Published on June 26th, 2017 | by Dean Love1
Escape Time, Sutton Coldfield – Sam’s Saloon Bar
Sam’s Saloon Bar has the most convincing looking fake pints I’ve yet seen in a room. Which made the disappointment all the more real when this turned out to be another bar-based game that’s actually entirely dry. I mean, obviously I get that no-one wants drunk people playing their, or indeed any potential for spillage, but one day I’d like a game that threw caution to the wind and allowed or even encouraged drinking…
That’s no reason to put the game down though, and you probably wouldn’t want to be drinking the sort of thing they drank in the 1800s anyway. Instead you’re trying disarm a bomb planted by the crooked sheriff. And recover his gold while you’re at it. There’s a nice video intro and you’re off into a large room that looks pretty good: there’s a big bar, and various tables scattered around. It looks a lot like a saloon. We played in the middle of the day so it was pretty bright as we had natural light from the windows, but apparently it’s kept darker for evening games. That wasn’t an issue though: even in the cold light of day nothing seemed out of place or tacky.
The puzzles were very strong, with quite a few ideas I’ve never seen before. There’s some good physical interactions, and a sizable process puzzle which might be frustrating if you try and do it all in one go, but cleverly you can make progress on it throughout the game so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. The game also has some nice automation, where certain things trigger certain events to happen, things to open up and so on. Cleverly the game has a specific sound effect (a gunshot) which makes it obvious when something has been solved, and indicates you need to look around to see what’s changed.
Despite a few interactions like that, the game does still have a lot of codes and combination locks, but the game is good at hinting towards which codes go where, and which puzzles pieces go together, so it never really gets too overwhelming. We had a small issue with one of the mechanisms not working correctly, but it was quickly resolved and we were fed the information we needed to progress through the clue system.
Overall it was a very strong experience. Nothing particularly stand-out, but everything was essentially spot on: the puzzles were pitched just right and had good variety, the set looked good and the story made sense even though it mostly faded into the background. Certainly one of the stronger games we’ve played in the Midlands.
Result – we finished in around 50 minutes
Date played: 30 May 2017
Team: Dean, Sam, Andy, Jamie
Summary: A strong game that doesn't make many mis-steps and has some nice elements to it, if nothing that really stands out.