March Madness: part 1

In January I played one room (and it wasn’t very good). In February I played three rooms (and they were ‘preview screenings’ so I didn’t review them). In March I played 18 rooms in eight days (so here we go!)!

London

Professor Oxford’s Experiments @ Escapeland (aka Escape Rooms London)

One of the most often-asked questions on the Enthusiasts Facebook group is ‘what games can you play as a two in London (without paying for three)?’ One of the answers to that question is Professor Oxford’s Experiments (though you have to pay for three and then claim a two-person refund). Unsurprisingly from this introduction, we played as a two and had a fun time. The theming is minimal, so I’m afraid any steampunk fans may be a little disappointed, but the puzzles were varied and rewarding and a nice flow to them. 6/10

The Runner @ City Mazes London

We arrived at City Mazes to be told we didn’t have a booking. Some debate later they decided that we had. But they then told us that the previous group was still in the room we would be playing! Plus there was only one member of staff running the front desk and two rooms. Unacceptable. The young lady did her best and managed to reset both rooms and brief us and another team by 22:35, but that was 25 minutes after our booking; the most delayed I’ve ever been.

The game itself is very loosely based on the book and movie Maze Runner. You start in ‘The Glade’ where you must do some standard stuff to progress. Later you do the bit I don’t remember from the film, where you find a tablet and do a lot of augmented reality games. I say ‘augmented reality’; the only reality bit is that you have to hold up the tablet to a picture to start them, then you just play a computer game. If that level of ‘wizardry’ impresses you then you might enjoy this game, but for us it just meant a swift exit, escaping in 18 minutes. Poor all round. 3/10.

 

Oxford

Professor’s Predicament @ City Mazes Oxford

When one City Maze isn’t enough you can drive to another city and try another. Strangely the room management approach here was different to in London; we were armed with the traditional walkie-talkie as a clue device, rather than the Escape Reality-style automated system used in London (which we thankfully didn’t need).

I’m not sure if the titular professor was given a name in the room, but regardless you’ve got to assume it was McGonagall as this room is just a Harry Potter knock off. And I do mean knock off. For me, just changing a few character and house names makes it feel like a cheap copy rather than an homage. That, along with some rather pedestrian pacing, left me feeling completely detached from this room. Trying to be objective, I honestly don’t think it was that bad of a room, but it did nothing for me. 4/10.

 

Didcot

Unnamed (though it should obviously be called Passport Control) @ Didcot Escape Rooms

The most interesting part about this game is the quest to find it. Their website says “on the Southmead Industrial Estate, Didcot (near Tesco warehouse). It can be a bit difficult to find!¬†¬†Once you get into the industrial estate, follow the road around and look out for our signs. The are (sic) black arrows with our logo on them placed on lamp posts in the industrial estate! We have tried to made (sic) it really simple to find us even though its (sic) a bit tucked away!” Those black arrows have been blown/punched around to a point where they’re not really guiding you anywhere any more. Luckily we know how to brute force things when puzzles don’t make any sense, and tried all four combinations of directions before finding the room tucked away in the corner of one of the industrial units.

In the game you’re looking through a hotel/bedroom to try and find your friend’s passport which has been locked up for reasons. To find it you’ll get the chance to complete a (fairly tough) sudoku, a crossword, and even a couple of puzzles you couldn’t do in a newspaper! It was described by a teammate as “when someone plays a couple of escape rooms and thinks ‘I could do this’ but really can’t” which is a harsh but fair assessment. 2/10

 

That’s all I’ve got time for today. Part 2 coming “soon”.

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