We went to Area 51 and escaped
The year is 2020. You have snuck into Windsor Great Park after dark to camp overnight. What started off as a mischievous plan and a fun night of camping takes a mysterious turn.
Late at night when you are just drifting off to sleep you hear dogs barking, flashing lights and people shouting. You leave the tent to investigate, you spot a UFO disappearing into the distance and alien-like figures in the woods.
You do not understand what you have just witnessed, but shortly after that, some armed military men arrive, put you in a military van. You wake up in a small room, you have been captured and now understand you have to escape before you are silenced for what you have witnessed!
Our regular team, ‘Better than Halloumi’ had just set a month record for Crown Jewel Heist so we were feeling pretty confident before heading into Area 51. Our GM told us that this room was their hardest one and he would be “very impressed” if we replicated our Crown Jewel Heist time in this room – spoiler alert: we beat it.
As before, the GM took us up to the room and there was nowhere to store bags, etc. out of the room so we had to put our coats on door hooks and bags in a vacant corner. The GM then proceeded to give an in room health and safety briefing. Strangely, the GM doesn’t really cover any of the story other than a brief sentence so we had to read the screen in the room for the background story. Once the briefing was over the GM asked us to wait while he went downstairs to start the time, once it began, our mission was on!
For me, this was the stronger of the two rooms we played at Escape Experience Windsor, but Liz preferred Crown Jewel Heist. This seems like a pretty new company and it sounds like they have only been opened within the last year so I assume they are still learning what works for them.
They do state on their website that enthusiasts should not do this room with six people, but we found that even as a team of five we were arguably too many, not for size, but for number and complexity of puzzles.
We ended up setting a new room record for this room, getting out in 22:30. Some of this will be down to our experience and that the puzzles just clicked with us. Some of it will also be down to the lack of puzzles in the room.
Some people will feel short changed at getting out so quickly but we still enjoyed the game. We have to remember that games like this aren’t made for enthusiasts and we aren’t the target market. Still, it was a fun game and we did see one or two puzzles that we hadn’t seen before.
There was a mixture of puzzles in the room, some needed teamwork and communication, some logic, a bit of searching, one was arguably physical, and another involved numbers. There were puzzles for all different brain types.
At one point there is a puzzle which requires two people to communicate to solve it, unfortunately this meant that the other three people in our team were left with nothing to do until it was solved.
We blitzed this room not only because our brains seem to be wired the same way as the room designers but more, it seemed, because there weren’t really that many puzzles to solve.
I think the immersion is where this room felt it was lacking, not so much the room design but just everything that went with it, basically the whole experience.
The rooms were themed well with some good tech and puzzles that fitted the theme, but I never really felt like I was lost in this world. Liz has stronger opinions on the room design than me, but I think we both agree that Crown Jewel Heist was the more visually impressive room.
The GM was on the ball and would provide clues or nudges when needed in a time manner. The only interaction we needed in this game was when a battery wasn’t working in something and he offered a work around.
Our time was displayed on a screen the first room and this is where clues were also delivered. When you receive any messages on the screen it is accompanied by a loud noise so you know it was there.
We’ve looked at their social media profiles and there are teams that seem to either get locked in, or get out in around 50mins so I think the room is perfectly suited to their target markets. But if you’re an enthusiast I’d probably recommend avoiding this one considering the price, or go in a small team.
Strangely they didn’t offer to take a team photo which felt odd as they usually do. Team photos are small things but it’s a nice way to end the experience and without that it felt ‘incomplete’.
Even more strangely for a place that also offers luggage storage (and duck boat tours, but that’s not relevant), there was nowhere to store bags or coats except in the room. For me, I like to keep items like this outside the room in a locker as we have had experienced where bags have hidden something needed or got in the way.
Speaking with the owner at the end it sounds like they have big plans to expand next door and open more rooms. He also alluded to the fact that they will be making a better waiting area, hopefully one that includes a locker or two.
Team: 5 players – escape in 22:30 with no clues
Address: 15a Goswell Hill, Windsor SL4 1RH