Dracula nearly got us, nearly…
Your eyes begin to focus through the dull light. The croak and groan of the Russian cargo ship, The Demeter, makes you feel uneasy. You sense that a terrible event has occurred – the crew are missing, presumed dead. Only the body of the Captain is later recovered, found horrifically bound to the helm of the vessel.
You have been called upon by Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the noted Dutch Metaphysician and his former student, Dr. John Seward, whose patient, the aristocrat – Lucy Westenra, is presenting a series of bizarre symptoms. She seems to be drawn under the power of an unknown force which yolks her strength, day by day. What is causing her decline and could it be in some way connected to the eerie appearance of the deserted ship upon Whitby’s shore? Only you can find the truth!
Whilst in Nottingham we thought we should perhaps spread the love a little, and visit another one of Nottingham’s escape venues. The lucky chosen one? Cave Escape. I was in love with Cave Escape from the moment I walked in the door. The waiting area had the feel of an old Victorian library, with the smell of old books and limestone, and had we not had a full schedule of Escaping ahead of us, I could have quite happily spent a few hours chatting with Nick, the wonderful owner, or just chilling out.
Prior to visiting Nottingham, I knew very little about the city’s history. You may, or may not, know that the city is built on a network of caves. I happened to be unaware of this fact until we actually arrived in Nottingham, so it was a delightful surprise to realise that Cave Escape draws its name from the fact that the rooms are, quite literally, in a cave.
After a brief chat with our host for the day, we were led to the door, and descended the steps into the cave, and to Carfax. Inside the cave, the atmosphere was perfect, as we were given our briefing outside the door to the room. With the story delivered, the door to Carfax was opened, and we began.
Puzzles in Carfax were challenging, but logical. I’ll admit, we did need a few (many) hints, sometimes for search fails, and sometimes it was simply because we were over complicating something, and once because we made a foolish assumption. Personally, we found this room to be one of the more challenging we encountered in Nottingham, but we may have just been tired, or underfed, as once we were nudged in the right direction, the puzzles were logical, and noting required any great leaps to a conclusion.
In terms of style, puzzles were on theme, feeding the underlying narrative, and varied. Most noticeably, Cave Escape have gone out of their way to avoid anything anachronistic; you’ll find no modern four-digit padlocks here, which was very refreshing. Be sure to bring your logical reasoning skills and make sure you search thoroughly.
Carfax excelled in room design. Surrounded by the natural stone walls of the cave, the rest of the set was used to enhance the already impressive setting. The room flowed effortlessly from space to space, taking you on a journey from one space to the next, and followed a strong narrative story.
Thanks to the incredible attention to detail paid to the design, it was easy to get swept into the story and forget the outside world. In an effort to avoid anything that might be out of place, there was one noticeable absence: The timer. I personally don’t mind when a timer is missing, as I like to be drawn into the story, rather than worry about time. But, it is hand to know when you only have two minutes left before you become the latest victims of Dracula, so I can see where some might not be the biggest fans of the lack of timer.
We had the pleasure of being hosted by one of the owners, Nick. As a GM, Nick was superb, knowing when to pipe in with a rather creepy, in character voice when we were struggling, with just enough of a hint to get us back on track. To be fair, Nick had a lot to do to keep us on track, as we often found ourselves at a loss as to where to go next.
I loved everything about Carfax and Cave Escape. It seems as though another game is in the works, so while I was sad to only spend an hour there, I am excited that there will soon be a reason to return to Nottingham!
Team: Two players – escaped in 58:52 with a boat load of clues
Address: 63 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FN