A strongly linear adventure with impeccable theming. Limited light means a need to concentrate carefully. Despite being Omescape’s lowest-difficulty room, it’s not one for new players. Puzzles, technology, and build quality are excellent with virtually no reliance on padlocks and not a key in sight. Five players is probably too many.
Team Amaze booked both copies of Biohazard Laboratory for a total of ten players. On the day we lost Bubbles who had to drop out at short notice, so after asking around the rest of Team Amaze and drawing a blank, we picked up Emmy from Team Ninty to fill out the second team. She had transport issues on her way up and therefore it was 8 minutes into our slot before everyone was on site. Mig and Vicky led team Alpha featuring Emmy and Will whilst Agent P and I were on Team Omega. [Both teams were 5 players, we just haven’t got alter-ego names for everyone else yet =p]
Our host gave us the short version of the welcome so as not to delay things further. He kindly did not deduct this from our time clock, and we got underway with the explanation of our mission – poisonous agents have been introduced into the water network and we needed to go into the sewers to add the antidote and get back out again, collecting some MacGuffins on the way.
The room was quite dark and we needed to make careful use of the two torches we had, one of which had its batteries dying, annoyingly. Just two puzzles presented themselves in a fairly Spartan environment. OmEscape has done great work in theming and building an environment that was appropriate to the story. It’s also integrated the puzzles into the build rather than the usual “let’s solve and find some 3- and 4-digit codes to put into a padlock”. There was also always a clock in sight.
So getting on with things, we quickly found… that there was very little to get on with. The room was highly linear and if you don’t get what you need to be doing, then you’re stuck. No chance to “come back to this bit later”. And so we spent a lot of time faffing about trying to figure out what to do.
Hints came in thick and fast on the radio, but they mostly needn’t have bothered as they reiterated stuff we’d already discovered. It seemed that there was one host on duty for two or three different games, which isn’t enough in my opinion.
We muddled through regardless, and I think the style and substance of the puzzles was actually pretty decent, there just wasn’t enough of them and there were too many irrational leaps of faith needed.
One of the code puzzles was pretty weird as well. One digit was given away, two digits needed to be solved from a pretty challenging maths puzzle, and I never figured out where the fourth was from as we were losing the will to live and ended up spinning the dial.
Team Amaze Alpha completed with 11 minutes left on the clock, a whole 35 seconds faster than Team Amaze Omega. Each team used a whole heap of hints, of varying usefulness and often explaining the steps we needed to complete to enter a code/push some buttons/move a widget (which we had already picked up) rather than pointing us in the direction of finding out what we actually needed to punch in.
Whilst they avoid padlocks and have great tech, a lot of the tech seemed like it was just for showoff and there simply wasn’t enough to do a lot of the time for the full team. The one section that allowed us to divide and conquer was so complex that we couldn’t make inroads into it, and the darkness just slowed things down further.
Accessibility: A few steps up and down and one door which is a round hatch at waist-height; one of our team who is particularly tall and was wearing a shift dress had minor difficulty getting through.
Alerts: Dark throughout (twilight/dim). Some flashing/rotating laser lights. One potential jump scare. Two puzzles unsuitable for colour blind players.
Capacity: This game accepts 3-5 players. 5 players was probably too many; at most 3 of us were doing much at any point in time.
Cost: We paid £92.65 for each of our two teams of 5 players – normal price is £109, but we had a 15% off coupon code, which is now expired. I understand the price to be £79 base for 3 players, £10 for each additional player, and a £10 peak time supplement.
Photo: Yes, branded backdrop with medal (if won). Photo was quite dark (which I suppose aligns with their brand, but it wouldn’t kill them to stick the flash on). One copy printed for guestbook. Digital copy uploaded to Facebook and easy to find in date-indexed albums.