Visually appealing but frustrating puzzles
You know the instant the door slams shut behind you – bad things happen here. Evil is Omnipresent. Heart-thumping terror builds relentlessly as each nerve-shredding minute creeps past. Can you escape a dreadful fate or will you become another blood-stained or blood-drained statistic? Amid the gore-caked instruments of torture, hemmed in by the blood-spattered walls you must keep your wits as sharp as his scalpels to avoid his clutches – he is very close, somewhere in the shadows. Only by solving his crazed, fiendish puzzles can you, quite literally, save your skin. Complete with a real crematorium and gallons of O-neg this is the ideal escape experience for lovers of horror and adrenaline-fuelled frights.
Considering we live so close to London (arguably in London), we seem to do very few escape rooms in the city. We’d heard about AIM Escape and their promise of the ‘most technologically advanced escape rooms in the UK’ so it seemed like it was long overdue that we checked them out.
We’re used to turning up in dodgy areas for escape rooms but AIM Escape couldn’t be further from dodgy, it felt like the type of building that bankers would frequent (actually, does that make it dodgy?). After ringing the doorbell to be let in we were suddenly in a very modern and shiny looking reception area. There were comfortable seats, shiny floors, and lockers to stash your gear. After a quick toilet break we were ready for our briefing.
Our GM went through the usual health and safety stuff in the main reception area and issued us with walkie-talkies for communication, the walkie-talkie also doubled as a torch. Next was a very white corridor with lots of boxes and keycards next to them. We stopped outside one of the white doors, no overflow of theme into the hallway here, and our GM gave us the room specific briefing. With 60 minutes before the psychopath returned, the keycard turned from red to green and as the door opened our time began.
This room had a bit of everything with the puzzles, searching, observation, logic, communication, and a physical element too – something for everyone! It’s worth noting that some aspects of the room could be tricky for those who are colour blind.
Early on it’s a very traditional room and the darkness is the trickiest thing to overcome and in the first room there was something we couldn’t find but managed to make do without it, we’re still not sure where it was.
The room then changes and you are confronted with a physical puzzle which I’d imagine is a love/hate thing, we hated it (partially due to the lighting) and eventually, after 20 minutes of frustration, it was bypassed.
Unfortunately for us the puzzles didn’t improve for us as the next puzzle took us a fair amount of time. We were hampered by the fact that Liz has found an alternate way to solve it that fitted with their ‘pattern’ but gave an incorrect answer. It would be very easy to modify the puzzle to stop this happening, unless this is what they want?
For the most part we found that the room played out in a linear fashion but there were various areas where we split up and worked on different puzzles.
Entering the room couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the outside if they tried. Going from the clinical white finish of the reception to the dark and dingy psychopaths den was quite a transition.
The walkie-talkie was also a torch although not a great one and you do find a torch in the room, but I would have preferred a better torch that didn’t have a failing battery. It got too hard to see so Liz had to resort to using the torch on her phone. I’m unsure if more torches would be provided for bigger teams but I would hope so.
We had been notified beforehand that this room was more traditional and not one of their tech heavy rooms so our expectations were adjusted accordingly. The room certainly had the feel of a traditional escape room with padlocks and codes to be entered but there was some tech in there too.
Fortunately I’ve never experienced a real psychopath’s den so I can’t say if this was genuine but it certainly felt convincing, and wasn’t somewhere that you’d want to spend a lot of time. There was the usual set dressing that you’d probably expect to see in a room of this theme but it was pretty clear what could be discounted and what was needed.
The story that was built into the room worked well and we knew why we were there, what we had to do, and how long we had to do it. There was good interaction with the psychopath at various points which added to the experience.
The ending felt clear and had a nice little twist to it that we weren’t expecting, not mind-blowing in terms of puzzles but in terms of story it was a twist.
Clues were provided via the walkie-talkie and there were also interactions/nudges with the psychopath who chirped in over the speaker system.
Our GM was friendly and chatty which is always a good thing and before the room asked us how we’d like clues. As always we said that if we’re behind on time or looking lost then please chime in, we’d prefer to see the whole room rather than get stuck and not see it all. Unfortunately we were significantly stuck on one physical puzzle that we just couldn’t get past and despite at numerous points exclaiming that we were close to ‘rage quitting’, ‘not having fun’ and even asking if it could be bypassed, she made us struggle on for over 20 minutes on this one puzzle.
Because of the time lost on that puzzle we felt under pressure to try and get everything done but that amount of pressure just makes everything else harder. Watching the clock countdown and seeing a number of unopened padlocks was demoralising and I was close to just walking out.
The only redeeming point was that at 60minutes the GM chimed in to say our time was up but she could ask the Psychopath if we could have 10 more minutes to finish. My next question was ‘can we finish in ten minutes’, she said yes so we continue and finished in an additional six minutes.
It was a nice touch to let us finish the room, however if she had been watching closely and reading our attitudes as we were playing she should have helped move us on a bit quicker on the physical puzzle. She wasn’t a bad GM, far from it, just on this occasion we feel she made the wrong judgement call.
If the GM had helped us along earlier instead of making us suffer then we’d probably be rating this room closer to 4 or 4.5 as it was actually a well put together room and the set design was very good. Credit to her for the extra time but that shouldn’t have been needed if she was paying attention.
Failure (in overtime)
Team: 2 players
Address: Goodman’s Fields, 8 Canter Way, Whitechapel, London E1 8PS
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for these tickets, but this has not influenced our review*