Good, except for one puzzle
For many years, The Institution has been rumored to be conducting unethical human experimentation. You are now in the control of The Doctor. He knows your weaknesses, he knows how to stop you escaping, but are you willing to make the ultimate sacrifice? Can you escape the room before The Doctor returns?
It was day four of our escape room roadtrip where we were playing nearly 60 games in two weeks, and we had just finished playing The Lodge at Lockdown Ormskirk. Next up was The Institution and having got out of The Lodge in just over 20 minutes, we were feeling pretty confident about The Institution.
Our team for today consisted of us (Gord and Liz) and Amy and Ian, escape room legends from Brit of an Escape Habit. The Institution was another game on the ground floor in the premises, so accessibility shouldn’t be an issue, there are possible a couple of steps and the room may have a little crawling needed (but not all the team need to do this).
Our GM gave us a health and safety reminder in the narrow corridor just outside the room, then we entered the room where a TV screen played the room specific briefing – I can’t remember much of this briefing (I’m terrible at story) but I remember it feeling like it went on for an eternity. When it finished, our timer began and our mission to escape before the Doctor returned, began.
Covid-19 Procedures: Everyone on our team wore masks, as did all the staff we encountered on site. There was hand sanitiser in a few places and gloves were also available if you wanted to wear them. For the most part we didn’t see any other teams, but I believe we did briefly cross paths with one after our final game (they were all wearing masks too).
If there’s one thing that Lockdown does well, it’s their set design. I’ve been to a few doctor’s offices in the past but fortunately none of them were anything like what we experienced in The Institution. This game is clearly planted in the ‘horror’ genre but that isn’t to say it is a scary room, just creepy. Throughout our time in the room there was an ambient soundtrack playing which certainly added to the creepy vibe.
As you would expect, lighting was on the dim side in The Institution, but it was never too dark to see. The only annoyance, once again, was that we were only given one torch for the entire team, it would have been much more preferable to have a torch for each team member. I’ve never really understood why companies are stingy with the torches, unless it is to make everything a little harder and slow teams down.
The Institution had puzzles that fitted the creepy doctor/institution theme pretty well. From memory there was only one puzzle that felt out of place – and I’ll come to that one in a moment.
The puzzles in this room fitted the usual escape room types and for the most part they were fair and pleasant to solve; observation, logic, pattern recognition, wordplay, searching (minor) and one more tactile/physical puzzle were all present. Most of these puzzles resulted in combinations for padlocks but there were some which involved some cool tech.
So, the one puzzle I mentioned earlier. This was a puzzle that we really did not get on with and was a massive time sap in our game. I would guess that at least 17 minutes of our 37 minutes was spent on this one puzzle, not because we couldn’t solve it, but because the tools we were given were not up to the task. Everyone on our team tried this puzzle, one at a time, and each one failed multiple times. It was only down to perseverance and a bit of luck that we were able to complete it. Unfortunately the fact that only one person could do this at a time meant that the rest were sitting around with nothing to do and that really killed the flow, and enjoyment of the game for us.
We spoke with our GMs after the game and were told that they were contemplating adjusting this puzzle, and we really hope they do. I think without this puzzle being flawed, we would have enjoyed this game much more than we did.
The screen in the room that showed the countdown was also used for delivering clues. I don’t remember needing a clue, but we may have done for a search fail (the time sink puzzle was not one that was possible to clue you through), but if we did, I’m sure it would have been delivered quickly and efficiently.
This room had some good moments and certainly threw a few surprises our way with some theatrical elements that we weren’t expecting. With the exception of one puzzle, we enjoyed this game but I feel confident that this puzzle will be tweaked to make it better, so if you play, you may not have the same frustration that we did.
Team: 4 players – escaped in 37 minutes (most of which was on one puzzle)
Address: 18 Church Street, Ormskirk, West Lancashire, L39 3AN