Room Lockdown (Essex): Room Lockdown

Outside the room

Room Lockdown has been on my radar for a while, but its location in the suburbs of London meant I’d kept putting it off. It’s about an hour’s drive away, but you can never be confident with rush hour traffic, and public transport would be even more painful.

The venue is located just on the main road, with allocated parking – not a huge amount, though, so, with potentially four teams playing simultaneously and both incoming and outgoing teams, there’s a good chance all the spaces will be taken at peak periods.

The waiting area is pretty small for so many rooms, but during our evening there we never saw another team in spite of the games looking booked up, so they obviously manage the timings and transitions well.

Background

December 1880, a young girl named Margaret is left on the door step of an orphanage,in her arms a doll, the only possession apart from her clothes. Mistreated from the beginning by the head nun and all the other children for not being able to talk, her anger was released by taking the other girls dolls and destroying them one by one.

When the Nun found out on the eve of Christmas, she was shouted at and humiliated in front of all the other children. Margaret’s rage led her to carry out a terrible act – she started a fire in the building. The fire spiralled out of control. A terrified Margaret headed to the basement to hide with her doll.

Many years later a house was built on the land where the orphanage once stood and a family moved in. The perfect family it would seem. However Victoria and her twin brother William were treated very different by their parents. William was their blue eyed boy, he could do no wrong in their eyes and was spoilt rotten, while Victoria seemed to be forgotten about. Years and years of being pushed to the side in favour of her twin brother, Victoria took some advice by her one and only friend. The doll she had named Margaret told her the only way to change things and put a stop to the unfair treatment was to burn her house down to the ground with everybody still inside! Can you make it out before Victoria and her possessed doll burn you alive?

Inside the room

For a game that had one of the most involved descriptions that I’ve encountered on a website (the text above is just an excerpt!), the interior was lacking. As we walked into the game, I was disappointed to see numbers written on the wall in marker pen, black sheeting covering what I’d later find was basically a plywood wall, and a standard office roof.

The video introduction was better and, like the description on the website, gave an interesting backstory for the room. That story wasn’t particularly expanded upon, but we did at least get a few snippets that made the main character a little more three-dimensional and reinforced the story.

The puzzles were some of the most standard fare you’ll find in escape rooms – almost entirely based on pulling numbers out of the game for the locks that were available. Very little required any cleverness – just a case of spotting all the information. Searching properly was probably the hardest thing you had to do in the room.

Where this (and the other games here) were at their best was the sense of exploration. Rarely was there a simple transition between two spaces – you almost always had an interesting way of proceeding in the game, and each one was different from the last.

The finale turned into a damp squib. It felt like there should have been another puzzle at the end but, instead, we found we’d unexpectedly finished the room.

Result

We escaped with around 12 minutes left on the clock, having taken our three allocated clues. None of the clues were strictly necessary, but I do think most teams will struggle to escape without using at least a couple.

Verdict –
 

I didn’t really enjoy this room. The decoration was very rough and ready, the puzzles felt utterly basic, and I never got into any flow. There were moments that were much better – the intro and the exploration, for example – but nowhere near enough to make up for the rest.

If you ignore this review and still want to play, then I think three or four people is probably about right. You need multiple minds to maximise your chance of solving the puzzles, but there’s not much to do, so you don’t want to take too many.

Detailed Room Ratings

Venue
Host
Wow! factor
Immersiveness
Difficulty

1 Comment


  1. // Reply

    I played the Room Lockdown games yesterday, and I’m reading your reviews immediately after writing mine; there are some interesting differences. I thought the decor for Possessed Doll was arguably the best of the four games, and I think they must have upgraded it since you played – for example, the black sheeting has been replaced by quite high quality curtains (though still covering a plywood wall). Given their system of regularly replacing all the puzzle content every couple of months, we probably got completely different versions of the rooms – it’d be interesting to compare notes some time.

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