Berlin, Nov 2017
I’ve seen more than one enthusiast describe Lost Treasure as the best escape room in Europe. Of course, tastes vary, and no one person can play more than a selection of the games available, so clearly any such claim is only a matter of subjective option. Even so, it’s one of a very small number of games which could plausibly be a candidate for that title.
While booking this game the website shows a warning saying that all players must pass through narrow passages, be fit, not be afraid of darkness etc. That makes it sound like an intense, poorly lit game – which it isn’t, it’s mostly very civilised with perfectly sufficient lighting. However, the warning should be taken seriously, particularly the requirement to pass through narrow passages. Players over a certain physical size may be literally unable to play this game. But if you don’t have a problem with tight spaces and darkness, the way those are used provides an effective, disorientating way to transition into and around the game that works far better than simply stepping through a doorway.
You enter the game with a pack of papers and equipment. This is a cunning way to include a couple of modern electronic items in the game that would otherwise be wildly out of place in the setting, including a torch of a type I haven’t seen before, that switches on and off automatically according to location. While it seemed to me a bit inconsistent in whether it came on or not, the torch was always just an aid not a necessity, and it’s an elegant way to provide an extra light source while ensuring it doesn’t compromise the intentionally dark sections of the game.
Once we got inside… well. I anticipate it will be a long time before I see another game that can compare with Lost Treasure’s decoration style. It’s not just that it looks good (and it looks fantastic), it’s that it is absolutely packed with curios and objets d’art, in a way that suggests months spent in the weirder corners of eBay with a total disregard for budget, or perhaps a series of raids on the city’s museums. I could happily have spent an hour in the game just going through the collection of things they’ve assembled.
What’s arguably even more impressive is that this glorious profusion is used as the basis for a series of high quality puzzles without the quantity of decorations ever causing confusion about what to look at next. Not that it’s easy – we struggled to find the right way forwards a couple of times, but in both cases that was due to us not looking around thoroughly enough, not to any ambiguity or lack of clarity in the game design.
It has puzzles that are surprising or clever or interesting, and which all show rock solid design. It has a narratively satisfying progression that builds up to a dramatic finish, and an Indiana Jones vibe complete with some sly in-game references to that franchise. It uses space with remarkable ingenuity and fills that space with objects that are beautiful and sometimes a little grotesque.
This is how escape rooms should be done. Go play it.
(And book in with a team of two or three, partly because it’s a mostly linear game with some small spaces but more importantly so that you get to see as much of the game yourself as possible!)