More than just a room, there’s one hell of a story too
In 1943 forty-two American Oil Miners secretively descended on Kelham Hall in a last ditch effort to prop up the British War effort and supply much needed fuel to our troops in battle.
75 years later their drilling sites have been unearthed and all is not well. We have an imminent disaster upon us, the clock is ticking and we need you to save Kelham Hall and everyone in it!
We’d been planning our Nottingham trip for a while and knew we were going to do as many rooms as possible at Escapologic, what we didn’t expect was to hear about a place in Newark that was getting rave reviews. Fortunately getting from Nottingham to Newark is ridiculously easy by train so we got ourselves booked in for both of LetsXcape’s rooms.
You get so used to turning up to escape rooms in run down buildings or pubs that pulling up to Kelham Hall feels slightly surreal. The place is a wedding venue surely not a place for escape rooms?! Already impressed, we sat in the waiting room until Nigel our GM (and owner) came to greet us.
Nigel gave us our briefing in the comfortable waiting area and gave us a detailed background on what our mission was. Another thing that makes this room stand out (other than the venue) is the backstory to it. The Rig is based on a true story that actually took place on the site during World War Two. Obviously the entire room’s story isn’t factual but the names used were real people who worked on site.
With no time to lose before The Rig would explode and destroy this beautiful venue, we donned our hardhats and entered the world of The Rig…
You know what you need to do to shut down the rig, all you have to do is solve puzzles and find the pieces to do it, simple, right? One of the great things about this room was that it wasn’t linear so we were able to work on different things at the same time.
There is a good amount of searching early in the room and then elements of this continue through-out. One puzzle was designed to force teamwork, but Liz was working on another puzzle so I just did it solo although it definitely would have been much easier with a couple of people working on it.
There was one puzzle that Liz was working on that wasn’t overly complicated but could give different results depending on your height. With Liz being short she probably wasn’t the best person to work on it, but in discussing this with Nigel in our debrief, it’s possible this will be corrected to help the ‘vertically challenged’.
The puzzles in this room weren’t really hard and experienced teams probably won’t struggle to complete them, but don’t let that stop you from doing The Rig. What it lacks in difficulty it makes up for in fun and quality.
It would be easy to think that LetsXcape got hung up on the story of The Rig and didn’t spend time on the room itself, but how wrong would you be.
As soon as you step into the first room you can see that they have put a lot of love into this room, and the thing you’re working towards shutting down is right in front of you, rather than being hidden away as a last minute reveal.
Like The Pit at the Escapement in Margate, all the puzzles were related to the story and nothing felt out of place. It’s rare to find a room that designs puzzles that fit with the story this well, so (hard) hats off to LetsXcape for this.
In places the room was a little dark but as our hardhats had very good lights on them this was never an issue. A dark room with bad lighting tools is a bugbear of ours but this room easily stayed on our good side.
Sound was a key part of this room, not in terms of it being used for puzzles, but it was played over the speakers and added an eerie soundtrack to the room that helped with the immersion. There was also a change in music when we completed our mission, which signalled a satisfying end to the room.
Before entering the room we were given walkie-talkies for communication with the outside world. Perfectly on theme clues were delivered in character by our helpful GM who remained on the surface in the safe zone. There was no limit to how many clues you could have and they were delivered if/when you requested them (this is what we requested).
There was a screen with a timer in the main ‘Rig’ room so you could always see how long you had before disaster struck.
We didn’t realise it at the time but this room with its wide doorways and open spaces is actually designed to be wheelchair accessible which was a really nice touch.
After shutting down The Rig, we had time to talk with Nigel about the room, his inspiration, and LetsXcape’s plans for the future. It’s great when you find a room that is run by someone with a real passion for creating great experiences, and Nigel has created something special in an already special location.
We saved Kelham Hall and in doing so we set a new record. *Update* Our record lasted for two weeks and then it was beaten. Dammit. We’re still the fastest team of two, if that counts for anything?
Operation Puzzles Room Design GM/Clues Excitement
Team: 2 players – deactivated The Rig in 35:45
Address: Kelham Hall, Newark NG23 5QX