More than meets the eye
Your team is the last hope of capturing the infamous kidnapper known as ‘The Ghost’. 17 victims have vanished without a trace some of whom have been found dead days later. Is this the night the kidnapper will finally be caught? All you have is the small bag you picked up on your way out of the station. You must break into the flat and secure the premises, then find a way to contact reinforcements and crack this case wide open. Be aware you are entering the home of a suspected murderer and merciless kidnapper who could return home any second. Good luck and don’t forget to lock the door behind you!
After being locked down on and off for over a year, we went a little crazy and arranged to play roughly 60 games in 14 days in a grand escape room adventure. Day Three of this grand adventure happened to coincide with Gord’s birthday, so there was never any doubt that we would be playing more than just a few games this day. In fact, the final total for the day was to be seven.
The day began with three games at Extremescape before making our way to Wigan to pay a visit to Adrenaline. Part of the reason behind our insane game schedule was that this trip had been planned for May 2020, granted on a much smaller scale, but unsurprisingly this was postponed. When we finally felt confident enough to re-plan, we also expanded. Adrenaline were one of the companies that we added to the list after a recommendation from Amy at Brit of an Escape Habit. The conversation went something like, “You’re in the area anyway, you can’t NOT play these!” So we didn’t.
Adrenaline have plenty of space to play with, being based in a former shopping centre and having access to (I think) all of it. First impressions were great as we noted the large cafe on site with plenty of space, and received a friendly greeting as we approached the desk to fill out some paperwork. Our adventures began with a trip through the Labyrinth, and then our super spy-like mission in Lab 3436. Once we saved the world (again) we were very kindly offered the use of the cafe tables and took the opportunity to stop and refuel with birthday cake (thanks Amy) and a beverage before donning our police hats (metaphorically speaking) and heading to the police briefing room on the lower ground floor to hunt for a kidnapper.
Covid-19 Procedures: Adrenaline are adhering to Covid-19 best practice protocols, with plenty of hand sanitiser, requiring players to check in with NHS Track and Trace, and are leaving plenty of time between games to ensure that there is ample time to clean and ventilate the games. At the time we played, the use of masks was required, and enforced, for both staff and players. Adrenaline have multiple waiting/briefing areas, so while we were not the only team on site for the duration of our visit, we did not cross paths with anyone else.
We were only meant to be the on-call officers for the evening at the Metropolitan Police, we weren’t meant to actually solve a crime. But when the call came in, what could we actually do, other than make our way to the scene and attempt to save the latest victim of The Ghost?
The game started rather innocently, but quickly took a rather dark turn, stepping well into the realm of horror (without a live actor, don’t panic). As we progressed through the game, the story emerged and it became easier to become more and more immersed in the world, particularly thanks to clever little touches that bring the outside world in. There was a frenetic pace to the game that kept us on our toes, and racing through to the finale.
Each of the games at Adrenaline seem to have been geared towards a particular section of their market: Labyrinth is great for families, I’d recommend Lab 3436 for people that are thinking of trying their first, Nebula would be ideal for large groups. Kidnapped, despite its fairly common theme, is geared towards enthusiasts, and the reason I say this became apparent at the point we thought we had finished. We had completed the game in roughly 30 minutes… or so we thought. As we prepared to walk out the door, we were instead presented with two options: Safely leave and live to escape another day, or carry on, and continue to match our wits against the Ghost. In other words: Bonus Level! Unsurprisingly, we chose to continue…
There are few things I love more than clever, but fair, puzzles, whether they require me to think logically or laterally. Kidnapped had plenty of both to go around. Like any good serial killer, the Ghost secured most of the scene with padlocks, but helpfully left plenty of fiendish clues lying about for us to uncover. The puzzles were the typical sorts of styles we expect in escape rooms (logic, wordplay, ciphers, searching, you know the drill), and offered a great sense of satisfaction when they were solved. Sadly, one puzzle frustrated me quite a bit, but I did also try to solve it at first with only half the information, and there was another puzzle type that we’re really not a fan of (but we completed it).
The main portion of Kidnapped had multiple puzzle paths, allowing Gord and I to work on several things simultaneously. The bonus level became much more linear and put our teamwork and communication skills to the test. But throughout the game, whether it was the “main” game, or the “bonus”, the sign posting was clear and clever, and we were rarely at a loss as to what to do. Although, we were still a bit rusty, so we may have required a little help.
Rather than a traditional screen located somewhere in the room, clues were instead delivered using our handy Police PDA. Utilising it in this way gave the system a more immersive feel than we might have had otherwise from a text on a screen delivery method, as it’s easier to believe that additional intel is being received from Police HQ. The PDA also had a fair amount of useful information in addition to the clues that we needed periodically throughout the game, particularly once we were through to the bonus level, which again, made the entire system feel more organic.
Sarah was back as our GM, and was just as excellent at nudging us along as she had been in Lab 3436. It wasn’t often that we needed a prod, but we’re occasionally terrible at not being able to see the wood for the trees, and our inability to see things didn’t get better in Kidnapped. I also had a particularly useless moment that I can only assume was brought on by a birthday cake induced sugar high shorting out my brain cells.
Of all the games at Adrenaline, this is probably the one I would recommend most to the enthusiast community, or I suppose anyone up for a challenge. As far as kidnapping/serial killer themed rooms go it is well done, but what really makes it special is the bonus level if you have time to spare and are up for testing your skills.
Team: 2 players – escaped in ?? (forgot to record, probably around 40/45mins)
Address: 34-36 Marketgate, The Galleries Shopping Centre, Wigan WN1 1JS