A beautifully made room with great attention to detail
Despite travelling the world over to lead excavations, Oldervik usually finds time to keep in touch. This time, however, it has been almost six months since you received his last letter.
Strangely, after enquiring at the Ministry it appears that nobody knows of Oldervik’s current whereabouts. All you can find out is that he had been tasked with locating and excavating the tomb of an ancient ruler. According to legend, the burial chamber contains priceless artefacts including a mysterious statuette, which the Ministry is keen to acquire.
When a letter from Oldervik finally arrives it is unusually short and to the point, requesting that you attend his study to look after his cats. As far as you know, Oldervik does not have any cats; something is definitely wrong.
And so it is that you venture to Oldervik’s private residence in search of answers…
Swindon isn’t normally somewhere that we visit but as we were heading to Cardiff for the day it seemed like the perfect place to stop off and break up the journey with a couple of escape rooms.
I’d read many good things about Professor Dunstan and the world’s longest title, so it was a no brainer that this was one of the rooms we had to try.
This room had variable difficulty levels so most of the day was spent discussing how hard we should go. The difference isn’t so much that the puzzles are harder they just add more of them. We decided we wanted a true test of our abilities (and get value for money) so we opted for the ‘hardest’ version.
We found the venue in the middle of a labyrinth like building on an industrial estate (the first challenge?) and we knew we were in the right place thanks to the wonderfully themed door. The GM tried his best to get into character and deliver an impassioned intro to the story but it fell slightly flat, although I wouldn’t have done any better so I won’t hold that against him. After the health and safety briefing we were shown to the room and our time began.
As a team of five we split up and announced everything we found and what we needed. The nice thing about this room was that there wasn’t one specific starting point so everyone was able to work on something to help us complete the task at hand.
The room had a really great flow to it and not once were we stuck on what to do or where to go next. It’s a testament to the room they have created here at Codecode when you are impressed so many times in such a small area.
This is a must do room and has made it on to both our Top 10 lists as it is a joy from start to end. This was probably helped by the fact that (at the time of writing) we achieved the record time for the hardest mode.
Don’t wait to be passing by Swindon to do this room. Make it your destination, it’s worth it!
One of the things this room isn’t lacking is puzzles. On entering the room you can see your challenges all around you just waiting to be solved.
This room isn’t linear at all so even in a larger team you can find something to do, you may team up on some puzzles but it’s unlikely you’ll have people standing around at a loss for what to do.
I won’t give anything away but one puzzle, that involved books and wasn’t particularly hard was so beautiful and seamless in how it revealed its secret that it was almost magical. It’s a shame only two of us got to see it as it was just so cool that it was a true star of the show (others may disagree).
One puzzle involved finding items around the room and them bringing them all together in a very satisfying way. But most of the other puzzles were less about finding things and more about just solving them.
A lot of thought has obviously gone into the props in this room and it makes solving them a real treat. Unusually for us we didn’t struggle on any puzzle for very long, or if one of us got stuck we simply ‘tagged out’ and another member of the team seemed to solve it right away.
When looking at room design and immersion it’s very easy to focus on the room itself and the big ticket items and forget about the smaller things. The attention to detail in this room was perfect, you could see that every piece of every puzzle was lovingly created and added to the room.
The only thing that perhaps hinder the immersion was the clue delivery system (the TV), but sometimes you’ve got to be realistic and accept that there is only so much they can do. I’d prefer an amazing room with a mediocre clue system than a terrible room with an amazing system.
The GM was probably attentive but we didn’t actually need any help so we don’t really know. Clues would have been delivered by a tv screen in the room. At one point a message popped up but that was health and safety related detailing something we should have done to make the room a little safer (we’re rebels)
We forgot to ask what difference the ‘hardest’ mode actually made to the room as it would have been good to know what had been added. Anything added certainly didn’t stand out and if fitted perfectly in the room. But as an experienced team of five we didn’t struggle and found there plenty to do and everything was a joy.
Team: 5 people – escaped 42:45 (hardest difficulty setting, no clues)
Address: 35C, BSS House, Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, Swindon SN2 2PJ