Operation Escape – The Ops Room

Summary
A great example of how a low-tech escape room need not be written off as “Gen 1”. The Ops Room is a great first escape experience and tied its puzzles together wonderfully.

Review
Living in south-east London, it’s a bit of a surprise that I hadn’t been out here much earlier.

I’ve probably reached that stage that I need to stop booking rooms out of my London Escapists email, because our host welcomed us having read the site and knowing “the reviewers are in” – maybe I’d prefer it to be a surprise. She was in a period uniform and very welcoming and friendly.

We had a quick verbal briefing instructing us what to do in each part of the game and how to proceed. One of the dangers when the host sees some experienced players is that the briefing gets trimmed down to “the usual escape room principles apply”, and there then can follow a bit of checking about what those “usual principles” are, because there’s often a few differences. I asked for clarification and the host needed to check herself to avoid spoilers. Perhaps a lesson to assume nothing…

And then it was time to head in. The room allowed for a reasonable amount of working in parallel, before bringing what we’d done together to get ourselves to the next section. We had knocked out the first set of puzzles reasonably promptly, before I fell into what is becoming a recurring trap of doing all the right things and then failing to operate a lock correctly, which cost us 15 minutes faffing about and looking for something else before we eventually got a hint.

The second segment was a very well interweaved set of puzzles which again we made rather heavy weather of – most of the information and clues we needed were available for us to see, but we didn’t quite put everything together. Again the game allowed the three of us to branch out and look at things separately before combining it all for a collective answer. There were few surprises but I did think we’d finished everything a little before we actually had.

Hints came by “telegram” notes under the door, most of which were laminated making it clear that they were reusable, but there was scope for handwritten custom hints when something unplanned arose!

Outcome
We made very heavy weather of puzzles by not listening to the briefing very well and failing to adequately operate locks, thereby ensuring we didn’t trouble the leaderboard with our time of 51 minutes and 3 hints.

In numbers
Overall: 9/10
Difficulty: 4/10
Theming: 8/10
Host: 9/10
Wow: 4/10

This is a perfect example of how to do a great room without getting complex on tech. It’s potentially a tad easy. Props were appropriate to the period and theme, and there was a reasonable mix of puzzle types without excessive red herrings.

Hosting and GMing was particularly competent.

Other details
Accessibility: Excellent. Completely flat throughout, accessible toilet on the premises too.

Alerts: None

Capacity: The single room takes 2-5 players. We were a group of 3. Any more would have been getting in one another’s way. Definitely viable for 2 people.

Cost: A wallet-friendly £50 for our team of 3. Prices range from £40 for a pair to £75 for a 5-person team.

Photo: Taken on a phone afterwards with optional dressing-up box provided. Appeared on Facebook same day.

Getting there: The venue is 5 minutes on foot from Bromley Bus Garage. We used bus 261 which connects with Bromley South, Bromley North, Grove Park, Lee, and Lewisham National Rail stations. Bus connections are also available from Orpington on the 61. If you don’t mind the walk, it’s around two miles from any of Hayes (Kent), Bickley, and Petts Wood stations, each in zone 5.

Website: operation-escape.co.uk

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