Lasers! Lasers everywhere!
It is 1675, china. You are the guards of kangxi, emperor and great ruler of the mighty qing dynasty. The emperor has many beautiful and priceless treasures in his palace but none so precious as his bronze vase. For legend has it, as long as the vase stays in the emperor’s possession his dynasty will prosper and live on forever.
But, one night, whilst on your watch, the vase disappears. When the emperor wakes and finds out what has happened he is overcome with rage and blames you for its loss and orders your execution to be carried out the very next day.
That night, whilst sitting awake in your cell, a mysterious stranger comes to your aid. They break you out of your cell and lead to you a time machine. They tell you to travel forward in time, to the present day, to room 33 of the british museum, where that exact same vase is now held. You will need to break into the museum, find and steal the vase, and escape back to the time portal before it closes in just 1 hours time.
That’s a nice story on their website, but it’s not the one one we were told. Essentially we were descendants of some chap who failed to stop the vase being stolen from an emperor, we now work at a museum and the vase is a new exhibit so we need to steal it to restore honour to our ancestors. Simple.
Anyway, lately we seem to be travelling around the UK for rooms, but for a change of pace we were closer to home this time, doing a room in London. The chosen room was Room 33 at Escape Rooms’ London Bridge site.
Room 33 seems to have been around for many years; in fact we’ve read reviews written four years ago, so it’s certainly ‘established’, our concern was if it was going to be rough around the edges due to wear and tear (it wasn’t).
The venue was easy to find and only five minutes walk from London Bridge Station. On arriving we were greeted by friendly staff members and then proceeded to wait in the waiting area while another group arrived. They did a health and safety briefing for both groups at the same time; it saved time but made the experience feel a bit more impersonal.
With the boring stuff over, the other group moved downstairs and we remained in the waiting area while our GM, Ernest, gave us our specific room briefing. In a nutshell; get in, get vase, get out. Make sure you listen to the briefing though, it contains useful information for the room.
With a walkie-talkie in hand and a pen and paper for notes (wonderful addition, we like writing things down), we descended downstairs to attempt to find the missing vase.
We’ve done a number of rooms lately which have been very linear, which is fine and can work, but it was a refreshing change to do a room that wasn’t, one where we could go off and do our own thing.
The first challenge you encounter is impressive and was a visually striking start to the game, requiring dexterity, flexibility and skill – or a bumbling oafish approach; we went for the latter.
If you don’t like padlocks then you won’t be a fan of this room as there are plenty of them. At one point you need to find multiple combinations for similar locks so end up having to try your combination on all the padlocks until one (hopefully) works.
One puzzle was very ambiguous as it didn’t appear to line up correctly so despite us knowing what to do we couldn’t get it to work. We needed a clue in the end and despite being told what we already knew we still couldn’t get the right answer so kind of fudged it in the end. Fortunately that was the only puzzle we didn’t get on with and everything else seemed to make sense.
This room doesn’t have a big emphasis on searching but you will need to use some logic and not be afraid of riddles. Everything you need is in the room and you shouldn’t need any outside knowledge, although saying that, there was one point where you did but it is possible we just missed the explanation, either way, it was basic stuff.
In terms of room design, I think the easiest rooms to do must be the ‘museum’ themed ones as you can basically just get away with a sparse white room. We weren’t blown away by the main room but it fitted the theme well. What was really different here is that the room started with the wow-factor rather than building up to it. Was this disappointing? I don’t know, but I was impressed and surprised when I saw the first room.
We were told in our briefing that there were red herrings in the room so to be aware of that. We’ve done rooms with many red herrings but this wasn’t one of them. To us, the items that were in there and not needed for puzzles actually felt more like set dressing and it didn’t take long to realise that they could be ignored.
Considering the age of this room we really expected it to feel run down but surprisingly it wasn’t. There were areas where you could see where people’s grubby fingers had been trying to solve puzzles, but nothing was broken or duct-taped back together. An added bonus was that all the tech in the room actually worked!
Clues were delivered via walkie-talkies that we were given before going in. You could have as many clues as you wanted but if you had more than three then you weren’t eligible for the wall of fame. There was also a countdown clock on the wall so you knew exactly how long you had left.
Our GM, Ernest, was enthusiastic, attentive, and gave us perfectly timed nudges and clues (when requested). He also did a small ceremony when adding our picture to the wall of fame, which gave me a laugh at least.
Knowing how old this room was I was not expecting to enjoy it, especially when we got stuck on that ambiguous puzzle, but strangely I did enjoy it. I can’t pick out one specific thing I liked, but it was a fun room.
This is not a room for a beginner two-person team and we certainly felt like we were struggling at times. The decor won’t blow you away but if you want a solid room that will give you an hours entertainment, then this is that.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 49:40 with two clues
Address: Rear of 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for these tickets, but this has not influenced our review.