Paradox Project – The Bookstore [Review]

Stacks

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: March 3, 2020

Team size: 4-7; we recommend 4

Duration: 200 minutes

Price: from €30 per player for teams of 4 to €27 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

From the actual storefront, through the finale 3.5 hours later, The Bookstore was massive and mighty.

In-game: The exterior of the bookshop, from the street. It appears as a real bookshop.

Each individual scene within The Bookstore could have been an entire 60-minute escape game at the vast majority of escape room companies that we’ve visited around the world. I’m not kidding; I could easily imagine this game being sold as 5 or 6 different games. Moreover, each scene change shifted the play style, which prevented the length from becoming monotonous.

Paradox Project’s opus was truly incredible, but it wasn’t perfect. Not all of the scenes or puzzles were created equally. There were a few puzzles that were begging for iteration. While the finale had some fantastic moments, it also had some shockingly dated and sketchy elements that throttled the momentum.

Overall, The Bookstore was a standout game in a wonderful escape room scene. If you go to Athens and you don’t play it, you did Athens wrong.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Walking into a bookshop off of the street especially cool
  • It was epic
  • The set was beautiful
  • There were many satisfying and diverse puzzles

Story

With the consequences of our experiences in The Mansion behind us, we had attempted to go on with our lives… until we received a mysterious invitation to a bookshop. Someone seemed to know of our Bitter Truth.

In-game: Walls filled with books and African art.

Setting

At the appointed time we approached an inconspicuous old bookshop along a street in Athens. From the exterior, it truly looked like an old bookstore.

As we entered the shop we found a realistic but slightly fantastical bookshop. A shelf displayed a little bar with pastries and drinks to fortify us on our 3+ hour adventure.

In-game: Closeup of a bookshelf with an old CRT television resting on it.

Over the course of the game, new and exciting areas opened up to us. Structurally The Bookstore felt like a video game with each new area representing a different level within the broader experience.

Gameplay

Paradox Project’s The Bookstore 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, puzzling, and traversing the large gamespace.

In-game: The bookstore's checkout counter has a cash register, a skull, and a collection of stamps.

Analysis

➕ The Bookstore was epic in scale. With a staggeringly long game clock and an unusual gamespace that continued to open up in unexpected ways, it was a grand adventure.

➕ Despite the huge scale, The Bookstore was still intimate. Each scene had its own identity. Through these scenes, we learned about the characters and their story.

➖ While the set was generally fantastic, a couple of late-game spaces felt underwhelming relative to what had come before.

➕ One early puzzle was designed with such incredible precision that it really left an imprint on us.

➖ A couple of the puzzles felt unrefined relative to the rest of the game. One was a bit funky, while the other was dizzyingly underdeveloped.

➕ We loved the puzzles that made use of the designed gamespaces and their oddities. These gave us fun perspectives and added color.

 The Bookstore had many separate acts with clean transitions. We always knew where to focus our attention.

In-game: Closeup of a collection of books written in Greek. The Center book has a large question mark on the cover.

➕ Paradox Project designed some outstanding reveals, especially from scene transitions. These were some of the most exciting moments. It was incredibly fun to move through this space.

➕/➖ The finale had multiple layers that built to a culmination worthy of the scale of this escape room. That said, the pace of the conclusions suffered when one of these layers relied on a tired trope that was sloppily executed.

➕ The gameplay changed over the course of the experience. The first act was more of an escape-roomy on-ramp. Each subsequent act played with different mechanisms and styles.

In-game: A tall bookshelf decorated in African art.

Tips For Visiting

  • You need to be able to climb stairs to play this game.
  • This game is available in Greek or English.

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

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

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