In June, we headed off to the sunny city of Barcelona, a place that has become an absolute must-visit for tourists around the world, thanks to sights such as La Sagrada Familia and Nou Camp.
It’s also become a must-visit place for escape room enthusiasts, and although the home of escape games, Budapest, has been at the top of our list for a while, some glowing reviews for the rooms of Barcelona turned our heads, and before we knew it we’d booked our flights.
We spent four full days in the Catalan capital, playing ten games during this time. Ten isn’t a huge number for a four day escape binge, but we found the rooms to be a lot more expensive than the UK counterparts (outside of London), so had to budget ourselves to play just the most highly recommended ones. Quite a few of the rooms were more than 60 minutes long though, so a lot of the time the high prices were decent value. The huge number of games that call Barcelona home are spread out over a considerable distance too, so do make sure you factor in some travel time when making your bookings. We got around using the very efficient underground system, but there was often an exhausting amount of walking involved too.
Anyway, we’ve split our Barcelona room guide into three sections: 1. The absolute must-plays – don’t go to Barcelona without playing these games, 2. The highly recommended – if you have time for more, these are the first ones to include; 3. More great options – some more for your shortlist when you’ve exhausted the first two categories; and 4. The rest – those that didn’t quite hit the spot, but are still by no means bad games.
Here’s our ratings and views of the 10 games we played in Barcelona:
1. The Absolute Must-Plays
La Mina – Unreal Room Escape
Where do I begin with this one? La Mina is a 90 minute experience set within the mysterious St. Louis Mine, which is said to be home to a mysterious, valuable source of minerals. In all honesty, the story of this game isn’t something I can really remember following, with my focus instead on the entirely brilliant set-up of this room.
I say room, I mean mine, because they really have built an incredibly immersive mine setting. It’s a dusty, dirty, real environment that gave off a great effect of feeling like you’re traversing deeper and deeper as you make progress.
There are some genuinely top-class moments in this game that add so much to the experience – usually when you play a great room, there’s a stand-out point you talk about afterwards, but with La Mina, I keep thinking of other things we’ve not re-lived yet even a fortnight later.
It’s a very linear game, but it’s a straight path you’ll enjoy following together, with nearly every puzzle being a joy to complete.
La Mina was our 257th game, and it’s not often I get to say this, but this was the very best escape game we’ve played.
10/10, 5 Stars, 100%, A+ – This is a serious must play.
Ulysses Spaceship – Maximum Escape
This is one of the games I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since returning from Barcelona.
Ulysses takes place aboard a spaceship, and while the room is a little on the small side, it’s something you won’t notice thanks to the beautiful, immersive environment that’s been built for this game.
Unlike most spaceship themed games we’ve played, you do eventually leave the comfort of your craft, to explore an area that has been incredibly designed. The second half of this game had some of the most magical theming I’ve seen, and the puzzles were at the same quality, combining perfectly with your surroundings to throw you directly into your own Doctor Who meets War of the Worlds sci-fi blockbuster.
The ship’s on-board computer becomes a close friend throughout the game, and helps to deliver the storyline which you become well-invested in.
It’s not without negatives though – a couple of puzzles required a little bit too much accuracy and became sticking points, but wasn’t enough to deter us from making this a must-play game. It’s also very, very linear with a small amount of things to do at one time – as such, we wouldn’t recommend playing with any more than three players.
It’s the most movie-like game I’ve played, and goes straight to number three on my top ten.
Zombie Outbreak – Fear Escape Room
I’ll start this review by holding my hands up and admitting that thanks to my insistence, we played the “non-scary” version of this game. It was still a creepy setting with a couple of milder scary moments, but we were told some details about the proper scary version, and it sounds terrifying.
This is a brilliant, adrenaline filled experience, located rather deceivingly at the bottom of a block of flats, where you definitely couldn’t hide away a huge, zombie-infested laboratory… or so you think.
The game is set in a dark, creepy facility where investigations into the virus that has caused the zombie outbreak are taking place. The space was very roomy, and utilised well, with some really fun, properly in-theme, hands-on puzzles.
We really enjoyed this one, thanks to the fantastic in-character host, and the great setting and atmosphere. This is a great zombie game, and I can only imagine just how well-executed the scares are in the proper version.
Horror fans, you definitely don’t want to miss this one.
2. The Highly Recommended
Barum Dum – CinemaEscape
Barum Dum had one of the most fascinating sets I’ve seen. As with Zombie Outbreak, it was located on the ground floor of a block of flats, and the venue looks very ordinary. However, once you’re inside the game, you find yourself unlocking more and more large, excellently themed spaces – if someone told me the game took place over the length of a full sized football pitch, I could well believe them.
The game takes place in the Barum Dum mines, formerly home to a town of dwarves who had to abandon their space following battles against the orcs – it’s a very ‘Lord of the Rings’ esque story, although the set design often felt like a cross between a mine and an Aztec ruin.
The set designer has used concrete, rather than a cheap foam, to create a very real-feeling environment – the theming is some of the best we’ve seen.
Some of the puzzles were great, and we enjoyed some fun moments, but we felt a few things didn’t make sense, and we had did have a couple of small technical problems that did put a dampener on the experience. I also think we were at a slight disadvantage as a team of two – I’d definitely recommend 4+ players for this, as some of the puzzles need a lot of thought, and there’s a LOT to do.
