Peterborough, Feb 2018
Trapp’d expanded last year to three branches, with the two games in Peterborough being their newest. Cirque Delirium is a carnival theme, where a sinister circus seems to be enslaving its visitors, and you have the usual 60 minutes to find a way out before you’re also caught forever.
Entering the game we found ourselves in an alley of carnival sideshow stalls, and I was pleased to see that the setting is used enthusiastically. While Cirque Delirium uses some ‘normal’ escape room puzzles, it makes great use of funfair-style tasks and games, for a more physical and skill-driven style of game.
It’s intended as a creepy and sinister type of circus, though there’s not much that’s obviously scary and for much of our time we were too busy having fun to pay much attention to the manic music or flickering lights. Nervous players shouldn’t have much to worry about as long as they’re braced for one or two frights.
I personally found the game too search-heavy for my tastes, in a way that took the edge off what was otherwise a hugely entertaining game. Searching carefully is never my strength, but that’s a matter of personal preference. What struck me as an objective weakness here was a particular point where the natural assumption for players is that they need to continue searching in one area – but where in fact it’s fruitless to do so, and the answer is a couple of very tough search targets elsewhere. We inevitably needed hints to get us past that point, and I’d be surprised if more than a small proportion of teams manage that section unaided. There was also one red herring that was so blatant that I suspect it was originally intended as part of the game and was temporarily or permanently retired when we visited.
Much of the game is non-linear, and so it struck me as well tailored to less experienced groups – not just because of the fun physical tasks, but also because they’ll typically play with a larger number of players, and will notice less when they need to be clued through some sections.
For me Cirque Delirium was a curious mixture of sections I found highly entertaining (mainly the sideshow games) with other elements that were weaker (mainly the search targets), and the unusual feel of the game plus one or two nicely flamboyant touches leave me inclined to overlook its more frustrating moments. If you enjoy search-intensive games, this will be right up your alley; if not, you’ll still have a lot of fun with the rest of the game.