The Escape Room (Preston): Taken

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Outside the room

After a break for lunch, we headed back to Escape Room Preston for a second game. If you’ve read the previous review, you’ll not be surprised to hear that we were only going back because we’d pre-booked tickets, but… we’d had a couple of hours to clear our heads and I was determined to go in with a positive attitude.

It certainly started better – our host this time was more confident and could actually maintain eye contact while giving us the backstory!

Background

Your boss’s daughter has been taken and the kidnappers have said that they’ll kill her unless they get a ransom. They’re checking on her every hour, so you’ve got sixty minutes to get in, find her and get out, or they’ll kill you both.

I find this sort of scenario interesting, because it’s doomed to failure from an immersive point of view – when we get to the end of the game, inevitably we won’t find a frightened child to rescue, so they’re almost guaranteeing that they’ll dispel the illusion. I guess I’ve turned into an escape room diva.

Inside the room

Light. Blessed light. This room was by no means bright, but it felt so much brighter than the other three rooms I’d played here, which meant I could actually see round the room. It’s a bit disappointing that the nature of the game means the set is meant to be a bit squalid – you’re breaking into the sort of place where kidnappers might keep a hostage so you can hardly expect it to look like a hotel room.

As with most of the rooms I’ve visited here, several of the props were broken and there were parts of the room that were quite tatty, to the point where it affected gameplay on a couple of occasions. The puzzles however were good. I really enjoyed several of them, and had to think long and hard to get past a couple – something that I’ve not experienced at other rooms here. The day was definitely improving.

One part of this game stood out for me – I can’t tell you about it, but apart from slight health and safety worries (you’ll be fine – just don’t do anything stupid!), it was just a wonderful physical element to the game that, when I first encountered it, I couldn’t quite fathom. Once I worked out what would happen, though, it was a tremendous epiphany. For an escape room company that I think generally do fairly simple rooms, that was the second time today that they’d truly impressed me, not with a puzzle but with a room mechanism.

It wasn’t all great though. There was one puzzle in the middle that we massively struggled to solve and eventually had to take a clue on. When we were given the clue, I mentally kicked myself, because it was a style of puzzle that I’ve seen before, and asked for a clue on before, but the reason I’d missed it was because of the poor condition of the props. To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure the clue for one of the numbers didn’t work properly – fortunately it was close enough to work out what needed to be done. As I said above – this happened twice in the game, and I’ve had the same problem with other games here. The quality of the props/clues can sometimes make the game more difficult than intended.

My other complaint was that this room backs on to the Laser Quest maze. When we were busy trying to solve the most difficult puzzle, they turned the dial on the music up to 11 and I really struggled to concentrate. It’s a relatively minor complaint, but it feels like they could do with fitting some soundproof padding to the wall.

Result

Seven minutes left and we walked out the door. Having been stuck on the middle puzzle for twenty minutes, that was quite a result, but I was left feeling a little disappointed because the game rushes through the last few parts, having kept most of its complexity for the opening scenes.

Amazingly, our host (different from the intro host and the clue giver!) was waiting for us outside the door to congratulate us on escaping and take us for the obligatory photo. I think it was the same person that hosted our Gallery escape and they showed that not all the customer service at Escape Room Preston is bad. I wish I’d thought to ask his name so that I could laud him here.

Verdict –

This was back to the usual standard of Escape Room games. Ignoring the puzzle in the middle with which we struggled, the rest were varied, crackable and good fun. There’s one novelty in this room which I thoroughly enjoyed and several puzzles which are reasonably advanced compared to their usual fare.

I find it difficult to recommend Escape Room Preston because their customer service has consistently let me down but, if you’re not put off by that, and you don’t mind a room that’s a bit tatty, then this is probably the room I’d recommend if you’ve got any escaping experience.

Detailed Room Ratings

Venue
Host
Wow! factor
Immersiveness
Difficulty

7 Comments


  1. // Reply

    Hi thankyou for coming to play, there was nothing broken in the rooms I can assure you, if they were then you wouldn’t have been in the room to play, we don’t put customers in the rooms when things are broken. Secondly the room is supposed to be shoddy, dark, gloomy lighting as its set in an abandoned warehouse. Thirdly I know what number you’re referring too and that issue has been resolved, we do apologise for that.


    1. // Reply

      Thanks for responding to my comments; It’s good to hear that you’re listening to your customers. I totally agree about the gloomy lighting and the shoddy nature, and I tried to make it clear in the review that those were acceptable.

      I disagree about the room not being broken though. I don’t want to spoil the room but off the top of my head… Both suitcases were trashed, the hand had fallen off of the girl we were supposedly rescuing (although, maybe that’s deliberate) and the photos were mostly ripped.


  2. // Reply

    Also again the team had been replaced, and if you read our trip advisor reviews and Facebook reviews they will tell you that our staff are very friendly, however if on the day you received bad customer service I do apologise on their behalf and can assure you the toilets have been fixed. In fact a lot of money was spent on building brand new toilets.


    1. // Reply

      All I can talk about is what I saw on the day. I’m glad you’ve now got working toilets, truly I am, but you didn’t on the day, and you pretty much didn’t when I went two months ago. I deemed that unacceptable in a large escape venue and worthy of mention.

      Customer service wise: I suspect it’s a case of the staff are friendly but don’t know how to handle problems. When things go well they’re probably a lot of fun. When things go badly they seem to struggle. Good staff can read the customer and say the right things (for example “I’m terribly sorry about the state of the toilets, we’re in the middle of refurbishing them, but it’s taken us far longer than expected”, “I’m sorry you felt the room was too dark – we’re trying very hard to set the Vampire experience and we’ve had great feedback from lots of customers about it. We’ll definitely consider your feedback alongside that though – we’re always looking about getting the right balance with that sort of thing”).

      And, as I pointed out, at least one member of staff did seem to know how to handle grumpy customers.


  3. // Reply

    I have to disagree in regards to the suitcases, they are supposed to be trashed on purpose, the kidnappers have trashed her belongings and scattered them everywhere, by having brand new suitcases it wouldn’t fit the theme of the maze.
    The toilets have been getting fixed and broken a number of times, they were completely revamped with a lot of money going into them, toilets break all the time in every Buisness however the right thing to do is to pump money in that direction and fix the problem which we have done


  4. // Reply

    All new SOPs have been created for the staff so I can assure you the bad customer service you received will NEVER happen again, we take this matter very seriously, a zero tolerance policy upon bad customer service. However again the right thing to do is to get new staff! New SOPs and a refresher course in training has been initiated. So that problem has been solved


  5. // Reply

    To be fair to Escape Room Preston the staff were all friendly and helpful. When we realised what we had to do with that mechanism that you’re referring to it was a plus as it was unique (much like the Vampire Room). We are a bit clumsy in rooms at times so we had to take care at this point.
    I believe we had the record on this room with no hints.

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