Gravesend, May 2017
The Panic Room’s eponymous first game is set in the apartment of a conspiracy theorist, whose disappearance illustrates that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
It’s a relatively low-key modern setting, probably the least immediately impressive of the Panic Room games. However, I warmed to the game more and more as we played it, as we encountered one original puzzle after another. There were plenty of ideas that I’ve seen in other games, but which are implemented particularly well here, and a couple of puzzle ideas that were entirely new on me – something that’s increasingly rare and impressive these days – including a nice twist on what I initially thought was a straightforward search task.
With the team searching a property belonging to a conspiracy theorist, the game has a decent excuse for filling the space with cryptic clues and puzzles. But while there are plenty of puzzles that are included with no particular justification beyond being interesting/fun parts of the game, some of the more key sections are carefully and successfully tied to the narrative, and justified in ways that make sense in the story.
There are other games at this venue with more of a ‘wow’ factor. But as a more traditional style of escape game, it’s unusually imaginative and well-designed, with a good mostly non-linear structure, and even very experienced players will likely find something to surprise and please them in it.