Dom Zagadek: Back to the Future

Warsaw, Mar 2017

Rated between 4 and 4.5 out of 5
Sometimes rooms suffer from a malfunction, or are affected by something not being reset quite right at the start of the game. When we played this room both things happened – and despite that it still managed to be hugely enjoyable.
The backstory is that you’re in the garage of a certain time-travelling Doctor Emmett Brown and need to bring him back to the present. This is the type of room I’d describe as well-themed but not atmospheric – that is, it’s not built to look like a garage, but the puzzles have been selected to match the theme and the story. Along with the ‘crazy doctor’ elements there’s an 80s vibe running throughout that’ll greatly please players of a certain age. It’s not aiming for story or perfect fidelity to the movie, or to be an intellectual workout – rather, this room aims to be a whole lot of fun.
There’s a great deal to do in the room, and while the central thread of the puzzles is linear there are several opportunities to use a divide and conquer approach. While some of the content is fairly standard escape room fare, there is not just one but several big, unusual, memorable tasks in the room, better described as games than as puzzles.
The reset mistake was minor but was disproportionately frustrating because we made the wrong assumption – basically, on finding ourselves locked out of something we’d previously been able to access, we thought that something had gone wrong, whereas in fact we shouldn’t have been able to access it at the start and just needed to try a code that we’d already worked out. Most of that was on us with no fault to the room. Then at the end the final unlock failed to trigger the victory sequence due to a faulty wire, and the operator had to tell us we’d completed the room.
That made a section of the game unnecessarily frustrating, and undermined the finale… and yet the rest was high enough quality to make up for all that. It’s full of creative, fun elements, and gave moments of delighted surprise. Sound effects and audio add to the atmosphere. Although there’s a lot to do I’d recommend not going with too large a team – mainly because several of the tasks can only be performed by one or two people, and you’ll end up fighting over who gets to do them! And even though the finale didn’t trigger correctly for us, it still did exactly what the last puzzle in a room ought to – brought the team together for a nice satisfying ending, with a triumphant finish that ties off the theme nicely. 4 / 5
I really liked this room; as Toby highlighted, this room has at least 3 separate physical puzzles, of which two are spot on for the theme. One of them in particular executed a puzzle which a number of other rooms have not done as well, and this was very pleasing.
For me, the malfunction felt like a one one-off in a highly complex room with multiple things that could go wrong; the operator genuinely seemed surprised. It didn’t diminish the enjoyment, and I wouldn’t expect it to affect most players. The only reason I don’t give it top marks was it wasn’t a seamless storyline and decoration experience; however definitely worth being near the top of your list for Warsaw! 4.5 / 5

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