Paris, Oct 2018
In the niche world of obsessive escape room fandom, some games and some companies develop a reputation. The Game is one of these, with The Metro likely to be near the top of the must-play list of those addicts whose Paris holiday planning is based around escape game availability. With fame comes the pressure of high expectations, where any little flaw can render an otherwise excellent game disappointing; but while The Metro is best played with expectations kept in check, it’s unusual enough to deserve that place on your schedule.
Our host gave part of the briefing in character, describing how they’d had problems with one of their trains and asking for your help in fixing it. It should be no surprise that the game is set on a Metro train carriage. This is not a carefully built replica – it’s the real thing. For realism of environment, you can’t get much better than that, and I recommend travelling to the venue by Metro for full effect.
Our gamemaster gave us an explicit instruction in the briefing for what we needed to do first, and that turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. I suspect many teams will have the same experience as us, initially hitting a bit of a brick wall with no obvious way forwards. That’s not a great way for a game to start, but there are definitely clear pointers to push you in the right direction, and it ensures you investigate the environment thoroughly before getting into the meat of the game.
Once it kicks off, The Metro hits its stride. The immersion here isn’t limited to the realistic train carriage; I don’t want to give anything away, but they use a metaphorical toolbox of effects to heighten the experience. And with puzzles based on the Metro system and the train’s actual mechanisms, the actual game content combines with the effects as a single slick experience.
All the drama of the game finished on a curiously anticlimactic note. In puzzle design terms, the final step is decently complex, pulling together various things from throughout the game in a way that should make a good finish. However, thematically it has little to do with everything that’s gone before, and is oddly disconnected from the high stakes story.
But even with a slow start and a slightly flat ending, everything in between is first rate. The distinctive and memorable set alone would make The Metro well worth playing, and at its best it’s very good indeed – a well designed game that goes some way beyond what you’d normally expect from an escape room in its drama and staging.