Newark, Nov 2019
LetsXcape are certainly fortunate in their location; not only is Kelham Hall a huge and lovely Victorian mansion, but it boasts some interesting history which makes for good inspiration for the company’s escape rooms. Sacred is inspired by the Hall’s history as a theological college, though the game design takes that idea and runs with it in ways that would no doubt sit poorly with some of the Hall’s alumni.
The game’s premise is that one of the senior monks has enlisted your help in finding the missing Novice Tobius. Naturally, there are dark secrets to uncover. Nervous players shouldn’t have any problem with it – the story is somewhat dark but it’s not setting out to scare you or make you jump.
The decor is lush, all wooden panels and bookcases and illuminated manuscripts. In appearance and in content it’s a stylish game that treats the religious theme with gleeful irreverence. That might not suit players with strong religious feelings, but is great fun for others – for example, the way to request a hint from the gamemaster is to pray aloud for divine guidance.
With attractive and well-designed puzzles, it’s a game that should win over the vast majority of teams. One hesitation I had was that it felt slightly more artificial than The Rig, for example with a greater use of ‘place the object’ mechanisms which didn’t always have an in-game reason for working. But I really liked the faux-medieval stylings and the game’s strong sense of theatre.
It builds up to a big, dramatic conclusion – or should have. In practice I found the ending a bit abrupt, such that my first reaction was confusion over whether we’d already triggered the finish or not, and that somewhat undermined the tension and feeling of achievement. Perhaps one extra step, something that was more obviously a completion, would address that; in any case, that’s only a small reservation about an otherwise excellent game.