A WW2-themed escape with a range of deduction, search, and mechanical puzzles – many of which were on theme. Low-tech but they have made a lot of a limiting premises. Pretty high reliance on padlocks.
Iliffe Yard is a curious little cobbled location near Elephant & Castle. We were a bit early but not early enough to wait in the recommended café so stood around outside the venue for a little while. Team Amaze was on duty for this one. We’d been warned there was no room for early arrivals or for waiting and this is no joke: the control room cum waiting area is a small corridor about 3 feet by 15 and it is literally impossible for a team that’s just finished to occupy the space as well as an arriving team.
The goal of the room is to escape a POW camp in wartime Germany. One unique aspect is that before starting we were handed a booklet of the diary of Bob Hails, which contained a range of clues and material to be used once in. This was slick and well-prepared, and we had the chance to peruse it before we were on the clock.
We were advised that unlike other rooms hints would not be proactively offered and we would need to radio for one if we wanted one. He said that to be considered a “winning” team we should use no more than three clues. We were also warned that the model of padlocks used was a bit finicky and needed to be clicked down in order to open. On entering the room the host kindly pointed out a fixture with no clues where we could store our bags and personal items.
So the room itself. Theming is decent and the props and items, including most of the clues, were appropriate to the period. There’s very limited linearity. We split up the team into two sub-sections to address the different sets of puzzles, and it’s either a mark of the room’s wide range of puzzles or the team being multi-skilled that there are plenty of aspects of the room which on discussing afterwards we didn’t even notice we’d done.
We got through a lot of codes – a further unique feature is that each lock has adjacent to it a little icon or drawing which suggested where we might get the code for that lock.
The other strength of the room was a particularly nice piece of design in relation to mechanical puzzles. And the balance of difficulty was pretty good, meaning we didn’t run into too many dead-ends or red-herrings.
My main gripe with the room is that there were three or four doors/cupboards which had two or more locks. One chest had four – this caused a substantial bottleneck and this is the exception to the point above on linearity.
A hat-tip to them for having an actual decent team photo solution: a proper Nikon camera, with flash, and Lightroom and filters to produce good quality team photos, which got uploaded promptly to Facebook. Props were also available and encouraged – though without any pressure to use them. I’m particular about photography and the more common host taking a photo as an afterthought on a camera phone and nothing ever happening to it is frustrating.
We got out in just over 58 minutes having made rather heavy weather of the last few puzzles, and used two clues, which were both very timely.
Accessibility: Fairly steep steps from the entrance to the lobby and room, and relatively narrow. Toilets are in a separate unit and one must go outside to access it.
We paid £115 for the team – a flat rate for “peak” time, which is all day Saturday and bank holidays, and 4pm or later on other days. Off-peak price is £80 per team. The price does not vary by team size.
Capacity: They accept teams of 2-7 – we played with 4 and thought that any more people would have got in one another’s way. A larger group of newer players would probably be fine too. There’s just the one room and one game, though I got the impression they have plenty of plans to expand subject to obtaining a larger venue.
Photo: As mentioned above, high-quality and well-lit photo published to Facebook within a few days.