We’ve served our time
Working is a far away country you were wrongly captured and put in the notorious Mountain Prison. You have a way of contacting rescuers but first you need everyone in your team out of their cells!
You carefully carry out a daring plan and assemble the team, but one person is still locked in their cell. A riot has broken out in the prison and dangerous prisoners are on their way.
Somehow you must find a way to free your last team mate before you are attacked by other prisoners.
The Cell is an interesting experience that involves careful team work and communication.
Our first introduction to escape rooms was through a couple of university friends. And since we try to make a point to make a yearly get away together, it would be a crime not to take some time to fit in a few escape rooms when we do! As this year’s holiday was to the Isle of Wight, and we were staying less than half an hour from Newport, Random Rooms was the most (only) logical choice for a bit of an escape binge.
Our day started with The Random Room, and continued with The Dragon Room. Game three for the day was set to be a bit more standard for escapologists: the prison break themed game – The Cell. After a bit more of a chat with Alex, our GM and owner of Random Rooms, in reception, we went over the story behind The Cell and double checked we were clear on any changes to health and safety requirements. Then, without further ado, we returned to the corridor, and entered the game through two separate doors.
Covid-19 Precautions: We were the only team on site at the time of our game in early November 2021. We wore masks in the common areas but were able to remove them in the game. There was also plenty of hand sanitizer available in the venue, and hand washing facilities.
The Cell felt like Random Rooms were trying something a bit different from their other games. Not only were there periodic messages from the warden that were recorded in a manner to let them be somewhat interactive to add to the immersion factor, but The Cell also has a slightly different take on the prison break theme. Yes, at least one member of the team (in our case, two members) will be locked in the cell, but the majority of the team is free and able to leave at any time. But you’re only successful if you leave no one behind!
The split game resulted in what almost felt like two entirely different escape games, despite being in the same room and able to see each other at all times. . Although there was a fair amount of cross over of information, I have no idea what was done with what we relayed to those inside the cell, and I’m not 100% certain where any information from inside the cell came from. The Cell played out in what felt like a rather linear manner, although there were a couple of parallel paths to begin with. But eventually, as we approached the finish, the teammates in the cell often found that they didn’t have much to do, particularly once they had relayed all of their information and it was down to the rest of us to use it to get them out.
Communicate, communicate, communicate! The most difficult aspect of The Cell is, without a doubt, the added communication and teamwork challenges presented by having part of the team locked away. Without this element, the puzzles would be relatively straightforward, but with it, even simple challenges become a bit more complex.
Communication challenges aside, the puzzles we found throughout the game were fair, well sign posted, and used many familiar styles: a bit of searching, observation, some logic, lateral thinking, wordplay, and even a bit of code breaking. The game was relatively low tech, using plenty of physical locks of various descriptions. Some of the locks were even puzzles unto themselves, requiring much twiddling to get it right and finally release our teammates.
Alex returned again as our GM. At this point, he was pretty familiar with how we think, so he knew when to chime in to avoid frustration. We definitely needed to request one clue due to a bit of a brain fart. (We had noticed something, and then promptly forgot it as we focussed on other things.)
When we did need clues, these were provided using a screen that also displayed the timer. The screen was subtle, and blended in with the set dressing, aiding somewhat with the immersion.
The Cell has a unique twist on an otherwise familiar theme. In all, it was a decent game, with fair puzzles, but was ultimately a bit of a let down with an anticlimactic finish.
Team: 5 players – escaped in 40:47
Address: 5 Chain Ln, Newport PO30 5QA