Katwijk, Jan 2020
I haven’t seen a single episode of La Casa De Papel, the heist drama which is apparently Netflix’s most successful series in a language other than English, and which Bella Ciao is based on. As a result, there were plenty of references in this game that meant little to me; but that didn’t get in the way of a top-notch game, and in fact it left me quite curious to try the TV series.
Bella Ciao is not a scary game, though is set up in a couple of places to be deliberately ominous. What it definitely is is cool – it has a great sense of visual style, which turns out to be strikingly varied as it progresses, and managed to convey a clear and dramatic progression through its heist story despite my lack of familiarity with the source material.
I thought two weaker puzzles took a bit of the shine off an otherwise great experience, particularly since one was early on and the other right at the end, thereby making more of an impression than the many better sections in between. That wasn’t anything serious, but in both cases left us trying solutions in the spirit of, “well, maybe it’s this then”, rather than the clear-cut confidence that you get from really good puzzle design.
At the same time, between the excellent high-energy background music, the various physical tasks and some cool transitions, it’d be tough not to have fun playing this game. At one point I even got distracted from playing by stopping to admire the lovely construction of one part of the room. Puzzle purists might quibble with a few points, but if you’re looking to romp through a heist adventure then it delivers in spades, and I suspect fans of La Casa de Papel will be in seventh heaven.