Fun! Cranked up to 11!
‘Pete’, the bass player of Exit Visa was found dead at the band’s HQ. The authorities have not yet found the culprit, but have narrowed it down to 5 suspects.
Police received a call from, they believe, Pete on the morning of the 11th of last month, stating he was extremely concerned for his safety, and that he thought he was going to be killed that day. The police quickly arrived at the band’s HQ worried for Pete’s welfare. They discovered Pete’s body.
It appears that Pete knew someone wanted to kill him and he has left a number of clues to help Police find the murderer. But they are missing something they think the fans might pick up on….
Can you help them solve the murder?
11th Hour Escapes is one of those companies that we’ve heard about for a long time but never actually managed to visit. Despite them being located only 90mins from where we now live, we decided to make a weekend of it and booked some accommodation nearby, then stopped by to play both their games.
The venue is easy to find thanks to it being located above an Audi car dealership, and thanks to this there is plenty of parking on site. When we arrived, we were greeted by Tim, one of the owners, and then Lizzie also appeared later, so we got to meet the whole team. First up was ‘Victoria’s Last Challenge’, and we managed to get the two player record for that game, so we were feeling either overly confident or ready to crash and burn in Criminal Record.
One thing we didn’t fully appreciate as we hadn’t played the precursor to this game, ‘The Exit Visa Crisis’, was that the story for Criminal Record built on the story for that game and utilised the same characters. Fortunately for us, not having played the previous game didn’t affect our game in any way at all.
Tim has a background in acting, and that was quickly apparent when he gave the room mission briefings. He proceeded to deliver a rather energetic mission briefing while we were sat in the reception area, and after leading us into the room, there was a little more exposition. So, feeling overly confident and fully briefed, we were on our own to try and solve this mystery.
Oh, one more thing. You don’t need a team name for this game, you need to come up with a band name for your team. The most rock and roll name we could come up with, while still staying part of the escape room theme, was ‘Moist Tornado’ – if you know, you know.
Admittedly I’ve never actually been in a recording studio so I have limited knowledge of what they should be like. Saying that, everything in Criminal Record felt like it either belonged there, or at least served a purpose being in the room. As an added bonus, the room was actually really comfortable to be in thanks to the addition of air conditioning – much needed on a hot day.
Despite this game being the ‘classic’ theme of a murder mystery, the twist of it taking place in a recording studio made it much more fun. For the most part the ambient noise in the room was just a ticking clock, but there was some extra background music that made this game feel like much more of a party, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
There were a number of items in the room that carried the dreaded ‘Do Not Touch’ stickers. For me at least, these stickers always detract from the immersion, but I obviously understand their purpose. One very large item in the room was for the most part not to be touched, but Tim covered this in the room briefing and wrote it into the story, so that was fine.
Criminal Record takes place in quite a large space and would work well for bigger teams. Impressively it still manages to pack in a few surprises too. At one point we thought we had accidently discovered something, but on speaking to Tim and Lizzie after the game, we found it in the right way – some very clever design there!
I’ll be the first to admit that I am terrible with ‘story’ when it comes to escape rooms. So knowing that this game would culminate in us having to work out who the murderer is is never a good thing for me. Fortunately, Liz is good at that side of things so I just left it to her, and she managed to deduce who the correct murderer was – phew!
Other than the obvious logical deduction puzzle, there was a good mix of puzzle types in Criminal Record: audio, observation, logic, decoding, and a puzzle that I guess could be classed as physical, maybe? One thing this room was quite light on was searching, which I think was a good thing for us as we’ve been terrible at searching lately.
I was actually really glad to see audio puzzles used in this game as it felt like it was made for them. The audio puzzles in the game were really well made and I thought the mechanism used to solve one of them was very clever and was a joy to solve – and even more fun once it was solved.
Most of the puzzles resulted in codes for padlocks, but there was still some tech used and 11th Hour Escapes managed to put in a few surprises here and there.
If we needed any clues, we simply had to request them and they would appear on the screen in the room. To make sure we didn’t miss them, an audible guitar noise would accompany them and to get our attention. This screen was also used to show our timer so we knew how long we had left (or I think it did, it was all a blur)
I can’t recall actively asking for any clues, but part of me thinks maybe we did. Either way, there was one point where we accidently discounted something that we shouldn’t have, and Tim gave us a perfect nudge to make us realise that we should never work in the music industry. If nothing else, this showed us that Tim was watching closely and if we needed any help, he would get us back on track in no time.
I love it when a game is a lovely space to be in, not just because of the set design, but because of the puzzles too. Criminal Record was fun from start to end and the puzzles perfectly complemented the set. Credit to 11th Hour Escapes for making a murder mystery fun again!
Fortunately for us, our decent performance in Victoria’s Last Challenge was not a fluke, and we managed to bag the Room Record for Criminal Record. Ok, it probably won’t last for long, but it was a good feeling at the time and showed that the room worked and the puzzles were fair. We even got an actual LP record to take home with us showing our achievement.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 32mins
Address: 91 Devizes Road, Bromham, Chippenham, England