This is part of a series of articles on games in Edinburgh – click here for the introduction and links to all the other articles.
Exit Plan feels like a no-nonsense escape room that’s confident in its ability. The GM we had for all three games (and the only employee we met) was friendly and confident, welcoming us on arrival and happily chatting about escape rooms. There’s a smallish but comfy waiting area in what is, throughout, a pleasant building to be in. The three games we played were incredibly consistent in quality – entirely logical with each room having something to take it above the humdrum of your average escape room but relatively little décor-wise beyond the puzzle element props themselves. GMing was spot on too – on the very odd occasion where we got stuck, he knew exactly what we had to do next and, discussing one particular failure later, it was obvious that he had been paying very careful attention to what we’d been doing.
The Tesla Cube (4 stars)
I’m sure geeks of the world will agree with me that Nikola Tesla is a great choice for an escape room. In truth, the references were pretty shallow but, if you’re going to make a science-themed room, he’s a good choice. There were some good physics references across the game but not so many that non-geeks would be turned off, and certainly nothing that required any science knowledge. The decoration was a pretty bare scientist’s office, but it worked well enough, and a set of clues which formed part of a centre-piece puzzle were surprisingly effective in compensating for any absence of science equipment.
As with each of the games we played at Exit Plan, most of the game consisted of relatively straightforward puzzles that gave codes for combination locks (and there were quite a lot!). One word of warning: don’t make the mistake I made and think that one of the padlocks is some sort of trick lock which you can open without a key. I must have spent five minutes fiddling with it and confusing the hell out of the GM before eventually giving up in frustration (and finding the correct key immediately after the next puzzle!). There was one particularly cool piece of technology which had been well placed in the game to add to the experience. I’ve seen similar things in other escape rooms with several variations in how they used them, but none looked as grandiose as in this game.
We escaped in 52 minutes taking a single clue. Don’t read too much into that time; we lost probably twenty minutes on two search failures in the room. The second failure was particularly embarrassing because we both missed a large object sitting in a box that we had unlocked together and then spent ten minutes re-searching the room, knowing exactly what we were searching for but failing to see it lying in plain sight…
Svengali’s Lair (4 stars)
If I’d read the instructions a bit better, I probably wouldn’t have been surprised that this game starts with you being placed in handcuffs. As a two-player team that was fine but with seven or eight players, I can imagine it would have been pretty crowded in there. We quickly threw off our shackles (well, reasonably quickly) and got to work on the game – for me, that seems a bit of a waste. If you’re going to go to the trouble of handcuffing the players, you might as well make it a bit more of a challenge to get free. Once out, there was plenty to dig into, and it wasn’t immediately obvious which bits were important or how they related to each other. As puzzles slowly started falling, the remaining pieces started to click into place.
As with the other two games, the decoration was fairly basic and the story was next to non-existent. You knew from the start what you had to do and there was no real development as the game progressed.
While most of the puzzles were fairly standard, there were a couple that stood out as a little more interesting. One was just pure fun – not difficult to do but very different from other games. The two puzzles at the finale really helped to build the tension, especially since we took a very long time to solve the penultimate puzzle. The GM held back and, just as we were about to lose faith in our abilities, Mrs Logic spotted what we had to do and everything became clear.
The finale itself was exactly what a finale should be: a good, sensible puzzle that was quick to solve but added nicely to the tension. We completed the game in 45 minutes with a single clue (for another search fail…).
Framed! (4 stars)
The first thing I should say is that this review is written from the perspective of someone who spent about half the game not really taking part – I’d been suffering from a trapped nerve and, just as our third game started, it started seriously playing up. Mrs Logic had to play without help for the first twenty minutes till the painkillers kicked in but what I can remember is…
The room itself was, like most of their rooms, pretty bare from a decoration point of view. Don’t get me wrong – it’s certainly looked after. It just doesn’t jump out at you as being a beautiful space to be. What Exit Plan do well is fill rooms with fun, logical puzzles and then hook in some kind of more impressive puzzles somewhere to make them stand out just that little bit above the average rooms. While my least favourite of their three rooms, Framed! still delivered on that promise, with a couple of puzzles that involved unusual steps. It’s always enjoyable when you’re looking at your props trying to work out how to solve a puzzle and suddenly you have the realisation of the answer.
The premise of this game is to work out who the murderer is, which I always find a little bit contrived. There’s something that just doesn’t sit right about walking out of an escape room and then having the slightly anticlimactic finish of telling the GM who you think did it and waiting for them to confirm. To my mind, you should really sort out whether a team have won or lost before they exit the room.
Fortunately, we did choose correctly and ended up escaping the room in 46 minutes having taken a single clue (for, you’ve guessed it, a search fail). Which I guess goes to show that Mrs Logic doesn’t really need me in escape rooms…
That’s all on Exit Plan – want to read more about Edinburgh games? Click here to head back to the main Edinburgh page.