Outside the room
As I said in my previous review of an Omescape room, I was excited to come back and play another of their games. Next on my list was Biohazard Laboratory, which claimed to be significantly easier than the Joker’s Asylum room (and given our result last time round, a good job too!). We were greeted by one of the employees, who was obviously still learning the ropes a bit and struggled slightly with the fact that we’d brought along eleven people for two different games, so he wasn’t sure how to engage with us all. I guess he was used to separate groups arriving and doing the briefings for a room at a time and got caught somewhere in the middle of briefing us together and as two teams. Once past that hurdle he relaxed a bit and did a decent job.
It’s worth mentioning that the waiting area’s reasonably nice, with sofa space and a couple of tables, so before/after the game there’s a decent place for you to hang around, although there’s obviously a risk of spoilers if you’re waiting for any length of time beforehand.
Biohazard Laboratory had us heading off to the sewers to attempt to find the antidote for a poison that an evil scientist was about to release into the world. There was more than a hint of Teenage Mutant Ninja/Hero turtles to the game…
Inside the room
First impressions were pretty good: A sewer theme isn’t the easiest of sets to build and populate with puzzles, but they’d done a decent job. There was darkness within the game, as you might expect, but the puzzles rarely suffered from it because the torches they’d given us were suitably bright. The only disappointment on that front was that we had to share two lights between the five of us. I don’t think that’s enough. I can just about accept one between two, but I found this too frustrating and, without a torch, much of the game was unplayable.
We quickly got into our stride and started knocking off the puzzles at a decent rate. That’s important for the “easier” room, because it’s the one that first-timers should be playing, so a gentle intro is a good idea. Pleasingly, it also felt like everyone was contributing to solving them, and several of them lent themselves nicely to involving several members of the team. Overall, the puzzles were very good in the game. They were varied and never seemed to be obvious or obtuse. It’s pretty rare that a room manages that all the way through.
Things were going pretty smoothly until we smashed into a brick wall. No, not literally – we thought we’d cracked one of the puzzles in the room but, after three of us had tried to enter the same code into the padlock, it was pretty clear it wasn’t the right code. Except that it *was* the right code, but the padlock wasn’t set correctly. That’s probably the cardinal sin in an escape room, and something that a good reset script should avoid (yes – the previous people could have deliberately or accidentally screwed up the code, but the resetter should be checking that). Mistakes do happen, though, however thorough your procedures, and for me the important part is how you handle them. On that front they did well; after confirming that we had the right code and the lock was probably broken, they replaced the item in the room in the most seamless way possible. Critically, they managed not to break the immersion, which I absolutely expected them to do. Well done!
There were a few rough edges with the construction which hurt things in what otherwise felt like a slick game. Some parts of the room didn’t align perfectly, one panel had screws sticking out and there was a loose wire visible. I hope that this is the nature of a game still in its first month of opening and that, as the game becomes more reliable, they’ll tidy things up.
I said above that the theming started off well, and it continued that way throughout the game, but it did feel like the story got a little lost in the progression. I’m sure that if I’d sat down for ten minutes and read through everything we had, it would have been reasonably straightforward to understand why we were doing what we were doing but, in the mild panic and haste of an escape room, it’s much harder to piece together stories, and I felt that this room suffered from having a story that looked good on paper but didn’t work so well in the actual game. It was generally easy enough to extract the puzzles from the theming, though, so while it made me feel lost at times, it didn’t really affect the “playability”.
We got out with 15:36 remaining, a new record (albeit in a newish room) and took one clue along the way.
This was the sort of game I’d been hoping Omescape would deliver. There was a decent storyline, good puzzles that matched the theme and a reasonably slick set. It’s a good game that I’ll definitely be recommending to people, but it does have its drawbacks: not enough torches, a few rough edges to the construction and walkie-talkies for clues. First timers should feel comfortable heading along with a full team, but for the more experienced player, I’d recommend no more than four and, ideally, three.
Another early booking, so we made a quick visit to Chipotle on Upper Street to grab a Burrito on the way across.
Detailed Room Ratings