I’ve never done an escape room before so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Described as crystal maze on crystal meth, there was a lot for it to live up to. Our team, Endless Nightmare, wanted to prove themselves, to Gabriel (our host), to ourselves, and to previous competitors, We don’t fail, we don’t like losing, we wanted the bragging rights, and we wanted that wine.
And so, 38 minutes later, we were done, Lady Chastity’s wine in hand, we exited in the room victorious. Yes, it was enjoyable, and we were pleased we had won, but this escape room esque game, for us, could do with being a bit more of a challenge.
Handmade Mysteries have created this escape room game – the aim being, to win the last bottle of Lady Chastity’s aphrodisiac wine. Walking in, the small, dark, gothic horror themed room, brought with it a great atmosphere. After quickly discovering the torches (as it was too dark to see) we set to work exploring and solving the first puzzle.
I would like to start by saying we did enjoy this experience; the group puzzle solving experience was fun – one person working on a clue while another was hunting out other things in the room. It has also made me keen to try out some other Escape Rooms. However, some of my reservations mentioned in my “upcoming shows” post(https://playhousepickings1.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/467/) did come to light – the main one being that it could’ve done with being slightly more on the frustrating and challenging side of things.
As we began, we made our first mistake, not quite understanding the riddle given. Gabriel, was there in a flash with a clue to what we were to do. Now, my friends – a group of extremely competitive, fairly hardcore geeks, (we regularly play board and puzzle games, watch sci fi and play DnD) – were looking forward to getting our puzzle solving fix, and therefore it felt that our host wasn’t quite giving us the space to figure things out for ourselves. We are competitive with each other and everyone around us. When, therefore, Gabriel quickly give us our this first clue when we didn’t instantly come to the right conclusion, we began to feel a bit cheated. The clue giving continued, sometimes when we had only just started the next task or had made one mistake and were readying ourselves for a rethink. The fact that my friends are the type of people they are perhaps, actually doesn’t matter – being given unprompted clues is frustrating to even the least experienced puzzle solving nerd.
To be honest, this is the only thing that spoilt the experienc. It took away the feeling of fear, panic or possibility of failure. Perhaps there could be a way of teams requesting clues or finding tokens in the room which can be exchanged for clues. I would’ve enjoyed it more if I could’ve won alone, not had the clues and come out, not only with the wine, but in the knowledge that no “helps” were necessary.
I don’t want to sound harsh as it was good and my friends had a good time, but having completed it in 38 minutes – which it would seem, based on the times posted on the website, is pretty fast, I think Gabriel could’ve read the room better and just let us do our thing for a bit longer; get us a bit more panicked and frustrated – perhaps even taunted us a bit when we were clearly getting it wrong. The cost of the game isn’t bad at all but for the time we got in there, and the relative lack of mystery solving skills we had to implore, it felt a bit pricey.
Much of that cost, however, I am sure went on the excellent set dressing. The room was well put together; small enough to give the feeing of entrapment but largw enough to move around and it not be too easy to find what we needed to get through each task, and interesting (and not always pertinent to the clue solving) nick nacks, pictures and furniture adorning the room creating an eerie atmosphere.
As I said, we did all have a good time, I would absolutely recommend this to colleagues and friends as a fun start to an evening out, and we are keen to do more of this type of activity, but hopefully next time with slightly fewer clues.
We haven’t dared drink the wine – not just yetanyway – the five of us didn’t know what effect the aphrodisiac wine might have or what the impact on our friendship might be if we found out….
*Correction -in my “upcoming shows” post, there was a slight inaccuracy – the host is not in the room with you. Gabriel, who lives with Lady Chastity, is in his room next door to be on hand if you’re struggling but Lady Chastity herself is only here in spirit and voice.
Running from now until 31st December
Venues – South London – The Four Thieves, East London – People’s Park Tavern, Brighton – Black Lion Pub