Outside the room
Those of you who’ve been following along on Twitter will know that I had a long list of games booked over Christmas and into the New Year, but despite what you might be thinking, Golden Cage at gamEscape wasn’t one of them. We were only up in the North West for a few days, and it was Christmas, so I’d “only” booked four rooms.
Then, yesterday (23rd December), Mrs Logic mentioned that she quite fancied an escape room before Christmas, and almost in parallel exitgames released a Dealwatch post that included a 2 for £15 Groupon offer. There’s only so much restraint I could show, so I dived online, saw a convenient slot available and immediately signed up. It turns out that booking a slot via Groupon at 10pm with less than 24 hours’ notice was a little trickier than I’d hoped, but an email and phone call first thing the next morning sorted it out. Game on!
We’ve had a couple of expensive parking experiences in local escape rooms, but the advantage of this being a little further from the city centre is that there are nearby parking options for £3-4, and even better, two hours of free parking a couple of streets away. When you’re nursing an escape habit like mine, every penny counts!
When I’d looked at the venue from the website, I hadn’t been amazingly inspired, but inside it’s a perfectly nice place – in addition to the two games, there’s a good sized reception area (although no seating) and a bathroom. The place was decorated for Christmas, and pleasingly they’d even kept to the red, black and white of the brand. First impressions were good!
You’ve been thrown back three hundred years where an evil Wizard has locked you in his rooms. You’ve got sixty minutes to escape the room back to the present day, or be trapped there forever.
Inside the room
Walking into the room, I felt a slight pang of disappointment. You could have a lot of fun decorating a wizard’s room, but this room felt very bare, and with little in the way of wizarding paraphernalia. The flip side was that it wasn’t a frustrating room to search. Later in the game there were a couple of occasions where we knew we’d missed an item, but, unusually, that didn’t fill us with dread, because we could easily go back and re-search the whole room.
That’s not to say this isn’t a room for searchers. If you’ve got anyone of that persuasion in your group, I think they’ll have a lot of fun – the room continued to surprise me with good hides throughout and a couple which genuinely made me smile.
The puzzles were OK, although several felt a little lacklustre. It’s hard to explain exactly how without giving details, but for example, one was so worn that it was difficult to read the markings, with a consequential lack of confidence in our answers, one was too simple – just joining random pieces of information to get a code – and a couple had what I think were unintentional red herrings. One in particular hinted that it required a piece of knowledge that wasn’t present in the room (much to my frustration, having looked hard for it!). I think in the end that piece of knowledge wasn’t actually necessary, but one of the hints pointed at it being critical – if they’d removed the hint (or changed it to be less misleading), they could have prevented a lot of frustration.
Sadly, the biggest failure in this room was with the endgame. Firstly, the puzzle you have to solve felt like it should have been described as part of the original story, otherwise it didn’t make sense why it would allow you to escape the wizard’s study. It also made use of two items that weren’t appropriate for the 300 year old time period. The thing is, those weren’t even the issue. The failure here was that the puzzle didn’t have a precise answer. We came up with an answer, which turned out to be wrong and then tried the numbers either side (as suggested by the instructions). Those didn’t work either, so we tried again, this time coming up with a slightly different number. Again, it didn’t work, so we tried the adjacent numbers and finally escaped. Luck of the draw I guess – I suspect we were very unlucky/careless, but the instructions suggest that there’s a more general problem here. All puzzles should have a clear unambiguous answer.
First impressions last, but so do last impressions, and this left a bitter after taste on what was generally a good room. I’ve seen at least one neat solution to this problem in the past, and I’d really like to see them do something to improve things here.
We escaped with eight minutes remaining after getting three clues. I’d say two were partial failings in the room, while the third (a double clue) was a total failure on our part. A good ten minutes off the leaderboard, but most of that was spent banging our head against a brick wall trying to solve one particular puzzle, so I was happy enough with our time.
No doubt at all that, with the Groupon offer, this was great value for money. Even at the full price of £30 for two, I’d still say it was good value. It’s a fixed price per person though, so not such great value at full occupancy – I’d suggest sticking to four people max.
Bottom line though, this is a solid room. If you don’t mind a couple of the puzzles not flowing as smoothly as they could, and the final puzzle potentially being quite frustrating, then I’d recommend. Also – if you’re looking for a room that would be suitable for tweenagers, then I think this fits the bill.
Detailed Room Ratings