Date completed: April 2017 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 7.5; Difficulty: 7.5; Atmosphere: 8; Fun: 8.5
- Basic English or Portuguese
- At least one person with full mobility
- 2-6 players
- Acute senses
We never expected that a game emulating a break-in into one of Pablo Escobar‘s stash houses would be simple. For almost 20 years, the narco-terrorist evaded the Colombian police and international authorities, until he was cornered by the Search Bloc and killed in a shootout just after his 44th birthday. Esconderijo de Escobar (‘Escobar’s Hideout’, in Portuguese) hosted a truckload of layered puzzled which we needed to solve in 60 minutes if we were to have any hope of gathering incriminating evidence against this historic villain.
The stash house looked like a normal apartment, at least initially. But hidden places and objects were all around us – time to think like Peña and Murphy (from the Netflix series Narcos) and find out where the ‘products’ were!
Esconderijo de Escobar began outside the apartment and gaining entry to it required a ‘warm-up’ puzzle before we could undergo our investigation. One very interesting thing about Escobar’s Hideout was that the escape room was built inside a former apartment. When we were inspecting the living room or the laundry, it felt like the real deal. Not all rooms were accessible from the beginning, but one was always unlocked: the bathroom, completely functional for players to use if necessary. There are no puzzles in there, but it is quite funny to use the suspect’s toilet.
As we said, the apartment was pretty believable and many of the starting puzzles involved household objects, items that made sense in a logistical drug dealers setting, and other devices. The very non-linear start contained many puzzles consisting mostly of 1 or 2 steps of search, mechanics and association.
As we ventured deeper into this hideout, the nature of the apartment became less benign and the criminal nature of it became more overt. The puzzle path also shifted in a more linear direction while the complexity and technological aspects increased. The puzzles developed more layers, involved more senses and manipulation. There are some interesting props here, and observation will be important to use them at the right time.
We eventually found the evidence we needed, which was involved in a puzzle that fit the setting very well. We almost felt like we were doing something illegal! On the way out, a fairly complex end puzzle emerged. We mention this one because it was physically large, involved logic, mechanics, some subtle tech, was hands on and fairly layered. Do you know when you are playing a videogame and reach the final boss? This was quite a final boss type of puzzle, not as much in difficulty, but in size and amount of steps to complete. It was quite fun, though.
All up, Escobar’s Hideout was a physical room that required a lot of moving around. It contained an enormous amount of layered puzzles from mid-game onward and was family friendly despite its subject matter (the evidence were not ‘skeletons in the closet’, so to speak). Given its actual size, this game can fit the 6 player maximum, but it is very well doable with two – at the time we played, we managed to set the record at the time at 36 minutes! This was probably one of the most fun games we played in Porto city, and the quality of the venue made us interested in trying the Lisbon branch of Mystery Escape Game if we ever visit Portugal again.
At Mystery Escape Game Porto, we also played O Orfanato (The Orphanage), a light horror escape room concerning missing children.
Out of the room
Service: Our gamemasters Edgar, Philippa and Victor ran our game in Portuguese, but had a nice conversation with us in English and said the games are available in both languages. Briefing was clear.
Mystery Escape Games Porto has a toilet for players inside the rooms (in this game, it’s Escobar’s toilet! XD), which is was very clean.
Communication: You can contact the gamemaster via walkie-talkie. They were very attentive to our actions and always knew were we were in the game.
Surroundings: Mystery Escape Games Porto is located very close to the Clerigos Tower, which was finished in 1763 and reigned as the highest point in the city for many centuries, at 75m high (225 steps to get there!). It is part of a complex of religious building of the Clerigos Brotherhood. The church, located a few meters down the road, is also wortha visit, with its uncommon curved walls.
The Clerigos Tower also appears in Mystery Escape’s logo. Each side of the key features the main touristic points of each Mystery Escape’s branch: upper side is Lisbon (25th April Bridge and St George’s Castle, among others) and lower side is Porto (Tower, Se Cathedral and Dom Luis Bridge).