London, Feb 2020
The Riddle Within announced their debut game with plenty of fanfare: an escape room on an actual plane. Space in London is hard to come by, but their location in North Greenwich has not only a yard big enough for an airplane but an entire ex-nightclub for their lobby area.
You shouldn’t go expecting a 747; it’s a relatively small plane, but it’s still the genuine article. It’s also set up as a prison transport plane, since in this game you’re under arrest and being transported for trial; your job is to not only escape but if possible to get the evidence needed to clear your collective names.
As prisoners, you start wearing jumpsuits and handcuffs – although the handcuffs are entirely optional, with each player deciding whether they’re classed as ‘minimum security’ or ‘maximum security’. After the initial health and safety talk, our gamemaster proceeded with the briefing and intro in character as a hard-bitten prison guard, and his tongue-in-cheek performance was definitely one of the game’s strengths.
We struggled rather with a late game puzzle which offered lots of potential for confusion for more experienced players; but when we eventually found the correct solution it was pretty reasonable. I’d quibble more with something that I’d put in the same class as a fake electrical outlet, in that it looked a bit too much like something that players should not be encouraged to mess with – it wasn’t particularly hard to tell that it was part of the game, but still ambiguous enough to cause hesitation in well-trained players.
Flight 338 has two different levels of victory, with the option of triggering the end before completing everything. I found the information about exactly what would trigger the game end to be not completely clear, with the result that we briefly found ourselves about to be led away with – horror! – not everything solved, despite lots of time left on the clock. Fortunately our host was persuaded to let us complete the rest, thereby defusing my impending tantrum. While it would be nice to ensure teams can’t accidentally end the game unintentionally, the optional element seems a nice way to allow struggling teams a partial victory.
The interactions with our ‘prison guard’ game master were a lot of fun, and it’s broadly a well designed game. At the same time, there’s not much in the gameplay that’ll be a particular standout for experienced players, and perhaps a bit too much fiddling with clues on basic printed paper. The main reason to play Flight 338 remains the obvious one: it’s an escape room on a plane. Having played several games with similar themes recently, the added authenticity didn’t wow me all that much, but if the concept appeals to you then you may find it lifts the game significantly.