I hope I didn’t hurt your neck getting you to look at this upside down.
Outside the room
Exit Strategy had been on my to do list ever since I’d had a great time playing St Helens vs the Lizards which they’d helped produce. I was just pulling together my intinerary for a visit up North when they got in touch inviting me to beta-test their new room, Nostromo. Now, I don’t normally agree to play betas, but this wasn’t in London, so I jumped at the opportunity. Giving feedback to receptive owners to help them make their rooms as good as possible is fantastic fun.
Unfortunately, construction had overrun slightly, so it wasn’t quite ready to be played. On the plus side, they invited me to play their other game, the Illuminati, so I didn’t lose my escape room fix or the chance to check out this relatively small player in the Northern market. To be honest, the fact they cancelled my visit rather than trying to get the room ready in a rush bodes well. I’ve played too many games that weren’t quite ready, to feel annoyed at a delay.
We rang the bell then followed the host down to the basement. She was friendly and chatty, welcoming us to the room, offering us a drink and chatting to us about the other rooms we’d been playing. This is one of the joys of smaller players in the market – so much more of a personal touch.
Conspiracy theorist Ziggy Roswell has gone missing, leaving behind only a few clues as to what might have happened. Your job is to piece together what he was working on, find out what information you can and then escape the room.
I wasn’t entirely sure whether we were meant to try and find Ziggy Roswell (and I’m none-the-wiser now), but if in doubt, focus on escaping the room and any other goals will probably be achieved along the way.
Inside the room
The first impression as I walked into the room was that it was, well, just a room. Aside from some slightly older than average furniture, there was nothing out of the ordinary. Usually I’d complain at a lack of effort, but in this case, we were meant to be in Ziggy’s home, so it fitted in just fine. The room wasn’t quite as beginner-friendly as I’d expected – it took us a while to get going, feeling our way round and trying to sort out the clues from the decoration.
The puzzles, on the whole, were basic, but enjoyable. I don’t recall anything that was really high tech or made me go “wow”, but there were some fun ideas in there and a nice variety of puzzles. They weren’t hard, but we still required three clues along the way. All three were doable, although the final one, which we took on the finale puzzle, is probably required by most teams because it’s genuinely hard. Hard, but not unfair.
The puzzles were vaguely on theme, but not strongly tied, and at times it was a little tricky to get your head round them, but usually there was enough to point you in the right direction. Talking of being pointed in the right direction, there were a couple of places where we made schoolboy errors and asked for a clue only to be told, more or less, that we were looking exactly in the right place.
We escaped with a shade under ten minutes and with three clues along the way. It felt trickier than most rooms, but not unfair at any point. It definitely felt like a third person in the room would have helped because we needed a little more bouncing ideas around (plus two people telling me I was missing the obvious…).
This is a feelgood room with friendly owners. There are no amazing puzzles, or moments where the game is turned upside down, but we did enjoy it. It’s probably my favourite of the games I’ve played in the city, but if you’re willing to venture to nearby towns then you’ll find others which have stronger puzzles more closely associated with the theme.
I think this will appeal to first-time players in any sized group, but I suspect more experienced escapers may find it a little bit easy if they take more than three players.
Detailed Room Ratings
Full disclosure: We weren’t charged for these tickets. That doesn’t influence the review – you can read more on the About page.