Life is better, under the sea
Grimhilde Mining Corp found two anomalies when scanning the earth; one could be accessed through a mining tunnel and the other requires you to voyage into the depths of the ocean.
As newly qualified explorers you must board a GMC submarine and travel down 1000 leagues to an underwater air pocket.
Explore this untouched ancient world and uncover the mystery that is hidden within.
Whenever someone asks me what my favourite escape room is, although I struggle to actually come up with an answer, but, although our first visit to The Escapement’s Margate branch occurred just a week after we launched Review the Room in February 2019, the games there always come to mind at, or near, the top of the list, even three years later. Ever since that first visit we have been rather (im)patiently waiting for the grand opening of The Escapement Broadstairs. (Let’s be honest, I’ve been desperate for new games from The Escapement practically from the moment we stepped out of The Pit.)
Which leads us to now. Within moments of the announcement that The Escapement Broadstairs had not just one, but two new games, plus an outdoor adventure, we were sorting out the logistics for a trip to Kent with our friends, Amy and Ian of Brit of an Escape Habit, to discover just what new and wonderful things would await us in the lovely little seaside town.
A full weekend of escaping led up to the main event, and it seemed like games just got better and better with each one we played. But it was a full day of utterly brilliant games that built us up to Atlantis, first with the Captcha Code and then WunderWaffe Operation Quartz. Our final game of the entire trip to Kent was Atlantis, and I will say right now, that it is one that will stick with me for quite some time.
The building that houses The Escapement in Broadstairs is impressive from the outside, but once you’re inside, it becomes truly special. The theming for Atlantis spills out into the reception area, and it’s here that we sat with Lewis, Mica, and Mochi (the most amazing dog on the planet), chatting about all things Escape Rooms and Escapement, before it was time to board the submarine for an underwater adventure.
It’s mentioned often enough that regular readers of this blog will probably know that while Gordon’s favourite theme is “Pirates,” mine is “Indiana-Jones Style Temple Raiding Adventure.” And while this game takes place “underwater,” I certainly think Atlantis qualifies as both a temple raid and an adventure; needless to say, I was loving it. In fact, between the sea and the temple, it’s almost like a cross between both of our favourite themes.
The beautifully themed entrance to Atlantis was the first indication that this would be no ordinary escape room, and this fact was only reinforced by the wobble of the submersible as we all climbed aboard. (A word of warning, if your captain tells you to hang on to something at any point in your journey under the sea, it’s best to heed their advice.) Once on board, the screen flickered to life with the image of our captain, Mica. Mica updated us a little further regarding the nature of our visit to Atlantis, but then it was up to us to get the sub ready for her to remote pilot down to the bottom of the ocean.
Immersion is a word that gets thrown around a lot when discussing escape rooms, and I know I’m certainly guilty of it, but the word means different things to different people. However, I think we can all agree that immersive experiences are those that make the suspension of disbelief possible, allowing the lines of game and reality to blur. Whatever an immersive experience means to you, though, I think you’ll find that Atlantis ticks the box. From the moment we boarded the submersible, I was fully involved, and everything from the set to the sounds, and even the lighting, existed to further draw you in to the narrative and the world that The Escapement have built.
Atlantis is an incredibly physical game, and there were points where I felt like a child on a playground as I raced about, climbing, crawling, and just exploring everything in wonderment. With each challenge we encountered, the sense of wonder, and excitement grew, as like any good story, be it a film, book, or game, Atlantis’ gameplay followed a progression that built up to a dramatic climax, and then an adrenaline fuelled race to the finish.
Chunky, tactile, engaging, layered, cooperative – these are all words that I could use to describe the puzzles and tasks in Atlantis. The nature of the puzzles meant that the outside world truly does melt away as players become fully engaged in their undersea quest, with challenges that just felt like a perfect extension of the environment, and never like “puzzles” as they evolved naturally out of the surroundings and our situation. Each and every task followed a clear logic that made the whole experience feel perfectly intuitive.
Difficulty is always subjective when it comes to puzzles, but the challenges throughout Atlantis (mostly) fell on the easier side for us. This is in part due to experience, but mostly due to the fact that everything just made sense, with clear and clever signposting. At various points, Atlantis presented multiple puzzle paths that could be followed simultaneously, but even with this, the game still managed to flow effortlessly from one thing to the next, pushing the narrative. The puzzle design combined with the multilinear structure makes Atlantis achievable for newer teams, but still utterly enjoyable for escape room enthusiasts, and totally perfect for the necessary team size of 4+.
The question on many players’, and particularly enthusiasts’, minds will be “Can I play this as a team of two, or does it really need four?” The answer isn’t quite that straightforward, but practically, you really do need at least three, but the perfect team size is probably four. The challenges throughout Atlantis to some degree all incorporate teamwork, and while the bulk of them could easily be completed by a team of two, the finale… can’t be. Or, maybe it can, but I think it would be far more frustrating than fun with only two. But it is this finale that truly sets Atlantis apart from any other game we have played to date, so it is well worth the effort of finding some friends to drag along under the sea. While not exactly a puzzle, the conclusion to Atlantis was perfectly designed, fast-paced, and above all else – FUN.
Part of what allows players to remain fully immersed in the world created by The Escapement is the way in which they can receive help, should they need it, so I am intentionally going to be rather vague on this point as I would like to leave players to discover the magic of Atlantis for themselves. When teams are struggling, the games master has the ability to adjust the clues accordingly, but it begins with subtle changes that seem to emerge organically from within the game itself, gently guiding players along the correct path with whispered nudges, and things that could be interpreted as perhaps just slightly more blatant signposting. Of course, if subtle cues just aren’t cutting it, there is always the option for the GM to chime in with a more overt “clue,” but even those would be in keeping with the narrative.
Although Mica was our captain, Lewis was our GM. If we had needed help, I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been delivered at exactly the right moment to avoid any frustration. I can say this with certainty because although we experienced a bit of glitchy tech, it was handled in such a smooth manner that we actually had no idea that there was a problem until the debrief after our game. In fact, Lewis was paying such close attention to our game that he could remember who did what to solve each puzzle when we received our mission debrief. This attention to detail isn’t unique to Lewis – every member of staff at The Escapement runs their games in the same fashion. It is impressive, and refreshing to have such a thorough explanation following a game not only of what happened but exactly how it happened in your game and really makes a difference to the player experience.
Atlantis ticked every box on my “Perfect Escape Room” list and then proceeded to blow my already high expectations out of the water (pun intended). In fact, I may even have new tick boxes to add to the list after our visit to Broadstairs. Honestly, if I were to pick a favourite game in the UK (possibly on the planet), it’s currently in Broadstairs.
Team Size: 4 people – escaped in 42:29
Address: Unit 2, Retort House, Albion St, Broadstairs CT10 1NE