Berlin, Nov 2017
The Executioner is a horror game, but while it follows some of the usual tropes of the genre – a start involving separation and imprisonment, plenty of rather grisly props – it’s not the usual serial killer story. Instead, you’ve been captured by a murderous cult who intend to use you as human sacrifices, and although theoretically using a modern day setting, the decor is closer to a medieval castle theme.
Nervous players shouldn’t be too concerned about the game. The start uses some of the least offensive blindfolds I’ve seen used, which were in any case discarded as soon as the game began. While it’s not suitable for younger players, it’s a curiously entertaining sort of dungeon to spend time in, with some gruesome equipment that is atmospheric without being particularly menacing. If you like escape rooms that scare you witless, you won’t find it here – which on the whole makes me like it more.
All the games I played at House of Tales looked great, but the first two were less impressive with the quantity and sophistication of their puzzles. The Executioner had the same very high standard of decoration and layout, but this time with a thoroughly satisfying sequence of tasks that mostly emphasise physical interactions in a way that complements the theme’s chunky wood-and-metal decor.
It leaned a little too much on escape room logic: for example with puzzles that were perfectly clear and worked well, but had absolutely no reason why taking the actions required should trigger the effect it did. We had items and an apparent place to place them, so we did and it opened something unrelated. Which is hardly unusual for escape games, and only worth mentioning because at its best the game reached a higher standard, where the tasks followed a clear real-world logic (in a simulated form, since the actions involved would be much too hazardous to put in an escape room for real).
Still, it’s a game that impresses with quality throughout more than any particular highlights. It feels satisfyingly solid and (broadly) authentic, has several memorably cool moments, effective use of audio, and a fun finish; and I think we were unanimous in liking it the best of the House of Tales games we played.