Impressive Set Design
Buildings are collapsing. Fires are raging. People are screaming. And you’re trapped inside the Edward Palatine Institute, watching it all happen on your screen. With just one hour to save billions of pounds worth of chemical research, every decision you make is critical.
Epicentre is your chance to answer the question that nags at the back of the mind during every disaster movie. If the world ended, how would you react?
As a vital part of the Institute’s disaster cleanup crew, you’ll have to walk a tightrope between weighing the consequences of your decisions, and making them fast enough to survive. As the crisis deepens outside the installation’s walls, and anarchy begins to rule the streets, terrifying updates flash through the news channels.
There isn’t much time left, and your luck is running out…
We visited Nottingham a couple of years ago and played most of the games at Escapologic but Epi-Centre was one game that we missed out on. So on day six of our escape room roadtrip we made sure to pop back to Escapologic Nottingham to complete the set.
If you’ve played any of the games at Escapologic already then you’ll have a pretty good idea of the quality you’re going to find. They’re the biggest escape room venue in Nottingham (they have rooms in Leicester too) and must be one of the most well known venues in the U.K, with a well deserved reputation for quality.
Things had changed a bit since our last visit, thanks to a certain pandemic, but we were still greeted warmly on arrival and the basement waiting area still retained much of its original charm, in fact I’d go so far to say they actually improved it. The long benches were gone, replaced by individual booths that were big enough for the entire team.
Our GM for Epi-Centre was Fred. Fred came to collect us from our booth and escorted us down the familiar hallway and then we stopped outside the door for Epi-Centre. Outside the room, Fred performed the health and safety and room specific briefings. With the briefings complete, we were separated and led into the room, ready for the split-start game to begin.
Covid-19 Procedures: the waiting area was modified to give teams individual booths to wait in. We did see other teams while we were on site but we never came close to them. Screens were used to keep staff safe and masks were worn by all staff and players. There was also plentiful hand sanitiser around the place and track and trace was used (we visited in May 2021).
Escapologic go all-in with their room design and never hold back, that’s also the case in epi-centre with its impressive central area. Outside of the main area the spaces are a bit more basic but still fit in well with the theme.
Where we struggled with this room was that there was a lot of set dressing/props that straddled the line between set dressing and red herring. We worked out what we did and didn’t need but this then meant we discounted other areas of the room that we actually needed to interact with – a bit frustrating and had us looking a bit lost for a while.
Early on, during the split start, there was a lot of information/text and again we found that this was mostly useless, despite some of it looking like it was actually going to be useful. As this was while we were separated it meant we took a little while explaining everything we had, only to then realise that most of it was there as a distraction.
The set itself was actually quite cool and how we interacted with it was good fun. But if we had one gripe with this room it was that it was quite dark in places (very dark in other places) and the torches we were given were simply not up to the job. They would crap out all the time and this made one task nearly impossible, or it would have if the other torch hadn’t been slightly less crap (only slightly). If we were given decent torches then we possibly would have enjoyed this experience a bit more than we did.
The ambient noises, and hissing static sounds added to the atmosphere that we were indeed in the middle of a disaster. The introduction of a cheeky AI called Elsie added some humour into an otherwise bleak scenario and just when we thought the game had ended, there was one last ‘hail Mary’ thrown at us by Escapologic – a fun way to end the game.
Escapologic seem really rather good at making puzzles that fit the theme, and Epi-Centre was no exception with all the puzzles feeling like they belonged and having a more tactile/physical feel than perhaps other rooms may have.
The puzzles were varied and generally involved; searching (some very sneaky hiding places), observation, communication and logic. Although I say some of the searching is sneaky, there is some signposting if you pay attention. One of the puzzles involved colour, which is always less than ideal, but when you throw in crappy torches and darkness, then it makes it infinitely harder.
One bit of advice, don’t be afraid to touch things, move them, and generally just explore everything! We’d have saved a lot of time if we weren’t being as delicate as we usually are. Also, you’d better hope that your GM is in a kind mood or your last puzzle could be quite a challenge!
This is one of those rooms where walkie-talkies actually would have been appropriate with the theme, but Escapologic don’t just settle for ‘appropriate’, so the clue system for this room was using an AI system called Elsie. Elsie was able to chime in with clues when needed and, as I mentioned earlier, she was also capable of adding extra humour or playing a bit of music.
There was a screen in the room but this was only used for playing video/news clips which helped to back up the story about the disaster scenario we were currently in. There was also no timer displayed anywhere, which when you think the game is over, and realise it isn’t, really adds to the pressure!
Epi-Centre is a good room but probably not the first one we’d recommend at Escapologic. If there was less ‘clutter’ and better torches, we probably would have enjoyed this game more. Although saying that, we did enjoy the crazy ending.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 40 minutes
Address: 21-23 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 7AQ