Hounds Escape: Questionable Ethics

By | December 28, 2022

Crawley, Jan 2022

Rated 4.5 out of 5
Toby says:

You can’t always judge a company by its lobby area, but it’s always an encouraging start to walk into a venue that looks atmospheric, stylish and welcoming. Hounds Escape not only did well on that initial impression, but then built on it with their pre-game briefings, which for both this and their other game were humorously and energetically delivered in character.
For Questionable Ethics, our host was wild-eyed and Russian, and stuck to his role with gusto before, during and after our game. The plot involves test subjects mysteriously going missing, with you as the latest batch; it’s a lightly conspiratorial tone not a scary one, and neatly gives narrative justification for the initial set of escape room puzzles.
I really liked the game structure here. It’s non-linear from the outset, but with a lot of signposting that’ll mean first time teams have no difficulty hitting the ground running; no one will be looking around uncertain how to begin. And then it develops in a way that advances the story and shifts to a less guided, more naturalistic puzzle style, building to a finish that’s intended to have teams stumble out in a flurry of adrenaline.
The puzzles themselves are very solid throughout, and frequently clever and inventive, with nice occasional touches of humour, and a gradually increasing difficulty gradient. My personal favourites were a smart teamwork puzzle involving cameras plus a certain moment of peak silliness.
There’s a bit of a reliance on written instructions for some puzzles, with text delivered on sturdy slabs, which might be off-putting to the reading-averse; and many puzzles (though by no means all) resolve to padlock codes. For me that’s entirely fine, particularly when the puzzles are well-designed, and if there was a weak link it was a tendency for hints and nudges to come too quickly. However, that was only until we asked the host to hold off a little longer before helping.
I think of the venue’s first two games a narrow majority of enthusiasts will pick Southern Dis-comfort over this one, but it’s not clear-cut and Questionable Ethics should absolutely be played too. And for a less experienced group, I’d recommend starting with this game – the design makes it a great option for a first time game without compromising on the challenge level. 4.5 / 5

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