Date completed: March 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 9; Difficulty: 8; Atmosphere: 9.5; Fun: 7.5
- Intermediate English or Italian
- 2-5 players
In Sabotage, the second room we played at Secret Rooms in Milan, you have a “simple” mission: save the world from the Third World War. You are agents from a special task force and must infiltrate a secret military base to steal the nuclear warhead launch codes. You must also find out where is the launch site.
If you play escape rooms regularly, you have probably come across a “stop the bomb” scenario by now. However, Sabotage has many strong points, the best of them being that all puzzles are part of the story and are well tied-in with the plot. You actually have to pay attention to information about places, people and other random data that you find along your way.
The designers of Sabotage did a great job in decorating the place. The room actually looks like some sort of office or secret bunker, and many of the items used are legitimate or very good replicas from the Cold War. Besides that, the puzzles actually make sense. You have to do tasks such as identifying people, reading maps and other things that you would actually have to do if you wanted to avoid a nuclear strike.
This room is linear, differently from Nightmare, the other game we played at Secret Rooms. For this reason, smaller groups of 2 or 3 people may have more fun. Groups will be required to have a fair range of skills, from the normal “search” and “association” to a lot of mechanical intelligence and very basic decryption. Being familiar with electric circuits may be an advantage here. Also, players must focus in understanding what the information presented to you means to the “universe” of the game. Many puzzles are “in-universe” and you will have to relate with the people involved in the missile launch to solve them. This is a very clever aspect of the room that we particularly loved, and wished to see done more often in other venues.
Hints are spread everywhere around the escape room and because the props are so realistic, sometimes it takes a second to decide if something is actually a clue or just decoration. Everything seems to be in their normal places and many things do not stand out as as puzzles, so examine everything. This room requires a little bit of language knowledge, but nothing tricky. English or Italian will solve your way out. It also has access for wheelchair users.
Sabotage is a very strong room. The only reason we did not score the fun higher was because our gamemaster for this room was not as dedicated as he should be. We solved the very first puzzle of the room in less than 10 minutes, but the prop did not work well. We than waited almost 20 min (!!!) for the gamemaster to give us a hint (which we had already done) and confirm the answer (which was correct). Meanwhile we were stuck, because the room is linear. It the end, it required a LOT of strength, almost to the point of breaking the prop, for it to work.
It was one of those cases in which the gamemaster clearly should have intervened earlier, even entering the room to see what was wrong. We don’t know if he was not paying attention or if he thought it was normal to spend 30 minutes in the 1st puzzle. Anyway, this bad interaction tainted our view of the room, as we had to rush through the rest of the game. Otherwise, Sabotage could have been an amazing game. It has such clever puzzles!
We still recommend this room, because the tasks are very well sewn into the plot. However, we hope you have a better gamemaster taking care of your game! In Secret Rooms we also played Nightmare, a very creative game, highly recommended.
Out of the room
Service: The staff at Secret Rooms were friendly. It seemed like they were updating their scheduling system, so there were some papers going around before they found our booking at the reception. Briefing was very basic.
Our gamemasters spoke very good English, besides their native Italian. The girl who gamemastered Nightmare was timely and kind, while the gamemaster for Sabotage could have been more alert and professional.
You take your belongings into the room with you, so choose well were to put them! Secret Rooms has a water filter for players to drink.
Communication: You do not talk to the gamemaster during the game. He/she will send images or text hints through a screen if they believes you are stuck. You can also request extra hints talking out loud.
Surroundings: Secret Rooms is a short walk from Lima or Milano Centrale train stations. During the day there is plenty of commerce around to shop or find something to eat. We played after visiting The Last Supper, located on the other side of the city, inside the Santa Marie delle Grazie church. Bookings must be made in advance as only a limited number of people per day are admitted to see the painting. Directly opposite The Last Supper is a painting of the Crucifixion by Giovanni Donato da Motorfano (pictured left), beautiful and better preserved, but nowhere near as famous as its neighbouring image.