One to oublier for us
Rumour has it that in 1541 a witch by the name of Hypatia was tortured and killed by the Pain-Giver to isolate the location of a powerful trinket. Legend says that this trinket went into the oubliette and never left. Its power is like nothing else.
You are unlucky, you find yourself in the depths of a castle under the control of the nameless pain-giver for crimes of mysterious supernatural power, witchery and wizardry. Or are you unlucky? The only way you could get into the Oubliette was to lie about your power and try to find the Trinket, BUT IS ESCAPE EVEN AN OPTION NOW YOU ARE HERE?
Without that item you have no hope of escape, you don’t have much time… you must hurry!
I’ve no idea why, but for a long time I’ve been wanting to play a room set in (or called) an oubliette. Finally we found one, at Escape Game Carmarthen and it was to be our third game of the day at this venue. We had already escaped from a space station (Lunar Base Alpha) and a stricken submarine (Depth Charge), so it was time to go further back in time to try and escape the Oubliette.
We had already watched the health and safety briefing from the comfort of the reception area, so we didn’t need to go over that again. Our GM, Sam, collected us from reception and took us down the corridor to the entrance to the room. He carefully put sacks over our heads (these are washed regularly), handcuffed us together, and then led us into the room.
Once our time began, we could remove the sacks and then we had to find a way to release ourselves from the handcuffs, and then escape!
For those not familiar with an Oubliette, it is essentially a dungeon and comes from the French word ‘oublier’ which means ‘to forget’. So basically what I was expecting was a dark and cramped set – it was dark, but fortunately not cramped as there was plenty of space to move around (once we freed ourselves from the handcuffs). When I say it was dark, it wasn’t too dark and we managed to see what was needed without too much difficulty.
The set design was convincing and had the types of things you’d expect to see in a dungeon, although it was slightly ruined by a large item in the corner with a giant ‘Do Not Touch’ sign on it – this kinda took away some of the surprise as it was very obvious what was eventually going to happen.
With the lighting, design, and noises, this game was big on immersion and atmosphere. Although it was a very darkly themed game, I wouldn’t class this as a horror experience, although there were a few jump scares – but no live actor.
It’s no surprise that the first puzzle in the Oubliette is to release yourself from the handcuffs. Unfortunately for us, the GM had placed the key in a location that felt extremely unfair to us and meant we spent the first 15 minutes of the game chained to the wall, and I can assure you that these handcuffs do get uncomfortable after a while. It’s also worth noting that I didn’t see any form of ‘emergency key’ so we were very much stuck unless we could find the actual key.
Eventually, after asking for help on two occasions, we were finally given enough information to locate the key for the handcuffs. However, after spending 15 minutes shackled to the wall, this very much tainted our experience of this game and we were very much ready for it to be over. I can’t recall how long we took in this game (we never received our victory photos, despite chasing), but I believe it was in the thirty-somethings, so considering we spent 15 minutes not being able to move, it says a lot.
Once we were finally free, the puzzles were fine and fitted the theme of the room; searching, observation, riddles, maths, and decoding. The majority of the puzzles resulted in codes or keys for padlocks although there was a little tech too.
The Oubliette played out in a linear manner and we rarely found that we were working on things separately, so for a bigger team you may find that you don’t have a lot to do.
One of the last puzzles that we needed to complete wasn’t particularly challenging and we knew what we had to do, however I’m not sure if there was a reset error as the item we had was not the one we needed (despite finding it in a locked chest) and we had to go hunting for the right one. For me, the way to know you have the right item should not be to look on it for a little magnet (I think it was a magnet anyway) that was glued to it, goodbye immersion.
Sam was enthusiastic as always and was kind enough not to walk us into a wall when we were entering the room with the sacks on our heads. If we needed to request any clues in this game we simply had to call out for ‘Raven’ and our clues would be delivered via a screen in the room – generally we didn’t have to wait too long.
We put in decent performances in the first two rooms we played, so I’m not sure if Sam made the decision to slow us down with his placement of the handcuff key, or if this is a usual choice, but for us, it was the wrong choice and really tainted our experience. It certainly did slow us down, but not in a fun way. We called out for clues many times and help was not forthcoming at this point in the game.
Escape Game Carmathen had a three ‘free’ clue system and if you need any more than that then two minutes per clue will be added to your final time. I don’t recall how many clues we needed, but at least two were requested for simply getting out of the handcuffs.
This room was a let down for us thanks to an unfair placement of a handcuff key, and this really tainted our experience. The set design was decent for the most part, although the final ‘reveal’ was pretty much apparent from the start which was a shame.
Oubliette was our least favourite game at this venue, but it has potential to be good. We questioned a few things about the room but are not sure if this was unique to our experience or if it is the standard game play.
Team: 2 players – escaped in ??? (we didn’t record it)
Address:1 Priory St, Carmarthen SA31 1LS