Grubby, like a real carnival
Locked away in ‘The Laughing Lair’, you have been given the chance to escape, but you will have to work together to get out before he changes his mind. Can you escape this villain’s lair?
We’d passed through Maidstone before when we did The Extraction Room but unfortunately didn’t have time to check out Escape Hub. Not knowing when we’d next be back in Maidstone we decided to book all four rooms at Escape Hub in one go just to make sure we weren’t missing out.
Escape Hub have an easy to find location in the top corner of a small shopping arcade (above a wonderfully smelling Thai food place). When we arrived we were greeted by Andy and Harrison, our GMs for the day. When we were there, the reception wasn’t much to look at because of building works for their new room, but there were some leaderboards to look at and a comfortable couch to sit on.
After a nice chat about escape rooms, Harrison took over as our GM and took us to the entrance to the Laughing Lair. Outside the door(s) to the room, Harrison proceeded to give us the usual briefings and explaining our mission.
With the mission clear in our heads we were each given a door to enter, yes it’s a split start, and once the doors closed behind us our time began.
There was a good mix of puzzles with for the most part fitted the carnival theme, if you’re a fan of the carnival then you will probably appreciate a lot of what you’ll find in here. You’ll need to be confident in your communication skills and happy with a small number of physical challenges (not Krypton Factor level of physical), but generally, you’ll find that the puzzles make sense and aren’t really frustrating, in fact, the most frustrating element will be the sheer number of padlocks you need to work through.
The majority of the puzzles were observational where you need to locate a code and enter it in a padlock, or logic-based, however, there was one piece of technology that was used – although this was a bit temperamental for us and needed a ‘firm-hand’ from our GM.
Other than not knowing which padlock to use our codes on, we felt like there was decent signposting in the room to guide us in the right direction and keep us moving. Although, saying that, early on there was a section that broke what is generally considered to be a standard rule for escape room puzzles. It was nothing major and we managed to work it out purely by giving it a try, but we weren’t expecting it to actually work.
Going into a carnival-themed room, we were certainly not expecting a split start, but I do often like a split start room as it throws you straight into the action as you need to rely on communication. First impressions of the room were that it was a little bit grubby and run-down, some of this was most definitely set dressing and the feel they were going for, however, a good amount was just wear-and-tear.
The first rooms that we started in were a bit odd and reminded me of a student house the night after a big party, but once we got out of those rooms the theme was as you would expect for a carnival-themed room. The room itself was rather dark in places but torches were supplied which made it bearable, even for Liz who has poor low-light vision.
My biggest gripe with this room was probably the number of padlocks in it. Normally I am a fan of padlocks but we found ourselves getting a code and then having to try it in numerous locks without any guidance as to which one the code may be for. They also used my least favourite escape room ‘tool’, something called a ‘lockout hasp.’ This is a way to put multiple padlocks on one puzzle. I understand why they did it, but multiple padlocks on one item will always just feel a bit lazy to me.
Although I wasn’t fully sure of the storyline while we were in the room, there was a fun sense of adventure and just when we thought we were about to finish, there was more to do. When the ending did come, it was fun and a light-hearted way to finish.
There was no timer in the room and clues were delivered over a speaker system. We didn’t actually need any clues but at one point there was a minor tech failure, fortunately, Harrison was obviously monitoring closely as he appeared in the blink of an eye to fix the issue – total time lost, perhaps 30 seconds (good work, Harrison).
If nothing else, the GMs here deserve credit for what must be a horrible reset! If you play the room, you’ll see what we mean.
This wasn’t a bad room, and we actually had a fun time (especially with the ending). But with a few too many padlocks and a little too much wear-and-tear we feel like this room may be slightly past its prime. For the price though it is worth every penny, especially if you use the Escape Game Card to get a slight discount.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 35:33
Address: 39 High St, Maidstone ME14 1JL
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