Game Over (Derby): Jack the Ripper

Outside the room

Game Over isn’t a common brand in the UK (although they have now opened a second venue in Rochdale), but there are venues all over Europe – Lyon, Helsinki, Rome and Athens to name but a few. Given that international reach, I was curious to see what their rooms were like. Surely you can’t be successful on that scale without creating great experiences?

The Derby location is in what I think of as the perfect place for escape rooms – right on the edge of the town centre. Low footfall, so cheaper rents, reasonable parking options, and yet easy access to restaurants and other entertainment if you want it. They’re up on the second floor with an uninviting facade and stairwell but, as with books, you shouldn’t judge venues by their covers…

Background

London, 1880. Another girl was murdered last night. Mary was butchered. The streets are empty, all are kept away by fear. Yet if the evidence I hold in my hands is correct, perhaps these clues can put an end to the Ripper. It’s up to us now, only we can do this… We’re coming for you, Jack.

Inside the room

First impressions were good, with a well decorated room that did a great job of caricaturing Victorian London. It wasn’t amazingly detailed, but it more than did the job, and I can almost imagine a pea-souper in the air when I look back. I was also somewhat surprised to find that there was actually some narrative in here. I assumed they’d leave it at the Jack the Ripper theme and not bother with anything more, but there was a small amount of story, well placed within the game, and you got to learn a bit about some of the victims as well. I don’t want to oversell it – this isn’t anywhere near being educational – but it was still more than an average game.

Although there weren’t many puzzles, they felt reasonably solid, at least while I was playing the room. Writing this review, though, has made me realise that it had a few more flaws than I registered at the time. One puzzle had some electronics that were just a bit flaky, which meant that it took a couple of goes to get it to activate. A couple more left me wondering “why?” because you had to perform an action that wasn’t entirely obvious with no indication of why it should be required. And no: “because you can” isn’t a good reason for a solution. Finally, one puzzle required a detailed search which, while directed, was a little bit over the top.

This is an entirely linear game, so you’ll be working closely as a team throughout. That’s good because it means you’re together for the finale, which is nicely constructed and a fitting ending for the experience.

Result

We finished in ~23 minutes having taken a single clue (for one of those “why?” puzzles). Clues came via a panel in the room. I was originally very dubious about it (I’ve had bad experiences with similar clue systems at other companies), but it seemed to work and didn’t feel too intrusive. Clues were offered every ten minutes, but you could ask your GM for extra help if you wanted it.

Verdict –

This game was well decorated and had reasonable puzzles. The linearity meant that it was hard for multiple people to get involved at times and, combined with a frustrating opening puzzle, that got things off to a bad start. However, it recovered and, given the reasonable decor, I’d still recommend playing it.

We played as a four, which was too many enthusiasts. I think this would be a fun experience for a pair of experienced players, while beginners will probably find four to be about right.

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