Wild West fun, in Gnome World?
As a stray dog barks, a dry desert wind blows through the abandoned streets of Tumbleweed.
The sheriff and his deputies are out of town, a posse of bounty hunters emerge from a cloud of dust intent on rounding up the Wild West’s most Wanted.
There are rewards to be had and nobody seems to be minding the bank!
You have 90 minutes to escape with the loot before the sheriff returns!
There’s a lot to do in Cornwall and it’s a beautiful county, but in the winter there is perhaps less to do. Fortunately, escape rooms are for all seasons so of course we made sure to get one or two (technically more than that) booked in while we were on holiday down there. We’d heard a few murmerings about Tumbleweed and as it was a 90 minute game we decided to get it booked in.
Housetrap certainly could win the prize for one of the weirdest locations we’ve ever been to for an escape room. Their Indian Queen’s venue is situated on a caravan park called ‘Gnome World’, fortunately there were no gnomes in the escape room though! We arrived and had no issue with parking and made our way to the entrance where we were greeted by our GM, although I must confess that we didn’t catch her name.
There is a small waiting area where we received our briefing and a bit of the backstory to CNN the game. It was also interesting to be told that it is pretty much impossible to fail this game, the only way to fail is to not get any money at all, even not escaping doesn’t class as a failure. So if you were a completionist there were two missions here, get as much money as possible, and escape – simple.
It’s probably worth noting that when we played this game there were no toilets at the venue, I don’t know if there were any within Gnome World, but we were not informed of any.
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. Hand sanitiser was also provided.
I’ve gotta hand it to Housetrap, they’ve done a cracking job with creating a little Wild West town in Indian Queens. The theming was spot on and had the usual things you’d expect to see; a saloon, a jail, a shop, and even some railroad-type tracks, oh and plenty of sand! Our team were certainly all surprised when we entered this game at the level they had gone to for the theming.
I don’t know if we missed it, but there didn’t feel like a lot of story to drive this game forward, it was more like an open room where you just had to solve puzzles – fine by me! The game was also all on one level, and other than one or two areas where one team member would need to do some crawling, this game was actually pretty accessible.
I’m not sure I can really fault this game at all in their room design, it was just decent. I’ve watched a number of Westerns and this looked like it could have easily come from one of those. The ambient music being played into the room was also nice as I can’t imagine Wild West towns were particularly quiet.
We played this game as a team of four and that felt like a really good number for it, especially as the game was very much non-linear, this meant we could split up and work on different things simultaneously without treading on each others’ toes – perfect for bigger teams or enthusiasts.
Again, credit to Cornwall for doing things a little differently, we saw some puzzles in here that we hadn’t seen in other places. Logic, observation, searching, physical tasks, word play, maths and decoding all featured to varying degrees – how tricky the searching was depending on how much you wanted to get all the loot (they were sneaky). The puzzles often resulted in combinations for padlocks but there was also a good use of tech in a couple of places.
There was one physical task that felt like it went on a bit too long for us, and my arm was certainly aching by the end of it, but it was still different and fun to complete.
If I had to find a negative with this game, I think it would be that we didn’t have any writing implements. I personally quite like to be able to write things down, especially when there’s a sizable logic puzzle that needs to be worked out, plus I’m pretty sure they’d have had writing implements in the Wild West so it wouldn’t have been out of place.
Cornwall escape rooms seem to be more geared towards first-timers rather than enthusiasts so that would explain the clue system here. We were told that hints are normally automated so that they pop up every ten minutes, fortunately we could request for that to be turned off and we would only get clues when we asked. Asking for clues works much better for us but as we are quite an experienced team we only needed one clue, and that was to tell us to look at something that we had accidentally discounted – this was just enough to get us back on track, and when we requested the clue it came through quickly.
If you need a clue (or the automated clues) they are delivered on a TV screen in the room and are accompanied by a chicken noise. This screen also shows the countdown timer so you know how long you have left, but do remember, this is a 90 minute room
Despite the odd setting in Gnome World, we were pleasantly surprised by Tumbleweed. It had good set dressing, solid puzzles, and nice and open gameplay, the fact that it was 90 minutes was also a bonus. If you’re in Cornwall, this one is worth a detour.
I think as another bonus for us, we may have got the room record here too, that’s always nice and a little sweetener for our holiday. Actually, if you’re an enthusiast, don’t go and play here, you’ll probably beat our time!
Team: 4 players – escaped in 54mins (90 min game)
Address: HouseTrap, Gnome World, Moorland Rd, Indian Queens, Newquay TR9 6HN