Manchester, Jul 2017
Having rattled through the two Lucardo games that we’d booked and finished them well ahead of schedule, the staff kindly managed to squeeze us into a third room despite it being a busy Saturday daytime. Espionage is set in 1938 and has you stealing classified documents from an enemy bunker; this translates into a room of puzzles designed around WW2 era military equipment and related props.
All the Lucardo games I’ve seen are quite non-linear, with a lot of padlocks to open and a mix of puzzles that include some straightforward ones to get players going. That was true here too. The high number of padlocks in this room was helped by a greater variety of types: some three digit, many four digit, some alphabet locks and a couple of directional ones. Many of those are out of place in a WW2 setting, but strict historical accuracy isn’t part of what this game is aiming for.
Espionage shares the style of the other Lucardo games, and whether you enjoy it or not will largely depend on whether you like that style. However, I felt this was the weakest of the three we played due to a number of issues with particular puzzles. One had three or four plausible answers, with one of our more tenuous guesses turning out to be the correct one. Another looked like it would open one type of lock but actually had an extra step that meant it was used for a different type. (The extra step was good, but it’s a weakness having the intermediate solution looking like a possible answer, since then teams inevitably waste time futilely trying it.) Others relied on outside knowledge in a mild way.
In the room’s defence, even if the standard of puzzles is below that of its sibling games, it does share Lucardo’s other strengths: a good difficulty gradient with a multitude of puzzles for players to get stuck into, and plenty of variety in the tasks. And the ending is designed well to bring the team back together for the final escape.