Style over substance
You’re at home playing a newly released sci-fi video game. As you approach the final level the screen gets brighter and your arms and legs begin to pixelate!
Before you know it you’re sucked in and transported into the game itself!
You have 60 minutes to beat the brain – escape the game!
It had been a long time since we last played a game at Escape Rooms Cardiff, in fact it was back in 2018 when we’d played less than 30 games (a lifetime ago) and had played Z, The Heist, and The Tomb. We were now back in Cardiff and had lined up both Cardiff Castle and Press Start at Escape Rooms Cardiff.
Escape Rooms Cardiff (ERC) has certainly changed a lot since our last visit, when we were last here there was a Costa coffee shop downstairs, but now ERC has taken over that space and have used it well. There is now a welcoming reception area and a quite sizable cinema style area for health and safety briefings.
Having already played Cardiff Castle, we didn’t need to go through the health and safety briefing again so our GM took us straight through to Press Start. Outside of the room he gave us a quick briefing on our mission (basically we were sucked into a video game), and then we entered the room.
It’s worth noting that all of the games at ERC are either upstairs or downstairs with only reception on the ground floor, and sadly there’s no lift.
Covid-19 Procedures: We didn’t see any other team on site as ERC had staggered their starting times. Plentiful hand sanitiser, masks were worn by everyone, and there were screens in reception to keep everyone safe.
The first thing to point out about this game is that there is some crawling involved right at the start, we didn’t see a workaround for this so if you struggle to crawl, check with the venue. Press Start isn’t a massive space so you may want to play with a smaller team so you don’t get in each other’s way.
Once we got into the room proper we were impressed with the decor, it was very futuristic feeling although felt more like being on a spaceship rather than being in a video game (unless it was a video game set on a spaceship). I also really enjoyed the background music playing throughout the game. I’m a big fan of Tron Legacy, especially the soundtrack, and I’m pretty sure that is what was playing here.
The room design was solid and this was certainly a very pretty room, probably one of the ‘prettiest’ rooms we’ve played in Cardiff, unfortunately we found that the narrative for the game didn’t really live up to the game itself. The final ending was also a let down, we were expecting some grand finale but really it just ended with our GM coming in and saying ‘hello’.
If you hate padlocks, then this is a room for you – there wasn’t a single padlock anywhere in this room!
I think it’s fair to say that we struggled a lot with this game. Prior to Press Start we had blitzed Cardiff Castle, but the puzzle types in Press Start were very different and I guess just not the types of puzzles that clicked with us. It also probably didn’t help that one of the early puzzles seemed a bit glitchy and I think that threw us off a lot.
There weren’t actually that many puzzles in this game, and the puzzles that were present were not our favourites. To group them into vague categories, there was; pattern recognition, memory, spatial awareness, logic, and generally just finding ways to interact with your surroundings.
Some of the puzzles were multi-step puzzles and for one particular puzzle we couldn’t understand why we needed to do exactly the same thing multiple times, it just felt a bit weak and it really didn’t add anything to the game – once was definitely enough for us!
If anyone in your team is colour blind then they may need assistance with a lot of the puzzles in this game as many of them rely on colour. There wasn’t really any searching in this game but some things that you needed to interact with were in sneaky positions, so explore everything. There were also a number of puzzles that could only really be completed by one person at a time so it meant a lot of standing around waiting for the one not doing the solving.
Another puzzle felt a bit like trial and error, I’m not sure if we missed something but we somehow got it right by just trying everything possible. This then set us up for the final puzzle which felt like the weakest of the bunch. As we had less than four minutes remaining at this point, we were glad that this final puzzle was actually pretty easy!
Our GM for Press Start was Dan, and we certainly kept Dan busy throughout our time in this game! I honestly don’t know how many clues we needed to get us through this game, but it was somewhere between a lot and bucket loads. Fortunately when we did need clues Dan was on hand and we only had a few moments where there were delays in receiving them. I think a few tech issues on the clue system slowed him down (I don’t think it could handle that many clues).
When clues came through they were delivered via a screen in the room and were accompanied with an audio alert so we knew they were there. This screen also displayed the countdown timer.
We really wanted to like this game but we found the narrative didn’t seem to fit the game and the puzzles weren’t enjoyable to us. I’d imagine some players will click and blitz this game, but unfortunately this wasn’t the game for us.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 56 minutes
Address: 119 St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1DY