Ashford, Sep 2018
As with so many prison escape games, you have been accused of a crime you didn’t commit… but in this game your goal is to gather the evidence that incriminates you and find a way to destroy it, a twist that made me wonder whether we were as innocent as the briefing claimed!
More than most themes, games that use prison settings often involve similar ideas and decor – the theme leads naturally to a relatively narrow range of ideas. The Accused has its fair share of jail tropes, particularly near the start of the game, but also some much more creative ideas. These come at the expense of some realism, making plenty of use of escape room logic, but unless you’re a stickler for immersion it’s a worthwhile trade off. One such creative idea could easily have brought us to a screeching halt early on, but fortunately I had a teammate whose observation skills were a little sharper than mine. (Although we did come to a screeching halt much later on, flailing for ten minutes until the host hinted us for what, inevitably, turned out to be a simple search fail…)
I got the impression that the later stages of the game gave the designers more opportunity to play around with their ideas, moving a little further away from the jail theming. The puzzles are mostly (though not entirely) padlock based, and resolve clearly and logically. I was initially less pleased to find a UV torch with no indication of where to point it, which tends to lead to laboriously scanning every inch of the room and each unused item until something is found. However, since that turned out to be used for a cleverly original puzzle, which did indeed have a prompt for the right starting point, I rapidly became much happier with it.
If you’re paying attention there’s a background narrative to piece together, though it seemed entirely possible to ignore that and complete the game anyhow. I thought it had a slightly more serious tone than the other two games we played at the venue – although only by comparison, with my favourite moment being something delightfully lighthearted and silly.
I found Pressure Point’s two more recent games a little more stand-out and memorable than The Accused, but my teammate thought the jail theme’s style and puzzles were her favourite of the three. Either way, it shares their reliably solid puzzle design and slightly quirky edge, and while it might come down to subjective preference for which game to pick, with any of the three games you’re in no danger of not having fun.