The most fun you can have in the dark?
Olrephior has stolen six rare dragons eggs. We have gathered your team together to sneak in to his lair while he is out and search for the stolen eggs … but be careful team, the place you have just entered is full of dark magic! Please be aware this experience is in complete darkness throughout.
We don’t often venture out to East London but we’d heard about an escape room set entirely in the dark we thought it was worth the trek (yes, we walked from London Bridge and it took ages). After exhausting ourselves with the walk, and also stumbling across the location for the ‘Stranger Things’ Secret Cinema event (it looked amazing), we found our way to the venue. It was certainly not the most salubrious of locations; think industrial estate with mud and trash on the road, and a train track right next to it, and you’ll get the picture.
The venue itself is housed upstairs in an old pub which now seems to be a startup centre. We didn’t notice any form of waiting area but we were taken straight upstairs and given the room briefing in a hallway just outside the room.
Once our lovely host (and owner) Hannah, finished telling us the health and safety aspects of the room she explained a small amount about our mission before guiding us through the entrance where her ‘colleague’ would explain the story in more detail.
Living in London it seems like you never truly get to experience true darkness at any point, so it was interesting to see how they would accomplish it here. The entrance to the room was made with two sheets of blackout fabric which operated like a ‘light-lock’ so you would go through the first and that would close behind you before entering the room. It worked, really well. When they say this room is in the dark they aren’t joking.
Turn on the lights and this room would be solved in five minutes easily but remove the lights and suddenly you have a challenge on your hands. The aim of the room is to locate six dragons eggs and escape before the hour is up; each egg has one key puzzle associated with it.
With the lack of light there is only so much you can do so it was nice to see there was a good mixture of puzzles in the room, using the other senses that weren’t limited. The biggest puzzle was the darkness itself, simply moving around the space became a challenge and communicating with each other was suddenly harder. I lost count of the amount of times I pointed at something expecting Liz to be able to see what I was pointing at.
What I found most surprising about this room was how much my imagination came into play for it. The room was black, very black, but in my mind I created an image of what I thought it looked like. This image was guided by the story that was told, the mission we had, and the atmospheric soundtrack that was playing.
Hannah was kind enough to show us the room with the lights on in the end and it was crazy to see how basic it looked, that isn’t a criticism, in fact it’s the opposite. It’s incredible how she can take arguably basic puzzles and design and create something so immersive.
There were padlocks, and safes that had digital entry keypads and I was once again surprised by how we were able to use these without actually being able to see them clearly (or at all).
Each time you unlock an egg there is an auditory signal which tells you that you have completed a puzzle and now you need to find the egg related to it. This signal was a great move as without it I would have easily missed an egg or two.
When you can’t see and you have to feel everything, in your mind everything becomes a clue. You quickly have to work out what is relevant and what isn’t, which is easier said than done. Fortunately there was nothing in this room that didn’t play a part in the room – that is to say there were no red herrings.
I kept waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark but that never came. At one point later in the room I was convincing myself that I could see from the light from cameras but even then I’m not sure I could.
If there was one criticism it would be that the story could have been developed further to perhaps explain why there was no light in the room (a spell?) or just generally a bit more back story. But really, that’s minor.
I often think it must be interesting to watch teams in an escape room but I think this must take that to a whole new level. We spent most of the time walking around like zombies with our arms in front of us.
Hannah did a great job and was keeping a close eye on us so could provide a strategic nudge or clue when it was needed. The clues came through in character by our wizard accomplice, but Hannah could also chime in if we needed her to.
There was no timer in the room (it would have given off too much light), but our friendly wizard helper gave us an update on time every fifteen minutes.
Hannah has done a great job here and this room really makes you come away realising how hard life would be without sight, let alone trying to do an escape room.
This room won’t blow you away with technology or amazing decor, but if you use your imagination you can create an escape room better than real life could give you.
We thoroughly enjoyed this room and if/when Access Escapes open their next room we will definitely be back to give it a try.
Team: Two players (escaped in approx. 45 mins with all six eggs)
Address: The Durham Arms, 24 Stephenson Street, London, E16 4SA