Outside the room
I thought that the introduction to the other game had been slick, but this one was jaw-dropping. Professor Clockwork would have been a match for Professor Green with his rapid fire delivery that verged on a spoken-word performance. I could have sat and listened to him for the full hour instead of going into the room. Once again, he’d nailed the intro – would the game live up to his hype?
Professor Thaddeus Clockwork delivers players to the Nolan Exhibit, a personal museum of art and relics from history gathered by the eccentric billionaire Alexander Nolan. Your task is to steal the Nolan Diamond, one of the largest and most valuable on the planet.
Your window of opportunity is brief, as the museum is currently closed for renovations and the guards can only be distracted for so long. You will have to solve a myriad of different mysteries in a non-linear web of puzzles to gain access to the diamond itself, then to escape before anyone notices it is gone.
Inside the room
After the impressive introduction, it was a pretty lacklustre start to the game. Just a single, dull, puzzle on offer in a pretty drab room. That’s fine, though. This story is about breaking into the exhibition, and I kind of liked the idea of making it start off with the humdrum before the excitement of being in the gallery itself.
Once inside the gallery, the game opens up significantly, not just in the parallelisation of the puzzles but also in terms of the physical space; it felt almost lonely with just the two of us in there. As we spread out to cover the room, it was a relatively long time before we came back together to discuss how we were getting on, and I’d definitely suggest you would benefit from a couple of extra people. They’ve done a great job of recreating an exhibition for this game, but that means they’ve included a lot of red herrings in the process. Again, something that could be negative is reasonably well handled – they’ve added in a fair amount of direction to help you along the way.
Most of the searching you have to do in this game is relatively early on, but I should warn you that there are a couple of finds that require you to do things that other owners would sigh at. Both of them are reasonably obvious, but it sets a dangerous precedent. It was only last week that an owner was telling me how ridiculous it was that someone thought he’d have hidden a clue in the equivalent locations in his room…
Searching definitely frustrated me in this game. On top of the two issues above, there’s one particular hide that will require a clue for all but the most diligent of escape teams. It was fun in the “wow, I’d never have found that” sense and, while that’s a cool idea, I’m not convinced it’s a reasonable level for an escape room. Finally, there’s something that’s a cross between a search and a puzzle that I really don’t approve of in escape rooms. The one saving grace was that they’d at least dropped in a couple of hints to give you a chance of solving it on your own.
The puzzles weren’t amazing, but there was enough quantity and variety to keep you engaged. My biggest issue with them was that they usually produced a three-digit code and there were a lot of three digit padlocks. That meant that, with there being only two of us, I almost dreaded finding solutions to puzzles…
Things picked up at the finale, with a good amount of toing and froing and an unexpected use of the space and puzzles that required much more teamwork. As a result, this is very much the sort of game that will see you rushing out of the door on a high.
We escaped the room with under a minute to go, having had around four or five clues which were delivered over a walkie-talkie.
The introduction was special but, sadly, the room wasn’t. I didn’t like the searching. Where they were strong, the puzzles were fun, but they were too often weak or repetitive. The room was pretty but not earth-shattering. The strengths in this game were very much the intro and the finale, and you can’t carry a sixty-minute game on those.
The open nature of the experience, combined with good direction about what to solve, makes this game well suited to slightly larger groups. I’d suggest three to four enthusiasts and even more beginners. You might find that the end game is a little crowded, but overall I think it will work well.
Detailed Room Ratings
We’re off to do these tomorrow as a two, and now we’re a little scared! Searching has been the top reason we’ve not escaped when failing a room. Hopefully we’re prepared for the task now though…
So – don’t keep us in suspense…. How did you get on with the searching? And what was your view of the rooms generally?
We were fine with the searching in the end; two successful escapes and caught the killer too! I agree with a lot of your comments in the reviews, the puzzles weren’t anything special, but I actually enjoyed Alleyway more out of the two, probably because I have a love of crime/murder mysteries. I would love to see what the new rooms would be like; I think if they just improved some of the puzzle types and decoration slightly, you could have a top quality experience (not that I didn’t have a lot of fun in both of these rooms anyway). Plus added bonus of being given cupcakes for back to back rooms…