Paradox Project II – The Bookstore
Paradox Project II, also known as The Bookstore, kept this year its second position in the TERPECA awards and in spite of having played really good games since then, it remains my personal favorite.
What makes this room special you might ask? To start with, we are talking here about a 200 minutes experience. That alone makes it a unique game and contrary to some experiences out there, which might have long durations, we are talking here about an actual escape room. In spite of its length, the game flows perfectly, there is never a dull moment, and you have always the possibility to make a pause to recover strength.
The Bookstore is furthermore not an isolated game, it continues the narrative arc of Paradox Project I (aka The Mansion) and having played those games back-to-back, only made the overall experience better. Like in PPI, one of the strongest points of this room is the storytelling. When escape rooms were born the story was usually a mere excuse to be locked in a room. With the evolution of the industry this aspect became more and more important. Sometimes the story is conveyed through papers and letters found in the room. Unluckily, this results usually in only some players getting the full picture, if at all. In Paradox Project, the story is conveyed in an engaging audiovisual format, which overcomes said limitation. This format also acts as a guide trough the room and results in the same satisfaction you get when reading a book or watching a movie.
On top of that, the narrative is reflected in the different rooms, which results in an amazing set. I do not want to say much more here to avoid spoilers, but this connection between a complex narrative and the spaces is another aspect that makes this game unique.
Finally, this room has all the elements that make a fantastic room: great transitions, surprising moments and elaborate, clever puzzles which engage the different senses, and which are perfectly connected to the narrative.
My best advice would be not to let the hype ruin this game for you, go with an open mind, and enjoy this masterpiece.