Outside the room
Situated just inside Loughborough’s town centre, Break Escape launched The Sands of Time in early 2017 and have since added a second game to the collection so we’d headed along to play both games. The venue’s marked pretty accurately on Google Maps, so it didn’t take too long to find, but keep your eyes peeled because it’s down a side passage and would be easy to miss. Still, finding it seemed to be easier than finding a convenient parking place…
Inside, there’s a comfortable waiting area where we spent some time chatting to the owners before heading to the room. They gave a good introduction which aided the transition by providing a bit of the background to the story and reasons for why we were entering the game. I particularly liked that they gave us some equipment to kick the experience off and give us that explorer feeling.
Do you have what it takes to get past Dr Nubis and his array of puzzles?
Inside the room
This isn’t the sort of high budget game that’s kitted out with fake stone on the inside walls. They’ve taken a normal building and given it an Egyptian feel as best they could on what I’m guessing was a limited budget. Yes, it could have been more impressive, but they’ve done a good job with what they had and, with the addition of a couple of standout props, it carried the theme well enough for their purposes. It may not have been deliberate, but I particularly enjoyed how they had laid out some of the puzzles in a pyramid shape – a nice symbolic reference to the Egyptian theme.
There weren’t a huge number of puzzles in the game, but the ones they had were well designed and big enough to keep us fairly occupied. A few of them were multi-stage puzzles, which I always feel makes a game more enjoyable, and one in particular was quite a simple combination of multiple physical puzzles that worked surprisingly well. There’s a fair amount of searching in the room, but it’s for reasonably chunky items, so it felt fair – some people may find one of the hides a little painful, but overall I don’t think you’ll have any complaints.
One particular puzzle caught my attention by mixing a physical element to what was otherwise a purely mental puzzle. There was absolutely no requirement to do so – they could have created the exact same puzzle without it – but it made the experience that much better. Obviously, any Egyptian game wouldn’t be complete without some sort of hieroglyphs, and this is no exception, but they’ve found an interesting twist on them that takes what might otherwise have been another handle-turning exercise to further engage players in the experience.
The open nature of the puzzle paths meant that bottlenecking was rare, although there was a slightly longer than ideal linear path at the end. That was particularly frustrating, because it was hard to access the puzzles and so easy to feel left out. Personally, I felt a little like I didn’t see the endgame here, which was a shame. Having said that, there are a couple of other parts of this game where one person gets to do something special, so you should all get a chance to be the centre of the experience at some point.
As hinted at above, the finale was slightly too crowded, but they’d engineered an enjoyable ending to the game where the physical experience and the puzzles really added to the sense of this being an escape from the tomb.
We escaped the room in 41 minutes with a single clue. Clues are dished out without breaking the Egyptian theme by calling base camp via the walkie-talkie.
This wasn’t the kind of high-end decoration that you’ll find in big budget escape rooms, but the effort they’d put in paid off – I glossed over the rough edges when playing and instead focused on the centrepieces. The puzzles were solid and, where they’d used some of the standard escape room tropes, they’d usually thrown in a twist that kept me engaged.
This was a fun experience for our team of four. I think that four, or maybe three, is a reasonable number for enthusiast teams. If you’re a relative novice, I’d be happy taking in more, but be aware that it may get a little crowded towards the end of the game.
Detailed Room Ratings