Norwich – History Mystery – Archived Alive!

A game where you are trying to break someone out of somewhere as opposed to breaking in…a whistlestop tour of Norwich’s rich history on the way, a chance to see inside the beautiful Guildhall…wait, a WINDOW?? That I wasn’t expecting. You can get a rather good view over the market and to the City Hall. Nice…wait, were’t we supposed to be doing something?

The city’s archivist has managed to get himself locked in the secure vaults after forgetting his pass in his jacket pocket. You’ve arrived at his office, to see him waving at you from a screen. The remote access is only available for an hour a day, and he needs you to get him out by solving the puzzles in his office. Perhaps he was paranoid, I don’t know, but if there was so much chance of this happening…wouldn’t there be backup measures to get them out a bit sooner?

Anyway. The puzzles are linked to the city’s history in some way, but are a little random in their approach. There are personal hints available through a computer if you need them, and the archivist also comes on every so often to encourage, or worry you slightly. It’s nice to have a live actor, it brings something to the experience to realise that it is a genuine rescue/breakout.

The main problem I had was wanting to look through all the books for far too long, there’s some interesting literature scattered around, as you would probably expect for an archivist. Nice touch.

Again, we played this as a pair, and it was rather tight on time, with us worried we wouldn’t complete the rescue. There is a lot to search through, but it does pull together well at the end. I think beginning players may struggle with just two people, but I suspect the less competitive won’t actually mind, the game will most likely teach you something either way. I would say 3 to 5 people is ideal. It is fun for both beginners and the more advanced, I think, and families may find this a fun activity at weekends and the holidays, especially if they like puzzles and putting things together.

I did like the idea of combining history and some kind of adventure from the start, and living in a city with an interesting past, I am glad it was established here close to me.The fact that their other games are associated with the very buildings they stand in really does bring something extra to the game. This one is more a general romp, but if you want to find out more about everything, you always have someone to ask…

Our host, and the owner, Alisdair was a goldmine of information about both city history and escape games, and with our shiny silver winners’ badges we headed home happily, with both their other game booked, and a point in the right direction for a friendly company who had opened in the nearby town of Dereham…

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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.

 

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.