Warning: the room didn’t quite look like this…
Outside the room
A few hours after our visit to Escape Room Preston we were back again to take on Gallery – the Insidious Art Thief. Unsurprisingly, not much had changed in the intervening three hours, although things had become a little busier, with several hosts and teams at various stages of playing the games. Most of the escape rooms I’ve been to are quiet places, so it was nice to feel there was a bit of a buzz to the place.
In this room, you’re a master art thief who’s broken into (presumably) the Louvre and stolen the Mona Lisa. You’ve tripped an alarm though, and the police are on their way. Strangely for one of the most famous pieces of art, in one of the most famous museums in the centre of a major city, it’s going to take the police an hour to get their act together, so you’ve still got a chance to escape…
Inside the room
Once again, when you walked into the room, you could see they’d made an effort with the set so that it felt somewhat like a real gallery in a museum, and pleasingly the puzzles were integrated into the set nicely. As with the previous room, there weren’t a huge number of puzzles to solve, but there was a decent variety and keeping them on theme definitely helped to make the experience more enjoyable.
As with the previous room, the game suffered from a lack of lighting (although, again, the story made that part of the plot with the theft taking place at night). Annoyingly, you do get given a torch, but only one between the full team. Aside from the fact that any decent art thieves are going to carry their own torches, this means that team mates are vying over the torch. It’s bad enough that we have to fight over who gets to solve which puzzles, but don’t make us argue over the torch. Even with just two of us, it was a constant pain to have to share.
We flew through this room, getting to the final puzzle as quickly as we had with the Egyptian room, but this time we got utterly stumped. We eventually had to take the painful option of asking for a clue, not once but twice. On a single puzzle. One thing that I’d been studiously ignoring in the previous game was the implication that clues would be given by someone coming into the room with you. I’ve said in a recent review that I think it really breaks the illusion for me. The Escape Room don’t have screens in their rooms, just a basic clock, which I guess is an effort to keep the budget down, but it really spoils the game for me. I can’t quite describe it properly, but the rest of the time you’re playing a private game, trying to immerse yourself in the story, and then when you need a clue all that is shattered.
That said, the host’s clues were absolutely spot on. First time round he got us to confirm where we’d got up to in the room, and what our ideas were for the puzzle before pointing out a key element we’d missed and making sure we had some ideas of what to do next. Second time round he made absolutely sure we understood the puzzle, but without spoon feeding us the solution. I should also add that it was a perfectly fair puzzle, and the failure to solve it was entirely down to our lack of inspiration – on another day I can well imagine us solving without help, so no criticisms of them on that front.
Finally, there’s one quite fun piece of technology that the game uses which will delight people who haven’t seen it before. I’ve played one other game with a similar concept, but better implemented, so it didn’t wow me, however, overall I think the approach here is just right in that it gives the experience without alienating the players. You’ll know what it is when you see it!
We escaped with around eight minutes remaining. We chose not to ask for help for a long time because we were reasonably confident that it was the last puzzle (well, I was), so the exact escape time wasn’t particularly relevant. The fact that it took us two clues was though…
If you’ve read my other review of the Escape Room Preston, you’ll find a lot of the above is very similar, and I can’t help but feel that it’s a good thing. When I go back to play at one of their franchises, I’ll have a clear picture of what to expect: good set design, well integrated puzzles which don’t require any leaps in logic, although I won’t expect them to be numerous, nor amazingly taxing.
It’s fair to say this is a little more difficult than their previous game, but not massively so. I think it will appeal to a similar demographic – two or three player teams of experienced players, families and relative novices.
As mention in the review of the Mummy we ate at Tang‘s. As a bonus though, I’ll mention the Ferret who got in touch via Twitter and serve American BBQ food and a range of real ales. Most importantly though, a team of their staff/regulars held the record on the Vampire Chronicles game with a 43 minute escape. Why not play the game and head over for some drinks and food to boast about your success or congratulate them on theirs!
Detailed Room Ratings