Glad to get this can open
You’re being moved to Steel Gates prison, your transfer was abrupt but not unexpected. After some time the guards yell, the tyres screech and the van pulls to a stop. You hear two gun shots and you know it’s your time to finally put the plan into action. You have one hour before back-up arrives.
When it’s Christmas, sometimes you just need to get away from family and go do an escape room. Unfortunately in Somerset there aren’t many choices but we’d done some rooms at Lock and Code before so we thought we’d give their new prison van room, Can Opener a go. We’d done a prison van ‘room’ before (where Liz kindly left me locked in a cell for 20 minutes!), so it was interesting to see how different prison van escape room experiences could really be.
We arrived at the venue when we were told to but it seemed like both the GMs were engaged with other rooms so we just let ourselves into the waiting area and waited until they were clear. Fortunately the waiting room was comfortable and had the heating turned on. We didn’t have to wait long before our GM came an introduced herself then proceeded to play an introduction video (do’s and dont’s) on the TV in the waiting area. This is something that we hadn’t seen before at Lock and Code so we assumed it must be something new.
Not surprisingly, the room specific briefing took place outside of the van (yes it really is a prison van parked in their building), and with that out of the way we were lead into our respective cells and our time began.
There aren’t many places to hide things in a prison van so there wasn’t really a lot of searching needed. Most of the puzzles were observational and most of them resulted in a combination which you then needed to enter in to a padlock, of which there were many.
We weren’t really fans of the puzzles in this ‘room’, I’m not sure if they just didn’t click with us but a few of them felt tenuous and there were a few too many distractions which left us feeling frustrated. We even managed to complete the room without solving everything which left us feeling confused when we exited the van, even when the GM explained how we bypassed a puzzle it didn’t really make sense and felt very weak.
Generally the puzzles operated in a linear fashion and unless you bypassed something, like we did, then there was a set flow to the game which you had to follow.
There was one task which was a little physical and unless we were missing something we couldn’t see a work around so I’m not sure how this would work for the less able team members – fortunately only one person needs to be able to perform this task.
The problem with being experienced enthusiasts is that there are certain rules that you always assume are given as fact, for example using items more than once. We were a bit thrown out when there was one item that we needed to use twice as we had pretty much discarded it after using it the first time, but that’s on us for making that assumption.
There’s not much you can say about the room design, it is a genuine ex-prison van so in terms of set design it was spot on.
Probably the thing we liked least about this room was the red herrings. To keep the van feel authentic there was a lot of signage from when it was a prison van, but there were also items which felt like they had been added on purpose and with some of them they just ended up distracting us from what we were supposed to be looking at.
Despite bypassing a puzzle the room had a clear ending and it was quite apparent that we had complete our escape (we were no longer in the van).
Clues and the timer were displayed on a screen in the van and for the most part it seemed like the GM was keeping an eye on our progress and she chimed in at the right times to ask if we needed a clue or not. As it turned out we needed around 3 or 4 clues to keep us going (some observation fails) which probably shows how little we clicked with this room.
Strangely there was no team photo taken once we had escaped and it felt like we were rushed out of the building somewhat. I’m not sure if they were just busy and eager to reset (there was a team in the waiting room) or if this just got overlooked.
Even as a team of two we were getting in each other’s way so I wouldn’t want to do this room with a big team. A few too many red herrings and generally puzzles that just didn’t click with us meant that we didn’t particularly enjoy our time in this prison van – but that’s the idea of prison vans, right?
Team: 2 players, escaped with roughly 18mins left
Address: Creech St Michael Paper Mill, Mill Lane, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 5PX