Cartel – Trapp’d – Corby

Present, in summer 2020, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger

One of the early games we played as a team was at Trapp’d in Corby, Maine State Prison. Coming after a string of very first generation rooms (after all, this was in the era of the first generation) the game at Trapp’d – blindfolded, prison jumpsuits, pitch-dark, firecrackers, crawling and general chaos – was an incredible adrenaline shot, a real immersive experience (in more ways than one, if you count the toilet…). Looking back now, we can see the flaws in the game, but I still remember it fondly (or vividly, at least). Maine State is no more, replaced with a spiritual sequel, Cartel. Set in the same prison universe, with basically the same aim – jailbreak! – we were interested to see where Trapp’d had gone with this.

First impressions – Cartel uses the same room footprint to some extent, but it is mostly unrecognisable. They have a couple of callback touches to please previous players but, despite still being a prison, this feels like a very different animal. This game has a split start, in fairly confined spaces, so be aware if playing with newbies/younger children, but overall the jump scares and visceral impact of Maine State has gone and this is a much more vanilla prison.

In fact, I would say this game veers from vanilla into bland, in some ways. Writing some time after the event, barely any of my teammates can recall anything about the game, and I think I was reluctant to review it simply because I didn’t have strong feelings about the experience either way. Possibly the most notable memory from the day was an odd coincidence – in the car on the way over we had been discussing some quite specific books, which then turned up on the prison bookshelves…

There were some frustrations that stand out to me – this isn’t a very padlock-heavy game but there were enough (and poor sign-posting) to mean we spent too much time trying combos in different places without knowing if we were wrong or just on the wrong lock. Some puzzles still didn’t completely make sense to me even after we solved them – although it was a case of small ambiguities rather than total howlers. The overall plot of what we were doing should have aided the game flow, but it didn’t.

On the plus side, from what I remember, there were a couple of more creative challenges and attempts to make the game interactive and immersive, which were very entertaining, if not very puzzly. I could see those bits being of stronger appeal to the non-enthusiast customers. We were well-GM’d for this part, and overall, actually. And, umm, there was a bed to sit on for some of the game, which was nice?

Every mod con

We played Cartel when it was relatively new, so I suppose substantial tinkering could have improved the game since. Overall though, this one just didn’t really do it for us. I’ve played quite a few vaguely disappointing jailbreaks, so maybe I’m a bit disillusioned with the genre. But I wanted this to be so much more interesting than it actually was.

  • Storyline: Use your Cartel contacts and an especially convoluted escape plan to break out of jail. Chaotic.
  • Theming and Set: Never bought the whole prison concept, although good GMing helped.
  • Searching: Can’t remember it being a problem.
  • Puzzles: No actual puzzles stand out in my memory.
  • Physicality: Might have had to scramble/duck at one point? Definitely worth checking with venue, as this could have changed since we played.
  • Scare factor: None, with one proviso for confined spaces (not the whole game).
  • Company Age Guidance: “suitable for ages 10 years and over. Players of 16 years and under must be accompanied by an adult.”
  • Age suitability: Some content may be a little mature for some 10 year olds – it doesn’t immediately scream “kid-friendly”. But nothing too specific to put older tweens/younger teens off.

Also at this venue: Reanimation

For other Trapp’d games, see also:  Legend of DrakonThe ForsakenAtlantisThe Outlaws of Red RockMadame Curio’s Cirque Delirium  Exordium46 BelowAbigailDead Mans CoveVX 2.0Molten Creek MineEnd of the LineSalem

Trapp’d website