London, Jul 2019
The premise of The Cabin is that while you were camping in some remote location, someone has raided your tent, stolen some of your possessions, and left you a threatening note challenging you to come to his cabin and get them back. And of course you accept the challenge, rather than doing the obvious and sensible thing of getting out of there and calling the police.
A little theft is pretty tame by the standard of cabin-dwelling maniacs, and although The Cabin is theoretically a scary theme it’s all fairly mild and the woodland lair sometimes felt almost wholesomely rural. Escape’s standard of decoration has steadily risen over the years, keeping pace with the wider industry, and while The Cabin is not the prettiest of their rooms I’ve seen, it builds a more than acceptable atmosphere with a nice contrast between ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ areas.
As usual for this company, most puzzles resolve to padlock codes in some way, though the variety of code types keeps the succession of locks from getting tiresome. The game structure shows their design experience, starting with a tightly focused section to help players find their feet before expanding to an increasingly open structure with plenty to work on in parallel.
Escape’s puzzles often feel very ‘bread and butter’, solid and well designed but unlikely to present enthusiasts with much they haven’t seen in plenty of other games. Two of The Cabin’s puzzles were honourable exceptions to that, with more unusual design ideas, one in particular standing out for its unexpected and clever solution. Conversely, my main gripe was the inclusion of an item that looked relevant but wasn’t, in a way that turned it into a nasty red herring.
I get déjà vu reviewing games by the Escape chain, because they’re usually so consistent in their strengths and weaknesses. Like most of the company’s other games, The Cabin isn’t something that enthusiasts should travel distances to play, but which offers a well-honed and reliably enjoyable game.