Welcome to my 20th review on QMSM. And to mark this grand occasion we have a very special review. Please note this review is based on a visit in May 2015. I’m still playing catch up with my reviews.
What? This is only #19? Oh, that’s not quite so auspicious. Well, you’re probably not here for poetically planned out schedules you just want to hear about an escape, so on to the review!
As further evidence of my lack of planning, my trip down to London for DASH was arranged months in advance, but the booking of escapes for while I was there was only done a few weeks before. So while I had heady ideas of cherry picking the best the capital had to offer, the reality of it was finding one that was available. Luckily Time Run’s Lance of Longinus was:
Time is complex: a mesh of constants and variables. Some points in history are, of course, fixed – but others are permanently in flux, easily disturbed from their rightful position.
When Luna Fox first discovered time travel, she quickly realised something was awry. As she delved further it began to become apparent: some objects bear down upon the weave of time, distorting it with the weight of their power.
These artefacts are mysterious, exciting – possibly even dangerous. Some you may remember from folklore or myth: rest assured, many are fictional – but others are most certainly real. Luna and her assistant, Babbage, need your help to secure these objects – to safeguard them from nefarious forces.
I’m not sure if it’s a term they invented or one that was given to them, but the phrase ‘immersive theatre’ is one I’ve seen used in many articles and reviews about Time Run, almost as if they’re trying to differentiate it from a mere ‘escape game’. And while I’m certainly not a fan of the term, there is a lot to say that this isn’t the same as anything else.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is the price. We played as a team of three during peak time, which worked out at a shade under £35 each. Compare that to the other escape game we played in London at £23 each, and the average price we pay ‘up North’ to be around £17 per player (less with special offers), and you start asking whether it can really be worth it.
Secondly you’ve got the theatrics. On arrival at Time Run you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d slipped through some sort of portal already. You’re in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by industrial units, in North East London (near London Fields Station. No, I’d never heard of it either). But there is a very pleasing door in front of you bearing a massive Time Run symbol. At your allocated time (not a minute before or a minute after!) you ring the buzzer, give your name, and you’ll be welcomed inside. There you’ll be met by your host, who’s quite a character. And I don’t just mean they’re charming, I mean they’re in character, as one of Luna Fox’s assistants. I’ve mentioned before about how I felt a bit of acting would help you get into the mood and it certainly did here. The act was perhaps a bit overlong, which I’m pretty sure was because they were playing for time (more on that shortly), but it gave us time to appreciate the gorgeous surroundings and learn a little more about time travel.
Next you’ll notice the biggest difference of all. You’re led from your initial briefing into a long, mysterious corridor. When the host finds the right door (very Crystal Maze-esque) it’s opened and you walk into another world, both story wise and in terms of experience. At no point between then and escaping back into that same corridor did I feel like I was in a generic room facing a given scenario. The surroundings, the tasks you’re given, the way your host interacts with you are all amazing. The production values are higher than some Hollywood films. The puzzles and challenges take advantage of that to achieve things that simply aren’t possible on a smaller budget. Heck, the way you transition between ‘stops’ on this journey is even entertaining.
But the ‘transition’ is also interesting for another reason. When booking Time Run you’ll notice that slots start every 45 minutes, yet the experience is the standard 60 minutes (probably longer with the briefings). That means that while you’re in the latter stages of the game the earlier part is already being reset, possibly even being played by another group. That means that they can’t have you taking too long in the early part otherwise they wouldn’t have time to do that. That means that they need you to move quickly through the game. That means that clues/guidance are fed to you pretty quickly throughout. Our ‘scorecard’, that you receive on exit, said that we’d received a very small number of clues compared to most teams, but that was still much higher than we’ve received anywhere else. From this perspective, it’s almost as if Time Run is a set experience that you just participate in, rather than a challenge to see how far you can get/if you can escape (has anyone ever failed/been ‘locked in’ Time Run? Let me know if so). Does this make it more theatre than an escape game? I don’t think so, but again, it’s not like anything else.
Further to the above need for swift progress, the puzzles in Lance of Longinus are on the easy side compared to a lot of places. There are some reasonably tough physical challenges, which is a nice alternative, but don’t expect to be too taxed mentally.
So it’s expensive, different, easy and you get rushed through (to a small extent) so would I recommend it? Absolutely. I’d recommend the people of London go to it as a priority. I’d recommend the people of everywhere else to make a special trip. I’d recommend it to everyone, every time, everywhere. It is without question the best experience I’ve reviewed on this site. The only question left is whether any other escape games are worth playing after this. You’ll just need to stay tuned to find out.