There is a limit to how many ways one can plausibly break out of prison. More than pretty much any of the other common escape game scenarios, it’s constrained in the types of object and furniture that can plausibly be used for puzzles without looking glaringly out of place. After fifteen or so prison games, the tropes start to get pretty familiar. Final Escape’s game is notable therefore not so much in being wildly original, as in simply being one of the best instances of the genre.
A prison scenario is a good excuse for naturalistic puzzles with found objects. It strains suspension of disbelief past the breaking point if, say, your cell is locked with a four-digit padlock, the code for which comes from a sudoku drawn on the wall (and yes, I’ve seen a game that did something very close to that). This game thankfully had nothing of the sort, and instead presents an environment in which you use perfectly normal-looking items in unexpected ways to help you escape.
We spent a while faffing over one clue, but the confusion there was mainly due to us failing to communicate clearly enough within the team about whether a particular item had already been used… Everything went a lot more smoothly once that got sorted out.
I played three games at Final Escape, and two of them set a very high standard with their decorations, but were not as strong with their puzzle content. Prison Break is visually the least impressive of the three, and the least original theme, but was the most satisfying to play. Not that the decor is poor – the theme is skilfully and convincingly executed – more that a 1960s prison cell can’t have the visual impact that a sci-fi or steampunk game can. But the naturalistic style and some ingenious ideas made for a quality first half. The game shifts to a more abstract style of puzzle later on, but the design is still solid, and increasingly impressive atmospherics mean the game ends strongly.