Villa des Wahnsinns
Sometimes, the games in the rural peripheries are the biggest surprises: They often don’t show up in the rankings as high but then blow you away with some unexpected ideas and love for the genre. The “Escape House” in the small city of Vorchdorf, around 1 hrs drive from Salzburg, is such an example.
“Villa des Wahnsinns” (“Villa of madness”) is the newest addition to the complex, that really is “just” a house right in the city center. So, what is it about?
In a mysterious country house somewhere in England, the owners are said to be slowly going insane. Our team must find out what is going on and so we rang the doorbell and entered this spooky mansion.
I was pleasantly surprised by how large the whole experience was, considering that this house already contains six other games. The team from “Escape House” used up every inch they still had available very cleverly and the design and decoration is top-notch and immersive. You really feel like in an old mansion. The actors are not only for show but interact with you every now and then, which is something I love. The hint system is very well integrated into the experience, too. Both helped us stay immersed in the experience.
You progress linearly through the house with a lot of different rooms. The puzzles start rather easy and are getting more and more difficult towards the end. While the experience is linear, there are situations where your team should split up to get the stuff done in time – mainly in the later part of the game.
There also have been several pretty cool “Wow” moments for us, where the room shines with some special effects that make it stand out from your ordinary escape room experience. While it is a spooky theme and the game does include actors, it’s on the atmospheric side without many jumpscares. Think of it more like an homage to the old gothic horror movies of the 60s, with mystery elements and paranormal stuff happening.
There were some minor downsides, too – although all of them are rather subjective. We did get stuck with one instruction that everyone of us interpreted a little differently. It took us quite some time until we tried the several solutions we came up with, to find the right one. As this was the only thing to do in that room and no way to exclude false ideas, I felt the instructions could have been a little clearer there. This way, we lost a little bit of gameflow. But in the end, this could have just been us.
There was also a room that had nothing to offer at all but was necessary to give the team behind the scenes time for a special setup. While it was just a short break, we were surprised we weren’t given something to do or watch and just had to wait. Lastly, the ending, while grand in scale and theming, personally for me was a little underwhelming. There was not much left to solve and the very last scene left us with more questions than answers (which was probably intended, I just didn’t like it as much). I just wished there would have been another “Wow” effect or at least a larger actor interaction (there’s a small one) that would have answered all questions before leaving the experience.
Having said that, it’s complaining on a high level. It’s really just the last 5 percent that “Villa of madness” misses to go from a fabulous, excellent game to a fully polished, outstanding game. It shouldn’t discourage anyone from missing this gem and definitely joins “Going Underground” in the list of the best games in Austria. An English version of the game is in the making.