If You Want To Be A Good Archeologist, You Gotta Get Out Of The Library!
Professor Jones has gone missing, it’s down to you to find him!
Professor Jones and his team have gone missing on their search for the Spirit Temple, you’re part of the rescue team and we’re sending you into the depths of the jungle to look for him.
We’ll get you to the temple entrance, based on Dr Jones’ last known location, after that you’re on your own. Search for clues, work out where the team have gone, and rescue them!
It was a strange time in the UK when we visited Eltham Escape Rooms. It was that odd period when toilet paper was tricky, but not impossible, to find in the supermarkets, and people were still going about their days as normal, but with some extra hand washing. We had made the booking to visit Eltham a month or so before, as their first room, Temporal Tours was due to close in April, and we had heard it was one to try. And while Temporal Tours was indeed great fun, it was not the highlight of that visit. That honour goes instead to the company’s newest room: The Temple of the Lost Spirit.
This was not our first visit to Eltham Escape Rooms; we had previously been to the venue in April 2019 to play Keep Calm!, and we found that not much has changed within the reception area, with limited seating and some lockers for personal belongings (apparently that is to change soon though). After our escape from Temporal Tours and another round of waivers, washing and sanitising our hands, and an extra health and safety talk, we followed our GM, Anthony, up the stairs to the entrance to the jungle.
The Temple of the Lost Spirit is not so subtly themed on a certain archaeologist, known for hunting down rare artefacts, and his adventures in temples. If you’re not sure which franchise I’m referring to, I would hope that the fact that you’re there to save Dr Jones would give it away, and as we stood in the first part of the room to receive our briefing, I looked at my surroundings, and it had the very familiar feel of the opening to every Indiana Jones film. As it turns out, the entire game felt like an Indiana Jones adventure.
Tasks were signposted subtly, but well, and were generally quite logical, with a nice variety in the types of challenges that we came across. There were a few minor search elements, and even fewer instances that felt as though they would require out of the box thinking, but one thing I didn’t truly appreciate until we had finished the game and were discussing afterwards, was a total lack of padlocks.
Tasks were more physical/tactile in nature; there was no solving for a code to progress through an arbitrary obstacle, but rather tasks that required the manipulation of your surroundings to progress through the temple, and rescue Dr Jones. For me, my favourite games are those where the puzzles blend in to the story and the narrative, and make me feel as though I am living my own version of an adventure movie, and the Temple of the Lost Spirit achieved this beautifully.
Eltham Escape Rooms have clearly upped their game in terms of set design. Temporal Tours was enormous, spanning half of the lower floor of the entire building, whereas The Temple of the Lost Spirit was much more compact, but it wasn’t just the sizes of the games that we noticed, but rather the completely different feel the Temple had to both of the company’s earlier games. With the Temple, Eltham Escape Rooms are aiming for full immersion, with an impressively decorated set and the more tactile puzzles, allowing the game to become a true adventure.
The Temple of the Lost Spirit had a very linear progression, with each task moving you forward and revealing the next. That’s not to say there weren’t moments where Gord and I split up to investigate different things, but we often found ourselves coming back together to work on the same task. Eltham Escape Rooms recommend a maximum of six people, but really, unless most of the team are children (and I do think that kids will love this room), there are some rather tight spaces for a group of six, and with the linear structure of the game, larger teams may find some members observing rather than participating in all tasks. For us, a team of two was perfect, although three to four could work well.
My favourite clue systems are those that feel as though they are actually meant to be part of the game, blending narrative with help from the GM. When we first stepped through into the jungle, we were informed that there would be no clues, but that help was available if you knew where to look. I am sure this could be amended for anyone struggling, but the materials provided set us on our way without any need for external input.
As we progressed through the game, a new clue system emerged, and had we needed them, clues would have been delivered in character. We’ve come across other rooms where it feels as though we’ve been given an unsolicited nudge, but it is actually a part of the game, given to everyone, and that was the case here, with Dr Jones providing guidance and bits of the story that also nudged us in the direction of our next task.
Temporal Tours was due to close in April, even prior to the pandemic, to make room for two (yes, two) new rooms and an expanded reception area. If the two new rooms that come in to replace it are anything like The Temple of the Lost Spirit, we are all in for a treat when they arrive and we’re free to go out once more.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 24:07
Address: 3 St Mary’s Place, Eltham, SE9 1BL