Was Detention really this fun?
Take your seats. Sit up straight. Don’t answer back. As a misbehaving student you’re where you belong, but you have better things to do…
Are you too cool for school?
When we last visited Margate, we were seriously impressed with the quality of rooms from CTRL ALT ESC, thoroughly enjoying Spacescape and Frankenscape. Detention actually opened the Monday after we had completed the company’s first two games, so we knew we would naturally have to make another trip to Margate in the near future.
I’ll admit, we were a bit curious what this room would be like; After all, what can you really do with a school room? Turns out, quite a lot. Our morning began with a pleasant walk down the seafront to bring us to the venue. We were early, as per usual for us, but this was no issue for CTRL ALT ESC, as they have a nice waiting area. As we were the first game of the day, they were happy to show us straight in, after a brief chat of course.
Our GM disappeared for a few moments and brought back our teacher to escort the naughty students (us) to our punishment. I do really enjoy when the briefing blurs the lines of reality and starts the process of immersing you in the experience. I couldn’t stop giggling, but our teacher never broke character as she chastised us for our crimes and explained that we were to write 3,000 lines on the blackboard before she returned after completing her paperwork. This of course, would never do, and it was time for us to escape Detention!
Full Disclosure: I love rooms that make me feel a bit like a kid again, or invoke some warm and fuzzy feelings. Detention was beautifully designed, with a good flow, and just simply, good fun, ticking all my boxes for a wonderful room.
The puzzles throughout were a nice combination of logic and deductive reasoning, some searching, and skill-based challenges. There was also a nice blend of combination padlocks, automated tech, and things that needed to be triggered by someone watching. In general, I happened to find that all of the puzzles to be logical, well thought out, and, rather pleasingly, without a single red herring. In the rare instance where we were at a loss for what to do, it was generally due to a failure to see something that was actually right in front of our faces…
In fact, I can only think of one puzzle that even slightly frustrated me, but this was more of a physical challenge rather than a cerebral puzzle, but it still required some careful thinking and paying attention to the physics of how things work. I can easily see other groups becoming frustrated by this particular element, and unlike similar challenges in their other rooms, I am not sure how the company may have built in a fail-safe for anyone lacking in coordination.
Being a good little girl, I never actually got to experience detention (Gord is conveniently unable to recall whether or not he actually received detention, but I’m not convinced he was an angel), but despite being educated in America, the room rather closely resembled my 5th Grade classroom, even down to the desks and the always exciting TV/VCR cart – minus the ‘eau de children’ that seems to permeate schools worldwide.
CTRL ALT ESC aim to fully immerse you into the story with all of their rooms. From the opening briefing by your GM that is delivered completely in character, to the room design itself, and the integrated clue system, and while Detention wasn’t driven forward as much by the narrative as Spacescape, this room in particular felt as though it has surpassed both of the company’s previous rooms in immersiveness. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the room, besides the accompanying soundtrack (which was amazing), were the nods to nostalgia throughout the entire game, with notes, childhood science experiments and games, and even a nod to the most famous detention based movie: The Breakfast Club. (I’m not ashamed: We spent at least two minutes having a Breakfast Club-style dance party. I regret nothing.)
Alongside the theming, I really should mention set design in general. There were a few moments where the design just completely surpassed what I was expecting, with little surprises throughout and a fun twist at the end.
As per usual with CTRL ALT ESC, our GM was top notch. From the entertaining introduction as our teacher, to the attentiveness throughout the game, I was just as impressed as I was on our first visit.
Clues and nudges actually have two different delivery systems. We had a few nudges throughout the game, which were delivered by an accomplice (another naughty student) over the tannoy system. We didn’t actually require any proper clues, and in a way, I’m kind of disappointed that we didn’t. The delivery system was explained after our game, and, while I don’t want to give anything away, it would have been perfectly in keeping with the theme of Detention, and I’m a little sad we didn’t have to ask for any. We did get to experience the system once, as one part of a puzzle was delivered in the same manner, so at least we didn’t totally miss out.
Once again, we have been astounded by the quality of the rooms in Margate. When we finally escaped Detention after just over an hour, we had a chat with our host and the owners. CTRL ALT ESC have more plans (possibly a horror-themed room next), and, if Detention is anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what they do next!
Team: 2 players (escaped in 1hr 6mins)
Address: 4 Cliff Terrace, Margate, Kent, CT9 1RU