Edinburgh, Apr 2017
Operation Odyssey is one of two games at Can You Escape, and got off to a good start when the operator gave the surprisingly detailed initial briefing in character. The level of costume was simple but the effort adds to the game. The briefing included considerably more instructions and overview of the mission structure than normal, and arguably that shouldn’t be necessary – a good game should allow players to discover the structure as they play. But here it seemed to me that it fit the story and established the game structure up front in a way that I appreciated.
That game structure is unusually clear, with (as described in the briefing beforehand) an initial section of trying to enter the spacecraft, followed by eight separate tasks involving fixing various malfunctions. The eight tasks can largely be tackled in parallel and progress on them is very clearly signalled. Like many of the best designed games, Odyssey establishes its own symbology and uses it to flag connections between different displays and items in the room.
The game does include a number of simple puzzles on the level of ‘find the hidden number and enter it into the padlock’. But there’s no lack of invention here – the room teems with all kinds of interesting puzzle ideas, including many pleasingly custom and/or physical ones. One is arguably a bit too language/culture dependent, though it sounds like the operators are aware of that as a potential issue and ready to deal with it if a team has a problem with it.
Parallel to the main flow of the game, there’s also a requirement to find and use fuel rods to keep the spaceship lights on. This isn’t an especially difficult or time-consuming task, but the extra complication adds to the feeling of pressure as the spaceship systems run down, and of juggling multiple requirements at once.
We were given keyrings of our team photo after the game, which continued the high standard of service outside the game itself.
The room looks good and is full of fun touches, leading up to a fantastic and unexpected ending. In one thing after another the game designers have gone the extra mile, from the costumed briefing to the complementary keyrings, from the themed clue system to the fuel rods idea. The result comes together to make a superb game, and I defy you to not have a great time playing it.
Operation Odyssey was a fun and busy game. The game is broken up into several sections quite neatly. Before the game we were given a short talk – which felt a little too long. There is some information you need to know about the lighting system that could perhaps have been given in-game. But then the game started, and it was not a disappointment!
We’ve mused before about a game featuring a section where you’d have to break in, before eventually breaking out – and this pattern bore out well – giving us a quick achievement at the beginning as we got into the brightly coloured main section of the game through an ante-chamber.
The space theme carries over nicely in each of the puzzles – and the signposting of puzzles is done well, giving you a reason why there might be a number of things you have to do before you can escape. Each puzzle was cleanly implemented, and we enjoyed the variety of different tasks we had to complete. Hats off to several of the game mechanisms, too, which we’d not encountered before and made for a fun game.
This room is well designed, the hint mechanism is beautifully incorporated into the theme, and the whole thing hangs together neatly – including a little surprise at the end. The staff were friendly and well versed in the game, too. Overall, this was a great game, and I’d happily recommend it for groups of any level of experience.