Outside the room
Escape London is the capital’s branch of the widespread Escape franchise. I’ve previously visited them up in Blackpool and, from that limited experience, had them down as producing solid games that I wouldn’t travel to but would happily play if I happened to be in the city. Time to find out if that would be a reasonable generalisation by taking on all three of their London rooms back to back.
Usually their games are offset so that teams aren’t all in the waiting area at the same time, but I’d taken along three teams so we’d opted to synchronise our times. Fortunately we’d only taken ten players because I thought fifteen people in the waiting area at the same time would be fairly cosy. Worth thinking about if you do decide to organise a larger group.
We had a warm greeting from the manager and, after locking up our belongings, were given the intros to the room. There were three staff members working when we visited but, rather than have one member of staff per room, they shared out the responsibilities. It worked fine but it lost a little bit of the personal touch when we had a different person showing us into the room from the one greeting us at the exit – which obviously had to happen if two teams escaped at approximately the same time.
We had to break in to the Illuminati’s office and steal the holy grail.
Inside the room
I have to confess, based on my trip to their sister venue in Blackpool, that I wasn’t expecting much from the set. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I walked through the door. This game is set in an Illuminati member’s study and, while studies aren’t the hardest thing in the world to recreate, they’d done a pretty good job of it. It’s not a cluttered room, there’s plenty of space for you to wander around in and there’s a nice balance in props – enough to make the room look realistically full but without really feeling there are red herrings.
After donning the Illuminati robes (at the insistence of my team mate!), we got down to business. The puzzles were straightforward and I wouldn’t expect experienced players to have any trouble with them. Invariably, as soon as we had the clues in our hands, we had the solution. Indeed, the only place where I had to work hard to solve a puzzle was one where I later found out we’d missed a critical (and, frankly, fairly obvious) clue so I’d effectively brute-forced my way through it. The puzzles didn’t attempt to advance the story and, while some of them did relate to the theme, most of them would have fitted any game.
If the puzzles weren’t too challenging, was the key to this game searching? Well, no. The searching was actually fairly straightforward too, aside from one specific part which was genuinely tough. Personally, I thought it went over the line of being challenging and became tedious. One of our later teams was successful, so I definitely can’t claim it was impossible, but we eventually caved and asked for a clue.
Unfortunately, there’s no audio in the room, so you have to request clues by waving at the camera and then waiting for it to be displayed on a screen. That worked fine for us because, when we got stuck, it was very obvious what help we needed next, and the relevant clue appeared almost instantly. However, as we would find out in a later room, it’s incredibly frustrating if it’s not obvious what help is needed. I really think they would do well to throw some microphones into the room, even if they don’t listen to you most of the time.
We escaped with a single clue after 37 minutes. For reference, the other two teams escaped after 38:20 with 0 clues and after 50 minutes with 3 clues.
The puzzles in this game were varied and logical but there was nothing new or exciting about them. The room was nicely decorated but, as escape games set in studies go, it was only about average. The clue system was acceptable but might lead to some issues for anyone struggling. The game play was pretty much linear, so larger teams will feel like they’re treading on each other’s toes.
Overall this was a solid but ultimately uninspiring escape room. I think first-timers will find it a thoroughly fun experience. Enthusiasts will still have a good time but there’s very little that’s memorable about it – I’d play if I was in the area but it’s not a game I’d make much of a detour for.
We went to the Bush Hall Dining Rooms beforehand and had a nice relaxed meal – I recommend the pizzas. The dining room is covered in gig posters from the music venue next door, which provide a good talking point. There’s booth seating, which makes it perfect for groups of six (or eight at a squeeze!).
Detailed Room Ratings