Dubrovnik, Apr 2017
Dubrovnik’s first escape room draws on the city’s alter ego as King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, and while you don’t need any knowledge of the TV series or books, fans will enjoy the references to events in those.
Stepping into this room gave a rare impression of space. Most escape rooms are on the cramped side, and it’s unusual to have the luxury of being able to use floor space for spreading out clues while still having plenty of room to walk around.
The operators gave warning up front both that it’s a linear game and that not everything in the room would be needed. This was certainly true – exploring the room uncovered a gleeful profusion of knick-knacks and decorations that suggests it was built with great enthusiasm for the theme and also a happy lack of budget control. At the same time, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the placement of each clue and decoration, with proximity or commonality of design being used for subtle hinting.
For the most part, where padlocks are used they’re great chunky things that fit perfectly into the fantasy-medieval setting. The one exception to that is not glaringly anachronistic, but is a little out of place and is also a lock type that tends to be fiddly to use. In a game as well-designed as this one, it’s a weakness to have a lock that requires players to be shown how to use it in the briefing.
A couple of other points could use a little tweaking, including one where the technology was fussy about sensing when the solution had been reached. But those were minor quibbles in a gloriously fun room. The initial puzzles build up to some unique and memorable sequences that were a joy to play through and which build on the theme in a way that’ll have Game of Thrones fans fizzing with excitement.
But beyond the show-piece moments, the game consistently sticks to its story. The actions you take to solve it fit into the narrative context (with a small amount of licence of course!). Puzzles tend to involve multiple steps in a way that delays the gratification of solving them, but which adds to the eventual pay-off, and which gives everything a clear sense of progression as it builds to the end. The underlying puzzle design is skilful enough that it’s seamless, which is how it should be; and moreover it’s executed with a flair and style that left me positively gleeful about some of the puzzles before I’d even got to them. If you’re in the area, this is a room worth going out of your way to play.