Brussels, Jan 2018
I’m told that Lucky Luke the cowboy and his hapless adversaries the Daltons are comic book characters with fame rivalling that of Asterix or Tintin, but I’d somehow never come across them until this escape room. For those equally unfamiliar with them, the Daltons are a gang of moustachioed outlaws who often appear in the Lucky Luke books, typically escaping from prison at the start of the story and inevitably ending up back there by the conclusion. Escape Prod’s game design casts you as the bad guys, stuck behind bars with the aim of not just escaping but also reclaiming the loot from your last bank job. You even have the option of wearing appropriate stripy tops to get further into character if you wish.
Knowing the game was based on a cartoon series I was expecting an interior decorated with bright primary colours, and was surprised to see a relatively realistic interpretation of a Western lock-up. But if the room design seemed to be playing it fairly straight, the game’s inspiration came through in its content. The genius of the design is in the several points where it leads players to take actions that use cartoon logic – the key parts of the escape sequence would fit straight into an illustrated comic book.
The game uses a very clear structure, comprised of essentially three meta-puzzles that each smaller step feeds into. The first of those wasn’t completely to the tastes of my search-phobic group, but most of the component parts of it were great.
My impression of Daltons’ Escape is of a game that’d be particularly good for a family group. It has a very approachable difficulty level with a fair bit of searching to do, a light-hearted tone that matches its source material, and several cool highlight moments. But it’s also simply a well designed game that I’d expect everyone to enjoy. Enthusiasts might find it a bit on the easy side, but even if you escape in 30-40 mins there’s enough quality entertainment here you won’t feel short-changed.