Paradox Project – The Mansion [Review]

Crazy Uncle

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: March 2, 2020

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 4

Duration: 180 minutes

Price: from €25 per player for teams of 3 to €19 per player for teams of 7

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating:  We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Mansion was designed in 2014. At 3 hours in length, it played like the most epic escape room imaginable at that time. If you asked us to dream up the ultimate escape room back then, it would have looked a whole lot like Paradox Project’s The Mansion.

The Mansion was a massive, classic escape room. It was search-heavy and filled with puzzle content. The set was overwhelmingly realistic, especially given its age.

In-game: the bar in the mansion, illuminated by stained glass.

If we had played The Mansion when it was new, it would have completely redefined how we thought about escape rooms in quite a few ways… but context is profound and we played it in 2020.

Escape rooms have evolved a lot since The Mansion opened. Playing it with today’s perspective, the first half dragged and squandered a few opportunities for magical moments. It picked up in the latter portion. The entire game also suffered from wear… the result of 6 years of players loving this game.

As it stands, The Mansion is among the strongest games of its era; few 5+ year-old games pulled off as much in scale, detailing, and ambition. If you’re in Athens, Paradox Project’s The Bookstore is an absolute must-play. The Mansion was a lovely narrative addition, but not essential. If we were to do it all again, we’d still play The Mansion, but we’d go in with less hype.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • If you’ve ever wanted to play an “escape house,” this is it
  • It honestly looked like a home
  • Tons of puzzle content

Story

Our long-lost uncle had emerged after years of us wondering whether he was even alive. He had invited us to his mansion to tell us of his travels through Africa and reveal “the Bitter Truth.”

In-game: The livingroom of an old mansion.

Setting

The Mansion looked and felt like a home that was owned and lived in. From floor to ceiling to furniture, each room that we stepped into felt like it belonged in this quirky home.

In-game: The ceiling of the mansion has beautiful trim and an ornate chandelier.
I loved the light fixtures

Gameplay

Paradox Project’s The Mansion was a standard escape room with an unusually long game clock. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: The livingroom of the masion with a large, old CRT television.

Analysis

➕ The Mansion looked like someone’s home. It felt lived in. It had a genuine quality that is rare in escape rooms themed as life’s ordinary places.

➖ It took us a while to learn how the game wanted to be played. Some additional sign-posting would have helped built momentum earlier in the first act.

In-game: A strange, multi-color, oversized asymmetrically melted candle.

➕ We loved when a typical search puzzle revealed a world of depth.

➖ For the first half of our playthrough, the emotional ride was pretty level. The gameplay was a series of small wins that didn’t amount to much.

➖ We found one early section a drag. With the lens of 2014, we can see the subtle humor in the design choices, but as we played through, it felt more frustrating than humorous.

➕ In the last act, Paradox Project used space in unusual and surprisingly interconnected ways.

➖ We encountered heavy wear in The Mansion, especially in the first half.

➕ Paradox Project used video interludes to tell the story of The Mansion. The plot progression and plot twists added intrigue and momentum to our adventure.

➕ The in-world hint system in The Mansion worked well, both narratively and practically.

In-game: An unusual, sculputre-like light fixture.

The Mansion built up to a late-game plot twist that was reflected in a puzzling twist. This interplay was brilliant.

❓Because of The Mansions’ age, it felt dated. It was search-heavy with a lot of paper cluing, resolution to numbers, and a few stretchy extractions.

➕ From The Mansion’s scale, elegance, and 3-hour clock, to Paradox Project’s soft drink and snack bar, the experience felt luxurious.

Tips For Visiting

  • You need to be able to climb stairs to play this game. At least 1 teammate needs to be able to crawl.
  • This game is available in Greek or English.

Book your session with Paradox Project’s The Mansion, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Paradox Project provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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