Derby, Oct 2017
Edith is an unusual beast of an escape room, one that you might love or might find not to your taste, but which you’ll definitely remember. Personally I thought it was outstanding and hilarious.
The game is named after a missing operative from your time travel agency, who went through a new time portal then vanished in the process of trying to shut it down. Your job is to go through the same portal, work out if it’s safe (spoiler: it’s not), then shut it down and escape.
From the rather spectacular briefing area it’s clear that Unescapable put a lot of effort into visual presentation, and the game lives up to that initial promise. Most games, however spectacular, consist of a room or rooms to which decorations have been added. Part of Edith goes beyond that to what seemed like a wholly constructed immersive environment, which somehow seemed to bear little relation to what the original physical shape of the space must have been.
I spend plenty of time complaining about use of darkness in rooms. Edith is a dimly lit room with some sections that have no lighting whatsoever. However, the darkness is never used simply to make puzzles harder – I don’t remember any point where I had to strain to see clues properly. Instead it’s used to disorientate and to build atmosphere, reinforcing the creepy menace of the room until we found ourselves nervous about turning our backs on a doorway.
This game is built around atmosphere and experience not puzzles. There are some, including a couple of satisfyingly physical tasks, but fewer than in a typical game and they’re used as much to cleverly push players into the coils of the game as they are to provide an intellectual workout. Strangely, I didn’t mind that there weren’t a greater number of puzzles; if there had been, I suspect I’d have felt more frustrated at the use of darkness and other tricks to slow us down.
It’s designed as a scary game, but still with tongue firmly in cheek, successfully blending frightening with funny. I get tired of standard horror game tropes such as blood spatters and fake body parts, so liked that Edith stays away from those cliches and manages to be unsettling in a different and more effective way. If you hate jump scares or get frustrated when a game gets in the way of your puzzle solving then it might not be for you, but otherwise it’s a great experience that starts well and keeps the pace up all the way through to a strong pay-off, with lots of twists and turns along the way.