Mision S.W.A.T. – Open Mind Room Escape
From the very second the door into reception opened, we were embroiled in the Mision S.W.A.T. experience, thanks to our in-character host thrusting us straight into action.
The game involves you breaking into the home of a suspected terrorist, to investigate and put a stop to his plots. One of the things we’ve noticed in Barcelona, is that a lot of the games feature some very hands-on, immersive actions, and this room is a prime example. We did things you just can’t imagine doing in an escape room, that really go towards making this a genuine experience.
The puzzles all made perfect sense, with some clever touches throughout, and the game had a decent flow, starting off linear but opening up as you enter the main part of the action.
There’s a lot to get through with a team of two, and we had an exhilarating finish with around ten seconds to spare.
A very fun game that perfectly combines action with a mental work-out.
3. More Great Options
Toys – Bizarre Escape Room
Toys begins with a nice preamble from the host, who drops you off outside the mysterious toy shop, building up the story with great character.
The toy shop itself was a large space in which we probably had some of the most fun we’ve had in an escape room for ages. The first 20-30 minutes of this game were filled with really fun games, ideas, and puzzles that all flowed perfectly in an open-play fashion.
This first half of the game is one of the best examples of leading you into a false sense of security I’ve seen. After really enjoying a chain of colourful, interactive puzzles, the game delivers a massive u-turn, throwing you into a completely different escape room experience, with a very different atmosphere.
The puzzles in the second half have a completely contrasting feel, whilst still being cleverly executed. Again, the linearity is mostly open, with moments you’ll be off doing something alone, before coming back together for some teamwork.
A proper game of two halves, both of which were a delight to play in their own ways.
Proyecto Target – Proyecto Target
Proyecto Target felt like one of the more traditional escape rooms we played in Barcelona, although it was at the higher end of “traditional”.
You’re briefed at the start of the process that you must get through the five numbered doors you encounter throughout the game, giving you a different experience of working with a sort of process indicator.
Behind each door is a completely different experience, somewhat delivering you with five mini escape rooms, and reminding us of the great Dreamscape over at Cryptology Nottingham.
Each room had a very different feel and style of play, and we enjoyed every single one, with the final space being a hectic, confusing, and flustered final few minutes on the clock.
There’s not much of a storyline in the room until the very end, but it was a proper story ending that we really appreciated.
Prisoners of Alkaban – Maximum Escape
Located at the same venue as the excellent Ulysses (see the first section), is the absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-Harry-Potter ‘Prisoners of Alkaban’.
The game begins with a daunting cuffing and hooding experience before you’re dumped in your prison cell, and from there is a magic-fuelled journey to escape. We’ve played many prison escape games and magic-themed rooms, but this is the first we’ve seen that combines the two.
The theming in this room is excellent, with some top effects and brilliant ideas. We enjoyed a lot of the puzzles, although one physical challenge really threw a spanner into the works thanks to my back playing up. It was handled well by the host though, who after five minutes of me moaning that I couldn’t do it, dealt us with a little “workaround”.
Overall, this is one of my favourite magic games we’ve played. The theming felt premium, and when placed in most British cities, this would probably be the number one game in the area. In the tough competition of Barcelona though, it’s just a good option for you to think about, rather than a must-do.
4. The Rest
Mision Gaudi – Lock Clock
A game that places local heritage right at the heart of its theme, Mision Gaudi celebrates the work of the one of the world’s most esteemed architects.
The hour takes place in Gaudi’s studio, a large space that has been well themed, and feels a little bit like a Gaudi museum.
The aim of the game is to salvage the blueprints of La Sagrada Familia from a fire, with the path to completing this one filled with puzzles that worked really well. I like a puzzle that has a few connecting layers to it, and the final piece of the game was one that required team work to glue together several answers.
It definitely falls into the more traditional escape room category, but is by no means a bad, or even average game.
Escape Houdini – Questeros
This is a game that’s difficult to summarise – it had moments that would push this room into my top ten, but also parts that would put it right at the bottom of the list.
Quite early on, we hit a large stumbling block in the game. It was the only thing we could do, and after following repeated instructions again and again, the solution was still not doable. It’s never a good sign when the prison bed in your cell ends up getting used, as you give up and lie down, awaiting the end of the hour. Thankfully, after 10-15 minutes of high frustration, we were instructed to close our eyes whilst the host came in to move us on.
The game got better though, with an absolutely genius moment of trickery. It’s one of the best ‘effects’ I’ve seen in an escape room – a real “wow” moment that allowed you to genuinely perform the magic you’d been instructed to.
The downside of this room is several moments that rely heavily on guesswork and skill, although some of the ideas were very clever. We ended up enjoying the experience, despite some low points, and if you have some spare time on a big escape room trip, it might be worth stopping off just to experience the WOW/WTF moment in the game.
So there you have it, all ten rooms we played!
If you’re looking for more information regarding escape rooms in Barcelona, I’d heavily recommend a read of Really Fun’s Barcelona guide – this was our bible when we were booking rooms.
It’s worth noting that all of the games we played were available in English. When booking rooms, check the website for any mention of language, and if you’re unsure, send a message or email to find out, just to be safe.
If you’re looking to get abroad and play some escape rooms somewhere, Barcelona should definitely be near the top of your list. We didn’t even play all of the best ones (mostly due to not having English versions, or not being suitable for two players), but still were absolutely blown away by the theming, puzzles, and immersive storylines we found while over there.