This game is a REAL challenge
You have arrived for your guided tour at Fusion-Tec, a new startup company that has developed a miniature nuclear module to power military vehicles. You are one of a select few who have been given a chance to see the inner workings of this exciting, state-of-the-art company. But, there is a problem, a BIG problem, can you and your team mates use your problem-solving skills to solve the problems and prevent a nuclear disaster?
We were headed to the Isle of Wight for a short break with friends and decided to stop near Southampton for a night just to take the rush off. Of course, with an overnight stop we knew we had to find an escape room to play! Annoyingly it seemed that most of Southampton’s venues were closed for the times we were in the area, but fortunately Genius Escapes were open, and only 15 minutes from where we were staying – a sign!
At the time of writing, Genius Escapes didn’t have many reviews on Escape The Review but we knew someone who had played it and they said it was worth a go, so we went ahead and booked. One interesting thing about this game is that when you book, you have to choose what difficulty level you want to play; Standard, Advanced, Genius – being gluttons for punishment we opted for Genius. I’ll explain more about the differences with these later.
The venue was easy to find and there was free parking (for two hours) on site. When we arrived we were greeted by the owners and had a nice chat before getting down to business. The health and safety briefing was done by using a video in the reception area and this then blended into the game briefing.
Formalities out of the way, we were led down a hallway (themed to match the room), and then entered the room, ready for our tour to begin. Once we entered the room we were pleasantly surprised to see that this was a bright lab and not a dimly lit one. Of course, it would have been odd for this tour to go off without a hitch, and in no time at all we were informed that things had gone slightly wrong and now it was down to us to avert a nuclear disaster, oh and we only had 60 minutes to do it, no pressure!
Covid-19 Precautions: We were the only team on site. We wore masks in the common areas but were able to remove them in the game. Staff also wore masks. Hand sanitiser was also provided.
First things first, this room is not exciting to look at. Saying that, the theming of the room felt right and as the room progressed it did get more ‘exciting’ to look at. I’m really not sure what to say for this section of the review as there was nothing that felt like it stood out, and really, that’s a good thing.
There was a good use of tech which took the game away from just a ‘simple’ padlock based room (I have no issues with padlocks) and other than a few bits of set-dressing, everything in the room served a purpose. Just don’t make our mistake and not investigate things closely, one or two things were missed because we were being a bit too delicate.
Each room felt distinctly different to the one that came before it and had something that made it stand out from the others. The rooms, and the way we discovered them, were well thought out and flowed with the story.
Genius Escapes managed to cram a lot into this game and the puzzles are where the difficulty level comes into play. In the game you will find a guidebook, this guidebook has information in it that will help you navigate your way through the puzzles. The harder the difficulty level, the less information you have. We found this to be a very challenging game, and playing at Genius level made it more so, although I don’t regret our choice and would recommend other enthusiasts play at this level. We were shown the guidebooks for the other levels and I think would make it a bit too easy for those wanting a challenge.
There were a lot of puzzle types in this game; searching, observation, wordplay, decoding, following directions, ‘physical’ puzzles and generally just making connections between items. Be warned if you’re not a fan of searching, there is some very sneaky searching in this game so check everywhere, twice!
It took us a while to get into our rhythm with this game, but once we worked out what things meant and how they were connected, we found it made sense and there was some good signposting in the room to make it a little easier.
The majority of the puzzles resulted in padlocks, but there was also a decent use of tech, both as a result of solving a puzzle and as a method for entering your solution to one. One piece of advice, make sure you remember what you find, as you’ll need to go back-and-forth multiple times.
Back to that guidebook… This guidebook is useful as it shows you how you need to interact with a specific piece of kit in the room, so make sure you look at that page for sure. The rest of it will either help, or confuse you. It took us a while to work out what it all meant, but once we got our thinking straight, we found it became invaluable.
Oh and one of the most useful things in the room? A pencil and paper! This was a lifesaver as we had a lot to try and work out and doing it in our heads would have been a nightmare.
The clue system for Nuclear Nightmare is linked to the difficulty level that you play at
- Standard: lots of automated advice messages and up to 10 clues.
- Advanced: a few automated advice messages and up to 5 clues.
- Genius: very few automated advice messages and up to 3 clues.
These clues are priceless so use them wisely. We weren’t actually sure how many we had used, we only asked for one bit of help outright, but I gather our GM, Lorraine, chimed in with another clue when she thought we needed it too (which is fine with us). So we used two clues and I’ve no idea how many little ‘nudges’ we got too, mostly just saying we had missed something obvious – easily done with their sneaky hiding places.
Lorraine did a great job as our GM, she pushed us through the game at the right speed and if she saw us getting frustrated or stuck with something for longer than we would want, she chimed in with help. When the clues did come, some of them were auditory while others appeared as hints on a screen – it felt pretty integrated.
There was a timer on the screen but they had designed it in a way that it looked like it belonged and felt like part of the lab. Just to make sure we knew how long we had before the nuclear disaster, there were also audio prompts every 15 minutes. Fortunately we didn’t get that close, but we were also told that the lighting changes when there are only five minutes left – squeaky bum time!
If you’re an enthusiast looking for a challenging room, then play this one on Genius level. This is a challenging but fair game and despite feeling like we were going to crash and burn multiple times, we thoroughly enjoyed our time averting the Nuclear Nightmare.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 48:30 mins
Address: The Central Precinct, 2, Winchester Rd, Chandler’s Ford, Southampton SO53 2GA