Outside the room
Having enjoyed their other game, the Abandoned Ship, we decided to jump straight into game number two. While we waited for the GM to reset the Witch’s Lair we sat in the other business on the premises, Memories Tea Room. I love it when escape rooms are co-located with other eating/drinking establishments. Partly that’s because they’re more likely to have decent bathroom facilities, but it’s also partly because you have somewhere nice to wait if you turn up early. All too often I’ve turned up twenty minutes early for a game, especially when travelling, and then had to hang around in a cramped waiting space. Here, you can grab a table and relax. Maybe you’ll even have time to try some of the massive selection of cake they had on offer. I definitely would have if we hadn’t turned up when the café was closed 🙁
After getting lost in the woods you come across an old abandoned shack and venture in. Once over the threshold the door locks behind you and you find yourselves trapped in the witches lair. Can you escape before she traps you forever.
Inside the room
Once again it was a “read the story on the back of the door” room. Obviously, it’s down to the individual whether they think they can deliver a good introduction, but I really think it would be worth their while to deliver this in person. It would allow them to set the scene far better and also tailor the story to their guests. This is particularly true for slightly scary rooms, where they can choose to ham it up for some players but then make it as innocuous as possible for others.
The inside of the room was an interesting contrast with the previous game. The decoration wasn’t as good – think relatively cheap Hallowe’en decorations to give a scary theme – and I didn’t really feel much in the way of immersion. It was probably the right decision given their clientele: first-time players aren’t really going to know any better and will likely still enjoy it. As an enthusiast, though, I felt distinctly underwhelmed compared to the vast majority of games I’ve played.
The story in the room was almost non-existent. You had to escape the witch’s cabin but I don’t think there was any reference to that once we were inside the space other than in the usual “escape the room” sense. The puzzles were more interesting. Most were pretty standard fare, although they’d thrown in a couple with nice physical aspects, but the bit that really intrigued me was the puzzle flow. In effect, there were two entirely separate paths that you could follow for solving puzzles. In the end, you’d have to solve everything, but you could get very, very far through the room without having to go down both paths.
The reason I know this is because we thought that one of the puzzles at the start of one of those strands was off-limits and ignored it. That resulted in us playing entirely down the other path and then working our way back up the puzzle chain in the other direction. It’s a nice idea, because it means that you let people keep up their solving momentum but don’t expose them to too many puzzles, which might be confusing.
The finale teased you from relatively early in the game and left you pretty sure you were close to finishing but with just enough uncertainty remaining to keep the tension high. Unfortunately, the last puzzle in this game, while fair, is one that can leave you feeling quite frustrated. We were pretty close to completing it but the effort to try to solve it without a clue ultimately left us feeling frustrated at the room. Never a good way to finish a game.
We escaped in 53 minutes with two clues which came over the walkie-talkie. One was a straight clue, but the other was to tell us to search an area that we both thought was marked off-limits.
Don’t read too much into that time. We knew we had a chance at escaping without clues, so we ran ourselves into the ground trying to find the missing info (and, damn it, if we weren’t incompetent at both searching and brute-forcing combination locks, we wouldn’t have needed that clue!).
This was a solid room that made very interesting use of its space in terms of how the game progressed. With better decoration and a little more work on some of the weaker puzzles, it could be quite a strong offering. Ultimately, though, there was nothing that truly excited us, and the final puzzle filled us with so much frustration that we came out thinking about the negative aspects rather than the positive.
Two people was fine in this room – I could easily see an experienced pair finishing in under 30 minutes. More than three and I think there will be moments where you’re stepping on each other’s toes.
Detailed Room Ratings