A Beautiful Game!
FIND THE ARROW. SAVE THE SHERIFF.
The role of the modern day Sheriff of Nottingham is to protect and uphold the legend of Robin Hood. A group of ruthless kidnappers have taken the Sheriff and are demanding the fabled golden arrow of Robin Hood as ransom. They have given you and your team 24 hours to comply with their demands, that was 23 hours ago…
Your team has searched all manner of Robin Hood related locations looking for the arrow, from Nottingham Castle to Sherwood Forest, but to no avail. Your last shot is the private office of the Sheriff. An unusual and unique room with many hidden secrets to find, ancient codes to crack and elaborate puzzles to solve.
CAN YOU FIND THE GOLDEN ARROW, SAVE THE SHERIFF AND MAKE SURE THE LEGEND SURVIVES?
Nottingham has always seemed to be regarded as a bit of a mecca within the UK for escape room enthusiasts. Given the number of top quality games and companies all located within easy walking distance of each other, it’s no surprise why. Our first visit to Nottingham occurred almost exactly two years prior, in May of 2019, when we wanted to book something special for our 100th game. We got that with Curio, and not only was the game epic, but Escapologic made it extra special with balloons and a cake!
Since our last visit, Escapologic (as well as a number of other excellent companies in the city) have been hard at work creating wonderful new experiences, so we knew it was only a matter of time before we made the pilgrimage northwards once again. Our return had been scheduled for May 2020, but we all know what happened next. So instead, our Epic Escape Room Roadtrip was essentially built around rescheduling Nottingham, with Day Seven dedicated to our eventual return.
The morning began at Escape Stations, for Prometheus, but after that, it was time to head over to Escapologic to finish off the three remaining games there that we either didn’t have the chance to play last time around, or hadn’t existed yet. We started with Epi-Centre, and finished with Immaterium, but in between was the game I was looking forward to the most at the venue: Robin of Lockskey. (Maybe it should have been Immaterium, but I’ve never really gotten into Warhammer.)
We had a fair amount of time between finishing Epi-Centre and our scheduled time for Robin, so with that in mind we made our way to the bakery on the corner not far from the venue for a coffee and a snack before continuing on our adventure. But eventually we made our way back to Escapologic, and descended the stairs to the circus-themed reception to await the arrival of Fred, our GM, in the new private pods that have been installed since our last visit (FYI, I love these. Kinda hope they stay even after the world (hopefully) returns to normal.)
Covid-19 Procedures: At the time of our visit in May 2021, Escapologic had revamped their reception/waiting area to allow for social distancing, so although we saw other teams during our visit, we were separate. Escapologic were requiring the use of masks in all areas 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.
When the time came, Fred led us across the street to stand before the door to the Sheriff of Nottingham’s office to learn that we only had an hour to save him from his diabolical kidnappers (shocker, I know). With one or two health and safety notes from Fred to keep in mind, we stepped through the door to the office. First impressions of the space were excellent; the study was gorgeous, with heavy furniture, beautiful period looking features, and was spacious and well lit. But as we followed the clues left behind, Robin of Lockskey evolved from a simple, but beautifully designed office based game, to an adventure of epic proportions.
If I had to pick a favourite theme for escape rooms, the games that immediately spring to mind are those that feel like I am going on a quest, simply for the feeling of wonder, excitement, exploration and adventure that this entails. Robin of Lockskey fits into this category perfectly, with a narrative and design that flowed and built like the best children’s adventure stories. The puzzles evolved out of the story and the surroundings, becoming an integral part of the immersion, drawing us totally into the world created. Naturally, this type of game plays out in a linear manner, making it ideal for smaller teams, but with the amount of space and places to explore, even larger teams will get on well here.
Robin of Lockskey felt almost sedate to start off, but as with any good adventure story, it quickly took off. The pace built, and as we reached the midpoint of the game, it shifted gears, building and building as we made our way towards a climactic finish. This build was aided a bit by the ambient noises and music that helped to build the atmosphere, but in all honesty, I think it was mostly just down to epic design, surprises, and a few delightful moments that made me feel like both an adventurer and a kid again.
Escapologic mention this on their website, and while I absolutely loved it, this game is not suitable for those with mobility difficulties, and there would be no workarounds for these moments. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoiling any of the magic, but if you’re concerned about this, I suggest contacting Escapologic to discuss what is entailed in this further.
The puzzles throughout Robin were exactly my favourite kind – tactile, physical tasks requiring the manipulation of the environment around you to provoke a reaction elsewhere through hidden tech, or some very clever mechanisms. If you’re a padlock hater, this is a game for you, although there may or may not be one or two keys needed at various points. But these types of puzzles are my favourite simply because the games become more immersive with tasks like this; almost like you’re starring in your very own version of The Goonies (without the pirate ship in this case, though.)
The puzzles relied heavily on logic, observation, some searching, pattern recognition, and a fair amount of lateral thinking in addition to the logic. The signposting throughout Robin was on point, with subtle guidance directing us towards the next logical step in the sequence of events. There was one moment where we were a bit confused, thanks to an old puzzle that had apparently never worked properly and was subsequently removed, but the evidence of its existence remained. This didn’t delay us too long however, as we moved on to something we could solve, and quickly put it out of our minds as the game whisked us away.
Fred had already hosted our game of Epi-Centre, and thus had a pretty good feeling for how our brains work, and what sort of clues to give. But unlike in Epi-Centre, this time we made his job quite easy, since thanks to the logical flow to the game, Fred only needed to chime in once to let us know we’d missed something that happened elsewhere, and should probably retrace our steps.
When Fred did need to chime in, he did so in character with audio nudges over a speaker system. In all honesty, unless it’s a unique and clever clue system, this is probably my preferred clue delivery method, as it works, is less of an immersion breaker than a screen, and unlike walkie talkies, I don’t have to keep track of it, and it’s even better when it’s done in character.
It’s no surprise that someone in Nottingham finally created a Robin Hood themed game – It really was only a matter of time. Robin of Lockskey was the game I was most looking forward to on this visit to Escapologic, and it did not disappoint. Highly immersive, great puzzles, and totally adventurous, this is a must play game for sure.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 30 minutes
Address: 21-23 Castle Gate, Nottingham NG1 7AQ