Welcome to Victor Frankenstein’s miserable attic quarters strewn with insane equations, strange artefacts and miscellaneous body parts.
Victor is close to unlocking the mysteries of life and requires just a few key components to fulfil his maniacal quest. Having coerced you into his quarters with promises of “riches beyond your wildest dreams”, it’s actually your vital organs he’s after!
You have just one hour to unravel the ramblings of a madman and discover the equation that not only reveals the mystery of life itself but more critically your way out to freedom.
Bath has for a long time been a bit of a void for good escape rooms, so it’s interesting that recently two venues have opened there. We were heading away on a short break so decided to stop by and check out these new venues. First up was Victor’s Lair by House of Frankenstein, followed by Eternal Life at Tempo Escape Rooms.
Victor’s Lair seems like it’s a bit of a bolt-on to the regular attraction that is The House of Frankenstein, and at the time of writing, if you play the escape room you get access to the main exhibit included in your ticket price. We were a bit pushed on time so didn’t get a chance to check out the main attraction but the glimpses we did get make it look like a great tourist destination. The house itself tells the story of Mary Shelley and as you ascend the stairs and visit the different rooms you get to learn more about her life and her creations.
The escape room at House of Frankenstein is a bit of an unknown to us, we don’t know who created them or what their experience in escape room building was. From the little research I did, I knew that the main guys involved in it were in the film industry so we were expecting the game to be very pretty but perhaps weak in puzzles (a huge assumption, I know).
We were told that this game needed a minimum of three players so we called in Phil from Cryptic Enigma to be our ringer. Phil actually created a really fun play at home game that we played early on in Lockdown 1.0, called CSI: Bristol, so we had high hopes for his puzzling brain!
It’s definitely worth pointing out that Victor’s Lair takes place in a room on the top floor of the building (or I’m pretty sure it was top floor), so there are a lot of stairs to climb to get to it. From looking at the website for House of Frankenstein, it appears to be not accessible for wheelchair users. As an aside, there is a toilet on this floor, just by the escape room, and if you look out the window in there, it has a lovely view over Bath.
Anyway, enough about toilet views. We got to the top of the stairs, and entered the briefing area which was themed pretty much as you would expect. Our host (who we didn’t catch the name of), proceeded to cover the health and safety stuff and then told us the story. I must admit, I’m not the best at picking up story in a game, but this felt very light on the narrative – basically we had 60 minutes to get out and do some other bits and pieces before that.
In a way, this is a split start game as one of the team needs to be handcuffed at the start. Phil and I being the gentlemen we are, decided that Liz should have this honour, so she was sacrificed volunteered to enter first. With Liz out out the picture, our GM returned, wished us luck, and then our time began.
Covid-19 Procedures: Staff downstairs all wore masks and I think it was encouraged for guests to wear masks while walking around the main attraction. Our GM didn’t wear a mask and we were told that we didn’t need to wear masks in the room.
As we expected, the room design was of a high quality with props and trinkets that any venue would be happy with. There was at least one part of the room that felt a bit odd and perhaps unfinished but it was a very small part of the room and I’d guess most people wouldn’t actually notice it anyway.
Our biggest issue with this room was down to the lighting. A lantern was provided but this was not exactly bright, and as we only had one it was hard for the team to split up and work on anything. There was also a lamp in the room, but again this felt like it was placed there for atmospheric reasons rather than to be useful.
When we entered the room it was quite obvious to us that our first task would likely be to release Liz from her shackles, and likely, to try and get some lights turned on. The first challenge we accomplished easily enough but getting the lights on took us a lot longer, and there was a weird dynamic in play here which I can’t really talk about for fear of giving spoilers, but it didn’t sit right with us.
Technically this room would probably be classed as a horror room (think pieces of skin, body parts etc..) but there were minimal jump scares and no live actor elements to worry about. If you’re a fan of horror rooms then you may enjoy certain aspects, but if you’re a fan of Frankenstein then this is one of the better themed rooms we have come across.
Unfortunately, we feel like our preconceived ideas of this room were correct, strong design, weak puzzles. That’s not to say the puzzles were poor, they just didn’t click with us at all and we found ourselves struggling early on. If the puzzles click with you then there is a good chance you will fly through this game. We (at time of writing) have the room record with 43 minutes, and really I could see experienced teams doing it a lot quicker if it clicks for them.
We found signposting to be less than ideal and there were a lot of things in the room to distract us early on that either didn’t come into play until much later, or in fact, never came into play. We left this game still wondering what a lot of things were as we never really got any closure on how some things worked or should have been solved.
Although I’m pulling down this game on the puzzles, with some minor tweaks and perhaps some better signposting, I think this could actually be a solid room. Some puzzles seemed to have extra complexities added just to make them more confusing. One puzzle could have been completed in two different ways as there was nothing to show which was the correct way (so we did it both ways). Saying that, one puzzle was clever, and how on Earth Liz solved it I’ll never know – I always say she is the smart one of the group!
Anyway, the puzzles; difficulty by darkness was a big thing, observation, searching, following instructions, and some outside of the box thinking were all required here. I wouldn’t say we really liked the puzzles, but we could have just been having an off day. Most of the puzzles resulted in codes for padlocks but there was a little tech too. Annoyingly in our game, a number of the padlocks had been put on backwards/upside-down, which meant finding the right numbers in the dark was even more challenging.
A good GM/clue system can really make or break a game and unfortunately Victor’s Lair had one of our least favourite clue systems. If we needed a clue, we simply had to ask out loud for a clue, once we did this, our GM would open the door and say ‘Did you ask for a clue?’. Obviously this instantly breaks the immersion and we really don’t like it when the GM has to enter the room. Strangely it seems like they did have a secondary clue system where they could write notes on a piece of paper and slide them under the door – this would have been more preferable to the GM entering the room, so I’m not sure why they didn’t just go with this.
Saying that, when we did need a clue (at least two early on) the GM did enter swiftly and was just cryptic enough to get us back on track.
I don’t know who designed Victor’s Lair, but I think it needs a little more work. It’s not a bad room, it’s certainly visually good, but the puzzles and flow felt lacking. If they take feedback on board and are willing to make adjustments then I think this could be a game that we would recommend in Bath.
It felt like the game was perhaps built by people who haven’t had much experience of escape rooms. Items were given that weren’t really needed, there were things that could be classed as red-herrings and this room contained glass bottles in an area where you really shouldn’t have glass – we of course managed to smash one which meant the GM had to come in during out game to sweep it up.
Would we recommend this game? Maybe. It’s different and interesting and has some good moments, but really we’d like to see them make a few changes to puzzles and to the GM system before we can definitely recommend it.
Team: 3 players – escaped in 43 minutes
Address: 37 Gay St, Bath BA1 2NT
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.