Outside the room
It’s not easy to get me across the Dartford crossing but, with another spare day, we’d decided to head out and sample the delights of Canterbury and Margate. First up on the list was Canterbury Escape Room, a game set back in the 15th century and leaning on Canterbury’s rich history.
The website had very little detail about the game – just the time period and the fact that it was an escape-from-jail story – but we’d heard great things from friends who’d visited, and any game that immerses itself in the history of the town where it’s located is going to get my attention.
The game itself is located above Dodgems and Floss – the marketing/media company behind the idea, so there’s a nice waiting area and facilities if you turn up early.
You and your teammates are transported back to medieval Canterbury, a time when the pettiest of crimes were met with the harshest of punishments. Locked in jail, there is just an hour left before heads will roll. You must escape to survive.
Inside the room
OK. I wasn’t expecting that start for a game in Canterbury. I mean, it fits with the story, but I’d have thought the demographic in a tourist town like this would have been variable enough that they’d have gone down a different route. It’s worth noting that the website says the game isn’t suitable for people with limited mobility, so bear that in mind before playing. As they say in the introduction and on the website, you will be crawling during this game.
It worked, though. While not adding anything amazingly strenuous to proceedings, the choices they made gave the sensation that we really were trying to escape from a jail. This isn’t a game where the story is front and central. You know everything you need to know before entering the room, and thereafter it’s more about the mission – slowly making progress towards your final goal. That sense of exploration and the immersion within the game were solid and enhanced the experience.
The immersion did have moments where it broke down a little. One particular puzzle involved very modern-looking props and, if I’m going to be really picky, the number of books we saw didn’t really fit with a 15th century backdrop. Overall, though, they’d done a decent job and the touch of having straw throughout the room, while annoying for allergy sufferers, worked well. It did bite us at one point, however, where I chose not to perform a thorough enough search… Learn from my mistake: take your hay fever tablets in advance!
Other than the sense of exploration, the big strong point of this game were the puzzles. These aren’t the most complex I’ve come across, but there were a decent number and they were, without exception, logical. There were a few physically interactive puzzles (although not what I’d call skill-based challenges), one which required decent communication, and then a variety of fairly standard observation puzzles. I never felt disappointed by any of them, which is a good sign. Oh – and being tall may help you at a couple of points in the room, in case that influences who you invite…
There’s an enjoyable finale to the room where they add a little drama to proceedings and, well… all I’m going to say is that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Or should that be till the bell tolls?
We escaped in 38 minutes having taken a single clue on the search fail. Clues could be given over the screen or via cards deposited in your cell.
This was a really enjoyable game which would be great for both enthusiasts and beginners. It’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s the perfect level for an enthusiast couple. For experienced players, I’d recommend no more than three people, while beginners will find that the sense of exploration gives them enough enjoyment even if they bring along the full team of five.
Detailed Room Ratings