You are Da Vinci’s most promising apprentice. Your master, Leonardo, has disappeared. You have no idea where he’s gone or what has happened. So you begin your quest, your search for the truth. However, Leonardo’s workshop is full of puzzles, inventions, escape mechanisms and objects hidden in all corners of beautifully decorated rooms. You’ll need to use all of your brain cells to find out what’s really going on!
Time Played: 7+ Hours
Console: PC / Nintendo Switch / Mobile
Recommended For: Folks looking for a good challenge, history boffins, appreciators of good games.
The House of Da Vinci by Blue Brain Games was the first game I picked to play as part of my Stream the Escape series over on Twitch… And OF COURSE I forgot to actually hit “record”, so it’ll forever go down in history as my “secret lost stream” that only the 30 or so folks who watched it will remember. Except of course for a 30 second clip the fabulous Armchair Escapist accidentally recorded for me!
Lost but not forgotten – that’s what this article is for. A space to reflect on how I found the game, who I recommend it for, and some (maybe) helpful tips for folks playing it.
The House of Da Vinci takes between 5 – 10 hours to complete – maybe a little more, or less, I’m not shaming anyone for taking longer to explore the beautiful environments here. I may have left the game running on my computer, but I’ve currently clocked in 7 hours and being the completionist I am there’s still so much left to explore I reckon I’ll still be at it a fair few more.
So the story goes, you are Leonardo Da Vinci’s apprentice and the great man himself has gone MISSING. Thankfully, not before leaving you behind a series of clues. Clues on how to enter his secret workshop, clues on what the odd assortment of machines are, clues about your pretty cool magic abilities… So it’s up to you to do your best, track Leo down, and hopefully save him! But that’s not all! At every step of the way you spot someone (or something) shadowy on your trail. You’re being watched, and it doesn’t look good for you!
I kinda quietly kept shouting in my head “close the door behind you!” every time I moved from one area to the other. It’s not a horror game AT ALL, but there’s something really creepy about being followed by someone who is catching up with you.
The puzzles start easy enough with a leisurely pace through the first third. For sure, I tripped up a couple of times and used one or two hints I probably didn’t need to early on. Clocking the end of my stream at 1hr30 I’d almost completed the second ‘room’ of the game. Respectable enough!
Helping you out you first have the use of the Oculi Infinitum, allowing you to see things with xray vision – perfect for looking behind curious mechanical contraptions to see just how the dials are turning as you interact with them. Later, you can update this Oculi to add new powers, such as the ability to rewind time.
The longer you play, the more difficult and complex the game becomes. Bordering on the “throw my laptop out the window” level at some parts, yes… But who doesn’t love a good puzzle and the “aha!” moment it brings when you finally do solve it? In all cases however, if you’ve tried everything you can think of and turned your Oculi on and off so many times you’re fingers start to feel sore, you can get a “Hint”. When the game sees you stalling too long on one particular puzzle you’ll hear a little ringing noise and a hint will be offered in the top left of your screen.
From around Room Three onwards there was definitely exponential curve upwards as to how many hints I asked for and received. If you’re new to The Escape Roomer though, I’ll always say there’s zero shame in asking for a hint. No use frustrating yourself when you can get a helpful nudge in the right direction!
One of the really nice things about The House of Da Vinci was how history was woven in at every stage. There are some very fun nods towards the actual works of the inventor, with a really impressive ‘achievement’ system that lets you collect his inventions and review them in a special courtyard from the main menu. Very cool! I’ve kinda always wanted to see his flying machine up close.
Probably the only thing I didn’t love were the controls. They’re a little tricky in parts, but I reckon that’s either the game trying to simulate the weight of an object or handle by making it near-impossible to move. That or the difficulty with porting controls across multiple platforms – you can play The House of Da Vinci in almost all consoles, and mobile devices too.
But overall, I feel proud to have played the game, solved the puzzles, and ‘saved the day’ so to speak. The game perfectly sets up for the sequel and I can’t wait to get my hands on it and give it a go.
Until next time, please consider checking out The Escape Roomer Twitch channel, where I stream an escape room game every Thursday at 7pm GMT.
You can purchase the House of Da Vinci for ~£18 on PC, Switch or Mobile. Support the creators, Blue Brain Games 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.