Andorra, we adore her…

Andorra has a population that doesn’t quite break 100000 people and makes the top 20 least populated states in the world. Andorra is also an unusual place because of its status as a principality with two co princes.  Whilst the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell make somewhat of an odd couple as the co prince heads of state, it does foster a sense of uniqueness that no other country can claim.  There are probably only 3 reasons to visit Andorra: skiing, tax evasion and duty free shopping.  The former and the later reasons make choosing a week in Andorra quite easy.

There now may well be another reason to visit.  Escape Rooms.  According to The online escape room directory there are 2 escape rooms in the capital city Andorra Le Vella.  I was fortunate enough to find a third.  Claustrophobia is a short walk from the city centre, opposite the hospital.  The Andorra franchise has been open since May 2016 and has just opened their second game.  The Claustrophobia is a Russian franchise model that has a huge inventory of games.  I had a suspicion that this game, like many Russian games, would be high-tech.  I was right.  Claustrophobia boasts 155 games in 11 countries and 33 cities.

The reception area was modern with a VR machine available if you arrived early.  I spied luxury chocolates and champagne by the main counter.  The games themselves are specialist builds within the complex.   Due to limited time, I only got to play An Avalanche of Oblivion, reasonably priced at 21 euros per person.  Their newer game, Cinema despair is cheaper at 15 euros and apparently a lot harder with no successful escapees thus far.

“You were travelling in the mountains of Andorra, when suddenly a snow storm hit you. Your chances for survival seemed slim, but suddenly you saw an abandoned hut in front of you. But as soon as the door closed behind you, avalanche descended, and the door was blocked with snow. You can’t wait the storm out in the hut, and there is not enough fuel in the generator, so it will only last for one hour. You have to repair an old radio and to call for rescue as soon as possible. But in some time you come to an awful understanding: there is something wrong with this house, and awful things are happening in it!”

So what about the game?  The photos in the promotional literature are real life photos of the build and believe me that doesn’t give anything away.  It was incredibly impressive.  When you first enter you will not only be impressed by the build but also by the immersive nature of the experience.  No spoilers though.  The puzzles are varied and make sense.  One of them has been overused and needs realigning but it did not take away from the experience.  One of the puzzles didn’t work correctly at the end which did spoil the finale a little bit but the overall experience was so high quality it didn’t matter too much.  After escaping with about 8 minutes to go… and no clock to let you know, we were very satisfied by the experience.  Afterwards we did start to ponder the story and the more we thought about it the less it made sense.

If story line is essential you will have serious questions about game but you absolutely won’t question the high production values.  This is not quite the holy grail of escape rooms I thought it might be but its is one of the best builds around.