If you’re in Salisbury, you should have played this already. If not, you should book and go there. Quite soon. This room has just about all the things that make an escape room fun, none of the annoying things that wind players up, and it’s a well thought-out room which receives our Generally Awesome award.
Salisbury is the smallest city in the UK, and many visitors come to visit a certain church and piece of paper. Not so for us: Emmy and Nintendomad joined me on this Team Ninty outing to visit temporary South Wiltshire resident Hipsterdashie and take on the challenge at Escape Salisbury.
This room is rather like your typical murder mystery but with additional twists in terms of collecting certain items, on your way through a set of challenges set by the “Wessex Police”, from whom a briefing document accompanied our email confirmation. We were met in character by our host who was very much up to speed with everything and gave us enough explanation of the room and process, and no more. The customary explanation of how to identify items not to be touched (police tape!) aside, it was time to begin.
I was impressed with the set-up and briefing, which was a mixture of in person and by video. The video was really professional, as were similar videographic aspects which we saw at a later stage. It was clear that they had put a lot of planning and investment into this. Right from the get-go there was a variety of puzzles and directions to go. There was rarely a period during which anyone was at a loose end. And as warned at the start, there was some tracking back and forth from one room to the next.
The theming of a museum was tremendous, with each of the sub-rooms clearly dedicated to exhibits of the relevant type. Thinking back over this it was even better than I thought it was at the time; we were too dedicated to getting out to appreciate it. A very substantial amount of time had gone into making sure the puzzles made sense and were related to the theme of each room, and even the props were the same.
More boxes ticked were puzzles needing cooperation, a need to collect things during the game to put together, puzzles with a fast but difficult solution as well as a slower but more obvious one, not going overboard with UV lights, boys’ toys, free sweets (explained as “there was a kids’ party in the museum yesterday, if you find anything sweet you’re welcome to eat it”), and something more to do than “just get out”, which in the circumstances really wouldn’t have made a lot of sense. And there were several elements where I just said to myself “that’s utterly ingenious”.
Welcome absences were pointless darkness, inane scavenger hunts, excessive red herrings, silly word puzzles, and timewasters.
Huge plaudits owed also for making it entirely obvious what code belonged to which lock (can’t really say how this was done because spoilers) and for the build quality of the higher-tech puzzles.
We really clicked as a team as well, combining to great effect in two pairs and varying who was working on each puzzle by the skills involved.
The only hitches of any sort were when our radio, which we did not otherwise need, picked up some muffled traffic from a local taxi firm, which was quickly cleared up, and the absence of a visible clock, with audible reminders from time to time. Warned of the latter we simply kept time on our watches.
We really ploughed through this to set a new room record, finishing in 32:51 and having used no hints. That’s not to say it was too easy; there was plenty to challenge us and I readily believed the host when he said that some of the puzzles stumped other teams for long periods.
I am to understand that the Murder at the Museum game will run up to and including 4 September, after which the venue will close for a couple of weeks whilst they change the room to an all-new puzzle. So the rest of the world has about five weeks to overhaul our score – good luck!
This room has just the right amount of everything in our opinion. Exquisite but subtle theming, puzzles that stretch but don’t involve ridiculous leaps, and hosting of the utmost professionalism. When on reflection after playing a room I ask myself “what would I have wanted to be different in order to make that a better experience”, and if I can’t come up with anything material, that means the only sensible rating is 10/10. The whole can be more than the sum of its parts. So it is with Murder at the Museum – which we award the Generally Awesome award. It’s also tremendous value for money; not something we take into account in ratings calculations, but nevertheless worth the mention.
Accessibility: Stairs only from the entrance to the game.
Alerts: UV and a small section with reduced roof height.
Capacity: Just the one game for 2-6 players. I expect 6 might spend a lot of time getting in one another’s way in the early stages.
Cost: We paid £60 for a team of 4, which is a flat rate for 3-6 players – hooray for non-London prices! Teams of 2 are £45 except Saturdays when they pay full rate. American Express is accepted (PayPal).
Photo: Team name and time on the screen in the background, proper compact camera, and it was on Twitter within a few hours and emailed to us next day.
Getting there: 5 minutes on foot from Salisbury station (National Rail). We got super cheap advance fares for £5.95 per person one way from Waterloo. The train journey is an hour and a half from London Waterloo.
Footnote: Portions of this review have been published with my permission on Escape Game Hub and TripAdvisor.