Outside the room
And on to our last game at Breakin’ Escape. We’d spent most of the day here, so we’d got to know the place and people pretty well. They were a friendly bunch and the waiting area is well presented, so it’s a nice place to hang out. If, for example, you were planning on playing two games in a row, it’s a pleasant environment to sit and chat about your experiences. While I’ve criticised the GMing in the room, outside they were always friendly and professional.
As the day drew on, things got busier and it was nice to see the place start to get a bit of a buzz. That was still relatively soon after its opening and I’d imagine by now that there’s a fairly constant stream of foot traffic through the premises. Escaping may be a small-team event in the UK, but there’s still something fun about seeing other teams coming and going and seeing their excitement at the games they’ve played or are about to play.
Knightsbane city is under attack. Dr. Drakker, the evil genius has escaped from prison and has sworn vengeance on his nemesis, the city’s hero, Blackwing. He has released all of the other prisoners from Alistair Penitentiary and has tracked down the location of Blackwing’s secret cave. Using his engineering skills he has set numerous traps for the hero by planting various devices in his cave only to be entertained by his torment.
The fallen hero of Knightsbane city must now face his greatest challenge yet by defeating Dr. Drakker once more and bringing him to justice. As Blackwing’s sidekicks you will need to help him throughout all the mad puzzles prepared by his arch nemesis and escape the cave before the time runs out!
Inside the room
Having played several games at Breakin’ already, I was getting quite blasé about their set design. This is yet another pretty room to play in, with a very stylised creation of a cave. They’re all about the look, though. I didn’t really feel there was much progress to the story, just the overarching “escape the cave”; and most of the puzzles, while a little more on theme than some of their games, could easily have been inserted into almost any experience.
The only problem with the set design was that it was pretty dark in places and it felt to me like they did that not to make the game moodier (as might befit a troubled superhero) but merely to make it harder. In the end, I resorted to touch-searching rather than using sight to find things. I’m never a fan of darkness and, if I think its sole purpose is to slow down players, then it really grates. Just give us more puzzles, if you think the game is too short! That was exacerbated by it being a linear game, so you couldn’t take your time to explore your surroundings – as soon as you got stuck you needed to search hard from the outset.
That linearity meant there wasn’t the need for a huge number of puzzles, but there was a decent level of variety – a couple of physical puzzles, some searching and some communication-based challenges were thrown in, and plenty of observation was required in spite of that darkness. Several of the puzzles were at the hard end of the scale, so make sure your team is firing on all cylinders! It’s also worth a quick mention that there’s a fun two-player skill challenge at one point. A third player can be useful while not very involved but, beyond that, you’ll have bored onlookers.
The finale to this game built well, with a final puzzle sequence that incorporated two unusual techniques to make the game stand out – one of which happens after your clock has stopped. Given that, in every other room I’ve ever played, that meant the game was over, it left us a little confused at a time when the endorphin rush should have just kicked in. Overall, though, it didn’t have a negative impact on the game for us – just took the edge off an otherwise dramatic finish.
We finished the game with twenty minutes to spare but suffered a five-minute deduction from our escape time.
I’m still not really sure how I feel about this game. It’s got a beautiful set and some interesting puzzles, but there are definite weak moments along the way. Like their other sci-fi room, it’s got a tough start that will likely leave beginners (and some enthusiasts) a little lost, and that lack of direction broke up the early flow a fair amount.
The ways in which it plays with escape room norms towards the end of the game are interesting too. As an enthusiast, I applaud the experimentation although, as a player, it was slightly detrimental to my enjoyment of the game.
Overall, I’d still recommend you head along – just go in with your eyes open. It’s got a tough start and a finish that may frustrate some people, but you’ll get the chance to see some elements that are genuinely different and have plenty of fun along the way.
Detailed Room Ratings