Damn those old-fangled contraptions
WELCOME TO THE MACHINE…
Strange machinery breathes in the stillness of the laboratory. Bubbles rise in a mysterious green liquid. Cogs tick. Gears clank. And in the air, the unmistakable sound of fear…
As your breathing stills, and your pulse slows to normal, you take a look around. What happened here? It looks like the previous occupant of the room has left in a hurry. But why? Your eyes grow used to the dusty light, and you begin to make out the discarded pieces of arcane mechanisms. There has to be a pattern, a code, something to show you the way out.
Join the intrepid souls who have tried to defeat Contraption. Many have attempted the challenge. But this room is smart. Some might even say… it’s alive…
After a bit of a walk to shake of the lingering spirits of Howitz, we returned to Escapologic to take on their very first room, Contraption. This time we were introduced to Will, who led us through the door to Contraption for our briefing, where we were once again warned not to lick the wires. (Is that seriously something people do?)
As Will exited and closed the door behind him, we were left to explore the strange and mysterious workshop, with a variety of contraptions and mechanisms everywhere. Of course, the first thing we did was to throw the cover off the central contraption, and try to discern just where to go from there.
Puzzles were a bit of a mixture, but relied heavily on interaction with the set; be warned, some things may behave differently than one might expect. Searching was a factor, but not as much as you might think. Aside from deciding what was a puzzle and what was set dressing/red herrings, the biggest challenge was actually the lighting. Eventually we managed to find the fix, (and I do mean find – this was probably the thing we had to search for the longest) which made everything else infinitely easier.
As with the other games we had played at Escapologic, we found game play to have a rather linear progression. This could be due to the fact that we played as a two, but apart from the initial search of the room, there were very few things that you could work on independently from each other. As a two, this works relatively well, but I can easily see members of larger teams being left to observe their teammates, rather than joining in with the puzzle solving.
There were a few bits that we struggled with, though in all honesty, this was due to overcomplication on our part. This happened a few times, but with a nudge in the right direction, we were able to figure them out eventually, with one notable exception. I’m not sure if we missed something in the room along the way that would have guided us, or if this particular element was just designed this way, but we ended up solving one puzzle completely by a process of elimination, a bit of guesswork, and possibly purely by fluke, which felt more like an annoyance than an achievement.
As we experienced in the other games we played at Escapologic, it’s clear that someone has an eye for detail in set design. The space was impressive, with some really neat contraptions, and just a generally mysterious vibe. There is a fine line between set dressing and a red herring, and Contraption did almost cross it, with many mysterious mechanisms throughout the room. I think as we’ve become more experienced, we’ve learned to leave something that doesn’t immediately make sense, and come back to it later, which helps to sort out red herrings from the useful items, but I can easily see less experienced teams becoming distracted in Contraption.
Throughout our escape weekend, we’d come to expect a certain standard from GMs at Escapologic, and Will more than lived up to that expectation. Friendly and engaging outside of the room, and attentive and swift when clues were required within, for Cryptic he was almost an integral part of the team (there were a few puzzles that we just weren’t getting.)
I was a big fan of the clue system, and while basic, it was effective. It would have been quite easy to use a PA system and an eerie voice, but Escapologic have devised a way to allow the room to interact with you to provide clues. Of course, if you’re having non-standard issues, you may get a note through the door if the usual system can’t quite guide you.
While I did thoroughly enjoy the clue system, I was not a massive fan of the lack of time keeping device. This is pretty common throughout Escapologic, with all of the games we played having no clock within the room. I’m not sure if this is to try to help with immersion, and allowing you to get lost in the game, or to heighten the stress if you are concerned about getting out.
We escaped in just over 45 minutes, having taken two or three clues, and needing a nudge or two along the way. However, like the other rooms we had played, once again, I felt that what should have been a rather exciting ending, just felt a little flat, as we solved what was apparently the last puzzle and the game came to an abrupt end.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 45:01
Address: 21-23 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 7AQ