Outside the room
Having escaped from the jail cells in the basement, it was time to take on History Mystery‘s other game and attempt to save the archivist from his fate. You’ll be pleased to hear that you won’t be incarcerated this time and will instead be working your magic in the archivist’s office. If that doesn’t sound like the most exciting mission in the history of escape rooms, then I recommend watching the trailer to help with your emotional attachment to what lies ahead.
History Mystery are, to my knowledge, the only UK company that give pins out to successful players. We’d picked up the silver ones downstairs, but there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to be adding gold to our collection before we left.
The City Historian loves to gaze out of his office window overlooking Norwich’s magnificent 900-year-old marketplace, but today there is no face at the window and the historian hasn’t been seen for days. The poor fellow has locked himself in the secure archive vault. He ate the last fluff-covered boiled sweet from his pocket hours ago and his cup of tea didn’t last beyond the first day!
Crammed full of puzzles, curios, stories and surprises, his office contains clues to unlock the vault, and only you can save him before he becomes part of history himself.
Inside the room
Where Body of Evidence had been a bare room with almost nothing but relevant props, this was a busy room packed full of props and with more than a little hint of red herringness. There was a nudge given as to where you’re meant to start, but we missed that and got seriously sidetracked until our GM put us back on course. Finding the first thing to do in a room is always an issue, but it wasn’t confined to the start here: at several points during the game we felt utterly lost as to which piece of information might be relevant next.
The story of the archivist is given to you at the beginning, but it plays almost no part in the game thereafter. Indeed, this game is more about letting the history of Norwich wash over you. They’ve taken little snippets and incorporated them into the game. It was an admirable idea, but for me it didn’t quite work. A week later and I remember the story from their other room far better than any fact here.
As with their other game, the puzzles’ difficulty lay in finding out what piece of information was relevant and then extracting it. At the beginning, that was a painful process – with so many sources, we had to rush round the room skimming through papers, books and boxes until we found something useful. Later in the game, though, that became much more manageable as we became familiar with what was likely to be relevant.
I really liked the way they’ve built up the centrepiece to this game as you go along and, while its use was never quite as exciting as I’d have liked, it was a good choice for this game and probably the part that I remember most fondly. Well, that and the in-game joke – kudos for distracting me for a good ten seconds before I realised why they’d included one of the props!
Although the approach of the end of the game was reasonably clear, the finale petered out a little. That is unless you count the post-game finale of retrieving your prize!
We escaped the room in a little under 50 minutes having taken at least five clues.
This was the first of History Mystery’s games, and I think you could see that from how it was put together. Each part of it – the story, the puzzles, the setting – was less engaging than their other experience. It’s a tough game because there are so many ways to start and it’s not always obvious how you’re meant to progress. Fortunately, there was attentive GMing, which meant that, as soon as we were starting to get frustrated, we were nudged back on course.
You could easily play this with six people, but I don’t think it would really add to the experience and might result in more confusion. I’d stick to three or four players if you’re an enthusiast group.
Detailed Room Ratings