Dusting off this long-neglected blog to post some extremely speculative generalisations about European escape rooms, now that I have finally played rooms in three different cities (Ljubljana, London, and Trieste).
– Hint systems: unsolicited hints or offers of hints seem to be the norm, delivered via TV screens on the continent (sometimes in text, sometimes in picture form, which I quite like) and over audio systems in London. The hints tend to be gentle and tentative, which is great, but I imagine that this has probably become best practice in the international industry by now anyway.
– A stronger focus on hands-on tasks, compared to rooms in Singapore. Which I personally love when it takes the form of creative problem solving, as opposed to e.g. those ball-bearing mazes, which require skills such as finesse and dexterity but less in the way of actual creativity or thought. The two rooms I played in Trieste were great for aforesaid hands-on puzzling; the brand, Enigmarium, has rooms in the general region and seems to be a good bet if you’re going to be in Slovenia/Northern Italy/Croatia any time soon. The different branches all seem to be run by different, dedicated groups of enthusiasts.
– Perhaps it’s just a function of market size or saturation, but in Ljubljana and Trieste, I liked how there seemed to be a small number of high-quality companies run by enthusiasts, instead of the jumble of enthusiast-run and somewhat more cynical/bottomline-driven outfits one gets over here.
– The UK likes its in-character intros and facilitation, but thankfully avoids the practice of having someone actually in the room with you. The rooms in Europe don’t really go in for role-playing. Rooms in both places pay more attention to having plot- and setting-relevant puzzles, compared to rooms here.
– Compared to rooms in Singapore, those in Europe tend to lack tedious puzzles, and pack in a higher number of puzzles instead. I appreciate this a lot.
– There’s a bit more searching than you might get in Singapore rooms, but it doesn’t feel as irritating, whether that’s thanks to interesting hiding places, or searching for physical objects instead of e.g. hard-to-find text.