Part escape room, part history lesson
The country is in turmoil and a civil war is raging across the land. Charles I has escaped captivity and is on the run from Oliver Cromwell’s forces. It is believed Charles has confided in the Orme family as to where he has fled, so you must ransack their residence to find clues and the important information that will lead the Roundheads to Charles’ location. You only have 60 minutes before the Orme family return!
Unfortunately the Vaults are not accessible for those with mobility issues.
Having successfully completed Escape the Seven Seas, we made our way to our next game. Escape Peterborough have three games located within the Priestgate Vaults, below Peterborough Museum. Despite the more positive reviews from other bloggers, we avoided Buried Alive (Gord was afraid I would leave him bored and locked in a coffin, and I get fidgety when I’m confined), and instead opted for The Hunt. Given the location, it makes perfect sense for The Hunt to have a historical theme. But not only that, The Hunt’s theme draws on the actual history of Peterborough: during the English Civil War, Peterborough declared itself for the Royalists, the Orme family really were Royalist sympathisers, and it’s even likely that King Charles I spent two nights imprisoned in Peterborough Cathedral after his escape and subsequent recapture.
Unlike Escape Peterborough’s main venue, there is no dedicated waiting room or staff to welcome you. Upon arrival, we checked in with the museum staff and proceeded to wait for our GM to collect us. The museum does have a cafe so, if you’re early enough, a coffee is always an option. Shortly after arrival, we were met by our GM and led down the stairs to the vaults. After depositing our belongings in a room that looked as though it was a World War II air raid shelter, we entered the room to receive our briefing.
Due to the constraints of the venue, most of the puzzles relied on padlocks to secure large pieces of furniture, and gave the game a very linear structure. Fortunately, there was relatively little searching required, with most puzzles unlocking the clues for the next in a sequence, but as with any escape room, you will need to have a good look around; our GM was very thorough in pointing out exactly what wasn’t in play, so that we didn’t waste time looking in irrellevent places, but even so, we still managed to miss a trick or two.
On the other hand, the lighting was dim; with no torch provided, and me being loathe to use the one on my phone, this meant that several puzzles were only difficult due to the fact that they just couldn’t be seen properly; never a good tactic particularly with the amount of written material. A torch or two, or even some more thematic light sources, would have gone a long way to making the game more enjoyable and less frustrating for me.
The most interesting aspect of this room is, without a doubt, the venue itself. However, because of the constraints of the building, this means that there is very little that can be done to make the set surprising, and the game is contained entirely within one room. That being said the heavy furniture throughout the room, while definitely not from the 16th century, helps to set the mood and enhance the theme, and the ingenuity of one piece did impress me to the point where I said, “That was cool.” Unfortunately, any immersion you get from the setting and the background music is lost within the sea of modern padlocks, and the dim lighting, while atmospheric, really was just frustrating.
Prior to playing the game, I wasn’t aware of Peterborough’s history, and the role it had played in the Civil War, but after looking up some information in writing this review, it’s clear that the team have worked with the museum to not only put together an escape room, but to also create a fun way to learn about the history of the area, with some elements inspired by actual events, places, and people from the past.
Due to limitations with the venue, there are no cameras within the room, allowing you to be seen at all times, however, you are able to be heard. You can’t request any help for the first ten minutes of the game, but should you need any help after that, all you need to do is ask and one will be projected on the wall.
Hilariously, if the GM does need to visually check your progress, there is a window into the room. It’s quite high, but you may occasionally see them peeking in to see how you’re getting on. Our GM was clearly keeping track of our progress though, and helpfully provided a couple of nudges when we failed to look at things properly.
Despite my critique, The Hunt is a decent game, and I enjoyed the historical aspect of it. I would encourage enthusiasts to tackle this in smaller groups, or some of the team will likely find that they miss out on much of the action. However, the linear structure, and the more traditional escape room-style logic and observational puzzles make this an ideal room for new players.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 33 minutes
Address: Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery Priestgate, Peterborough, PE1 1LF
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for these tickets, but this has not influenced our review.