Note: this review was from a visit in June 2017. One of the owners got in touch to mention that the game has been significantly improved since then. You can read their response in the comments below.
Note: A fellow enthusiast made a visit in January 2018 and said that it was a much more rounded game: “Newbies will be impressed, enthusiasts will not walk away disappointed”. See the comments at the end of this review for details.
Outside the room
We’d planned a trip up to Leicester one Saturday morning and, as luck would have it, Escaper MK had opened their doors a couple of weeks earlier. Even better (for me, if not my teammates) they had an 8 am slot. Yes, 8 am. I can’t imagine that any other company opens up this early, but it worked well because we could fit in both games and still arrive in Leicester for a morning game. Yes, there’s a reason I’m continually victimised by my teammates…
The venue is located in the heart of an industrial estate, which isn’t the most inspiring start. Once inside, the waiting area is pleasant enough and, aside from a long walk to the toilets along a warren of corridors, you’d have no idea you were in an industrial space.
The hosts were friendly enough, but I got the feeling they were still getting to grips with running an escape room. That was probably part of the reason why they chose to get us to read the briefings ourselves from a laminated card. That’s never a great start to a game, but things looked a up a little when they led us to the room itself – a cabin door decal and a nice sign next to the entrance suggested that they hadn’t gone entirely bargain basement.
You and your friends decide to go camping in the woods. It’s a cold, dark night and you are all sitting round the camp fire enjoying each other’s company until you hear a distressed woman scream. Everyone decides to track down the source of the scream and come across an old cabin in the woods.
You all head towards the cabin when you look further you discover a door which is unlocked. You decide to go investigate what’s inside when suddenly the door slams shut behind you. Once you are inside you hear banging from the outside and you are not able to leave, the door seems to be locked. You have discovered that this is no ordinary cabin in the woods but, In fact it’s the home of a serial killer.
Inside the room
Hello darkness, my old friend. In fairness to Escaper MK, the website clearly states that this game is played with minimal lighting throughout. The thing is, it’s kind of implicit in that sort of statement that it’s also going to be “enjoyable” darkness. That there will be enough light to engage the whole team. Sadly, there wasn’t and, even after we’d found the light sources available to us, a couple of players were still wandering round in the dark at any one time. Inevitably, whoever didn’t have the light sources ended up less engaged in the game and, to be frank, a bit bored.
Unsurprisingly given the low light levels and the theme, they’d not put much effort into decoration. In fact, it felt very much like they’d kitted out the room with Freegle and IKEA furniture. Similarly, there was next to no progression in storyline, although there were one or two references inside the game to help reinforce the narrative we’d heard outside.
It was clear, though, that the joy in this room would have to come from the puzzles. So how did it fare? Well, there really wasn’t much to the game on that front, and what was there didn’t impress. An absence of direction meant that we were left floundering at the start, eventually realising that the first puzzle required a huge leap. That was one of the worse offenders, but there were plenty of weak puzzles following that one. Some were just plain lazy, while others were badly made – we knew exactly what to do but it still took ages to get an answer because the props didn’t quite line up.
The game was mostly linear, which is probably a good thing given the low light levels, but there were a couple of times towards the end where two puzzles could be tackled in parallel. Obviously, the team came back together for the final puzzle, which was sufficiently difficult to keep us working at it for quite a while. They’d recently “improved” this stage because they were finding that no one could complete it. Having seen the enhanced version, I dread to think what the original was like.
The correct solution required small leaps in logic and resulted in us coming up with a series of potential solutions. I tried each of them out on the final lock as my teammates shouted them out, eventually finding the correct one. The result was that we all missed out on the proper rush you should get when completing a room – by the time we found a match, we were trying numbers more in hope than in expectation. Personally, I don’t think finishing with a tough puzzle is good. Finishing with a dubious tough puzzle is terrible.
We finished in 34:23 – the first team to escape – having taken a single clue for the opening puzzle. Note that, while we may have been the first team to escape, the game had only been open two weeks and the final puzzle had just been simplified. Clues were given over a walkie-talkie that you had to find in the room.
See the note at the top of this review and comments below.
From start to finish, this was a disappointing room. Darkness was used to make the game more difficult and went way beyond anything that I’d describe as atmospheric. The decoration was minimal. The puzzles were weak and lazy. I think they’d actually tried to produce a good player experience but, for all but the absolute novice, this will feel distinctly lacking.
I’d go in with a team of three. I don’t think any extra people will help much, and they’ll instead just get in the way.
Detailed Room Ratings