|Game experience: ENTERTAINING
|Some well-thought puzzles.
The original hint system.
Lots of padlocks.
Warning: This room has now been closed.
Gamescape is one of the historical escape game venue in Paris, the fourth one to open, in August 2014. One of the creator, Irving Le Hen, has been involved in a variety of escape game-related products, including an escape game book (in French) in the universe of Minecraft, which I didn’t have the chance to read yet.
Gamescape features three padlock-heavy rooms of various difficulty levels: “The jail of La Bastille”, “Interview with Gustav Eiffel”, and “The alchemist’s challenge”. They also feature an original – and, to my knowledge, unique in Paris – scoring system: you get at the end a score that depends on whether you escaped, how many puzzles you solved, your remaining time – and maybe some other, hidden bonus! Most importantly for readers of this blog, each puzzle is presented in both French and English, so you can complete them even if you don’t speak a word of French. “The alchemist’s challenge” is their most difficult room, with an escape rate of 10%, so I was quite curious to see if we would be able to complete the challenge with my Paris core team – four other relatively experienced players who have around 10-15 games under their belt.
As I had already noticed when coming to play their Gustav Eiffel game a year and half earlier, the quality of the welcome is definitely an asset of the venue: Irving and our gamemaster Lisa are very friendly and unpretentious, and the entrance hall is nicely decorated – featuring a steampunk computer on which the gamemaster will follow your adventures!
In “The alchemist’s challenge”, you play a team of medieval beggars who were invited to a tavern by the famous alchemist Nicolas Flamel. He offers you the opportunity to find his philosophical stone – under the proviso, you guessed it, that you can solve all his puzzles in less than one hour.
The decors and scenario are somewhat basic, but a few original touches strengthen the immersion: we all received a medieval hoodie, and were then brought blindfolded into the room by the gamemaster. Also, the clue system is very original: a member of your team will be given five small vials containing hints for various puzzles found in the room – but each vial that you open will cost you some points on the final score; on top of this, the gamemaster might still help you through a speaker. Finally, the time is indicated by a gong every 10 minutes – no TV screen here, fortunately.
The puzzles are mostly oriented towards logical reasoning, but several of them involve some light manipulations, and are well integrated into the the room’s theme. Two of them were especially clever and totally new for me, even after having played 80 escape games. The room was a bit padlock-heavy to my taste though. There was not so much searching in the room, but this part might be challenging, as some items are especially easy to overlook.
The help of the gamemaster was well calibrated to our progression, insofar as she only suggested us after 30 minutes to open a clue vial because we might be running late – and we eventually completed it in 48 minutes, with two opened vials.
This is for sure a challenging room, though I was expecting it to be more difficult – in my experience, this was quite easier than Saw at Leavinroom, which also displays a 10% escape rate. There were not too many of five of us to escape this room though. Even if the space is not that large, I never felt it was too cramped, and most of the time we managed to work in parallel on different puzzles.
All in all, this is a simple but pleasant game with a few clever ideas, that is reasonably challenging without being ridiculously difficult. There are not that many escape games in Paris with this level of difficulty, and none with this hint system, so if you want to play it, hurry up, as it will be replaced in mid-February 2018 by another room!
Game tested in January 2018
An interview of the creators (in French) on Escape game France