Don’t Have a Meltdown
Your Great Uncle was once a leading scientist known for developing state of the art nuclear technology. In central Europe, during the late 1970’s, one of his experimental reactors went into meltdown as soon as it was activated, causing one of the most catastrophic disasters in modern history.
The government blamed him for the event, stating that his reactors were not safe to begin with, he was imprisoned for life and remains locked up to this day.
After receiving a letter from prison you have reason to believe he was framed by a fellow scientist and that the original reactor was tampered with.
Your only option is to break into an abandoned power plant located in rural Russia, find a second inactive reactor and start it up. If it is fully functional then you may just have the evidence to free an innocent man. If your Great Uncle is lying, then you may need to run for your life!
Escapologic are one of the more frequently talked about companies in the UK amongst Escape Room Enthusiasts, but it’s their Nottingham venue that gets most of the love, thanks in part to two of the games there: Curio and Butcher. Earlier in the week, our Epic 14 Day/59 game road trip had us returning to Nottingham to finish the available games there, but we still had an entire venue to visit in order to complete the Escapologic set. Sadly, an overzealous customer the night before put Operation Magnus out of commission, so we’re still one short. I suppose we’ll just have to go back!
Our visit to Leicester was scheduled for Day Nine of our Escape Room Roadtrip. By this point we were well and truly warmed up, and ready to tackle the challenges of what was now a seven game day (we were off to another venue after Escapologic). But fuel is important, so when we arrived in Leicester with time to kill, we went off in search of sustenance, and discovered some doughnuts of rather epic proportions at Doughnotts. Full of sugar we made our way back to Escapologic to begin our adventures.
The first adventure was the building that houses Escapologic itself. I love beautiful architecture and funky buildings, so I was immediately in love, and thoroughly delighted (once we sanitised our hands and checked in using NHS Track and Trace of course) to be led to the basement of the former bank by our GM and host for the day, Alex. The space is massive, and I look forward to seeing what Escapologic come up with next to fill it further.
After a brief moment to freshen up (and sneak a bite of Doughnott) Alex led us to the entrance of Reactorvate. Outside the door of the abandoned nuclear power plant, Alex told us the story of our Great Uncle and briefed us on our mission to recover the evidence before sending us through, and closing the door behind us…
Covid-19 Procedures: As with their Nottingham venue, Escapologic Leicester were pretty hot on the Covid precautions at the time of our visit in May 2021.The use of masks in both games and public areas was required for both customers and staff (since playing this may have been changed to public areas only). The venue is also requiring check ins with NHS Track and Trace. Escapologic have also provided plenty of hand sanitiser and have removed high touchpoints such as lockers for the time being. We did not see any other teams at the time of our visit, but if we had, we would have been asked to maintain adequate social distance.
If you haven’t yet seen the HBO/Sky collaboration Chernobyl yet, I highly recommend it. I bring this up, because when we entered the control room of the reactor, I immediately thought of that (And also the images of the actual Chernobyl control room that we explored via Google Earth when we played Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology). There were screens, buttons, switches, toggles, and loads of bright and flashing lights. There were plenty of things in the control room to play with and the game created a wonderful sense of exploration as we experimented with the things we found, trying to discover what to do next.
I quickly found myself fully immersed in the world Escapologic created for Reactorvate. Atmospheric noises and other effects helped to set the scene, especially combined with the more physical nature of the puzzles that ensured we were “really” restarting the reactor. The game progressed in a very linear manner, although there was one point where larger teams could split up to speed up the process, but even without that, the game was fast paced, and full of dramatic moments, particularly if you don’t actually absorb (or notice) all of the relevant information in time to prevent a catastrophe. We didn’t, and found ourselves in the midst of blaring alarms, smoke, and potential disaster at the climax of the game. Fortunately, we’re quick on our feet, and the adrenaline pushed us through to the satisfying conclusion.
A word of warning, it would be wise to ensure that at least one member of your party is not afraid of the dark. While it’s not scary, per say, there is one part of the game where at least one person will find themselves in a space totally devoid of light, and no torches are provided. I loved this part of the game, but with the overall atmosphere of the game, I can see some players being very uncomfortable until this is resolved.
The puzzles in Reactorvate were my favourite kinds of puzzles, primarily because they are the sort that you don’t necessarily realise are a puzzle until you’ve done it. There were very few combination codes to solve for (only one if I remember correctly), but instead these were replaced with the more physical and tangible tasks that would naturally be required to bring a nuclear reactor back online. Of course, these tasks require a variety of skills: communication, logic, observation, pattern recognition. At times I felt very much as though I was just in “Try it and see” mode.
But just trying things without actually processing all of the information meant that we may have (definitely) created an additional puzzle for ourselves, and upped the tension of the room as we nearly sent the reactor into a meltdown. Thankfully, we fixed that issue relatively quickly and managed to escape with both our lives and the evidence.
Clues were delivered through the tannoy system. It’s an effective way to clue players, and even better if it’s done in character. Since every other Escapologic game we’ve played has had a unique or more immersive clue system, clues could presumably come from a power plant employee there to help us on our journey. I say presumably because we actually didn’t need much input from our GM, Alex, as the puzzles flowed well. I believe there may have been one or two nudges, so we know Alex was watching closely, and would have been ready to jump in with a more direct clue if we had been truly stuck on something, but really our only hiccups were those of our own making.
My favourite games are those that completely immerse you in the world around you, particularly by forcing players to perform “real-world” tasks, and make you feel as though you are the star of your own film. Reactorvate did this, and more, and has firmly embedded itself in my mind as my favourite game at Escapologic’s Leicester branch (so far, at least).
Team: 2 players – escaped in 25 minutes
Address: 2B St Martins, Leicester LE1 5DB