Lille, Jun 2018
Compulsively looking for another game to squeeze into our schedule before heading back to the U.K., we found Get Out happy to find us a slot at short notice, and also friendly about advising us on which of their five rooms we should play. On their recommendation we eventually went for Horus, which seems to be the newest and most technologically driven of their games.
It’s a classic theme with a simple plotline: explore the ancient Egyptian tomb, find the magic whatsit, and (hopefully) exit in triumph. Egyptian games sometimes suffer from an over-exuberance of decorating, where everything is covered with hieroglyphics and sigils in such a way that they become accidental red herrings, but Get Out’s take on the theme is well-judged, successfully creating atmosphere while leaving little doubt about what might be worth concentrating on.
There is nary a padlock to be found, and instead the game uses plenty of maglocks and other hidden mechanisms. It also makes extensive use of electronic buttons and LEDs, which mostly fit into the theme with a bit of disbelief suspension as ‘magic’. Although it’s not a huge space I enjoyed several small touches in the decor, such as the way the CCTV cameras had been disguised as Egyptian symbology.
Our game fizzled at the end due to a dumb misunderstanding. Unable to find the final clue that we knew we needed, we took a hint to push us in the right direction. Unfortunately, what we thought that hint was telling us to look at was not what the operator had meant. Worse, the decoration we’d fixated on was just plausible enough as a clue to the puzzle – at least, to our febrile brains primed to over-think everything – but in a very ambiguous way open to many different readings. There followed ten minutes of confusion and frustration where we tried and failed to use the false clue in various ways, while the gamemaster, oblivious to our error, couldn’t understand why we were struggling with what ought to have been a simple puzzle.
Most of the blame for that falls on bad luck and on us for overthinking, but was exacerbated by the language barrier, the use of walkie talkies as a clue system, and the sparse use of cameras that made it hard for the operator to tell what we were doing. Still, both our group and the gamemaster should have been quicker to realise that we were talking at cross purposes and find a way to straighten things out.
While that was an unfortunate ending to a game we’d been enjoying a great deal, it was also entirely specific to our experience, not likely to be relevant to any other teams’ visits. In other respects it was very easy to enjoy. It doesn’t attempt any deep immersion or rigorous intellectual challenge, but instead focuses on fun. Many of the game’s steps come with cryptic instructions in a hand-written journal that we mostly ignored due it to being in French, but we found it very approachable nonetheless. Most puzzles pop open a hatch, giving an immediate buzz of reward and fresh clue items to investigate; and that plus the mostly non-linear structure kept a good pace to the game.
Be warned that it’s atmospherically dim, and while we had enough torches for our whole group, one player got stuck with a slowly failing torch that was mostly useless by the end of the game. But until our end-game problems we’d been having a great time, helped by an entertaining gamemaster and the various little Easter eggs hidden in the room’s decorations. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and as long as you don’t end up making the error we made, you’d be hard-pressed not to enjoy it.