Lighthearted war-time fun
It’s 1945 and the Air Commodores at RAF Tangmere have secured a barrel of ale of the highest quality, which they shipped in secretly last night under the cover of darkness. Whilst they are planning a jolly good knees-up for the senior officers, you and the rest of the squadron face an austere Victory Day celebration. But the Air Commodores have been called away to Sector Control and there’s a window of opportunity to break in, find the stash and roll out the barrel!
Escape Plan Ltd is one of those companies that we know does quality rooms yet for some reason it takes us a long time to actually get around to doing them, it took a long time to do Battle for Britain so it seemed long overdue that we checked out their Shoreditch location to try Roll Out the Barrel. This was actually our second room of the evening having just completed The Adventure Begins so we were feeling suitably warmed up.
While a number of escape rooms seem to be above pubs/bars, Escape Plan have done things a bit different by being under a bar. The venue is easy enough to find as it is in a building that houses a cinema and restaurant/bar and has large letters outside saying ‘Rich Mix’.
When we arrived we checked in with the receptionist upstairs then took a seat in the waiting room, it wasn’t long before our GM, Matt came to greet us (and also Brendan the owner/ creative mastermind) and showed us down stairs to a secondary waiting area. Roll out the Barrel is designed to fit a maximum of six players so it would make sense that the waiting area would be big enough to fit that many people. Matt gave us the health and safety and room specific briefing in this waiting area (while there was suitably era-appropriate music being played to set the scene).
Unlike the other two rooms at Escape Plan, Roll out the Barrel takes place after the war with a much more light-hearted storyline. The War was over, it was Victory Day, and we had to break into the officers’ quarters to steal their alcohol stash so we can celebrate accordingly. With the briefing over, and our mission clear, we entered the room and began our attempts to ‘roll out the barrel’.
I must admit, we had tried Roll out the Barrel when it was in testing to be a Christmas room so we had a little idea of some of the things we may see in there. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see that this room had been transformed from the room we tested while still managing to retain some of the wonderfully crafted puzzles and mechanisms.
Having tested ‘this’ room previously and having already done their other two rooms we went in with some preconceived ideas of how things worked and what we needed to solve them, but this actually turned into a hindrance as they managed to keep the core of the puzzle the same while requiring a different way to approach it.
The puzzles were mostly observational with some logic thrown in for good measure, and as you would expect from Escape Plan, they were all on theme. We found that the room played out in a non-linear fashion yet there were still a few points where we needed to come together as a team to solve things, although your experience may be slightly different if you are in a larger group (we were a two).
Although this room has padlocks, which many people detest (not me), the padlocks used were of a high quality and didn’t feel out of place in the surroundings, another plus point was the signposting that they had used so you knew which solution went with which padlock. Some people may not like this and could find that it steers you a little too much, but for me, it was a nice touch to stop you wasting time trying a combination on every padlock you find.
Of all the puzzles in the room, we found that one particular ‘big’ puzzle was our downfall. It was logical, fitted with the room, and made perfect sense, but I think we were being a little lazy and tried to take shortcuts with it – Escape Plan had planned for this and our shortcut meant we had to start again to work it through as they intended – Foiled!
We were curious to see how this room was going to transfer from essentially a corporate Christmas room into a traditional escape room, but it transitioned well and everything in the room felt like it belonged there. There was enough to keep us guessing and even give us a couple of laughs and surprises along the way.
I do enjoy a good War room but it was nice to see a War room that had a slightly lighted feel about it. With an upbeat and again, era-appropriate soundtrack we found that our time in this was really rather pleasant. Also, unlike a number of War rooms, this one was well lit and at no point were we struggling to see puzzles.
Escape Plan recently made a change to one puzzle which makes it much more accessible for those who may be colour-blind, and even those who are ‘colour challenged’ should be able to participate in all the puzzles in this room. It’s worth noting though that at least one person in your group will need to be relatively agile, but once that part is out of the way then everyone is back in play.
Matt did a great job of introducing the room (not surprising seeing as he is an actor) and was suitably enthusiastic for all our interactions with him. Early in the room there is no timer but one does appear as you progress through the room so you can see how long you have left.
Strangely we didn’t actually require any clues for this room, which is a testament to the logical build of the puzzles, but we were reliably informed that they would have been delivered via an integrated speaker system in the room. We have no doubt that clues would have been delivered quickly if we had needed them.
We were told it was possible to escape this room without completing all the tasks but we couldn’t quite work out how that would be possible. So if in doubt, it’s much simpler just to complete everything and then you don’t need to worry about it. We loved Battle for Britain and although this room didn’t quite reach the greatness of that room, it’s a room we thoroughly enjoyed. Puzzles were logical, the room was fun to be in, the ending was strong and the hosting was spot-on. Escape Plan have often been tricky for two players due to their pricing structure, but this has now been revised and it is worth every penny – yes, a decent two player escape room in London exists!
Team: 2 players – escaped in 43:32 with no clues
Address: 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch, London E1 6LA
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for these tickets, but this has not influenced our review*