Present, sometime in 2019, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger
World War Two is one of those Escape Room themes that can seem a little, well, old. The whole Enigma Machine, spying, secret codes and lurking bombs combination is perfectly suited to timed puzzle games, and we love a good bit of cyber-cracking, but once we have played a few of them? This would probably be a room theme we would pass over, preferring something that tasted fresher. Ubiquity doesn’t really work in the favour of certain genres (see also prison cells and bank jobs) and something really special is needed to make them feel memorable.
Which brings us to Operation Magnus. This was our second room at Escapologic Leicester, after smashing Reactorvate, and we already had high expectations. Even so, we were still wowed by our first impressions. The venue building is fascinating to begin with, the lower levels of a former bank, and Escapologic have made brilliant use of the space to recreate a WWII bunker. The thick walls and intriguing corners make for instant immersion.
And this is all about attention to detail. Everything screams of authenticity, including the fabulous clue system, and is a delight to explore. This encompasses the storyline, which combines the puzzles beautifully into the gameplay. The narrative is a fairly standard “save the world from the Nazis” one, but the props and effects push this to another level.
We did struggle a little with the game itself. There is a lot to do, and we ended up failing by just a few seconds. It was excellent GM-ing to get us this close to the wire, and in truth we had every opportunity to escape in the last moments, just messing up our final task in the panicky rush. For a moment we actually thought we had succeeded – Operation Magnus is great in that you have the endgame theatrics whatever the outcome, a good sign of a well-designed room.
We found some of the puzzles tough, and I’m still not entirely sure about one of them (I think we were drastically overthinking it). The room layout also makes a communication challenge particularly difficult with mumblecore teenagers, but ultimately it was search-failing (as usual) that lost us time. On the whole, though, the tasks were clever, satisfying and perfectly logical within the narrative, which is a hard trick to pull off.
We maybe didn’t love this game quite as much as Reactorvate – a lock-in will do that to you. But we were entertained, challenged and immersed to an impressive level, and the ending is one of the most thrilling and spectacular we have come across. In short, if you are only ever going to play one World War Two room, you wouldn’t go wrong choosing this one.
- Storyline: A clear mission, followed absolutely to the end.
- Theming and Set: Genuinely immersive with a real sense of history.
- Searching: Yes, a crucial, but not unreasonable, factor.
- Puzzles: Proper war movie stuff.
- Physicality: Not so much with the tasks, but the room itself does require mobility, with several steep steps.
- Scare factor: Tense rather than scary.
- Company Age Guidance: “we say that anyone from the age of 12 and up can play but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been surprised by younger players before.”
- Age suitability: I was going to say that secondary school age kids are the lowest age group that would appreciate this room, but actually robust younger ones would probably love elements of it too (and be better at searching than we were…).
Also at this venue: Reactorvate