London – Escape Land – Da Vinci’s Exploration

I’ll admit it, we didn’t originally go to London to play this game. After a mistake in our booking for another game, we came on the wrong day. Well that is a good start, right?

A look around on various websites led us to Escape Land, on Oxford Street, which is a lot better placed for travel than a lot of games in London, in a central area, and not somewhere where you wonder who is coming down that dark alley next to you…

A fairly small venue, with 2 games, the host was friendly to us, and we got started quickly. The game started off very dark, we weren’t warned about that, which some people may prefer. The torch was working at least, which was a blessing, but I am still not entirely sure why we would be locked in such a place and trying to escape. I do like games with a story behind them, but possibly the “Exploration” was us exploring the hidden workshop we found.

I am endlessly grateful that we were in Da Vinci’s workshop rather than Leonard Da Quirm’s, I dread to think what puzzles we would have come across. Those we did didn’t seem too related to each other, maybe it is the man’s genius that led to that. There was a really fun method of travelling between two rooms, a little physical but nothing too difficult. That will wow new players for a start when they find it.

Where our team of three got frustrated was near the end, there was one particular puzzle that drove us absolutely mad for about 10 minutes, others may find it a bit easier, but we stuggled a little with the instructions and had to take a couple of hints, delivered over a radio. It looked to have taken some abuse, but was working adequately enough for our needs. We weren’t entirely sure when we had escaped, but that was more our oversight than the fault of the room.

There are some small areas, so again I would say 3 to 4/5 players is good here. Fairly standard for most of the games we have played. It won’t necessarily wow those who have played a lot of games, but we enjoyed ourselves and it was reasonably priced for the location.

 

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Norwich – Cryptic Escape – The Treasure of Greenbeard

It says something about this room when I remember it so well nearly 18 months after playing it. You are trying to escape from the cells of the flagship of the dreaded pirate Greenbeard (*ahem*) who is busy with some pillaging and is due back soon. You have your chance to escape, and make off with some of his treasure at the same time.

This was the second room I had ever played, the first being Cryptic Escape‘s first game, the Lab of Dr. Lev Pasted, in August, just before their official opening, I believe.

As (kind of) expected, we were locked in cells, to escape those first. It is good to note here that you probably don’t want more than 2 to a cell. It’s a little cramped. Also good to note, the GMs can assist people who are claustrophobic here too. The venue lends itself very well, it’s old, reasonably dark, and does give a good feel here with the slightly odd shaped ceilings and walls. I like the decor too, and this impressed me even more so after the jailbreak. Less impressed was my partner, who I accidentally left in the other cell for quite a while while I searched the rest of the room. Oops.

There’s a good range of nautically themed and pirate puzzles, good use of space as it gave you the feel of being in the hold of a ship, searching for treasure. The tech was definitely a step up from the first room, which was more of a traditional one with padlocks, but it didn’t feel intrusive at all, not even the screen for the clues and timer.

The screen follows the HintHunt style games, where the GM can talk to you through a screen with their own clues. It is not apparently possible to bribe them with cake for the answers. Tom was in charge of our game, and injected some good humour as well as definitely feeling we were being looked after well.

We escaped with around 2 minutes remaining, and avoided the clutches of Greenbeard himself, and it was a reasonable stretch for 2 players, although definitely not impossible. I recommend 4 is probably maximum unless you like to be rather cosy for a while.

It’s 6am and…

I now have plenty of time to update reviews as I spend the next 3 hours on a coach to London. After a bit of a break, it is escaping time again!

On the way to meet up with my regular partner in crime (sometimes having a whole new meaning in escape games, I am surprised no one has found me yet after all the priceless artifacts I have stolen, areas I have broken into..and the rest)

It is time to visit a new company I hadn’t actually heard of yet, reading a review from The Logic Escapes Me and Time Out have convinced me to go and try it @www.cluetrace.co.uk where we will play Mission Critical, and back to Handmade Mysteries to try and finish the last monstrosity of Poppa Plock in his Wonky Workshop. Sounds like it is going to be fun!