Warsaw, Mar 2017
Wrażenia had only been open for around a month when we visited, and Red Queen’s Court is their first and so far only game. It’s also the second game we played in Warsaw with an Alice In Wonderland theme.
They have a pricing gimmick that may appeal to experienced players: if you complete the game in under 45 minutes without clues, you get a discount; and if you complete it in under 30 minutes without clues, you pay nothing.
There are two halves to the game, and the first half was exquisite. The decorations are simple but gorgeous. While the payoff for many of the puzzles is opening a padlock, the puzzles themselves are varied and as creative as I’ve seen pretty much anywhere. Even better, they tie into famous Alice moments in subtle but recognisable ways, and they were a delight to play through.
The second section has one large skill-based puzzle that’s lots of fun but is a potential bottleneck for larger teams. While I can see the Alice connection, they definitely missed a trick here, since there’s a simple way they could have made it much more on-theme.
It also has a sudden profusion of generic number puzzles that are decent enough but which could fit into pretty much any room equally well, and which are a come-down from the earlier sections. I have to wonder if they found that the room was on the short / easy side and added some of these to bulk it out.
It’s still a fairly easy room, and we successfully escaped without clues in under 30 minutes, meaning we qualified for a freebie – although since we’d enjoyed the room so much (and since rooms in Poland are so cheap) we insisted on paying at least the discounted price for it anyway. With the varied, fun puzzles and the beautiful room, it’s a very good room for beginners – though it may set their expectations at a high bar for other rooms to follow!
I always try to be kind to a company that’s starting out, but this is one of the best “first rooms” I’ve seen from a new company. In fact such was the quality of the first half that I was disappointed for them that they hadn’t done more for the second half. The best rooms for me combine a very strong theme with a variety of unusual mental, physical, mystery and skill puzzles – the first half had them all with some very cute touches, that really reflected the Alice in Wonderland story. The second half was a more standard area; as a first room this would have been an acceptable effort, but they had set the bar so high that I was actually a bit disappointed. With some improvements to bring this section up to match the first half, l could see this becoming one of the top rooms in Warsaw. As it stands, it’s still well worth doing and should be on your list.