Berlin, Nov 2017
We played the three games at The Room in the order in which they were created, starting with their oldest, in which your goal is to escape from Cold War era East Berlin through to the freedom of the West. That’s a theme that could mean a gritty, serious game, but here is handled with a light touch that combines fun puzzles with 80s nostalgia that encompasses both sides of the Wall.
Go West is definitely less sophisticated and showy than The Room’s other two games. It has a less elaborate set, and a more traditional escape room design involving a sequence of puzzles that, although they take advantage of the room decor, are only vaguely linked to the story or to each other. Nonetheless, I found it an exuberantly fun game to play. If it’s not so immersive in style, it benefits instead from an eclectic freedom to include any and every puzzle idea that the designers thought would be fun. The standard of puzzle that would qualify in most games as a creative or memorable highlight is here considered the baseline, and while there’s no single ‘wow’ moment that stood out, there was a succession of ideas that were clever or funny, surprising or cool.
Much of the game is non-linear, and as a game it’s on the easy side, at least for enthusiasts. With five experienced players we made quick work of it, and I’d recommend a smaller team of three at the most. I suspect it also shines more for players who’ve played fewer games, since all of its most interesting ideas have since been imitated or independently invented elsewhere.
But even if there’s nothing here you haven’t seen in other games, it’s a rare treat to have a collection of puzzles implemented with such consistent quality, avoiding all the usual pitfalls of ambiguity and unnecessary confusion. Its sister games are more obviously impressive and, since we played them immediately after, ended up casting Go West into the shade a little; but by any normal standard it’s a lovely game that you can’t help but enjoy.