Barcelocked [Review]

Logo_Definitivo_Sombra_120x120Location: Barcelocked, El Born, BarcelonaSpain

Date completed:  April 2017 (4 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 9; Difficulty: 8; Atmosphere: 7.5; Fun: 8.5

Requirements:

  • No language required; hints in English, Spanish (Castillian) or Catalan
  • 2-7 players
  • One player not colourblind
  • Full mobility

To start this escape room review with an understatement, the Spanish Civil War was a very confusing time. Fascists versus communists, versus other communists, versus anarchists, versus other factions…. I’ll leave the history lesson to the Wikipedia link and just cover off by saying that this bitter conflict, which affected the course of history in the lead up to World War 2, continues to be a contentious topic in Spain now.

In Barcelocked, two major influences on Barcelona in the early 20th century were combined into a single plot – the Spanish Civil War and Antoni Gaudí, the brilliant architect behind the Sagrada Familia. Your team finds out that George Orwell (yeah, that Orwell. 1984, Animal Farm…) stole the plans for Sagrada Familia to impede its construction. Players have one hour to find the plans inside Orwell’s office and save the pride and joy of Barcelona. But what does George Orwell have to do with Barcelona? A fair bit, and turns out he wasn’t a fan of the famous basilica…

In 1937, Orwell actually fought with the POUM Communist faction in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and he had some pretty nasty things to say about the Sagrada Familia basilica:

“For the first time since I had been in Barcelona I went to have a look at the cathedral (La Sagrada Familia) – a modern cathedral, and one of the most hideous buildings in the world… Unlike most of the churches in Barcelona it was not damaged during the revolution – it was spared because of its ‘artistic value’, people said. I think the Anarchists showed bad taste in not blowing it up when they had the chance.”

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Still under construction. The Sagrada Familia today. (http://www.documentarytube.com)

Ouch. Talk about a harsh critic. With this historical backdrop, players become aware of the importance of this mission. If Orwell had access to Gaudi’s drawings, he would surely destroy them! We’ve come to learn that the Spanish really like local history and some escape room businesses really try to incorporate this into their games. Barcelocked does this, although the dark and spartan office space in which the game is set has more references to the literature and style of Orwell than Gaudi’s architecture. Knowledge of the works of either of these masters is not necessary in tackling this room though!

The puzzles in Barcelocked are varied and require very different skills. The first layer of the room required some basic math, association, search and observation and progressively got harder mid-game onwards. From that point, the challenges were more layered and combined the above skills with pattern analysis and some even required physical dexterity! The layout of the puzzles and the way the layers are revealed mean that larger teams in Barcelocked will rarely find themselves with nothing to do. We played with a team of four experienced escape roomers and we were running around all the time, often breaking into two pairs to solve problems. Although the structure of the puzzle path was linear, members of our team often found parts of other / future puzzles and could deal with a number of them simultaneously.

The technology used in the room also varied from basic analogue physical mechanisms, those that had visual effect and in one particular puzzle I had only previously seen the technology in a lab but not an escape room. In all cases, they were all clever in execution. Even though the task with the visual effect was quite common in other escape rooms, the way it suddenly revealed itself was quite cool.

Overall, Barcelocked was very challenging and we found ourselves enjoying it thoroughly. We had known about the venue through the online escape room community, which would always recommend it as a place to go to in Barcelona. We were glad to see that the room lived to the hype and are happy to recommend it as well.

1

Out of the room

Service: Language is not a requirement in the game, however, the gamemasters at Barcelocked can run it in English, Spanish (Castillian) or Catalan (the language spoken in Barcelona). Our gamemaster was very proficient in English and was able to brief us with in both English and Castillian. As we did not use a hint throughout the game though, we can’t really judge gamemastering but were pretty confident in his ability given his brief and subsequent chat after the game.

In Barcelocked, you take your belongings into the room. The GM points a particular chair that is not part of the game and you can drop your stuff there.

Communication: Barcelocked will give hints through a screen if players are stuck although the gamemaster will apparently respond if you speak to him ‘through the walls’.

Surroundings: The venue is located in El Born, an area that hosted duels and fairs in medieval Barcelona, so there is plenty to see and do! The closest subway station is Jaume I. Make sure you have a map, or navigating through the narrow roads of the El Born will be your first challenge!

Although this room talks about Sagrada Familia, Barcelocked is located between two other massive churches in Barcelona. The Cathedral of Barcelona (free to visit from 8am to midday, and after 6pm), and the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica, built by members of the working class in the 1300s. Although not as high profile as Gaudi’s church, these two are fantastic examples of gothic architecture which surely deserve a visit.

For those who can read Spanish (Castilian), this room has also been reviewed by Roomscaper and Unlocker Monkeys.

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