Science can be fun
Secret Agent Dr. Richard Stevens has now been missing from his lab for eight days. He was tasked to research the ability to travel through time to secure a British victory in this new dangerous technological advancement. The world as we know it could be about to change forever. Several disruptions to the time vortex believed to be caused by Dr Stevens’ disappearance have been detected. In his office a mysterious photograph could hold the key to unlocking this mission and the secrets of sustainable time travel. Only you, our top team of operatives, have the skills needed to investigate. Unfortunately, once you enter the lab, biometric security will confirm you are not Dr. Stevens. This will start a security override that means the lab will self-destruct after 60 minutes. The past, present, and future is in your hands.
Day Three of our Escape Room Extravaganza began at Extremescape, but as the day coincided with Gord’s birthday, there was no way we would be stopping at just three games. Wigan was just a 30-minute drive from where we had booked accommodation, and on the recommendation of our friend Amy (of Brit of an Escape Habit), we decided to continue the festivities with the games at Adrenaline.
When we booked, we let Adrenaline choose the order we were to play in. We began with Labyrinth, and after successfully uncovering the mysteries of the Minotaur, it was time for a little B&E to save time itself in Lab 3436. This time, Sarah took the lead as our GM and we were led down to the basement level. With re-sanitised hands we were shown to a small briefing area, where we received the details of our mission in a video before being sent off to investigate the lab…
Covid-19 Procedures: Adrenaline are adhering to Covid-19 best practice protocols, with plenty of hand sanitiser, ensuring players 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.
Of all the potential game themes out there, one of the simplest to design a set, and design a set well, for is an office or a lab. White walls, a desk, maybe a computer, bright lighting, and of course tables and plenty of sciencey equipment. Lab 3436 looked exactly as one might expect the office and private lab of a scientist to look, with all of these things, and with things looking exactly as one might expect, it was easy to become engrossed in the game.
Though the set design was simple, there was a sense of exploration as we set about searching Dr Stevens’ office, able to see through to the Lab on the other side of the door. With parallel puzzle paths, Gord and I were often working on something independently of one another. Which, depending on your viewpoint, is either a good thing or a bad thing. Gord claims he solved nothing, although I’m sure he solved at least one thing, so after a little while we opted to work in a more linear fashion.
Once we were through to the lab, the game picked up speed, and there was more of a sense of urgency, but the game also became that much more engaging, with puzzles that felt more tangible. This immersiveness was upped further by one particular set element that was totally unexpected and thoroughly cool. The finale of the game pushed this even further as it ramped up the pressure, and we discovered that Gord doesn’t actually listen when I read him things, since we nearly ended up blowing up the Lab, and destroying time itself (Don’t worry, we did narrowly manage to avert disaster in the end.)
I have been tasked with writing this review as Gord claims it was The Liz Show and he was just along for the ride, and to some extent, this is true (Sorry Gord). The puzzles clicked with me, and not so much with him. This is the main reason that we try not to say whether a game is “difficult” or not, and certainly why we don’t rate on difficulty. With that in mind, I will say that I quite enjoyed the puzzles in Lab 3436. They were varied, with traditional escape room-style observational challenges, codes and cyphers, pattern recognition, teamwork and communication, with some more tactile tasks (although Dr Stevens did primarily secure his lab with padlocks of various descriptions), not to mention a few other things to keep you guessing.
Although Gord might disagree, Lab 3436 was well sign-posted, ensuring that there were plenty of great “Ah-Ha!” moments to be had (at least, I had a few). In fact, the only stumbling blocks we had were down to our own inability to see something right in front of our noses (although there is at least one potentially sneaky hiding place depending on your point of view). The puzzles also all played on the theme of the game in some way, upping the immersion factor just a little bit more. But the puzzles that were most memorable for me were those that utilised science in some way. There were a few of these scattered throughout the game, but one in particular was the highlight of the game. It took a task that seemed overly simple and to the next level, and even now as I write this, I am still thinking, “That was clever.”
As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The same goes for clue systems, and Adrenaline have opted for one of the standard clue delivery methods in Lab 3436: text on a screen, accompanied by an alert noise to ensure players pay attention. Hey, if it works, it works.
Although I was gelling quite well with Lab 3436, thanks to a search fail/lack of observation/issues with object permanence, we needed a few nudges. Possibly even an outright clue. Fortunately Sarah was on the ball, and happy to oblige with perfectly timed hints to get us back on track and headed in the right direction. I’m not sure we would have made it out without her, to be honest, as we were rather blinkered at one point, so her assistance was much appreciated.
With solid puzzles, some fun with science, and one rather amazing thing to lend weight to the time travel theme, Lab 3436 had me feeling like a genius when we escaped. While this game is unlikely to make it onto Gord’s list of favourite games, I enjoyed our time in the lab.
Team: 2 players – escaped in ?? (forgot to record, probably around 40/45mins)
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