Listen to instructions!
“You and your friends have been given the challenge to find and steal a Laboratory’s TOP secret remedy needed to cure a deadly disease. You have been entrusted with all the information you need to gain entry to the lab but no idea how to find the antidote undetected and once inside you find yourselves trapped by the auto lock doors. Do you have what it takes to save lives and escape the lab with the antidote?”
Day five of our escape room roadtrip, and so far we’d played four games at Lucardo Rawtenstall and literally just finished playing Wrong Turn at Compendium, now it was time for us to take on their next game, Laboratory. We were the only team in the venue so between games we had plenty of time to chat with our hosts (and owners) Jen and Alex who are also escape room enthusiasts.
In a strange sort of way, we enjoyed our time in Wrong Turn (it was horror themed so it seems odd to say we enjoyed it), so we were looking forward to a change of pace, and theme, in the Laboratory. I must admit, we didn’t really know much about this game as the limelight is often stolen by Wrong Turn when people talk about Compendium, although really the attention should go to their new baby, UI-55 (it’s pretty great).
Having taken our short chat and pee break, and quicking getting our phones out of the locker to check for messages, we were informed that our next room was ready. Alex proceeded to give us the room specific briefing and then it was time to enter the laboratory and complete our mission to try and cure a deadly disease (no, this isn’t COVID themed, this game was around long before that).
Covid-19 Procedures: Excellent Covid precautions – masks required by players, and staff wore masks at all times. There was sanitiser everywhere for us to use and track and trace was implemented. They also switch out props between games (they have duplicates) to allow for extra cleaning. Multiple (cleaned) torches and pads/pens were provided.
As I work an office job I’ve not actually been in many labs outside of my school days (and escape rooms), but this room certainly seemed to have many items that I would expect to see, and probably a few things I wouldn’t expect to see, but this is an escape room so we’d expect a fair amount of randomness. Although, the dry erase pad so we could jot down notes was certainly a welcome inclusion.
This room was quite the contrast to Wrong Turn, both in terms of theme and brightness. I do love a bright room where you can see everything without a torch, and this was certainly a well lit laboratory. The space itself was also pretty spacious, even though we played as a team of two there would have been room for plenty more people, so that shouldn’t be an issue if you normally play in larger teams.
Generally we thought the room design was decent and there seemed to be a decent flow in the game. The only negative and minor issue that we encountered was that at one point a puzzle had been broken yet the equipment for it was still in the room. This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, but at one point it looked like it worked, and then it died, so we were left wondering if this was normal or if we still needed something from it. It would have been nice if we were either warned about this, or it was removed as it was rather distracting – but that is the only gripe with our experience.
I love a room with a clear ending, and this game certainly had that. We had a mission to complete, and we were warned at the start of the game about something that would happen at the end so we needed to make sure we were prepared. As it turns out, we weren’t. I think our GMs took pity on us with this last bit, but do try and remember what is said about the last thing you need to do!
There was a good range of puzzles in the Laboratory and they all seemed to fit in with the theme well (one way or another). I quite liked that the puzzles weren’t just mentally solving things, but also physically.
The puzzle types we encountered were of a good variety, including; logic, maths, word, observation, and, dare I say it, a bit of skill. When I say ‘skill’, this is one of those puzzles that we have seen before in other rooms and it uses a specialist bit of equipment. Some people will love it, others will hate it, all I know is that the ‘clicking’ noise will haunt my dreams for a long time to come.
I would guess that most of the puzzles could technically be solved individually but a number of them are much quicker and easier if you work together as a team. So as always, communication is key. If I had to choose a favourite puzzle, it would be one that built over the course of the game, and only once we had everything (and explored the room) did we work out what we needed to do.
We found a good use of tech but there were also a number of padlocks, with most puzzles resulting in combinations for these. We did find ourselves trying combinations on numerous padlocks before finding the right lock for our code, but in hindsight, there was some signposting so this was likely down to our stupidity to an extent.
I mentioned it before about something happening at the end, well this is kind of a do-or-die situation so make sure you have followed all the instructions you were given, or you could still find yourself failing your mission (unless your GMs are feeling particularly kind like they were for us).
Compendium went a slightly different route with their clue system in the Laboratory and have implemented an interactive clue system called Isabel who could give auditory clues. If at any point we needed a clue, we just needed to ask out loud and Isabel would provide assistance. As it would turn out, we did need a little assistance and it was provided quickly and efficiently.
Whether you like it or not, time is always a factor in escape rooms. There was a screen in this room which showed our countdown time, so we knew exactly how long we had left, or we thought we did…
A nice and bright room that felt very different to the other offerings at Compendium. This is a large space that could handle bigger teams, and has some really satisfying puzzles. Good fun.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 44 minutes
Address: 1a Crompton Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0AD