A lovely attic space!
Victoria’s last challenge’
A race to escape the attic room of Echoes Hill Manor with your inheritance. It’s a very sad day. Your beloved Great Aunt Victoria has passed away. At the ripe old age of 104. She had a long and good life but she will be sorely missed. Whilst there is no way to take away your grief, there is some positive news. In her last will and testament Victoria has left her vast fortune to you, yes you, her last living relatives. However it’s not just a case of giving you the money. You have to earn it!
Everyone who knew Victoria knew that she was a prankster. Over the years she liked nothing more than setting up tricks and puzzles for people and it would seem this has continued, even in her death.
A passage from Victoria’s last will and testament reads :-
“To my last living relatives, I leave to you equal shares of my life savings. However I have one last challenge for you. My money is hidden in the attic room of the family Ancestral home, Echoes Hill Manor, and a set of puzzles and riddles await you which will lead to your inheritance. To make things interesting, I’m giving you just 60 minutes to find it. If you don’t succeed, the fortune will be left to the local cats home !! Good luck, you’ll need it! All my love, Aunt Victoria”
After relocating back to Somerset from London in early 2021, Gord and I have been trying to make a point to visit our more “local” escape room venues. However, we’ve been a bit slow to make it out to 11th Hour Escapes. Perhaps because it is an hour and a half away, and it’s a trek just for a day trip. (For Gordon anyway. I grew up in the States and routinely travelled for an hour just for a supermarket.) But one day we decided we needed a break from the world, and booked a weekend away only half an hour from 11th Hour.
Although the venue is located very much on the outskirts of Bromham, near Chippenham, they are easy to find with plenty of onsite parking. With the car safely tucked away, we ascended the stairs to 11th Hour and were warmly greeted by Tim, one of the owners (Lizzie joined us later), and our host for the day. No visit to an escape room is complete without the welcoming chat about all things escape rooms, but eventually it was time to get started. Tim gave us the usual health and safety spiel (after the number of briefings I’ve received that actually have to tell me not to stick my finger in a plug socket, I am slightly concerned for the human race.) But then, with a breath, Tim transformed into our late Great Aunt Victoria to read her Will and issue her Last Challenge.
11th Hour Escapes is located on the top floor of a building, and they have made excellent use of their attic space by setting Victoria’s Last Challenge in an attic. The sloping ceilings of the eves (watch your heads all you tall people), various knickknacks, toys, chests, mirrors, strange artwork, and even a doll house all come together to paint a picture of the life lived by a lady who made it to 104, and would leave all of her earthly possessions to the cats if you fail to live up to her expectations.
Attic storage spaces have a particular feeling, and Victoria’s Last Challenge captures the atmosphere perfectly, with enough ambient lighting to see by, but dim enough to give some atmosphere, nooks and crannies to explore, creaky floors, and odd noises. The atmosphere was so well done, at one point I wondered if we would be finding Aunt Victoria’s money in our search or a map for a hidden pirate treasure.
The game played out in a mostly linear fashion, although there were points Gord and I were able to to take a few moments of independent exploration. Although the underlying narrative is simple, Victoria’s Last Challenge had a wonderful flow to the game play with a fast pace that kept surprising us. Plus, when you’re in an attic full of discarded toys, it would be a crime not to play, and the game provided many opportunities to do just that.
Designed to put us to the test, to determine if we were indeed worthy of our aunties’ fortune, Victoria’s Last Challenge provided a great mix of puzzles, secured by not just by padlocks, but also a few more unique things. The game was absolutely filled with a great many satisfying escape room “classics” combined with some delightfully clever moments that just didn’t let up with the “Ah ha!” moments. Cyphers, codes, observation puzzles, logic, maths, pattern recognition – if you expect a certain type of puzzle to be in an escape room, it was probably here. And of course, no escape room is complete without the need for a good rummage around the space, and Victoria’s Last Challenge certainly required us to have a good search. But whatever the style, the puzzles were invariably fair, and well signposted. In fact, even the one solution that we somehow managed to arrive at out of pure luck and were wondering “How on Earth were we meant to figure that out?” actually had a delightful puzzle attached to it.
Tim very much used his acting skills to bring our briefing to life. I almost believed I actually had a Great Aunt Victoria and her spirit was in the room with me. But thoroughly entertaining briefing aside, Tim was an excellent host. Friendly, conversational, and most of all, intuitive to our struggles.
Gord and I have good days and bad days with our brains, and on days where we need hints, our preferred method of being clued is for the GM to chime in when they think we’re being idiots to prevent our own frustration. This is the way Tim delivered clues. If he noticed that we needed a bit of help, we would hear a loud “Bong!” at which point we could decide, with either a thumbs up or a thumbs down, if we agreed that we needed a clue. Of course, if the GM thinks we need a clue, we’re inclined to agree, and these popped up on the screen in the corner.
Victoria’s Last Challenge is the epitome of classic escape room, with solid and logical puzzles that are sure to thrill new escapees and please enthusiasts.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 41mins
Address: 91 Devizes Road, Bromham, Chippenham, England