Cold War - Double Agent

by EXIT-Madrid

The World is on alert, tensions are rising, the security systems are vulnerable, one evil mind can unleash a nuclear conflict. Be part of an international anti-terrorist command and 66 minutes to stop a false nuclear alarm!

EXIT-Madrid website
Cold War - Double Agent

Review

(lexi: pyko and I talked a lot about this and agree this room is easily in our top five. We loved it that much.)

Cold War-Double Agent has a time limit of 66 minutes. We failed it with two people (though the failure was due to reasons we mention below).

The experience started before we even entered the room. We were given an in-character briefing: This was the era of the Cold War, and a Russian double-agent had just set off a false nuclear alarm. As American agents, we had to infiltrate his apartment and stop the alarm before nuclear war broke out!

It was a marvel walking into the room. The design was spot-on, and you would swear you were in a poky 70's-era apartment. Before the countdown started, we were shown a video with a brief outline of the circumstances and history around the Cold War, which really set the mood.

The beauty of this room lies in just how non-linear it is. All the clues were part of the decor; something you'd expect to find in such an apartment. It means that working out which clue links to which lock (or if something even is a clue!) is part of the challenge. But for the eagle-eyed, they do provide some hints! We also loved how some of the clues were oblique - mentioning something in a totally natural way that turned out to be pointing to another clue, or a lock.

There was one particular lock where we felt the clue was a bit too oblique, but that could be our lack of historical awareness coming into play as well. There was also one particular puzzle involving (surprise surprise) Russian, which we found challenging because it uses a completely different alphabet. We won't say more to avoid spoilers, but let's just say that it was more than simply matching symbols.

(Also: We didn't realise until the walk-through afterwards, but there are also multiple ways of solving some of the puzzles. That's definitely something we appreciate!)

The last part caught us by surprise, and it was a mad scramble because we were still missing clues. It was stressful, but exhilaratingly so. Again, we won't say more to avoid spoilers, but in the end we failed to prevent nuclear war. (lexi: I want to add, we knew what we had to do once we had all the clues, but couldn't do it in time!)

We did feel there was quite a bit of pixel hunting in this room, and because both of us are blind as bats we needed quite a few hints to help us along the way!

We also want to call out just how passionate Alex is as the owner of EXIT-Madrid. We sent him an email with our thoughts and feedback on the room that night, and he responded to each of our points with an explanation of why he made those specific design choices. It was fascinating to see what goes into the design of a room - thank you so much Alex!

We loved this room to bits. It was completely immersive, the puzzles were smart, and we can confirm just how much thought and care has gone into designing it. Don't miss this if you're in Madrid!

Hint system

Absolutely excellent. There is a screen in the room that displays textual hints. You're notified of incoming hints with a sound so you know when to check. We were monitored (video and audio) the whole time, and our game master provided hints that were both timely and not too obvious. They were also in-theme!

Difficulty

High. A big part of the challenge is working out what is and isn't a clue, and then which clues link to what. It's also non-linear, so you may find an item that doesn't come into play until much later.

Skills

Can anyone speak Russian? (Not necessary, but passing knowledge helps a LOT)

What we liked

Despite being horrible and finding anything, still really enjoyed finding one of the hidden clues. The hiding place was really smart!
-pyko

The overarching narrative, and how the clues were such a natural part of the decor.
-lexi

Visited on 16 Jun 2016 by lexi and pyko

At a glance

A perfectly themed, non-linear room with a compelling narrative and frantic end

Recommended?

Yes

Pros

  • Excellent theming (even the hints were in-theme!)
  • Very smart puzzles that made use of the decor
  • A really exciting finish that was a logical end to the narrative
  • Perfect hints that came at exactly the right time and weren't too obvious
  • Staff who are passionate about puzzles

Cons

  • Some key clues well-hidden with no clear way of knowing they even exist
  • Some clues too oblique - you wouldn't think they were clues
  • Possible to hit important points without having everything you need

You will like this if...

  • You love more role-playing style rooms where the narrative feeds into the the clues.

You might not like this if...

  • You like your puzzles straightforward, or if you hate hunting for clues (some are really well hidden and take time to find).

Recommended number

We struggled to find everything with just two people, but given how non-linear the puzzles are we can see it being confusing with more than four (even four might be pushing it).

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