Paris, Oct 2018
At time of writing, La Pièce’s second game is only listed on the French version of their website; if you go through the booking pages in English you’ll see it listed only as an anonymous ‘La pièce 2’. Don’t be put off though: not only is it fully English-friendly, it’s also an absolute gem that it would be a terrible shame to miss out on.
For ‘Odyssey’, think Kubrick not Homer; you’re in space, on a mission through a mysterious portal that opens once every seven years, following in the footsteps of an astronaut who went through and never returned. While it’s not a direct escape room adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are nods to the movie and a similarity of atmosphere, combining technical minutiae with a promise of possible mystical revelation. As games get larger and more elaborate, the term escape ‘room’ becomes increasingly inaccurate, and Odyssey creates a complex, varied environment where I genuinely struggled to remember I was actually inside a building in Paris.
Immersion in a game is not simply about how it looks but what you need to do, and the tasks here fit beautifully into the setting. A big part of it has an ‘engineering’ feel, where you are fiddling with spaceship hardware, mostly in a pleasingly physical way. A certain computer console could have become a bottleneck, but even with our large group of five there were always other things to work on in parallel. Another strand gives a strong sense of research and investigation, unlocking the mysteries of the place you’re in. You combine information a few pieces at a time in a way that’s not simply solving a set of stand-alone puzzles, but which feels like building up an understanding of your environment, genuinely learning something.
We struggled most with a puzzle near the end that I’d argue is a bit unintuitive, mainly due to a common problem when a puzzle involves gathering a set of objects: not knowing whether you need to search more or solve the problem with what you’ve already found. A subsequent step seemed a little arbitrary too. Still, those rather minor points are about all the criticisms I can find for a game that enjoyed a wealth of creative puzzles both theme-appropriate and clever.
Odyssey is a treat to look at, full of slick design touches where they’ve gone the extra mile to make it look convincing or impressive, and in places genuinely beautiful. It’s also intellectually satisfying, tough enough and with enough content to provide a good challenge even for experienced groups, and smart puzzle design that builds off and reinforces the narrative. This is a great game and you really should play it.