Whilst Da Vinci is perhaps an overused theme, we warmed to this room quickly and found it the best of the three on the premises. Puzzles were just right for difficulty. Decent fun.
Escape London is like a good wine — they improve with age. We’re not talking years or more, though: we first visited them two weeks prior and given they only opened at the start of August it was eminently clear they were learning fast.
Da Vinci, then, was our third and final outing for now. Rejoined by linkaneo and reb, Team Judge made good time to arrive for our visit. Linkaneo repeated her old joke about rugs, and we all know what that means…
Waiting outside whilst we finished our takeaway, a previous team was leaving about 3 minutes before our scheduled start time, and it turned out they had been playing the Da Vinci Room before us. With games running in 90-minute slots it’s a bit of a tight schedule especially if anyone earlier may have been late, and so we were waiting 10-15 minutes whilst they got the room reset. Just as well we didn’t enter the venue early as we could have been spoiled. A reset script was also left face-up around the reception area, which we invited the host to hide. So far, so hiccup-y.
But that’s where things started to get better. As with both previous times there was a very warm welcome from the hosts. We got the short form of the briefing – “you’ve been here before, don’t force or break anything” and then there was a short video that played in the room to explain the task. Being Da Vinci, the Holy Grail was of course involved.
Whilst we were presented with a range of things to do immediately, there was a definite direction that needed to be followed. One of the puzzles was susceptible to being solved by external uncommon knowledge which I had; this amazed the game masters as we found out afterwards. There was also a handy box for us to put stuff in when we were done with it.
A couple of well-presented hints pushed us back on track just as we started to get frustrated by a puzzle; nothing was too time-consuming and most of the hints were something we should already have figured out rather than thinking “how were we meant to guess that”?
It didn’t have a huge amount of innovation but sometimes that’s OK and cracking codes is fine. There was enough variety to keep it from getting boring and no silly pitfalls or time sinks.
Not sure what was expected to be done in an emergency – there was no obvious emergency exit/break glass for key/etc. available should there have been a situation requiring leaving the room in a hurry without assistance. Thankfully there was nothing that happened which would require this.
We cleared the room with 22 minutes left to go and having used three hints. This was a room record for teams of three and second place overall. The hosts mentioned that the top team which was 5 minutes or so ahead of us had brute-forced a lock protecting one of the last sections of the game and therefore bypassed a lot of the puzzles. They were therefore considering whether they should go on the leaderboard at all. I wasn’t getting into that level of politics…
I still take issue with directional locks as I find them a personal bugbear. However, Escape have since last time bought another one which they keep in reception and let folks practice with. There are several Da Vinci rooms around and about these days so the challenge here was to do something meaningful with the theme, and I think Escape has done this quite well. This was the most well-rounded and fun of the three rooms for us — but each is good in its own way, and I’m conscious we played very early on in the run so there may well have been teething problems that won’t reappear now they have some runs under their belt. I think Escape London has lots of potential and whilst it’s narrowly missed out on a Generally Awesome award from us, I think it will become one of London’s best venues.
Accessibility: In a basement downstairs, plenty of space except for one segment.
Alerts: Directional lock, UV, required to use lockers (which are small, a medium-sized backpack would fill one completely and they only have one for each room), briefly dark, no emergency exit and room is properly locked, restricted headroom in one section
Capacity: Each of the three different rooms takes 2-6 players.
Cost: Our group of 3 cost £33 after the 50% introductory discount. Standard price is from £55 for 2 to £110 for 6 players, though they are offering 25% off at the moment. American Express is accepted.
Photo: By phone with optional costumes.
Getting there: Nearest tube is Shepherd’s Bush Market, 5-10 minutes’ walk. Shepherd’s Bush and White City are also near enough.