“It even smells like a 60s motel!”
The year is 1963. In a motel room on Route 66 there has been a murder. Word has it that a large sum of money is hidden in the room… WILL YOU BE THE ONE TO FIND IT?
We’d been hearing about Hysteria for a long time yet we never seemed to manage to detour to check them out. Having planned a long weekend in Kent it was only right to make Chatham our first stop.
The venue is easy to find with a convenient car park just around the corner and from the outside the venue looked promising. On entering the building it was nice to see that they had taken some time to make a waiting area that was clean and comfortable. Another thing that a lot of rooms are starting to do now is to have the room design spill over onto the entrance way for the room, it’s a nice touch and Hysteria have done a great job of it.
We were greeted by one of the owners, Nikki, and immediately felt welcome. Sometimes you arrive at a venue to be rushed through the rooms but there was none of that here and we had plenty of time to chat with Nikki (and also Rob, the other half of Hysteria) before we got down to the business of why we were there: Motel California!
Nikki guided us down the hallway to the entrance to the motel, which was suitably decorated, where she gave us the room briefings. Our mission: enter the room and find the money that had been hidden by a couple of notorious robbers
The puzzles in this room played out in a multilinear way so we were able to split up and work on different things simultaneously but then come together at certain key points when needed.
Generally, the puzzles were observational but it’s worth noting that this room involves a fair amount of searching (ok, a lot), so if that’s not your thing then you probably won’t enjoy it too much. Personally, I enjoy a good hunt for hidden items and Hysteria are certainly sneaky with their hiding places!
The puzzles were for the most part on theme and nothing really stood out to me as being massively out of place. Everything you needed to solve the puzzles was in the room so no outside knowledge needed here. Although we did manage to bypass one puzzle as we solved it in a different way but that didn’t change anything about how the game played out – just confused us a little.
Motel/hotel rooms are often hit or miss, how hard is it to make a room like a bedroom? Will it blow you away? No. Does it look like a 1960s motel? Very much so. Not being content with the visual of the room looking like a motel, they have even managed to capture the smell of one too. This smell is likely from the furniture rather than a design choice but it gave an element of authenticity about the room (don’t worry, it’s not overwhelming and you go nose blind to it pretty quickly).
I’m only a fan of eerily silent rooms if it fits the theme, and you’d expect a 1960s motel to not be one of those rooms. Fortunately there was a nice era-appropriate playlist that played throughout our time in the room.
There were a decent number of padlocks/code combinations in the room, but it was also mixed up with a good use of tech to keep you guessing. With decent signposting in the room, it was clear (but not too clear) what went where.
Darkness is not and should never be a puzzle in its own right, and it wasn’t here. Hysteria have got the lighting level spot on so entering combinations in a padlock was never a chore, but they supplied torches just as a backup in case they were needed (they weren’t).
We’ve done a few rooms that are disguised as a hotel or motel room and generally they follow the usual tried and tested design traits. Hysteria have followed the usual design rules here but they also added a few extra touches which added to the feeling of immersion in this world.
A clear and defined ending left us in no doubt that we had completed our mission. Once we had the cash and left the room we were congratulated by our GM, Nikki.
We didn’t actually need to request any clues for Motel California which is testament to the puzzles it contains. We did, however, receive a nudge of two for a couple of search fails. When these came through they were delivered through a suitably disguised TV screen in the room.
The retro-looking TV that delivered clues also displayed how much time we had left.
Nikki was obviously watching our progress closely as she knew exactly when to chime in with a nudge or two if we were clearly not seeing something. I have no doubt that if we had requested a clue it would have been provided almost instantly.
Motel California is a fun room at a company run by enthusiastic and passionate owners. While there is nothing stand out about this room, we enjoyed every minute we spent in it.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 33:36
Address: 38A High St, Chatham ME4 4EA