An interesting game
The year is 1981, the timer is counting down and the stakes have never been higher! Become the scientists and the subjects in this experiment taking place in a Cold War lab, set up in the abandoned remnants of Danziger Underground Station in East Berlin.
Since we’ve relocated back to the South West, Exeter is not that far anymore. So having seen that a new company had opened in town (Prodigy Escapes), and Red House Mysteries had opened a new game, we decided to hop on the train and check out these new offerings.
We’ve played games by Red House Mysteries before, both in Exeter (The Heist, The Shadow Darkens), and in Torquay (Arthur Moon, Last Train to Paris). So we had a pretty good idea of what to expect, however I must admit that we couldn’t actually recall too much about them, until we arrived.
When we arrived at our allotted time, it instantly brought back memories of our earlier visit. On being let into the building we had to stand downstairs by the toilets for 5-10 minutes while the GM did the briefing for another team – not the most welcoming of starts.
After the other team had completed their briefing and was in their game, we were summoned up the stairs and were enthusiastically greeted by the GM, Angel. We had a little chat with Angel before getting down to business when she gave us the health and safety briefing, swiftly followed by our mission briefing.
We followed Angel down the hallway to the entrance to The Danziger Experiment, only there was a curveball that we weren’t expecting – this was a split start game. So with the information at hand, we chose our starting positions and were told we wouldn’t be able to hear each other until we had completed something in the game. Then it was time to begin.
The Danziger Experiment was set in an old underground station and it certainly had that feel about it. Having spent more time than I’d like to have in the London Underground, this game had the usual characteristics that you’d expect to find there – except perhaps fewer mice and rats.
Considering we were told that due to the split start we wouldn’t be able to hear each other until we had solved/unlocked something, I was expecting a better barrier. We were told not to shout as that would ruin it, but I could whisper and Liz would have been able to hear me, so it would have been nice if this had worked how they intended.
There were noises playing throughout our entire time in this game and this added to the atmosphere and also took away from that awkward silence that I’m really not a fan of in rooms.
The space itself wasn’t huge and I could see larger teams stepping on each other’s toes quite regularly. We were a team of two and it was a good size for us, but I probably wouldn’t want to go much bigger than four players. The game was all on one level, once you get up the stairs to the venue, but there is one occasion where at least one member of your team will need to crawl for a short distance.
Being a split-start game, it’s no surprise that the first challenge you need to overcome is communication. This should have been more of a challenge than it was, but there was still at least a little challenge there. Outside of that, there was: searching, observation, audio, teamwork, and I think one puzzle that I would probably class as a maths puzzle (just not in the traditional sense).
The puzzles and the puzzle mechanisms all felt like they belonged in a Cold War secret lab in an abandoned underground station, and they often resulted in either a combination for a padlock, or some tech made something happen somewhere in the room.
It took us a little while to get into our stride with this game and the first puzzle took us much longer than it should have. But once we got that out of the way we seemed to get through everything else without too much issue. Although there was one puzzle that felt like we solved it through brute force, but in hindsight, I wonder if there was a guide on what needed to be done – we were just impatient and perhaps didn’t take the time to work it out.
One puzzle though was the epitome of laziness and it would have been very simple to make it into another puzzle without too much help. But to find something simply saying ‘The code you need is XXXX’ felt rather lazy to us.
Angel was lovely and enthusiastic; unfortunately, she is hindered by the policy at Red House Mysteries of having one GM running multiple rooms. It’s this policy which is why we had to wait downstairs on arrival, and why, after completing our game and exiting into the hallway, we were left waiting. We eventually decided to radio to Angel to say we’d finished, and she radioed back to say to wait in the room until the other team had their debrief. Nothing takes the shine off completing a room than having to wait around for 5/10 minutes to be allowed to leave.
I believe we requested a clue at one point and didn’t have to wait too long for it to come through. These were requested and received using the walkie-talkie that we were given when we entered – nothing fancy, but it worked.
This wasn’t a bad game, and in some places it was fun. Unfortunately, the one GM for two games decision is what let our experience down. I understand that this is probably due to financial reasons but we’re yet to play at a company that runs this way and offers a better experience than one GM for one game.
Was this the best game at this venue? Maybe, I’m not sure. The set design was definitely better, and the puzzles were an improvement, but I’m still undecided.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 30:06
Address: Unit 4c, King Street Business Centre, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1BH