Close the gateway to another world of evil. Since the late 1970’s a house on a small suburban street in Leicester has remained abandoned. The previous tenants, a family of three, disappeared without a trace. Rumours quickly spread around the area, had they run away? Been murdered? Or perhaps something even more sinister had taken place?
The authorities could find no evidence of any wrongdoing but officers investigating the disappearance claimed the house gave off a dark energy and that they could not stay in there for longer than an hour. Little did they know that hidden somewhere in the house is a portal to another dimension. A dimension of pure evil.
Now, over 40 years later, the same thing has happened again. A team of paranormal investigators known as S.P.R.I.G. (Supernatural and Paranormal Research and Investigation Group) disappeared while looking into the property and trying to find a way to close the portal.
As new members of S.P.R.I.G. it is up to you and your team to enter the house and finish the job of the previous team.
We’ve now played all the games at the Nottingham branch of Escapologic, so it made sense that for day nine of our epic escape room roadtrip that we’d stop by to visit Escapologic in Leicester. We had planned to play all of the games at this venue but unfortunately one of the games broke before we got there (thanks to a rather rough team) so we were down to just three games here; Reactorvate, Chronos, and The Gateway.
While killing time before our slot, we had a quick stroll around Leicester and stumbled across a wonderful doughnut place, if you’ve got time to kill and like doughnuts, then be sure to check our Doughnotts – it’s wonderful.
Anyway, I digress. Escapologic Leicester are located in a huge building that feels absolutely perfect for them, and their games are all located down a flight of stairs in the basement. The space is massive and even has a sizeable waiting area with tables and chairs (closed off when we visited due to Covid).
We were greeted by Alex and another chap whose name we didn’t get (sorry). Alex was to be our gamesmaster for all three games on this day. The Gateway was actually our second game at Escapologic Leicester, having just successfully completed (and thoroughly enjoyed) Reactorvate, so after a short wait while they checked over the room, Alex took us down the corridor to the entrance to The Gateway.
Outside the entrance, Alex proceeded to give us the health and safety briefing and then this was swiftly followed by the room mission briefing. Technically this would probably be classed as a horror room, but really it was just a bit creepy/‘jump scarey’ and there were no live actors present.
Covid-19 Procedures: staff wore masks and there was plenty of sanitiser to use. Normally there were lockers and a waiting area but these were closed off. We didn’t see any other team when we were on site. We were told we could take masks off in the games, but we wore them at all times (played May 2021).
I love it when a company takes the room design outside of the room and also designs the entrance to it, and that’s what Escapologic did with The Gateway. Standing outside the room where Alex gave the briefing felt like we were standing outside of a creepy house and not just a random door in a wall.
The set design was spot on in The Gateway, and for us at least, it had almost a ‘Stranger Things’ feel to it (although more demonic creepy rather than sci-fi creepy). So yes, it was definitely horror themed with jump scares galore, and I can see areas where those of a more nervous disposition may not be comfortable, but it’s an escape room, what’s the worst that could happen?
Nothing in this game felt out of place and unlike some of the other games we have played recently at Escapologic, nothing felt like a red herring. Even more strange was that this was a dark room, with no torches provided, and we didn’t struggle to see. They got the balance of lighting just right to make the game creepy, but not unplayable.
The exploration of the space was good and genuinely felt like being in a regular, albeit creepy, house from perhaps the 1950s(?). The atmospheric noises, clever uses of tech, and creepy sounds all added to the feeling of unease, and like we weren’t quite alone. The game culminated in a reveal that we didn’t see coming and was really rather impressive and gave the perfect ending to the game.
Despite the game being dark, there was no ‘difficulty by darkness’ in The Gateway, which we certainly appreciated. Although if the room was in full brightness it would have been much easier. Probably the biggest challenge in this room is remaining calm and not letting the odd jump scare throw you off your rhythm.
I’d guess that most of the puzzles in here resulted in actions by the gamesmaster, but equally they could have been automatically triggered by something hidden away. Either way, we couldn’t tell and that’s got to be a good sign. From what we can remember there may have been just one padlock in this entire space, which is good considering the darkness.
Ignoring ‘lowering your heart rate’ as a puzzle, the main puzzle types we encountered were; pattern recognition, logic, observation, some wordplay, and very minor search elements. Out of all of the puzzles, we only struggled on one, and if it wasn’t for that puzzle we would have been out in a record time. The puzzle wasn’t particularly hard, we just needed to work out exactly how to use the tools at our disposal.
I’d imagine that if you are of a nervous disposition then you’re unlikely to want to split up in horror/creepy rooms, so good news! The Gateway played out in quite a linear fashion so splitting up isn’t really needed for the most part.
Once again, Escapologic have truly thought about the best way to make an immersive experience, including with the clue system. Clues came through the (retro) radio in the room, much like a possessed spirit.
For the most part we breezed through this room but one puzzle really did stump us more than it should have. Alex let us struggle on a bit to see if we could solve it, but eventually we had to admit defeat and ask for a clue. The clue that came through was efficient, cryptic and basically reassured us that we had what we needed and we just needed to change our approach slightly.
I really didn’t know what to expect with The Gateway, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Just the right level of darkness, no frustrations, and a good flow to the story, well done Escapologic – great fun!
Team: 2 players – escaped in 41 minutes
Address: 2B St Martins, Leicester LE1 5DB