Clockwork Dog – Langstroth’s Last Riddle

Summary
Extremely immersive pop-up location, themed exquisitely to a limiting venue. Amazing hosts. Mixture of puzzles including search, logic, calculations, combination locks, and the obligatory trapdoor. Best room I’ve played to date.

Review
Note: This room is no longer in operation (and this review got caught up in a backlog, hence why it’s been nearly two months coming). I’ve taken somewhat of a liberty and am a bit less cautious about spoilers in the review as a result. I accept it’s possible that Clockwork Dog may try the same thing again sometime in the future, in which case I guess I’ll cut it back or deal with the consequences, but I think they’re planning something different.

I read about this room’s short tenure over on The Logic Escapes Me in early June. With an escape planned with Team Nintendo and no room booked, I proposed this location to the group but got overruled in favour of Professor Oxford’s Experiment by nintendomad. Still had a good feeling about Clockwork Dog and therefore I polled Facebook for interest. With positives from reb and linkaneo who would be playing their third game, this became a Team Judge outing.

On arrival for our 10pm game, we rang the bell a good 15 minutes early and were met and welcomed in character by our two hosts, who explained that they were dealing with the last will and testament of Mr. Langstroth, who had passed away leaving most of his collection of antiques – with which the room was bedecked – to specific relatives. The remaining item, of the most value, was hidden somewhere in the room, and advertisements had been placed for folks such as ourselves to come and try to follow the clues in his antiques store and discover it.

We got the usual briefing on the rules; the clock was period-appropriate and clear, and the usual “don’t touch this, it’s not part of the game” bit was indicated by stickers and tags bearing the Clockwork Dog logo. We were also told that “the lights and the background in the room will guide you when you are doing the right and wrong things”. At this stage linkaneo decided to ask whether we were allowed to move the small furnishings and rugs, in case there was a trapdoor hidden under the rug. We got a suitably noncommittal answer and how our hosts kept their faces straight I do not know as we promptly kicked off by moving the rugs, under one of which was indeed a locked-up trapdoor!

The clock for the room was an old mechanical one which was manually set to 11:00 when we started, with our time lasting until 12 midnight. For a single room, there was a whole pile of things to explore. The wonderfully-themed puzzles included all sorts of things which an eccentric old collector would have. Search puzzles were balanced with mental gymnastics, a wonderfully-built wooden puzzle brought in just the right amount of intrigue, and almost all the props not marked with the “don’t touch” tag were brought into play.

As if that wasn’t enough, the attentiveness of the hosts was very clear. There were perhaps three or four “phases” separated clearly by “bigger” puzzles that we worked towards, and as we opened one of the chests the lighting and mood music changed. It was creepy but just the right side of unnerving.

As a team of three we all found plenty of opportunity to get involved and to rework puzzles where we had made an error. I get the impression a larger group would have had just as much fun though. Two people would have had their work cut out.

This room’s Wow factor was off the charts. It must have taken the most gigantic level of ingenuity to use the limiting venue and infinite trinkets to come up with solvable, in-theme, and appropriate puzzles. If we had hats, we would have doffed them.

Outcome
We won with 22 minutes left on the clock, and needed no hints. I’m not actually sure how hints would have arrived, as we weren’t given a walkie-talkie or anything, but our hosts were stood in a back room and I suppose they would probably have come out to give a suggestion if they saw us needing one, or maybe flashed the lights over a certain object. We got to take away a trinket as a souvenir.

The hosts were extremely interesting gents and we chatted for 10-15 minutes after the game about it and their future plans. We played on the second last day before the game was to close down and whilst we did not get the fastest time, we were in the top 10.

There was no need for any serious discussion before issuing this game with our Generally Awesome award.

In numbers
Overall: 10/10
Difficulty: 6/10
Theming: 10/10
Host: 10/10
Wow: 11/10

Other details
Accessibility: Steps to the door, and some sections were too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair. One segment requires reaching down through the floor.

Alerts: Lighting changes and loud/surprising music. You may have ended up with sand in your shoes.

Cost: We paid £72 for a team of 3. This was on a sliding scale depending on number of players, capping out at £100 for 5.

Capacity: 2-5 players in one room.

NB: This pop-up room is now closed.

Photo: None

Getting there: Canonbury (London Overground) is the nearest station, though it’s a bit moot now.

Website: http://clockwork.dog

2 thoughts on “Clockwork Dog – Langstroth’s Last Riddle”

  1. I didn’t get to see the hint system either but my team mates (who played in the previous slot) specifically asked (they also got through clue free). It was apparently impressive – a postcard from Langstroth apparently came zipping through the door at speed. Presumably they were mainly written in advance for each puzzle but could be generated on the fly where necessary. All the people who saw the clue delivery were impressed by the mechanic but unfortunately we only talked about it in the pub afterwards, so I didn’t get to see it myself.

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