Southampton, Aug 2017
We hadn’t planned to play both games at Cyantist, but after finishing Crystal Maze we had a gap in our schedule and I was curious about their second game – whereas Crystal Maze had been (accurately) described as a different sort of experience to an escape room, The Cube was supposed to be a more typical escape room.
The game has two levels, standard and extended, where an extra £10 adds additional puzzles for teams confident in their abilities. However, shortly before our visit an overly rough team had managed to break some of the extended content, so only the standard version was available. The room included components for the extended version, and there was a card that clearly indicated which pieces were to be ignored.
Before starting, the operator gave a brief intro, telling us that we were aiming to retrieve an elixir and escape. Finding the elixir wasn’t the problem – we were told up front that it was in the room’s centrepiece, so the task was to solve the puzzles that would allow you to unlock all the barriers that prevent you from accessing it.
The game includes several puzzles implemented via home-wired electronics. Where you might expect all the innards to be hidden away with only the buttons, LEDs and other active components visible, here the cover is see-through and the internal wires and Arduinos fully visible. I don’t mean that as a bad thing; what it lost in polish it gained in charm.
The game is, like the other at this venue, largely unthemed. It is at its strongest with the hand-made wooden and electronic pieces, which have an originality and care to their construction. It is at its weakest with a puzzle game that I’m sure I’ve seen elsewhere as a free internet game, and in the re-use of classic puzzle tropes that (in my opinion) are better suited as pen-and-paper brain teasers or smartphone games.
Like the other Cyantist game here, there are touches of humour in the implementation. I quite liked the cascading padlocks effect with which the game ended, and a clever twist on a familiar piece of equipment. Despite those and some other redeeming features, it’s not a game I’d encourage enthusiasts to seek out.