|Game experience: ENTERTAINING
|An original “duality” theme.
The collaborative puzzle structure.
|A few riddle-book-style puzzles.|
THIS ROOM IS NOW CLOSED.
(here is a first puzzle: can you find the word hidden in the “Padlock” logo above?)
Padlock is an escape game venue that opened in September 2017 in Montrouge, a southern suburb of Paris, and it already features three games. Finding an escape room with an original theme is more and more difficult as you accumulate experience, and that’s why I was looking forward to play their game ‘Recto Verso’ (or ‘\ʁɛk.to.vɛʁ.so\’, as they spell it). Mr. Recto and Mrs. Verso were living as a happy couple in their apartment; however, life did go on, and they progressively felt more estranged. At some point, they decided to build a wall dividing their apartment in two, so that they could each enjoy their own space. Depending on whether you believe the website or our gamemaster, your task will be to reunify Mr. Recto and Mrs. Verso, or to rejoin both parts of the apartment so that it can be sold (I prefer the first, more romantic version of the scenario).
The whole game is structured around this duality, visually expressed by the exclusive use of black and white (designed by Atelier Nils Rousset). Your team will be divided into two sub-teams, which will each operate on each side of the room; communication will be the key to solve the riddles that will enable you to reunify with the other side. Each team gets an iPad on which you can enter the solutions of the puzzles progressively as you solve them.
The decorations have some kind of enigmatic purity, proving that it is possible to create a nice immersion with an elegant economy of mean. The duality is expressed at many levels (Mr. Recto and Mrs. Verso, black and white, symmetry in puzzle structure…) and symbolically, this works very well – though one could still have imagined ways to push it further visually. The room is quite first generation, with basically no hi-tech used in the puzzles themselves, except the use of iPad: everything here is artisanal, often beautifully designed.
Taken individually, several puzzles are relatively classical, and some of them are taken straightaway out of a riddle book (note also that there is very little searching involved). However, the general puzzle structure is well designed, with the division into two subteams which need to solve collaborative puzzles (in some respects, in reminded me of a group version of ‘Enterrés vivant’ at ‘Destination Danger’ – which I will review some day). You will need some discipline to communicate efficiently with the other team, as the room somewhat resonates – which will be one more challenge to your team coordination abilities.
Finally, the gamemaster was friendly and welcoming, and we received a couple of hints at the time when we needed it – though we sometimes forgot to check the iPad, and saw some of them afterwards (don’t make the same mistake!).
We eventually exited with four minutes left on the counter, after a long emotional roller coaster (“We’ll never make it!”, “OK, it looks like we should make it…”, “Oh no we’re actually not going to make it!”, “Phew, we made it…”). There were six of us, who all had at least some escape room experience, but we were not so efficient, stalling in particular on two riddles on the Mr. Recto side (it is a good idea to divide your team in a relatively symmetric way, but if you are an odd number, you might consider placing one more player in this part of the room).
Interestingly, there are different strategies to solve the game, depending on how you distribute the tasks among the members of your team: will you try to reunify both teams as fast as possible, or distribute human resources among all puzzles? Are you going to organically self-organize, or is someone going to take the lead? For this reason, this should be a great room for corporate team building activities. It will also be an interesting change for any experienced team who is looking for something different in the world of escape games.
Game tested in March 2018