A villager by day, and a monster that attacks people by night. A werewolf. In order to minimize the damage, the village took many countermeasures. Outing restrictions. Villagers surveilling each other. Village lockdown. One night, the terrifying howl of a werewolf echoed throughout the village. In the morning, a body covered in blood was discovered.
Completion Time: ~120 minutes
Date Played: 1st November 2020
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Accessible to everyone (except young children). In particular Murder Mystery Fans and Board Game Fans
A really, really outstanding escape room experience like this doesn’t come along often. In fact, I’m struggling to remember one I enjoyed more than this?! So there, I’ll say it: The Strange Village is in my opinion, FLAWLESS. I absolutely, unequivocally LOVED IT.
Not only did it combine a lot of elements I particularly enjoy in a good experience (spooky vibes, werewolves, murder mysteries, board game style mechanics, accessible puzzles, yes even small rural Japanese villages…), but the game was supported by such a strong plot, a unique yet easy to understand mechanic and also excellent acting. My only regret is not playing this game sooner! It’s absolutely PERFECT for these stormy dark nights we’ve been having lately.
So how does it work? Well, the game unfolds over five days and five nights in a village with 10 residents – a colourful cast including a baker, the mayor, a nun and a mystical seer). Hidden among them is a werewolf! Dead set on destroying the village, but nobody is quite sure exactly who the werewolf is.
It’s a combination of the classic game “Werewolf” (or Mafia, depending on the version you played) and a live murder mystery experience with actors free to lie and scheme their way through the narrative. Despite having the ‘atmosphere’ is a live game, the whole thing is actually pre-recorded. You can go at your own pace and tackle each day and night cycle as and when it suits you best.
Unlike other pre-recorded games, The Strange Village is far from static. I can’t completely guess at the technology but it felt in part like a “choose your own adventure”. You occasionally reach choices and must make decisions that affect the game. The characters react in almost-real time to what you do and, for the most part, they make you feel like a true and genuine villager in the town, welcome at the village meetings.
“So how is this game an escape room?” I hear you ask. Good question! It’s honestly a bit of everything but at the very core is a puzzle solving mechanic. Not only must you figure out who the werewolf is, but you’re also trying to crack a centuries old code to find the elixir to cure the werewolf.
I played with a beginner player and whilst the puzzles were possibly on the easier side, we both found them very accessible! There’s a mix of number and cipher puzzles, a couple relating to colours, and quite a few that involve retracing your steps for a small detail you likely missed the first time around! It’s a good job I made meticulous notes … Haha!
Without wanting to give too much of the game away, I’m doing to leave you with a top tip!
Top tip if you’re playing this one at home. It contains around an hour’s worth of video footage. I highly recommend cracking out a HDMI cable and hooking this up to your TV for the best, most immersive experience.
This one I DEFINITELY recommend for a night in when you have 2+ hours to spare. Light some candles, make sure you have snacks handy, and bonus points if it’s near Halloween and you’re feeling a bit spooky!
Escape from the Lockdown – The Strange Village can be booked online for 2800 Japanese Yen (around £20 GBP) on their website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.