Tucked down in Shepherd’s Bush, Adventox is a venue that rarely gets talked about amongst enthusiasts. Their first two games were reasonable but not amazing. They’re the sort of game that enthusiasts will eventually play in London but which passing visitors are unlikely to make a beeline for. With their third experience, they’ve changed directions from a theming point of view and created a scary experience. Would that be the trick to elevate them?
I’ve always found the entrance to this venue a little strange. The GMs look out on to the shopping centre and, while I understand how that probably drives more business into the shop, I can’t help but feel they’re not as focused on the players as they might otherwise have been. Not an issue on our visits, but something which other teams might struggle with. That’s not changed since our previous visit, but what has changed is the waiting area. Presumably to make way for the latest game, they’ve shrunk down the front of house to a relatively small space. If you’re coming as a group, be warned that it isn’t quite the cosy environment that it used to be.
Inside the room
First impressions in the room weren’t great but, fortunately, it turned out that was because the game proper starts a few more feet beyond the door and the first few steps take place in a plain, dark environment. That seems a weird choice because it means they’ve wasted some of the potential game area, but what it does point towards is their desire to make you explore during the game. There’s a constant sense of discovery, with you rarely staying in one space for very long before heading onwards. That, combined with London rental prices, means that each space in which you do spend time isn’t particularly large. With our team of three it was fine but, with a full complement of players, I think this room would get crowded.
I was impressed by the decoration, which felt like a step up from their previous two games. There were definitely moments where it felt a little superficial – one great example being where they’d used a silver pen to make a mark on a wall rather than 3D printing or laser-cutting something of the same shape. That said, there were many more moments where they’d pushed things to a much more interesting level. While the game has a spooky vibe, this certainly isn’t a gruesome experience, and we probably laughed more at the scares than found them frightening or even jumpy. That said, there was one scare thing that I still couldn’t help but react to (as my team mates will testify!) so, if you really can’t cope with jump scares at all, you should probably avoid this game, or at least call them in advance.
From a puzzle perspective, everything made sense – if anything, a little too much sense. We rarely got held up and pretty much always understood what we were meant to do next. I guess that was in part a corollary of the small spaces – it was hard to fit a lot of puzzles into each space and so, when we found a prop, we knew we were meant to use it pretty quickly. There was one physical puzzle that we (well, I really) overcomplicated, which slowed us down, and then another where we misinterpreted a clue for a while. Other than that, we just bounced from puzzle to puzzle, never rushing, usually working together rather than splitting up, and yet we still made it to the end in under half the time.
The end of the game was the strongest part of the experience for me. It’s a well presented space with good effects and decent puzzles. Even better, the final act in the room made sense in the story, which rarely felt true for the rest of the experience. The only downside was that, while there was a change in the audio that suggested we’d finished, without a clock or the exit door springing open, we were left a little uncertain for a few seconds before we checked the door. Nothing that significantly affected the game, but it just took the edge off the final flourish.
Of the three games at Adventox, this is my favourite. There’s a pretty set, a vague story that occasionally makes an appearance, enjoyable and logical puzzles, albeit without significant challenge, and a general flow that kept us entertained. That quick finish of only 28 minutes is my worry, but I’m hopeful that most teams won’t go quite that fast.
We played as a three, and that was definitely the maximum I’d take along as an enthusiast unless you struggle in scary rooms. It’s a good choice for a bigger team of beginners if the theme’s of interest.
We ate in the Defector’s Weld, a craft beer pub five minutes’ walk from the venue. I’m told the beer selection is excellent, and I can testify that the food is good but not amazing. Top tip: there’s an upstairs which most people don’t know about so, if you can’t find a table, head to the secret stairwell that you can enter through a door at the back of the bar.