Newton Abbot, May 2019
Death on Dartmoor is a sequel to Devon Escape’s first game, though it’s not essential you play them in order; where in that one you were a gang of thieves, here you’re on the side of law and order, solving a murder and an abduction. You have two goals, to find the criminals’ location and to identify the ringleader, and three different possible endings according to how you do. One of those two goals matters more than the other, and in fact we made an error with one but still ended up with the ‘best’ outcome since the mistake was on the less important of the two goals.
Walking into Death on Dartmoor gave an instant wow moment. It’s a clear step up from Devon Escape’s first game – that first impression is a particular stand-out in a set design that goes some way beyond what you’d normally expect from escape room decor. The content struck me as more sophisticated too, incorporating some more physical tasks and some more realism in the style of the puzzles.
In places my impression was that the puzzle design could quite easily nudge players into chasing dead ends, with various items lying around that looked like clues, only some of which actually were. For us that didn’t particularly end up causing confusion, although we utterly failed to understand one key puzzle until we’d received a couple of hints for it – I think it was reasonable but a bit on the cryptic side, the sort of puzzle where it makes perfect sense once you know the intended solution but is open to too many different interpretations if your brain doesn’t jump in the right direction.
But although a couple of sections seemed a bit open to accidental misdirection of the players, overall it followed through on the excellent start with a satisfying game. Given the name of both the venue and the game you’d expect a strong connection to the local area, and that was something it did well, giving a clear sense that the story was rooted in the local geography. I’d say that the strong narrative of the game was its strongest point – except the distinctive set design was more memorable still.