Not a smooth journey
Reclining in the surroundings of your beautiful private compartment, you are fifteen minutes into the channel tunnel stretch of your journey. With a grinding of breaks and a hiss of steam, the train unexpectedly comes to a halt. The outside window shows only the tunnel walls, but a quick glance into the corridor reveals a strange metal device with an ominous counter ticking down from an hour – there’s not a minute to lose. It’s time for action!
After successfully solving The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Moon, we decided to head out for a coffee before jumping On the Last Train to Paris. Upon our return, we again filtered into the outer holding area, before being led through to the main reception area to receive our briefing. It was short and to the point, as we had already played both Red House Mysteries games in Exeter, in addition to Arthur Moon.
With the brief out of the way, our GM opened the door and led us through to our separate train compartments. What followed was a reasonably fun game, with a few hiccups that were handled well by our GM.
As one might expect from any room with a split-start, puzzles at the beginning relied heavily on communication and teamwork in order to escape the compartments. For the most part, these tasks fit the theme, and were a mix of simple maths, observation, logic, and very little searching. One puzzle should have been much more simple than it was, but due to some ambiguity and a few bits that didn’t line up quite right, it took us much longer than it should have to find the code.
The room’s final puzzle was a complex, multi-part logic puzzle that actually became so involved that the flow of the game ground to a halt at what should have been a climactic finish. It probably didn’t help that it was actually rather frustrating, and we were without writing implements to keep track of the steps, and wear and tear on the final mechanism meant that we could have actually completely bypassed this (Gord actually said that he knew what we would need to do to defuse the situation before we even started.) The room is actually relatively new, and it wouldn’t be difficult to tidy up this one mechanism to correct this issue.
Unlike the other rooms at Red House Mysteries, which seem to have themes revolving around different time periods, On the Last Train to Paris is meant to be more modern, given that it takes place on board a train in the Channel Tunnel. But even more strangely, the train looks nothing like the Eurostar and instead is a very well done version of a much older style train carriage, like something from the ’30s or ’40s. As one might expect from a set on a train carriage, there were a few points where we were in rather close quarters. With the issues of space and the linear gameplay, I would be hesitant to suggest this game to teams larger than four, as it’s quite easy for someone to be left out of the action simply because there isn’t space for them.
Despite an issue quite early on, it was quite easy to feel immersed in the game; perhaps the tight quarters made it feel more like my usual train into work. However, what should have been a climactic and dramatic ending fell just a bit flat as we defused the bomb and exited our train carriage into the corridor without any fanfare.
We believe that on the Last Train to Paris is the newest game on offer at Red House Mysteries, so it’s no surprise that the set design has taken a leap up from the games we played at their Exeter location. But, although it’s not been open long, the room suffered from a few issues with wear and tear of puzzles, that would be quite easy to rectify, and would reduce frustration with one puzzle, and make the final one impossible to guess.
With walkie talkies in hand, help was only the press of a button away. I do feel like Red House Mysteries have missed an opportunity to integrate the clue system, it would be perfectly logical and on theme for hints to be delivered over the tannoy as though from the conductor or driver. However, Red House Mysteries asks their GMs to run games simultaneously, as well as man the reception area, which unfortunately means that they aren’t able to monitor progress in real-time, and instead must ask groups to detail exactly what they need help on; sadly this means that an integrated clue system probably isn’t the most practical unless the staffing policy is revisited.
Despite being busy, our GM was excellent. We didn’t actually need any clues with the puzzles, but less than ten minutes in, we ran into a major issue, when a key piece of equipment got stuck. Once we radioed through with our concerns that it wasn’t working as it should, and that we were concerned we might break it, she immediately entered the room to fix the problem. Yes, this broke the immersion, but there was no way around it. Eventually (after 10/15minutes), she managed to fix the problem, our time was reset, and we were on our way. I’m always appreciative of GMs that listen to players’ concerns when they think something may not be working properly, as the only rooms we have ever failed to complete have been down to reset errors or broken tech, and our concerns were dismissed by the GM until it was too late to make up the time. If she had dismissed us, it’s likely we would have broken something in an attempt to apply more force, which would have made it impossible for us to complete the game, and required Red House Mysteries to dismantle half the set to fix it. (Hopefully, they’ve now added an access panel!) So kudos to her for how she handled it, especially as there was another team in Arthur Moon at the time.
Red House Mysteries offer a 20% discount with the Escape Game Card*, making it £14.00 per person for a team of four. At that price, On the Last Train to Paris is certainly worthwhile, and we went so far as to book all of their games at both venues at the same time. The Torquay location isn’t listed on the Escape Game Discount Card website, but at the time we played, it was still accepted there, but I would double-check before booking just to make sure.
Team: 4 players – escaped in 37:49 – with no clues
Address: Red House Mysteries, Braddons Hilll Road West, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 1BG
*the escape game card link is an affiliate link and we may get a small kick back if you sign-up after following that link