More fun than Stonehenge
At what was thought to be an abandoned facility in the heart of Salisbury, there’s been movement. People have been caught on camera coming and going carrying scientific equipment and classified files.
This facility, Station Athena, was once one of the UK’s leading research stations belonging to the RESPECT Foundation. Said to be focussing on genetics and human development they went from being at the forefront of many scientific breakthroughs in their field to completely silent.
No one has heard from or seen any of the RESPECT scientists from the station. Their families have also disappeared.
Has there been a cover up? Was the RESPECT Foundation hurriedly closed down? Where are those involved and what is happening at the once deserted Station Athena?
Spectre by Live Escape Salisbury is a room that’s been on our radar for a long time but we’ve never found the right time for stopping off when driving past. Fortunately, we finally did and it lived up to all our expectations.
The venue is easy enough to find and is located down a small alley then up a narrow set of stairs. There’s no doubt that you’ve arrived at the location as there is plenty of signage on the door to tell you you’re in the right place.
This room was special/different right from the start. I won’t say more than that, but it certainly threw us. Three pieces of advice though:
- You will receive a confirmation email about your booking; read it all.
- Go to the toilet before you arrive – there is a toilet but it is within the game so it will cost you time to use it.
- Turn up bang on your time, not early or late.
The confirmation email is filled with lots of good pieces of information for getting the most out of your experience and it’s actually entertaining to read.
The theme of this room is mostly based around aptitude testing so it was great to see that the puzzles were designed around that and fit in perfectly with that theme.
As you would expect for a room that is designed to ‘test you’ there was a good mixture of puzzles to keep you busy, maths, logic, physical, and a bit of searching – this room had it all.
We found that the puzzles seemed to be at just the right difficulty level, including the physical puzzle. This particular puzzle caused us a fair amount of grief and at one point I felt we were going to spend the entire hour on just this one bit; fortunately the GM was watching closely and could read our frustrations and kindly offered a solution. Physical puzzles are all well and good, but if you can’t do them then normally there is nothing the GM can do to assist so it was great to see that there was a very simple workaround in place should it be needed.
We found this to be a multi-linear room and there were many places we could have started. We were able to work independently for large chunks but then we were brought back together to solve puzzles that required communication.
When we first entered Spectre I must admit that I was a bit underwhelmed, in a way it reminded me of a doctor’s waiting room, and who likes that reminder? But that feeling passed very quickly and we felt immersed in the room and the experience they were offering. The design choices are more understandable when you realise this is a grade two listed building so they had to work around certain limitations.
Live Escape Salisbury haven’t just created great puzzles, they’ve managed to intertwine it all together into the story and the room design. The design choices make sense and came together well as you work your way through the room.
With good sign posting throughout we were kept on track and didn’t get too distracted by everything else going on in the room. There were items in the room which were just there for set-dressing and it was nice to see that they were labelled as such so we didn’t spend long going down a dead-end track.
This room was more like two rooms in one, but two rooms that work harmoniously together. There was so much to do and it seemed like we kept on finding more puzzles everywhere we turned. The climax to the room was satisfying, clear and considering I didn’t think we were going to succeed, a relief!
Throughout the room clues were delivered over a speaker system by our friendly AI assistant called ‘Charlie’ but there was a nice secondary clue system should it be needed.
We were provided with nudges in a very timely fashion and when we actually requested a clue it was delivered promptly and gave us just enough information to get back on track.
Early on in the room there is no timer present but later time becomes much more of a factor and everything is cranked up to 11 to pile on the pressure!
We did this room as a two and as an experienced team of two this room was fine, but you could probably get away with perhaps four people and still be ok.
This room was 100% worth the wait and I’m glad we finally did it. The owners Charlie and Claire were lovely and considering this room is three years old it’s impressive that it doesn’t feel run down at all – a testament to the passion of the owners for wanting to make something special.
People often visit Salisbury due to the proximity of some ‘large standing rocks’, but ditch the rocks and make Live Escape your destination, you won’t regret it.
With a new room in the works which Charlie promises will be even better than Spectre, we’re excited to see what comes next!
Team: 2 players – escaped in around 49:33
Address: 49c Castle St, Salisbury SP1 3SP