No, not that Omicron
Bristol’s latest Escape Game, Operation Omicron, is here. You’re a counter espionage team. A rogue KGB agent armed a nuclear device. You have 60 minutes to disarm it. This is an intense game, employing real counter espionage techniques.
We don’t often venture into Bristol, but as we had a prior engagement in the city we decided we would kill a bit of time by going to the zoo, and of course, playing an escape room (not at the zoo). In terms of timings and location there was only one game that we could make work and that was Bristol Escape Rooms’ (BER) Operation Omicron.
As Bristol doesn’t have the best reputation for escape rooms we didn’t really know anything about BER. From what I read on their website I could see they normally have a pirate themed game but had closed that temporarily due to Covid and created Operation Omicron to be more Covid secure. According to their website this game has two difficulty settings, I think that’s a bit of a stretch but I can see what they mean and will come onto that later.
We arrived at the location at our allotted time and gave the secret knock and delivered the secret passphrase – yes, immersion from the off! Unfortunately that was pretty much the end of the immersion as once we gave the phrase, everything was back to normal and the story didn’t continue. A shame as it would have been nice to have had it continue right the way through.
Our host for the morning was Matt. Matt gave us the health and safety briefing in a waiting room-esque area and explained how we would receive clues should they be needed. Spoiler alert – no clues were needed and I took longer to write this review than we spent inside it.
Covid-19 Precautions: We were the only team on site. We wore masks as did the gamesmaster, he also kept a safe distance. Hand sanitiser was on site for us to use and the room was pretty sparse to enable deeper cleaning.
It’s a bit odd to write a review for this game as it was specifically designed to be sparse to make it easier to clean between games, so credit has to go to them for that. Because of this, the room was pretty basic as you would expect and very much felt like an office (which is what they were going for).
As I alluded to in the opening of this review, we would have liked to have seen (and expected) more theatrics and immersion from the off. It would be quite easy to carry it through the briefing and all the way to the end, but for some reason BER have chosen not to.
The main bomb itself looked pretty cool and that is where I think most of the attention in the room had gone, but other than that, don’t expect to see anything here that will excite you, unless of course offices excite you?
Ok, so the difficulty settings. If I understand this correctly, what they mean is that if you complete the game quickly, you get an additional bomb to defuse. So not really a difficulty setting, just an extra puzzle. We completed the main game in 15 minutes (according to Matt) so we had plenty of time spare when he came in with another bomb. Again, this just felt a bit odd and could have been made to feel part of the main game if it was presented with more theatrics, rather than just ‘Oh look, I’ve found another bomb’. This extra bomb was the most challenging puzzle in the entire game and I would estimate we spent another five/ten minutes on this puzzle.
First things first, this is not a game for enthusiasts. I’d imagine it would work well as an introduction to escape rooms for new players though. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time, but it was more like a warm-up act.
The game was pretty open and was non-linear so we were able to just work on whatever we wanted. There was some searching, observation, decoding/wordplay, logic (for the second bomb) and audio played a part. If you’ve played a number of escape rooms before, you’ll likely fly through this game.
The main bomb was probably one of the easiest bombs we have deactivated so far, but the second one was a bit trickier.
Matt had a pretty easy ride with us, as we didn’t need any help for the main game at all. The second bomb did give us a bit of hassle as we had nothing to write down our logic with and couldn’t quite work out how it needed to be solved. He gave us a little help with the second bomb but other than that, he was able to put his feet up.
We can’t comment on how clues would have been, but we were given an iPhone like device to take in with us and were told that if we needed any help, we just had to request it and Matt would interrogate Bob. Who’s Bob? You’ll meet Bob when you enter but he’s a terrorist who has been captured and is waiting in reception.
In terms of a countdown timer, there wasn’t really one in the room as such, but the countdown on the bomb gives a good indication of how long is left in the game.
This is a game for beginner players and I must admit that having paid £50 for a team of two we felt pretty short changed at completing the main game in 15 minutes. Yes there was a secondary bomb but that didn’t feel like part of the game and was more of an afterthought.
I’d be interested to go back and play their other game when it is open, but I’d imagine this would be another entry level game. Not everyone is an escape room weirdo enthusiast like us!
Team: 2 players – escaped in 15:00 (plus a little extra for the ‘bonus’ puzzle)
Address: Jubilee House, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RW