Escaping Belgium – Le Prince – Escape Room Belgium
Retie (Belgium) / 2 – 6 players / Price: 25 – 45 euros per person / Rating: 9.3
Location: Kasteelstraat 67, Retie
Team size: 2
Le Prince by Escaping Belgium appeared among the 50 best Escape Rooms in the world in 2021, and it turns out once again that this list has a surprise or two in store. The list features classic escape room concepts alongside immersive adventures, so players can never be sure what experience awaits them in the end. Read about what Le Prince is all about here.
Escape room provider Escaping Belgium is located in the small Belgian town of Retie. Here they have rented a kind of vacation apartment in the basement of the reception building. As soon as we entered the basement, we found ourselves in a spacious and comfortably furnished reception area that stood out positively from the rest of the building. Of course, lockers are available and drinks can also be purchased.
Escaping Belgium offers another Escape Room called Erzsébet in addition to the “newer” Le Prince room. Both rooms have in common that Le Prince and Erzsébet are historical figures. Both rooms are playable in Dutch and English. There is also an outdoor mission.
We were warmly welcomed by one of the three operators of Escape Belgium. Even before we entered the room, we philosophized a bit about Escape Rooms and expectation management. In connection with expectation management, he also made it clear at the same time what the focus of Escape Belgium is: the puzzles. These are too often forgotten nowadays and sacrificed to immersive experiences. After all, they are still Escape Rooms.
We were excited and allowed to enter the room at the same time. But first, we had to be introduced to the actual story of Le Prince. Here we were shown probably one of the most elaborate intro videos we’ve seen so far. This video whetted our appetites for the room and got us in the right mood.
Louis Le Prince was a French inventor who is considered one of the pioneers of film. Many film historians consider him the father of film. Le Prince spent his childhood in the photography studio of his father’s friend, Louis Daguerre. Here he learned the mechanical and chemical processes of photography. However, Le Prince wanted to capture not only a single image in a photograph, but also to find a way to capture moving images. Initially, he developed a camera with 16 lenses, each of which captured one image in succession, resulting in a 16-frame film. After many improvements and advancements to this device, he was the first to develop a camera with a single lens. He had to apply for a patent in New York for this particular invention. However, he had to hurry, because for several weeks he had the feeling of being followed, as if someone was watching him all the time…. Le Prince decides to hurry and get to the station as soon as possible. When he arrives at the platform, he realizes that he brought his prototype but forgot his plans. He is afraid to go to the workshop, so he turns to the only person who can help him: You! He asks you to go to his workshop unnoticed, find his plans and bring them to him before the train leaves.
After the door opened, we could finally dive into the world of Le Prince. The room was designed with great attention to detail. Le Prince’s office is full of small elements that you can’t get enough of. Every nook and cranny, and even the smallest corner of the room, is designed according to the time and completely in theme. Even if you wouldn’t expect it given the theme, there’s also a little special effect or two that makes the room even more lively. Above all, the coordinated sound and light scenery also contributes to this unique atmosphere. Even though the puzzles are in the foreground, the actual story is not neglected. We have rarely experienced an Escape Room that is staged as coherently as Le Prince. The atmosphere creates a good tension curve with a successful increase towards the end of the room.
The love with which the room was implemented is also reflected 1:1 in the actual puzzles. Yes, Le Prince is a rather classic escape room with a linear puzzle flow. And yes, there are puzzles to solve, which may seem a bit cheesy the one or other time. But rarely have we seen puzzles of this kind so perfectly staged and integrated into the given setting of an Escape Room as in Le Prince. Classic locks are completely dispensed with. The interpretation of the familiar puzzles blended wonderfully into the atmosphere of the room. The puzzle guidance is more than successful due to the subtle use of light. The puzzles in Le Prince are varied, cognitive and tactile at the same time, and require cooperative skill.
Our gamemaster knew where we were and how we were moving in time at all times. We received the clues in written form via a certain object in the room, which hid well that it was a display. The clues were sometimes a bit too direct, but of course that could be because we are bilingual.
Le Prince is like a successful re-mix that revamps a beloved classic. Or a more classic Escape Room that, despite the type and number of puzzles, has managed a perfect balancing act between these and a truly believable setting and staging of the story.
In Le Prince, you can feel the attention to detail, the passion for good puzzles and, above all, the enthusiasm for the Escape Room theme. Most importantly, Escaping Belgium proves with Le Prince that in a scene where enthusiasts are primarily looking for the next thrill or immersive horror adventure with actors, the classic Escape Room still has its place. Provided, like Le Prince, they are staged with the right balance of puzzles and world building.
At 90 minutes, the room is challenging, especially for two players. But doable. The optimal team size here would probably be three to four players looking for rooms with successful puzzles and settings.