Lives up to the hype, and then some!
You and your team are new recruits, tasked with completing the Bewilder Box assessment and locating the missing Dr Wilder Sr. Do you have what it takes to answer this unfathomable challenge with a hearty laugh and a self-assured thumbs up? Can you complete the various tasks, challenges and brain tickling puzzles before the time limit expires? Will you uncover the secret of Dr Wilder Sr’s mysterious disappearance back in 1989? You have 60 minutes to find out… Good luck
We first heard about Bewilder Box over two years ago from a friend, and knew we had to check them out. Frustratingly, the planets just never seemed to align right for us to put together a team and make the trip to Brighton. But once we discovered we were able to do rooms as a two (and not have it end in divorce) all bets were off, and it was just a matter of time. That time finally came on a Thursday evening when we were both in town for a conference, because it’s even better if you can expense your travel!
Of course, whenever we’ve heard so much about a game, for so long, from so many people, there’s always the fear, “Will this live up to the hype?” I’m so pleased to say that my worries were unfounded; The Bewilder Box Initiative more than surpassed my expectations, and was a fantastic experience from start to finish.
When we were approached by Barry, the Mechanic, in the Hobgoblin, it became clear that this would be no ordinary escape room experience. As we were led to the Initiative through the pub, Barry’s commentary served to draw us into the story. (The Bewilder Box games have a fantastic backstory, which has been woven through both of their rooms. You will be given a briefing with the story, but you can always check it out on their website as well.) The briefing only served to further immerse us in the world of The Bewilder Box Initiative, and allowed me to completely forget that we were, in fact, in a room above a pub.
The game itself was, quite simply, wonderful. Many elements were non-linear, allowing us to work independently, puzzles were logical and clever, and there were moments of exposition that were perfectly integrated with the puzzles. Ranking high up in my esteem of the entire experience would have to be the briefing video, and D.A.V.E. Bewilder Box have gone above and beyond the standard for many escape games, and this is definitely an experience not to be missed.
The puzzles within the Bewilder Box Initiative were a bit of a mixed bag; there were a number that would result in padlock combinations, but the methods for doing this were unique and inventive. It wasn’t all solving for padlocks though – there were a few really ingenious puzzles that required one to do things you wouldn’t normally expect in an escape room. Despite the varied nature of the puzzles, each element is still perfectly on theme since the premise of the room is that it has been designed as an intelligence test. There was some searching required, but this wasn’t extensive (always a relief since my searching skills are often lacking) and instead, most things were either in plain sight or eventually revealed – you just needed to figure out what to do with them.
One could argue that one particular puzzle required some outside knowledge. While that’s true, it is information covered in primary school, and for me was no different than when a room requires one to remember how to do simple maths (or even occasionally recall the Pythagorean theorem). If you paid attention in your KS1 science lessons (and can remember that far back), you shouldn’t have an issue.
Immersion started from the moment we were approached – Surprising, I know, given the location. But due to the back story, it just worked.
The design of the room itself was simple, but effective, with a few bits of 80’s nostalgia thrown in for good measure. Despite its simplicity, there were a few elements that were still surprising, and I’m not ashamed to admit, I did just stand back and enjoy the beauty of one particular moment with a smile on my face.
As always for me, when a GM approaches us in character, I feel a game is immediately elevated (provided it’s done well of course.) Barry nailed the act perfectly.
In a similar vein to having a GM in character, a fully integrated, clever clue system, which allows for delivery of help without breaking the immersion, again, just makes a room just that much more enjoyable. The Data Analysing Virtual Entity ( Or D.A.V.E. for short) is a perfect compliment and will helpfully provide a clue or a nudge should you need them. Of course, this may be accompanied by a healthy dose of sarcasm. We required one clue, and perhaps a few nudges in the right direction, which D.A.V.E. helpfully and swiftly provided.
If you’re like us, and putting off a visit to Bewilder Box, stop right now, and find the time to just do it! The Bewilder Box Initiative is very possible to do as a team of two, but would still accommodate larger groups, and is possibly the most fun I have ever had in Brighton.
Operation Puzzles Room Design GM/Clues Excitement
Team: 2 players (escaped in 45:29 with one clue)
Address: Hobgoblin, 31 York Pl, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 4GU