Outside the room
One of the joys of getting out of London to play escape rooms is that they’re not always in dark back-street basements. That’s exactly the case at ClueCapers as we headed into the pretty centre of the city and upstairs to a bright waiting area where we were greeted by the owner. Slightly worryingly, it became apparent that they’d been working flat out to get the game ready for our arrival. How much testing had been done on any elements that they’d been finessing? Would there be last-minute technical issues? Would they have reset the room properly? Only time would tell.
Our brilliant Professor Buff needs your help again, but this time it’s not entirely his fault. A power cut at our end caused one of the portals to fail with him trapped on the other side. We’ve managed to get it working again but, unfortunately, we’ve not been able to find our dear professor.
What we know so far is that through the portal is a new world. When Buff went through, he ended up trapped inside what we think is a prison, which is making things rather more complicated. Are you brave enough to enter this world and find a way to bring him back?
Inside the room
Right from the start it was clear that this room was different. The layout was unusual, the puzzle elements on display were very original and I was immediately drawn in. That originality meant that, as an enthusiast, I didn’t have the usual advantage in the room. I’ve played a lot of puzzles in a lot of rooms and, while designers keep on coming up with new ones and new variations on existing ones, you certainly do get some advantages from the patterns you’ve already seen. This game felt different.
The puzzles weren’t just original in their solutions: there was also something delightfully humorous in the way they were presented. I couldn’t help but imagine that the designer must have spent a large part of their time creating this game with a cheeky grin on their face as they imagined what the players would get up to. It’s not often that you get genuine silliness in a game, but that’s exactly what this room delivered. That could have been annoying in some venues, but this isn’t a game or venue that takes itself too seriously, and it fitted in nicely.
Throughout the game, we encountered good puzzles with satisfying solutions, and only once did I feel shortchanged. Near the end of the game, in fact pretty much the “finale” puzzle, we hit what I think was their biggest flaw. They admitted after the game that they’d already been working to improve on it, but it felt like, in terms of quality, it was a significant step down from the rest of the experience – unfortunate given it’s such a central part of the game. Having said that, it was still early days for the room and they recognised its weaknesses, so hopefully they’ll manage to fix it up before too long.
While the space you occupy isn’t very big (I think it would feel cramped at times with five people), it’s been lovingly constructed and was enjoyable from a visual point of view. There were a few rough edges but, again, I think that’s because they were just finishing the game off when we played. It gave the impression of being low tech – it certainly didn’t ooze technology on the face of it, but looking back I realised that was because the technology had been well used to provide enjoyable moments and not just gratuitously and overtly placed in the room. In fact, there were quite a few places where they’d incorporated technology, and the fact that it didn’t stand out is a very good sign indeed.
We escaped in around 40 minutes having been given six or seven clues, I think. At the beginning of the game it felt like the clues were coming a bit too frequently, but they settled down quickly. It’s always hard to judge those first few minutes – too few clues and the whole game becomes a mad rush, too many and you escape too early.
This game wasn’t quite the finished article – there were weaknesses in it that I expect will already have been fixed. I think the owner nailed it when she said that they were “still getting to know the room”. I think that’s a beautiful description of the process that designers need to go through from the point that they’ve built and done their initial beta tests to the point where the game is firmly established and stable. The fact that they recognised that period speaks volumes about the minds behind the game.
“Not quite the finished article” but still thoroughly enjoyable. Visually it was good, the puzzles were strong and original, and the sense of humour throughout the game was a refreshing change. Both new and experienced players will have fun here, but for experienced players I think it’s worth a detour to see something that’s a bit different from your average room. As mentioned above, it’s a little cosy for five, so I’d recommend three to four players.
Detailed Room Ratings
Full disclosure: We weren’t charged for these tickets. That doesn’t influence the review – you can read more on the About page.