“I’m the king of the world!”
On April 10th 1912 the largest ship ever built left Southampton on her maiden voyage. She was called the ship of dreams, transporting people to New York in the height of luxury.
Just 4 days into the journey disaster struck as she collided with an iceberg.
On board, as first class passengers, with the impending doom; what would you do to escape the ill-fated ship?
If you were pushed to name escape room companies that have a reputation for producing quality rooms, then I’d wager that Houdini’s would probably be one of the names that you list. We’d already played a couple of games at Houdini’s; Extinct and Alcatraz, but it took us a long time to make it back for arguably their most famous game RMS Titanic.
Houdini’s have two venues in Southampton and Titanic is located at their venue on Onslow Road. It’s not as convenient as the Tenpin location but still easy enough to get to. We managed to find a car park just a few minutes walk away and then had a short walk down. Once we arrived we rang the doorbell and were greeted by our host, Mads. Instantly we knew we were going to be in good hands, Mads was our GM for Alcatraz last year and she is lovely.
The reception and waiting area aren’t as impressive as the one at their Tenpin location, but they set the bar pretty high there. Saying that, it was still decorated on theme and was very comfortable, although I must warn you, that couch is much lower than it looks! Normally (in non-COVID times) there would be a coffee machine to give you a little boost, but understandably, options are a bit more limited right now.
After a quick chat with Mads, we were escorted through to the briefing room. Yes, Houdini’s don’t just do ‘a chat in a small room’, no, they have a full-on cinema-style briefing room for their briefings. Unfortunately, popcorn wasn’t available (thanks again COVID), but the briefing started and before we knew it, we were being whisked away to try and escape from the doomed vessel.
RMS Titanic is listed as a 90-minute room for four to seven players, but we completed it as a team of two in 39:31 – and also (at time of writing) are currently the third fastest ever team, only being 29 seconds behind the quickest team, and we are the quickest ever team of two. That’s not a brag, but if you’re an experienced team, you should be able to complete this game in a smaller team.
Covid-19 Procedures: Houdini’s are very up on their COVID policies. Although we didn’t have a temperature check on arrival like we did at their other location, we still felt safe. Masks were worn by staff and by us. NHS Track and Trace was in use and there was plentiful hand sanitiser when we visited in mid-June 2021. We were also the only team on site.
The first thing to mention is that Titanic isn’t the most accessible of spaces, it is down a flight of stairs and there is some climbing/crawling required in the game (although some of your team may be able to avoid this). At times space can be a bit cramped so I wouldn’t go with a massive team, but four or five players would probably be ok.
I’ve not actually been on any cruises, and my only reference for Titanic is various documentaries and of course the movie, but I’m told that certain areas of this game used actual dimensions that were found on the real ship. There were also a few other historically accurate details in this game that we didn’t appreciate at the time, but once pointed out to us were pretty cool (literally in one case).
The set design itself was actually quite basic and although nothing was jaw-droppingly impressive, it worked well and felt right. With an ambient soundtrack playing throughout, and extra atmospheric noises, this certainly helped with the immersion. Actually, thinking about it now, there was one cool effect that was used that we haven’t seen before, it didn’t add to the gameplay but again helped drive the narrative.
In a few places it seemed like RMS Titanic was starting to show its age. Some of the props and puzzles were a bit temperamental which I can only assume is due to so much use over the years. This wear made it a bit challenging to complete a few of the puzzles, we got there eventually, but it did add to the frustration.
At times the game was a little dark, a torch was provided, but the darkness didn’t really affect the gameplay at all and no puzzles suffered from ‘difficulty by darkness’.
Before we stepped into this game we were told that it was linear, but we found that it actually started out quite non-linear and only later in the game did the linearity appear. The non-linear opening meant we were able to split up and work on different things at the same time and then the game naturally brought us back together.
There was a good variety of puzzles in Titanic, especially early on in the game, and we found the signposting throughout to be very well throughout – good enough for experienced teams or new players. The puzzle types broadly fitted into the categories of; searching (sneaky, but signposted), observation, communication, codebreaking, a few more ‘physical’ tasks and one very ‘cool’ puzzle.
If we had to find fault with the game and the puzzles, then one or two tasks would likely be challenging for those who are vertically challenged and we couldn’t see a workaround, and another task was quite tricky to see. Liz couldn’t see it at all and it took me a bit of squinting to work out exactly what was needed. Another puzzle took us quite a while to solve because we were trying to do it in what seemed like a sensible way, as it turns out, this was the wrong approach and felt a bit frustrating as there was no logical way to solve it (from what we were told).
A nice touch that I would imagine was initially put in for inexperienced teams, but still massively helps experienced teams, was that when we got a correct answer a ship’s bell would sound to acknowledge that we were right. If we were fiddling with something that we shouldn’t, then a foghorn would notify us.
We like to think that we gave Mads a pretty easy ride in this game, as I don’t recall actually needing any help. If we did need any help then I’m sure she would have chimed in over the speaker system to get us back on track. Having had Mads as a GM before we know that she would have been on the ball and watching us closely.
There was no timer in the room but the captain did come over the tannoy periodically to let us know how many lifeboats were left. This gave us a good indication of how long was left in this 90-minute room.
Rooms like this, based on true stories in which people lost lives, need to be handled delicately. Yes, the game was fun, but the nods to true stories, people and events act as a history lesson and is very tastefully done.
We loved the attention to detail in both the game and the waiting area. The room itself had touches that were historically accurate, and the reception had a poster of the Titanic that was signed by the youngest survivor of the disaster.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 39 minutes
Address: 19 Onslow Rd, Southampton, SO14 0JD