[Note that this game has now moved to near Stratford]
Outside the room
I really didn’t know what to expect with Trapped in a Room with a Zombie. Was it going to be an escape room like any other? Was it going to have a zombie that I believed in? Was it even going to be fun? More of that later, so let’s get on with the lead up…
The first challenge was to find the venue – although it was situated right on the main thoroughfare of Tottenham Court Rd, we walked right past it. Twice. There was little to make it obvious that a small door in the wall would lead to a zombie infested laboratory, but then, who’d want to advertise that fact… [Note: it’s since changed ownership and venue, so hopefully a little easier to find!].
Up a couple of flights of stairs, we found ourselves in the gutted remains of what was once Foyles, the bookshop, with a couple of signs reassuring us that we’d come to the right place. Before we knew it, we were greeted by an utterly mad scientist, who played his part to perfection. He briefed us on the room, got us to sign disclaimers (which, for once, seemed a reasonable precaution) and gave us name badges to stick on. I’d booked the whole room out, and dragged eleven friends along, but otherwise, I guess this was the opportunity for you to introduce yourselves and get a feeling for who’s to be trusted!
To add to the tension, the zombie in the room rattled chains all through the briefing, which really helped to get you in the mood from the get-go.
Dr Oxy has managed get himself turned into a zombie. In a moment of lucidity he chained himself up, but we managed to trap ourselves in the room with him, and now we’ve only got 60 minutes to escape before we become zombie fodder. For reasons that aren’t made clear, every five minutes he gets an extra foot of chain, so the clock really is ticking…
Inside the room
It’s always hard to write up a review of a room, without actually talking about the insides, but it’s even harder than usual with this one. There were several moments in the game which will stay with me for many years, but most I can’t tell you about without spoiling the game to some extent.
Needless to say, there was slightly more adrenaline than your average escape room. The zombie played their part to perfection – the speed with which they could move round the floor was phenomenal and there were several moments where I physically jumped in fright. That’s not to say it’s properly frightening, just scary in the same way as, say, playing “What’s the time Mr Wolf?” is – the moment when the wolf suddenly turns and chases you gets the heart pounding like mad. Dr Oxy’s assistant also hammed it up nicely, helping us along when necessary, but generally not getting in our way much at all.
The puzzles themselves were standard fare. There was one that was genuinely different, and in a another room I might really have enjoyed, but it required concentration, which was somewhat hard… In fact, one of my biggest complaints about the room is that it was hard to concentrate – with twelve people and a loud zombie, we spent a lot of our time trying, and failing, to communicate. Plus, with twelve people to communicate everything to, it took a while just to tell people that you were, say, looking for a particular item or type of code. It wasn’t until the pub afterwards that we started to piece it all back together. There were fantastic chains of conversations along the lines of “How did you open the drawer?”, “With the big golden key”, “Which big golden key?”, “The one inside the handbag”, “What handbag?”, “Oh dear…” (items changed to protect the puzzles).
One aspect that I found very interesting is how the zombie affects the playing area. As you’ll find out if you read the website, the zombie gets an extra foot of chain every five minutes. As you can imagine, the longer into the game you are, the more and more trapped you feel (happy memories of six of my team mates spreadeagled against a wall, inches from a snarling zombie!). That means you need to search some areas while you can, but it also means that some areas become more accessible, because the zombie can rove over more of the room, so you’re able to make forays into the gaps while they’re roaming. I won’t say more than that, because I don’t want to spoil things, but I think it’s an interesting angle, and I wonder how much they thought about that when designing the original game.
We got out with a few minutes remaining. Or at least nine of us did. Three got taken by the zombie. May they rest in peace. There followed a very long session in the pub afterwards to dissect our victory and share all the things that happened.
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. While the puzzles weren’t anything to write home about, the experience was brilliant. Both hosts were phenomenally good, and we all came away with smiles on our faces. As I mentioned above, we booked out the whole room, but if you can’t get a full 12 people together, then you’ll want to think carefully about whether you’re the sort of person that enjoys interacting with strangers and how you’ll cope if you find one of them is difficult in some way.
Bottom line – I would heartily recommend this to people as long as they don’t mind a little bit of scariness and a lot of being chased by a zombie.
While the zombie got to eat brains, we opted for an Italian round the corner, Amalfi. Food was nothing special, and the service was horrifically slooooooow, so I can’t recommend. It’s Soho though, so you’ll probably find somewhere!
Detailed Room Ratings