The GM was the star
We’ve just received troubling news earlier today that General Mayhem has become unstable! Before he could be relieved of command, he has activated the counter strike nuclear protocol and disabled the mainframe system!
Gain access to the abort button hidden within the General’s bunker and deactivate the counter strike. It’s the only way to stop the nuke before it’s too late! With only 60 minutes on the clock, this mission is sure to go out with a bang! Can you save the world? Or will it all blow up in your face?
To me, The Panic Room is synonymous with escape rooms in Gravesend, simply because of the volume of rooms on offer and the enthusiast package(s) available – handy if you want to save yourself a bit of money and the trouble of scheduling 15(or whatever) rooms yourself. But their Harlow location is certainly striving to keep up with their sister site in Kent, with six rooms in one location, and likely space for more.
After successfully solving the case in CSI – The Mafia Murders, we made our way back down to the main level to relax and rehydrate ahead of the next game on our agenda: Strikeforce. After the lovely Holly arrived wearing a standard-issue Panic Room hoodie, accessorised with a bowler hat, to take us to CSI, I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback when our GM for Strikeforce, Will, arrived in a bit more character. But as we signed another waiver (we got to skip the video this time), and ascended a different staircase, it was clear that Strikeforce was to be a very different experience to CSI.
As one might expect from the secret bunker of a rogue general, there were padlocks galore, of all shapes, sizes, and styles, located on lockers, cabinets, desks… But The Panic Room have done well to break up the locks with some more technical puzzles, and a bit of searching.
Mechanics aside, none of the puzzles really blew me away as being especially clever, or tricky, but they were generally quite logical, flowed well, and clicked with us – for the most part anyway. One of the simplest, and most obvious observational puzzles I have come across actually stumped us for quite some time. When we did, finally, admit that we needed a bit of help, the answer was so glaringly obvious, that after a bit of a laugh and a groan, I do have to admit that it was actually very well played by Panic Room.
I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Will has a background as an actor; the introduction and entrance into the room was not just a story, but rather a production. Even Gord, who normally avoids anything remotely approaching interaction with actors in character was enjoying the show (well, tolerating the show.)
The set wasn’t overly complex, but Will’s intro helped to set the tone and set us up to feel more immersed in the story. Once the door shut behind him with the ominous, “Don’t Panic,” the game flowed well. Puzzles were generally thematic, and Gord and I were able to split off at points to solve things independently from one another, although for the most part, it was a very linear game. The space was quite tight, but teams of four should be comfortable, albeit cosy. However, between the tight quarters, and the linear puzzles, I would hesitate to suggest this game to large groups of enthusiasts, although I would absolutely say it’s worth a go to teams of two.
Walkie Talkies are never my favourite form of clue delivery system, although, with a military theme, they work quite well, and are a more immersive option than some others. But the biggest issue I have with them is that sometimes a team in another room sets their channel to the wrong frequency… I did feel a bit bad as I heard the desperate team in The Tomb asking for assistance, but I was sadly unable to help them. Luckily, Will and the rest of the Panic Room team were paying attention, and I assume helped them out.
We did need to request two clues from Will, and he was always quick to point out what we’d missed, generally with a touch of humour.
Strikeforce isn’t likely to win any awards for design or creativity, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this room to teams looking to play for the first time. It’s a solid room, but I do think that your GM could make it or break it for you. Fortunately, ours made it.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 43:45
Address: 1-5 Harvey Centre Approach, Harlow CM20 1HF