It takes a lot for me to declare a game unfair, and I’m not going to start a habit here. Unfun, however, is one label I’m prepared to dish out when it’s deserved – and Psychopath’s Lair is definitely that. What a mess.
The (then) recently opened AIM Escape was the first outing in some time for Team Judge after a member of Team Judge won a free game in a Facebook competition.
Minor mishaps started on arrival with insufficient locker space to store a moderate amount of belongings. The excess ended up in the control room. They were very particular about no phones being taken into the room, for no particularly clear reason.
On entry, it was dark. Really dark. We managed to secure torches shortly into the game, but having to fingertip search half the (mercifully minimalistic) room in the dark was not especially pleasant. The room was heavy on fake blood and body parts – it is supposedly a psychopath’s lair after all – though nothing in the manner of jump-scares, thankfully for us.
The first set of challenges were annoying (primarily owing to lack of light) but tolerable. Sadly, it went downhill from there. We were faced with a literal wall of text (we still only had two torches, remember) as one of the next three puzzles, with the second being an absurdly long physical dexterity endeavour. Frustration was the name of the game and fun was far from our minds, as we muddled through trying to come up with the next code or complete the next task.
At this juncture I should mention hint delivery, which was by way of pre-recorded audio messages. These could be played locally to a specific part of the room, though it wasn’t always obvious what that intended. There was no walkie-talkie or other facility for ad-hoc hinting; this became a serious issue about two thirds of the way through when, rather farcically, the same unhelpful audio hint was played no fewer than ten times (interspersed with another one).
After reaching what turned out to be the denouement of the game, we finally had the chance to parallelise a little more and the puzzle quality had started to turn a corner. The light quantity improved as well. But with time running down and nerves fracturing, time was starting to catch up with us and we couldn’t knock out the last few pieces as the last moments ebbed away.
Running up a long winning streak you know that some time things are going to go to pot, and this was the time. We narrowly failed to make it out on time – we were allowed to continue playing and finish things off, which we did within about two minutes of the timer expiring.
We don’t adjust ratings based on the price or on what rooms advertise/hype up, but it’s fair to say that AIM have considerably oversold the rooms and experience on offer. Some quotes from the website include “Unbelievable Immersion”, “Our tailor made room designs and state of the art props means that Aim Escape Rooms offer a truly unique, immersive experience out of all Escape rooms around London”, “Aim Escape Rooms use the most advanced technologies available to create outstanding and mind bending puzzles that will blow you away”, “each room is an experience that pulls you in and delivers an encounter you will never forget”, and “this experience is sure to get your heart rate going”. These are, at best, considerably embellished. At £40 per player this is one of the most expensive rooms in London, and it simply doesn’t deliver for the price. Nowhere near. If you want frustration, darkness, and annoyance from your escape rooms, on the other hand…
Accessibility: Not wheelchair accessible. One section requires you to squeeze through a gap about 40cm wide.
Alerts: Dark with limited lighting. Audible clues and hints. Fake blood and body parts. Mandatory lockers. Includes a long physical dexterity challenge.
Capacity: There are four different games offered and each takes 2-5 players.
Cost: Games here cost £60-£150 off-peak (weekdays before 6) and £80-200 peak (weekday evenings and all day weekends). It’s a straight £30/£40 per person.
Full disclosure: We received complimentary tickets to this game from a Facebook competition. This does not influence our reviews; see our policies.
Photo: None offered.
Emergency exit: The entrance door was left unlocked.
Getting there: A short walk from Aldgate East (Hammersmith & City and District lines).