Outside the room
QuestRoom are an interesting company. They first came on the scene over 18 months ago, when they launched an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign. I assumed they’d fallen by the wayside, but it turns out that they were biding their time looking for the right location, and having finally found it, opened their first room at the end of last year.
I snapped up their Groupon offer as soon as I saw it, and dragged four friends down to Willesden Green to see what they had to offer. Being in NW London, rather than the more traditional central locations, we’d driven across and managed to find a parking space on one of the side streets without too much trouble. It seems odd, but getting here turned out to be easier than almost any other escape room we’d done. Hurrah for outer (North) London escape rooms!
A big sign on the shopfront told you that you were in the right place, and once inside there was a spacious waiting room with sofas and armchairs if you were early, and bathroom facilities if you needed them. Yes, first impressions were pretty good.
Second impressions, not so much. The intro left a lot to be desired. We weren’t told anything about the prison theme, or why we were escaping, or indeed very much at all. In fairness, we did tell them we’d played escape games before, but I’d still expect them to tell us something about the scenario. Maybe it’s a Prison theme things, because we had a similar experience at Prison Break.
[Note – the owner replied in the comments below to mention that this was one of the game host’s first times hosting alone]
Inside the room
The first thing I should say about this room, is that there’s something in it that may make you feel uncomfortable. It didn’t bother us at all (well, not me certainly), but if you’re at all of a nervous disposition, then it’s probably worth getting in touch with them and mentioning it, so that they can reassure you. Nothing overly scary, but I’m pretty sure that some people will feel uncomfortable.
On to the game though. You start off in a very bare looking cell, with very little that you can make use of to progress. That’s great for newcomers, because it gives them a clear path to follow – a specific puzzle and a limited range of clues – before unleashing them on the wider game.
Needless to say, we were soon on our way and working out where to head next, and it became clear quickly that the way forward would be through searching. A lot of searching. To make matters more interesting, red herrings were in abundance. In a typical room, I might expect a couple of deliberate red herrings and a few “setting the scene” props which are accidentally red herrings. This room probably had well over fifty items that you didn’t make use of.
My instincts say that it should have been incredibly frustrating, but actually, we didn’t find that at all. Somehow, we seemed to know what was a red herring and what wasn’t. Some things seemed useful, while others didn’t, so we rarely dithered. Along the way we encountered a couple of nicely hidden clues, but generally everything was there with minimal searching – it was just a case of finding everything, picking out the key elements and working out how to make use of them.
For me, the big gap in this room was puzzles. From start to finish, there was almost nothing that required you to think a lot. While you won’t see me down at Puzzled Pint very often (more’s the pity!), at heart I like solving puzzles – spotting patterns, combining information, decoding clues. I like searching, really I do, but I don’t want it to be the majority of the game, and here it felt like it was.
The solutions were also a bit samey – keys and combinations locks ruled the day, and there were no truly exciting mechanisms involved.
We got out after 36 minutes with only three clues. It felt like we had done well, but had definitely hit a few slow points where we’d missed clues that we could have spotted, so I was surprised to find that we’d broken the record by ten minutes.
This is an interesting room to rate. I enjoyed it less than my team mates, and I’m not certain why. It’s most likely because I like theatrics, tricky puzzles and “cool” stuff, and this was weak in all those departments. On the other hand, there are no unfair puzzles in it, a couple of clever concepts that I haven’t seen in other rooms and, generally, enough to keep five of us fairly solidly occupied, which is rare. I can see this appealing to people who love searching, to beginners and to people who might like feeling a little out of their comfort zone. To most players who’ve played another game in London though, I think ultimately they’ll be disappointed.
We opted for Kadiri’s, a nearby Indian restaurant. Things looked good when we walked in to find a good proportion of the tables had reservation signs on them on a Wednesday evening, and we weren’t disappointed. The food was very good – I can highly recommend the chicken biryani and the peshwari naan, although be warned that the biryani is spicier than your average fare.
Detailed Room Ratings