“Yer a Wizard [INSERT NAME]”
Wands at the ready. You are back for another year at Barumbrook College of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A group of dark witches and wizards steal 4 items from somewhere within the college’s grounds. You and your friends take it upon yourselves to hunt down the lost items and return them to the room of secrets before it’s too late.
We decided to book a spur of the moment break down to Devon for a long weekend, so naturally we had to see what escape rooms were nearby. It seems like we’re starting to run out of games to play in the South West now, but as Barnstaple wasn’t too far from where we were staying we decided to get ourselves booked in at Escape Down the Rabbit Hole.
I’m not sure what came first at Escape Down the Rabbit Hole, the escape rooms, the restaurant, or the ‘venue’. They’ve got themselves quite a nice little corner of Barnstaple and their space seemed to just keep going. We were too early for food but the restaurant looked quite nice and I can see from their social media presence that they like doing live music nights – not the usual sort of set up for an escape room business.
We found the venue easily enough and we were able to park in a sizable car park around five minutes away, nice and convenient. When we arrived we were asked to take a seat in the restaurant while our GM, Rebecca did some last minute prep for our game. Once the prep was done, we were led across the courtyard and into a small briefing area where Rebecca proceeded to give us the health and safety and room specific briefings. With that out of the way, it was time to see if we were good enough for the College of Magic.
Covid-19 Precautions: we wore masks while we were playing and all staff (including our GM) wore masks too.
As you may expect from the name of this game, it is heavily inspired by the world of Harry Potter – that’s not to say it was a direct rip-off, but there was certainly a fair amount of inspiration from that world.
First impressions when entering the room was that it was rather sparse, and it was quite clear where we were going to go next. But the spareness would be a bonus if you were in a bigger team, as a team of two we had plenty of space to move around.
One or two areas felt a bit run down, think tape and glue in places to hold things together – but nothing that really detracted from the experience too much. Another prop later in the game felt like it should be interacted with in a different way but we had to use a much more ‘low-tech’ approach to solve it.
I think the game was supposed to end in a different way to what ours did. The final piece of tech wasn’t working. We tried it a few times then eventually our GM had to come in and say ‘Well done’ – a bit of an anti-climax, but tech fails do happen. I think we were perhaps a bit let down as the price point of this game made it feel like a premium game, but our experience was quite the opposite.
This game played out in a very linear manner. Although some puzzles were visible early on there were a lot of them that couldn’t be solved until much later and only in a set order.
Generally we found the puzzles to be on the easier side (as reflected in us completing the game in 25 minutes), however the first puzzle stumped us. I’m not sure if we weren’t warmed up, but it really didn’t click with us and even when explained it just felt a bit weak – we had to get a clue on this one, and then it was plain sailing from then on.
The other puzzles were a mixture of decoding, observation, following instructions, and a small amount of searching. The room was also a little dim but never too dark to see padlocks or instructions.
There was a good mixture of tech and padlocks but nothing that really ‘wowed’ us at any point. Although one puzzle was quite cool, I can’t help but feel like it would have been cooler if it worked in a slightly different way.
We gave Rebecca a pretty easy ride as we only needed help early on. When we did need the help, we simply shouted into the ether that we needed some assistance and she promptly provided just enough help to get us back on track. The clues were delivered via a screen in the room, and were just cryptic enough to get us moving.
Games in the South West seem heavily targeted to the passing tourist market, so enthusiasts are unlikely to be challenged. At £60 for a team of two, this is not a cheap experience and it certainly didn’t feel like it warranted such a high price, but we had fun, and (other than the first) the puzzles made sense and were logical.
We had only actually booked one game but because of how quickly we got through this one, they kindly offered us their other game, ‘Escape The Bus’. Escape The Bus is billed as a 45 minute experience but we actually enjoyed it more than The College of Magic
Team: 2 players – escaped in 25:00
Address:1 Market Street, Barnstaple EX31 1BX