So. Much. Smoke.
It’s October 1942, On patrol in the North Atlantic your boat HMS Defiance has been depth charged by an enemy Warship.
The only good news is that the fire has been put out, but through the smoke you will notice your problems don’t end there, with the loss of the Captain it’s up to you and the remaining Crew to identify which target to shoot, find the key and surface the boat so you can get home to make repairs.
We’d played all the games at Escape Game Swansea but were told that despite being under the same branding, the games were designed by a different team, so we once again had no idea what to expect from these games – it doesn’t seem like too many enthusiasts make it out to Carmarthen.
Our second game of the day at Escape Game Carmarthen, having just completed Lunar Base Alpha was Depth Charge. We took a little time between the games to sit in the very comfortable waiting area, and I gather had we come on a busier day there would also have been a coffee shop at the venue where we could have bought a freshly brewed coffee.
When we arrived we were greeted by one of the owners and soon introduced to our GM for all three of our games, Sam. Sam proceeded to play us the health and safety video on the TV in the waiting area, this video felt very familiar as it was the same video as the one we watched at Escape Game Swansea.
With the health and safety stuff done, and the room reset after the previous team, Sam collected us and escorted us back across the courtyard to the outside of the door to our game. Outside the game, Sam proceeded to give us our mission briefing and we couldn’t help but hear the ominous sound of a smoke machine…
As soon as we entered the room, we understood why we kept hearing the sound of a smoke machine, to say this room was thick with smoke would be an understatement. I understand that we were supposed to be on a stricken submarine, but the level of smoke here felt a bit excessive, as it made visibility close to zero. It’s a first though, we’ve had plenty of games with ‘difficulty by darkness’, but this was the first with ‘difficulty by smoke’.
Ignoring the fact that we couldn’t really see, the set design was actually really rather good and convincing. With flickering lights, worrisome noises, and an abundance of smoke, this felt like a submarine that was in trouble (fortunately there was no water). Even the sound of our footsteps while walking around the room felt convincing.
The room starts off pretty dark which is exacerbated by the level of smoke, but eventually the lighting does improve. We were provided with some torches but they were pretty awful and if you’ve ever driven at night during fog, you’ll understand how crappy light is in fog, or in this case, smoke.
I was actually quite impressed with this set, and I would probably go so far as to say this was my favourite set (not necessarily game) at Escape Game Carmarthen. There was a good journey through the space and in a way it all made sense, plus it was nice to find spaces that weren’t quite as smoke-filled as the first area.
I think I’ve covered the whole ‘smoke’ issue by now, so ignoring visibility as a puzzle in of itself, there was quite a mix of puzzle types while ensuring that all the puzzles fitted into the theme. Riddles, searching, observation, decoding and maths all made an appearance and played out in a linear fashion – although there were some moments where we were able to work on things independently.
The puzzles were pretty fair and signposting was decent so we knew where to go next. The majority of the puzzles resulted in combinations or keys for padlocks, with a small number of tech triggers.
As with the other rooms at this venue, if we needed a clue we simply had to shout out the code word to receive help, fittingly for Depth Charge, that word was ‘Mayday’. If we needed any clues then they would be delivered via the screen in the room (typed out by our GM).
The system for clues at this venue is that you get three ‘free’ clues, and then any additional clues add two minutes to your final time. Not sure how I feel about this, but at least they don’t take the time off your time in the game, so that’s something.
I think we needed at least one clue in this game, and I believe this was because we were second guessing something we needed to do, and just needed a little encouragement to stop being so stupid and to actually go ahead and solve it. Sam was an enthusiastic GM and we didn’t have to hang around long to receive the help.
The smoke in this room was set to 11, dial that down a bit and I think we’d have had a more enjoyable experience. Saying that, the set design for Depth Charge was pretty spot on and the puzzles didn’t feel out of place
Team: 2 players – escaped in ??? (we didn’t record it)
Address:1 Priory St, Carmarthen SA31 1LS