mandag den 17. april 2017

Da Vinci Escape Room (Midgaard Event, Copenhagen)

The Holy Grail is once again in great danger! A strange cult want it for their evil schemes and it’s up to the members of the Da Vinci Order to stop them! And so, the hunt for the holy relic is set off against several exciting and creative puzzles in this family-friendly escape room inspired by Dan Brown’s bestseller. The room can be played either by one group or by three groups simultaneously, competing not just against the clock but also against each other.

The whole story starts right after you’ve received your initiation letter from the esteemed Professor Klosterberg. He wants you to join the Da Vinci Order and invites you to a meeting in a secret location somewhere in Europe. Once you’ve arrived, the professor contacts you via a video transmission to tell you about ‘The True Emperors’ – an evil society who used to be lead by notorious dictators like Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler. The True Emperors are of course interested in the Holy Grail because they want to use it to obtain world domination. This means you have your hands full: You have to find the Grail and save the world. In just 60 minutes!

Set decoration: 6,5 points
The feeling you immediately get from the “Da Vinci Escape Room” is that of an old Victorian room, be it a living room or an office of sorts.  The room has been beautifully decorated with handpicked, old-fashioned pieces of furniture and pictures on the wall. You will even find some rather interesting objects such as a piano and a stuffed animal’s head. However, the more homely knick-knacks seem to be lacking here, and the more exotic objects already mentioned seem to have been introduced to the room only because they go along with some of the puzzles.

To put it more directly: The room could do with more atmosphere. It feels a little insipid, due to the lack of details. For instance, the three drawers in the writing desk in the room are all empty save for that single clue you have to use for a specific puzzle. Likewise, the shelves of the bookcase are also quite empty, except for the objects you have to use in other puzzles. On the one hand that’s a great help for the inexperienced player, but on the other hand it doesn’t do anything for the atmosphere or the mood of the room.

In much the same way, the suspense in the line of puzzles is never truly emphasized by the set decorations either. Even though the set up with Johan Klosterberg is both exciting and immersive, it’s not really carried through in the set design. In order to achieve a more suspenseful feeling, the lights could have been dimmed, creating more shadows as you venture through the story, and the muffled film score on the loud speakers could also have been turned up a notch to match the different puzzles in the game. This, however, is not the case in the “Da Vinci Escape Room”, but on a more positive note, this actually makes for a great family game where all ages can play along, because the room never gets scary.

Puzzles: 8,8 points
No doubt, a lot of work has been put into the puzzles in the “Da Vinci Escape Room”. They come in many shapes and sizes, and they are never repetitious but always creative: From the use of the zodiac signs, colours and music, and further on to the revelation of various secrets in the room. Surely, there are also a fair share of padlocks and numerical codes to be found, but it never feels pedantic or bothersome. You’re rarely standing with a piece of paper in your hand and scratching your head to find the next key.

In other words, the puzzles are both varied and creatively put together. There is also a very nice flow in the storyline, due to the little hints you are dealt along the way. For instance, certain objects have been marked in a special way, so it’s easier to tell when and where to use them. Furthermore, many helpful pointers to the puzzles are found very close to the actual puzzle itself, making the “Da Vinci Escape Room” a very intuitive and easy-going gaming experience. Some of the puzzles can even be solved in multiple ways, which means that you may have a greater success rate in your group, because different players excel at different things, meaning that more people can join in on the fun.

This clearly underlines the fact that the company behind the “Da Vinci Escape Room”, Midgaard Event, have designed it with the players and puzzles in mind. It’s a fun and imaginative room, and once you have connected the dots, the feeling of accomplishment and victory is not one to be missed.

Game Master: 9,8 points
Our game master was a definite plus to the overall experience. She and her assistant were dressed in dark robes, the kind you would imagine members of the Da Vinci Order to wear. We were handed a proper letter, which looked like it was written on old parchment and arrived in a properly sealed envelope. This was our initiation letter from Professor Klosterberg. We were then told the rules of the game and escorted to the entrance of the room. Once alone inside the room, a TV set was switched on, and Johan Klosterberg appeared onscreen and finished the setup.

This introduction is among the most immersive we’ve seen yet. The whole concept of starting the introduction outside the room, and then let it segue into the room itself by one of the actual characters in the game is brilliant.

The hint system also works very well. You even have several options before your game starts: You can choose between HARD or EXPERT level – on the difficulty called HARD you are offered several hints along the way, while on the EXPERT level you only get help if you are truly stuck. Furthermore, you can choose between either seeing your completion percentage or not seeing the completion percentage. For the record, not knowing what to expect, we chose the HARD level (with the option of more hints), and we also chose to see our completion percentage, which proved to be both very stressful – when we got stuck at a particular point in the very beginning of the game – and stress relieving when we found out that we could actually beat the game. This was an interesting and different element in the “Da Vinci Escape Room”, that we would not mind seeing in other escape games as well.

Conclusion: 8,4 points
Overall, the “Da Vinci Escape Room” is a fun experience, full of creative puzzles and a nice storyline. Don’t expect it to be either scary or very suspenseful — without a doubt the most scary thing about it is its price tag! The room itself, however, is first and foremost an enjoyable adventure game for the whole family – and regarded in this way, it’s pretty flawless.

Room: Da Vinci Escape Room
Company: Midgaard Event
Address: Aldersrogade 6A, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
Languages available: Danish and English
Game time: 60 minutes
Price: Full price: DKK 895,- per room (Friday 4 PM – Saturday). Reduced price: DKK 495,- pr. room (Sunday – Friday 4 PM). Additional cost for players: DKK 150,- per adult and DKK 75,- per child.

This review:
Game date: 12 April 2017
Number of players: 2
Hints: 1

We survived, 48 minutes played

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