House of Tales – The Executioner [Review]

Welcome to the Pit of Despair.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Date played: September 2, 2017

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from 35€ per ticket for 2 players to 22€ per ticket for 5 players

Story & setting

Abducted and restrained within an ancient dungeon by an evil cult, we had an hour to escape before the executioner arrived and carried out his gruesome ritual.

In-game: A torture dungeon filled with bloodied implements of pain infliction.

Puzzles

The majority of the puzzling in The Executioner was in how to interact with the dungeon set and props. By finding and connecting the appropriate objects, we’d eventually open up our escape route.

Standouts

The set of The Executioner was dramatic and exciting; there was a lot more to the world of The Executioner than was immediately apparent.

We loved one particular sequence of puzzles. It was thematically relevant, but still unexpected. House of Tales used technology well to create satisfying interactions.

House of Tales created a character, played by the gamemaster, who delivered both hints and tidbits of story throughout the experience. Our gamemaster excelled at intermingling atmosphere with helpful nudges. She could moved us forward and keep us on our toes.

The ending was phenomenal.

Shortcomings

Early in The Executioner, the gameplay bottlenecked. We ended up waiting for one player to uncover and complete an action. There was nothing for the other players to do except wait.

While many of the puzzles were worked into the set, some of them were more escape room standards that didn’t make sense in the space.

We couldn’t always tell how forceful we needed to be with the game components. At times our gamemaster needed to push us forward because we were hesitant to take an action that might harm the set or props.

Should I play House of Tales’ The Executioner?

The Executioner had one of the most exciting and enjoyable puzzle sequences I’ve ever seen. With a bit of tech, House of Tales used props and puzzles to create narrative and adventure. Not all of the interaction-based puzzling was on this level, and not all of it made sense in this dungeon escape, but overall, it was a lot of fun.

The Executioner leant on adventure and atmosphere over puzzles. To facilitate this, the gamemaster was a character in our narrative. To get the most out of the experience, we needed to accept the hinting as part of the game design. Without hints, we’d have missed an important component of The Executioner.

Note that you need to be relatively nimble to traverse the entire gamespace of The Executioner. Additionally, parts of the gamespace are dark and the entire experience is a bit creepy, but not really scary.

If none of that turns you away, and you’re looking for an adventure through an exciting space, visit The Executioner.

Book your hour with House of Tales’ The Executioner, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

For a local perspective, see Escape Maniac (in German).

Full disclosure: House of Tales provided media discounted tickets for this game.