A solid room and a good choice if you like a plethora of puzzles
On New Years Eve 1999 top magician and magic inventor Alistair Wilson vanished from a glass box, never to be seen again. No-one knows why or even how he vanished. You and your team have one hour to solve the mystery and to find his famous Book of Secrets before his former home is demolished. Can you get into the mind-set of this master magician? Can you work out his secrets? And before the building is destroyed can you find his much-prized book?
As soon as you enter the room the clock starts ticking. You have a lot to do and just 60 minutes in which to solve the mystery, find the book and escape. Good Luck!
As a group activity for a leaving party, my firm decided we would try an escape room to bid farewell to our beloved company co-director. Clue Adventures was the winner – primarily because they were willing to allow us to bring an extra person for a rather large team of eight, but also due to their proximity to the East London Liquor Company, because clearly the only thing better than an escape room is an escape room followed by a gin tasting.
In the end, we actually ended up with only seven of us in the game, which was a bit of a squeeze at first, despite this being the maximum number of players the game recommends. Of the seven of us, four of my colleagues had attempted, but had failed to get out of an escape room or two, and two had never played before. Only I had ever successfully completed any escape rooms (no pressure there then).
Once our team had fully assembled, we were given the usual rundown of the rules, and finally handed our hardhats – a necessary tool when entering a demolition site. With such a large team, I was mildly concerned that there wouldn’t be much for everyone to do. Once we entered the space it quickly became apparent that my fears were unfounded; there was actually so much to do, that despite having seven of us, I was genuinely concerned at one point that we still wouldn’t be able to complete everything in time!
I have mixed views on this room. On the one hand, I did have a lot of fun, and there were puzzles galore. On the other hand, there were a few things I didn’t like, which could stand to be improved, but I may just be picky.
Where to begin with puzzles? First I suppose I should say there were A LOT. I often find that it can be a fine line between clues and set dressing and at first glance I was afraid that this room had obliterated the line. That wasn’t the case as it was without a single red herring. That isn’t to say there wasn’t anything superfluous to the game with multiple clues to solve the same puzzle. There were several points where someone would discover something new only to find that the puzzle had already been solved.
I personally found that I often felt as though things were almost spoon fed to me, with clear indications as to which combination would open a specific padlock, and multiple clues, in various locations that all pointed to the same puzzles, but this is definitely a personal annoyance as my colleagues loved it, and I suspect it’s handy for the inexperienced.
As for the puzzles themselves, there were a few classic escape room tropes, but the highlights for me were the puzzles that focused on the theme – magic. These were less puzzle and more actual magic tricks, which was a nice touch.
As we donned our hardhats to enter Alistair Wilson’s apartment, I had high hopes for immersion. Clue Adventures definitely tried, with a video to explain some of the story, and puzzles that were generally on theme, but something just fell flat for me, though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why.
To me, elements of the room felt tired, to the point where things that should have been a surprise and a real wow factor, could actually be seen with the naked eye. Perhaps I’m being overly critical though, as my colleagues didn’t notice and were suitably wowed. That’s not to say there weren’t a few moments of surprise though, as there were a few points where the room revealed something unexpected, but if anything, this caused the game to feel as though it had multiple personalities.
Clues were delivered via screen, which is pretty standard. The unique thing here was that we were offered three different levels of game play. We could choose to: 1) Have the GM chime in whenever they felt appropriate with guidance, 2) Have the GM chime in to ask if we would like a clue, or 3) Only have clues when we asked. We opted for Level 2, and did take one or two clues, which were just enough to send us back in the right direction.
Despite the sheer volume of puzzles, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this game to newbies, provided they have a larger team. For enthusiasts, it’s a solid room and a good choice if you like a plethora of puzzles.
**The Book of Secrets is due to close at the end of June 2019. I fully expect Clue Adventures to have a replacement in store, and look forward to giving it a try!
Team: 7 players
Address: Arch 419, Burdett Rd, London E3 4AA