A tie for our least favourite room in Peterborough*
Your friend is a journalist who has a keen eye for conspiracy theories. He had recently been focusing on government related theories, that was until he went missing!
The last contact you had with the journalist was about an important hard drive he has hidden away in his office explaining every conspiracy he has solved. You must retrieve the hard drive before the FBI can get their hands on it!
When we travel somewhere to do an escape room, it’s never worth just doing one room. So for our Peterborough adventure, we decided to tackle seven. And while Escape Peterborough could have easily allowed us to do seven rooms in just one location, we did spread the love a little, and completed rooms with several different companies. I’m incredibly glad we did so, but more on that later…
Following successful escapes from the two Trapp’d rooms, Cirque and Red Rock, we made our way to Escape Peterborough. It’s more centrally located, so it is a bit more convenient, but it’s still at least a ten minute walk from the city centre. First impressions were good. We arrived in good time, and were warmly greeted by what seemed to be an over abundance of staff. Sadly, the experience deteriorated a bit from there as the staff disappeared and we were left waiting nearly 20 minutes past the time we were due to start, just watching as other groups would come and go. With seven rooms on site, it is a large operation, but it felt as though we had been forgotten, since we were neither an obnoxious stag do, nor a group of boisterous preteens. Just as I was getting ready to remind them that we were waiting, we were finally approached and led to our room.
We were given a pretty standard briefing outside the room by our GM, where we were given the basics (the story, please don’t break things, don’t stick your fingers in plug sockets), and told that we would be completely on our own for ten minutes.
Once inside the room, there wasn’t much to explore, and we quickly set about accomplishing our mission, but almost immediately we hit a stumbling block. To be fair, this was purely down to us, but as the game progressed in a relatively linear fashion, this quickly became frustrating, particularly when we finally decided we did need a nudge in the right direction and asked for help, after our requisite ten minutes (we actually tried for about 13 or 14 before asking for a clue) and it didn’t come through for several minutes.
In any escape room, I find that there is a fine line between set dressing and a red herring. The penultimate puzzle in this room definitely felt as though that line had been crossed with an overwhelming amount of information to sort through in order to find what would actually be a rather simple solution, however, this could be due to the fact that we found this puzzle with only about seven minutes remaining, and were feeling rather frustrated with the entire experience, simply due to poor games mastering.
All in all, this room was not a great experience. It was an average room, that has fallen below average for me due to issues we experienced throughout the day. Perhaps if we had done this on a different day, I might feel differently, but of all the rooms we did in Peterborough, for me it’s a tie between Espionage and Witchcraft & Wizardry for least favourite room.
The puzzles within Espionage were not my favourite. With the linear gameplay, I already wasn’t the biggest fan, so perhaps I am a bit biased, as I wasn’t able to move on and solve something else when I struggled, and then return later. But as for the actual puzzles themselves, rather than finding things clever, I found them frustrating, with two in particular standing out as particularly poor. However, I will admit that I may be less inclined to like the puzzles simply because at the points we did finally admit we needed a clue, it was not readily available.
The design here was very basic. The room looked like an office, but it was very bare. The only real indication that it was supposed to be the office of a rather eccentric and paranoid journalist were the few nods to conspiracy theories, and of course, all of the drawers were padlocked. There was a nice little surprise near the end that I wasn’t expecting, but it did little to really enhance the experience.
When you need a clue, you should just need to wave at a camera and ask for one, which would then be delivered using the screen. I’ve alluded to it before, but the first time we required a clue, it took a few tries to get a response from the GM, at which point, it was clear we were not being watched closely, as the first instruction given was for something we had already done. It didn’t get any better from there. Once we were well and truly stuck on a puzzle, and in need of some guidance, it took multiple verbal requests, some rather vigorous waving, and nearly five minutes to receive a clue. We needed a bit of help one more time following this, and I was actually tempted to leave the room to find a GM, since it would have probably been quicker.
Another minor issue was something that wasn’t checked during the reset. There was water in a spray bottle which was needed and hadn’t been refilled between players so we had to get creative to make it work like we needed it to.
While we did escape, it was only just managed, and we were left feeling a bit deflated, due to both the quality of the puzzles and the attentiveness of the GM. We’re we rating the room purely on puzzles and design, this room would only just scrape by with three bulbs, and I would recommend it only if you really needed an escape room fix and had no other options. However, the less than stellar puzzles coupled with our overall experience on the day makes me hesitant to suggest it at all.
*Since writing this review Escape Peterborough has reached out to apologise for our experiences on this day. They stated the problems were due to staff shortages and not the levels they usually aspire to. They have invited us back to see their usual standards and try their other rooms. Watch this space…
Team: 2 players
Address: 23 Church Walk, Peterborough PE1 1SB