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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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.

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.