Outside the room
When Trapped In announced the Ruby Factory, I was immediately excited. No, not about the idea that they might be manufacturing rubies (turns out that’s been possible for over a century) but because it was a non-binary-win-condition game; it’s not just about escaping the room, it’s also about collecting as many rubies along the way as you can. As an enthusiast, that usually points to better value for money than most games – my teams typically complete games at around the 40 minute mark now, whereas these sorts of games see us playing right to the last minute. We’d have to be careful, though, because this was the variant where, once you’d successfully unlocked the exit door, the game was over: just how late will you wait to see if that final code you’ve calculated is correct…?
But I get ahead of myself – they’ve revamped the venue since I was last here, moving the entrance one door along the building and kitting out the inside very nicely. Parking was easy and there’s ample space in reception, which is good because, with four teams, there are a lot of people on site simultaneously (although the staggering of the games means that you’re unlikely to encounter all of them in reception at the same time). Warning: it’s a long way to the toilets along twisty corridors, so make sure you take a ball of string or some breadcrumbs if your teammates want you back… Once we’d retraced our steps, it was straight into the room for the briefing.
Infiltrate the abandoned Ruby Factory and escape with as many rubies as possible before the security guards return. You will need to use physical and mental skills to operate the disused machinery and extract the rubies.
Inside the room
Wow! We’d come with five people, which always makes me worry that we’ll be treading on each other’s toes, but as soon as we walked into this room I knew that it wasn’t going to be an issue. There are so many things to investigate that the problem is working out where to start. Looking back, it’s cleverly pieced together – while many of the puzzles look instantly available, you quickly realise you haven’t got everything you need and soon move on to investigating some of the other puzzles. That’s nice because it means you have to communicate with your team – what should they not work on and what items and information are you looking for to continue? That was a steady theme through the whole game – while I was often solving things on my own, I probably spent more time talking in this room than in any other I can remember.
I felt a little bit like a kid in a toy shop as we started exploring. The puzzles aren’t just accessible from the start – they’re also big and interactive. I like physical games – not in the strenuous sense but in the sense of having to physically manipulate things – and there was plenty of that here. Some of them required real thought, and one in particular was downright evil if you didn’t think carefully about how it worked.
It would have been easy to get lost and overwhelmed with so much to do in the room, but there were a variety of in-game hints to point you in the right direction. The beauty of this game is that, as you start solving the puzzles, you also narrow down the possibilities of what’s left to do.
Having played 100+ rooms, a lot of the puzzles I come across feel a little recycled, but that was less prevalent here. Yes, there were puzzles that were variants on many that I’d seen before, but often they were creative re-imaginings, had a brand new twist to make you think or, in a few cases, were absolutely new to me.
There were two big negatives in this room. First off: safety. Now, in their defence, they were very careful to say that we should read the signs. And I did. But I was rushing and I assumed they were theoretical rather than likely issues. If you don’t want to have your finger crushed, :then be very careful. The second safety issue was late in the game: at one point in the room you’ll do something that you’ll instantly realise is a concern from a safety point of view. The problem is that the risk is there for so long that you eventually get used to it and become blasé. There’s something obvious you can do to remove that risk entirely, so again just do that. It’ll take you all of about two seconds and it will make everyone a lot happier.
The second negative was that several puzzles had problems. One prop held us up for quite a while because, as it turned out, it had run out of batteries (or maybe was just broken). Another couple were temperamental, which in one case held us up for ages and in another caused us to solve a puzzle by accident. Why is solving a puzzle by accident a problem? Well, apart from missing out on the sheer joy of solving it, it meant that nothing happened when we came to try to solve it properly later on. Again, we wasted quite a bit of time trying and retrying the solutions till we eventually concluded that we’d managed to fluke it already.
The only way you can end a review of this room is by talking about the finale. Trapped In refer to this room as being “easy”. The reason is that any team wanting to unlock the exit door can probably do so from relatively early in the game. Unlocking that door ends the game, though, so you want to leave it as late as possible. Which we did, but then we realised two things – first, we weren’t quite so sure of the solution as we thought and, second, even if we had been sure, converting the theoretical solution to an exit code wasn’t instantaneous… Oh dear.
We escaped with 0 seconds on the clock. Yes. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Fortunately, we just got the door open in time and converted what looked like an inevitable last equal place to second on the leaderboard with a haul of 65 rubies. Phew!
I had a huge amount of fun in this room. For a game where you’re obviously focused on getting as much done as quickly as possible, it also requires you to think carefully and constantly communicate with your teammates. I really enjoyed that tension. Granted, there are some rough edges – at least three puzzles were temperamental, one was broken and I had some concerns over safety, but I’d still heartily recommend that you go and play. If you do, though, please, please be careful. Pay attention to what they tell you and think carefully about how best to avoid the most obvious safety problem in the room.
They’ve plenty of space to expand at this location, so the quality I found in this game left me genuinely excited. If they can smooth down those rough edges, then it could be diamonds they manufacture here and not just rubies. Beginners: go along with a big group and be prepared to have an amazing time. Experienced players: go along with a big group and be prepared to have an amazing time.
Oh, and play it safe and leave yourself plenty of time to exit the room…
Detailed Room Ratings
Full disclosure: We weren’t charged for these tickets. That doesn’t influence the review – you can read more on the About page.