Launch the Battle of Britain by mobilising the RAF from a secret air base and make sure you save yourselves.
Team Amaze made the trip back to Elephant & Castle, where we had previously been for “The Adventure Begins” (now moved to a new venue in Shoreditch). The chilliness of the evening evaporated inside – if anyone has ever found an escape room too cold, please send us a postcard.
The genial Brendan welcomed us and offered to explain the game at hand. Our members not having arrived all together, we were instead offered some 1940s postcard puzzles (of the “spot the internal inconsistency” type) to try out whilst we waited.
Once everyone was in place, we had the briefing and were underway. I very much liked the setting and how they had striven to obtain (or at least make) props that were appropriate to the period.
The room is very non-linear and whilst finding one’s way out at the other end is an important feature, the actual goal is to gain entry into the RAF bunker and then determine which planes to send where. The first aspect we achieved without major incident, and it was then back to splitting everyone around the room whilst we dealt with a huge range of cues and clues.
The puzzles varied in construction, style, and difficulty without ever becoming insurmountable or boring.
Without getting too trivial, this really was a case of getting on with it. Things went too smoothly for me to call out any area where we felt stuck, and managing a team of 6 was not complicated enough to interfere.
Hints came by way of prerecorded audio and were timely without being giveaways.
One puzzle was counter-intuitive enough to admit several solutions, and when we fed this back to Brendan he immediately agreed, mentioned a couple of teams had said the same, and undertook to change it.
We got the maximum possible score of 71 in 58 minutes. We did spend about the last 5 minutes checking and rechecking that we’d done everything right before launching.
Escape Plan has done it again with a very solid game. They’ve steered away from padlocks and towards a range of ingenious mechanical, electronic, and other tricksy puzzles whilst staying very much on theme. Best of all, the scoring system means that there’s plenty to do for teams who have the skills and/or the numbers to do more, whilst you can still get a reasonable result even if you’re starting out or having a bad day.
The little touches such as the contemporary puzzles to play whilst waiting, the finale, and the painstaking avoidance of anachronisms in the room make it clear that they attend to every detail.
We also had an email from the owner beforehand asking us if we were sure we wanted to bring a team of 7 (we ended up with 6) – he knew me from the booking address – and I was able to confirm that most of the players were new and it would be fine.
Accessibility: Stairs to main room, narrow corridor and confined briefing area. Toilets in a separate building entrance.
Capacity: The one room takes 2-7 players. I can imagine two experienced enthusiasts doing well (though see below about price), and the non-linearity makes a larger team feasible too.
Cost: There’s a flat rate regardless of the number of players, which is £89 on weekdays and £120 on weekends, except that teams of 2 pay £65 weekdays and £89 weekends. American Express is accepted.
Photo: Taken with a DSLR and emailed promptly. Dress-up gear available.
Getting there: The room is a short walk from Kennington (Northern) and Elephant & Castle (Northern, Bakerloo, and National Rail) stations. It is in a quaint little gated-off business park type of affair; gates are often closed in the evening but you can ring the number on your booking confirmation and they will come down and get you.