Bucharest, May 2018
Sleepy Hollow has a feature that I’ve seen in only a few other games: the players start with a book of clues which give them cryptic instructions on what to do at each step of the game. Done badly that can cause more confusion than it prevents, or leave the players feeling spoon-fed, but as long as the clues are pitched well it can help the team navigate a busy environment, and also impose a structure on the puzzles in a way that lets players see what they’re working towards. Here it worked well, particularly in letting us know how many of a particular type of object we needed to search for, since we’d otherwise have inevitably ground to a halt due to not searching carefully enough.
This is of course an escape room based on the Sleepy Hollow story, mainly the 1999 movie not the Washington Irving book. (Also, the realisation that that film came out twenty years ago makes me feel old.) The town of Sleepy Hollow has seen a series of nasty decapitations of possibly supernatural origin, and it’s your job to get to the bottom of them. Although a spooky story it’s not too nerve-wracking, and most nervous players ought to be fine playing it.
While the game isn’t huge, it looks pretty. Experienced players may find it a little lacking, both in the amount of space and the quantity of puzzles to solve, but as a beginner’s game it’s easy to enjoy, and I found it an enjoyable warm-up for the other game we played with The Codex. A couple of minor grumbles were that the otherwise impressive decor was a little plastic-y on close inspection, and the instruction to ignore a certain couple of shelves was potentially misleading – players need to not over-interpret that warning.
But even though it’s not the biggest or most ambitious game it has several cool moments, including a funky effect that was a first for me; and also a great sense of theatre, particularly as it goes on and builds to a memorable conclusion.