Gallaecia Fugit: Reliquias del Apóstol [Review]

logo-header-escape-room-300x228Location: Gallaecia Fugit, Av. de Lugo, Santiago de CompostelaSpain

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

Creativity: 8; Difficulty: 6.5; Atmosphere: 7.5; Fun: 8

Requirements:

  • No language required; briefing/hints in English, Spanish (Castillian) or Galego
  • 2-5 players
  • One player not colourblind
  • Full mobility

The Camino do Santiago, known as the ‘Way of Saint James’ in English, has for centuries been a significant pilgrimage for the Catholic faith. The traditional path (as there are more than one) crosses the entirety of Spain and ends at the huge Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. The popularity of the Camino has risen again in recent years, in no small part due to the movie The Way starring Martin Sheen. Now, all manner of people of various faiths (or none) from around the world can be found walking the various treks all year round. Back in April, Pá and I completed 187km of the Portuguese route for the Camino. After having some time to digest the journey, we ventured to a Camino-themed escape room. It was the appropriate thing to do.

Located in a city where the legend of Saint James (Santiago, in Spanish) lives in every corner, Gallaecia Fugit did a great job in creating a room based on the local lore. In Reliquias del Apóstol, the archbishop of Santiago was kidnapped by a group that seeks a precious relic from the apostle St. James. The religious man had time to hide it, and your mission is to retrieve the item before it gets lost forever…

Over the past two plus years, we’ve played a few escape rooms with a Catholic Church theme. Normally, they are inspired by the fiction of Dan Brown and involve some type of conspiracy from the church. Think Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons. In seeking to recover the Reliquias del Apóstol (‘Relics of the Apostle’) before the archbishop’s kidnappers steal it, Gallaecia Fugit takes the uncommon approach where players are agents of the church. The game then starts within the archbishop’s private office.

apostol-180x180Our first impression of the room was that it was very well furnished for the theme. The decoration, furniture and details were in keeping with the setting revolving around a missing clergyman, who appeared to be simple man but who also had good taste. We then spread out to find various clues left behind by the archbishop and began to tackle the puzzles in the game. Gallaecia Fugit’s eye for detail and use of the environment was noticeable. A number of the puzzles involved elements one would come across in a Catholic church and we thought these were very well handled. Creative association and imagery was used in the early part of the game.

As the game developed, we ventured into more ‘mysterious’ areas. There was a mix of hands-on and tech puzzles, and teams will benefit of having at least one player with full mobility (or at least some willingness to be in uncommon positions). Tasks required mechanical aptitude and spatial reasoning, combined with observation. A little bit of search and the ability to not overthink helped. It was a very well rounded room.

Being a game centered around the main subject of the Camino do Santiago, there were aspects of Reliquias del Apóstol in which players would benefit from having walked the pilgrimage routes. This was evident when Pá and I were able to make an immediate association whereas her parents, who met us in Santiago de Compostela, could not. misterio-apostolIf players in your team have not walked the trail, however, don’t worry as the game is quite playable for everyone. Our gamemaster Victor (who was also the designer of the room) was always attentive and ready to send a hint through the screen.

At the time we played this room, he told us that teams would ask for 10 hints in average. We needed less than that, but could not finish without help. The room is not hard, but according to Victor, until April 2017, no team had yet finished Reliquias del Apóstol without hints.

For those who have walked the Camino, the ending of the game is a pleasant reminder on the meaning of The Way. We really enjoyed playing at Gallaecia Fugit after our journey and it added to the experience even if it wasn’t the main point of our Camino (we might be escape room fanatics, but we do have lives!). If anything, Reliquias del Apóstol is a good example of what can be achieved when escape room operators set their minds to creatively incorporating local history and customs into their games.

On a side note, it was surprising how the industry developed in Spain over the past two years. Back in 2015, after our first Camino along the French route, there were no escape rooms in Santiago de Compostela and we first heard of this hobby on Tripadvisor, when booking things to do in Valencia.  In this 2017 trip, we were surprised to find out that not only did Santiago had three escape room venues (we tried Gallaecia Fugit and the Paradox Room), but we were also very impressed by the standards. Then again, Barcelona has over 70 rooms and we barely even touched the surface! More walks on the Camino are in order for the future, I think…

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Out of the room

Service: Language is not a requirement in the game, however, the gamemaster at Gallaecia Fugit (which means Galicia Escapes, in Latin) can brief teams in English, Spanish (Castillian) or Galego, the language spoken in Santiago de Compostela. Victor was extremely welcoming and did a nice debriefing session after the game,  showing how he built the props himself. It certainly wasn’t easy setting up the Catholic theme we saw. There was an element of mechanical and electrical know-how which was impressive. Some of the magic he revealed was complex, other aspects very elegant.

You can take your belongings with you into the room or leave them at the reception area, where there is also water and themed pilgrim outfits for the post game photo.

Communication: In case you need a hint, you just talk to the walls or wave to the cameras and the GM will send you a message through a screen. If you need the game to be in English, write it on the “special requirements” area while booking on the website.

Surroundings: Gallaecia Fugit is located just beside Santiago de Compostela’s train station, which is a 5-min drive from the Old City centre. Of course, if you are a pilgrim, you can also walk there.

It is a bit hard to talk about Santiago de Compostela without mentioning its massive cathedral, the end point of pilgrimage for many routes around Europe. We got there after finishing a 10-day walk across Portugal and Spain, and the architecture of the place is incredible. If you are going just for a visit, avoid mass times (midday is reserved for pilgrims) and try to get into one of the guided tours that take you above the roofs.

Right in front of it, you can find the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos, a fancy Parador hotel, which was originally a hospital built in 1511 by monarchs Fernando and Isabella I to treat pilgrims.

Still in the city centre, towards the Plaza de Platerias, there are two parallel streets full of restaurants. Try the local dishes, they are delicious!

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