Southampton, Aug 2017
Playing lots of escape rooms trains a curious set of skills – for example, I now find that I can read Mayan numerals without the need for a look-up chart. (They are admittedly very straightforward.) The latest Mayan themed game we played was at Other World Escapes, recently opened in Southampton.
Travelling through a portal to the Mayan empire, your team is instructed to find a magical elixir before it is seized by the shadowy and manipulative Syndicate, who appear to be set up to be the bad guys across Other World’s future games as well. Guiding and advising the team is the Mayan God of Death, who is a lot more friendly than the title might suggest.
The puzzle style is mostly but not exclusively padlock-driven. There was a certain amount of trying codes in different padlocks until we found the right one, but it never became particularly irksome. The plentiful use of wood and rope and rough sackcloth complements the theme very nicely, and although I’d describe the design as a well themed puzzle room rather than an attempt at a seriously immersive jungle or tomb environment, it’s very pretty, has lots of fun little touches and looks great; and if the padlock use is anachronistic, in other ways the theme is followed with care and attention.
I’d normally say that the ideal number of interruptions from the operator during the game is zero – obviously sometimes the team needs a helping hand, but communication with the host tends to be immersion-breaking and best avoided unless necessary. The exception is when the communication happens in character. In Mayan, the God of Death chimes in occasionally not with clues but with comments and encouragement, and we found these infrequent interjections to be entertaining and added to the charm of the game.
A particular puzzle impressed me as being a little more subtle and tricky than typical, while still remaining entirely fair and reasonable. Broadly speaking though the game is classic escape room style, and enthusiasts won’t find much in the puzzles that’s unusually groundbreaking; but it’s solidly designed and lifted by the variety and by some fun physical sections. Everything leads up to a big climax that we enjoyed a great deal, though I did wish for a more dramatic payoff there than another padlock code.
My abiding impression is that the game was just a lot of fun. It looks good and has plenty of entertaining content that experienced players will enjoy blasting through, with no particular ambiguities or other frustrations to rub up against – a good solid puzzle-driven romp through the jungle with the friendly God of Death.