Norwich – Cryptic Escape – The Lab of Dr. Lev Pasted

Going back to the first escape room I ever played here, the reviews here are a bit of a catch up.

August 2015, or around that time was the opening of the first escape room in Norwich, and I travelled with two friends not knowing quite what was happening. All I knew was that we would be locked in a room by a friendly games master and we’d face a load of puzzles in order to get out again.

The Lab of Dr. Lev Pasted was their first game, and indeed, we went in to just see….a room. And a load of puzzles. I liked the audio aspect, and the first thing I remember thinking was “Where do we even start?” At this point, only one of us had done anything like this before.

I remember this as having some really good searching, and a fair bit of it was awkward, with a fair few “oh…REALLY?” moments. Definitely laughed about it afterwards. I was hooked by the games having a story behind them, and not just a load of things to solve in a room, with no connection whatsoever. I felt fairly immersed in it, and I was reminded very much of looking around in old point and click games, trying to see what worked with what. Yes, we really didn’t have a clue about what was happening at this point, but it led to some rather amusing moments, and a fair bit of swearing. This would become quite a common theme among the next few rooms, and wow, nothing has changed 2 years later really….

Thinking back on it now, I would definitely recommed this to beginners, and although I have fond memories of my first ever game and may be rose tinting, I still don’t think this is a bad game. Indeed, I am glad to see their review scores creep up. The staff I met cared about their games, and had a great sense of humour with the hints they gave. The hints here come through the monitor when you either ask for them, or the GM thinks you might need a little push. They are steering you in the right direction, but you might end up having to think for a moment. I like this.

Cryptic Escape can be found in Norwich’s Tombland, and they are opening a new game in the near future. I look forward to seeing what they have to offer now they have increased the space they have available.

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CluedUpp – Manhunt – An AR Adventure

With this amazing invention of Facebook, you often get a lot of rubbish recommended to you in adverts. This actually picqued my attention and I decided to take a look when it came to my home town of Norwich.

I’ve played several AR (Augmented Reality for those that aren’t familiar with the term) like Ingress and even Pokemon GO, and a recent visit to an escape room where they made heavy use of technology made me quite intrigued. A murder mystery where you get to do a sort of scavenger hunt around a city, requiring navigation, local knowledge, finding witnesses then solving the puzzles to find the killer.

The game’s app seemed quite well designed, with an intruduction video explaining exactly how you needed to use it and configure your phone, with a fairly good and simple UI. The creators seem to realise that their will be all sorts of people playing this game, from families to those who have played such games before. Indeed, we saw quite a range of teams on our travels, from those taking it relatively seriously and going for the fastest time, to those who were quite clearly on the hunt for the “best dressed team” prize, as there was one for the best fancy dress while doing it as well.

The game itself had a couple of flaws, including one of the multiple choice trivia questions having the wrong answer when pressed. Once the team behind the game were aware of this however, there was a very quick statement on the event page saying that they had found an input error and the wrong answer was chosen as the correct one. I believe it was a fair decision to work from the raw data and then adjust the times as appropriate. The top 5 teams all got the same penalties in the game, so they kept the scores and app as they were, along with an apology and full explanation. I was happy with this and found it quite reasonable.

There was a hint system in place in the app in case you really struggled with the witness comments, and there were some really quirky personalities on show. Some would only speak in a code, some in rhyme, and one really funny red herring that had me laughing when I realised what it was. Well written, suitable for all levels, and often had a good sense of humour around the whole event. Taking a hint added a fair bit of time on to your score, but didn’t affect you in any other way. A one minute penalty was in place for any wrong answers to the trivia questions.

I liked the way that the teams were able to choose the routes they took, so you often saw a fair few different people around, but it would have been nice, if slightly impractical, to have live actors working as the witnesses. It didn’t take much away for them to be giving virtual statements though, and it was good that you could, as we did, collect all the statements before going to a local sushi restaurant to solve the case. Made it quite cosy and fun for us. It was nice to be able to see the pictures of the other teams being posted online doing similar things. A nice sense of community.

All in all, not a bad experience at all for what it was. Maybe a bit easy for experienced gamers of this type, but a fun little sideline if you like any puzzle games or scavenger hunts.