Gravesend, Nov 2018
Sacrifice is one of a handful of games by other designers that The Panic Room have added to their stable. It’s a thirty minute game set in a van, and is also known as Van Escape, under which name it’s a mobile game available for event hire. When it’s not offsite serving a wedding or corporate party, it’s parked in Gravesend and can be booked as an individual game. (Since this is a horror game with some gory decor, I have to wonder how the conversation might go if a friendly policeman ever pulled the van over en route to an event and asked to take a look in the back!)
The backstory is that you were attempting to rescue someone from a murderous cult whose idea of religious freedom involves chopping out other people’s hearts; naturally, you’re now in danger of becoming victims yourselves. Exactly why you’re in a van was glossed over, but that’s a reasonable bit of disbelief to suspend.
I’d sum up my impression of Sacrifice as ‘does what it says on the tin’. Apart from the novelty of playing in a van, it’s firmly in the mainstream of escape room design. The grim theme is handled with a relatively light touch: no restraints or blindfolds, no scares, some over-familiar escape room tropes, and some puzzles that are wildly at odds with the setting. You play in complete darkness with only torches to see by, and when we received two torches for our group of three I was expecting to be stuck unable to do much; but fortunately that turned out to be only a temporary problem.
Most of the puzzles are independent of the story and of other other, and would work just as well in a different escape room with a completely different theme. Still, they’re solidly designed and free of ambiguity. And while there’s little that will rock the world of anyone who’s played a lot of games before, that’s missing the point of this game. Enthusiasts might play this to fill the gap between other games on their schedule, but its main purpose is, as far as I can see, as a taster experience or added entertainment at a larger event. From that point of view it’s a straightforward and perfectly acceptable bite-size escape challenge.