A night at Carnevil…
Let me tell you the tale of the Grimaldi Brothers, one kind and one kinda evil. Percevil made a deal with the devil for the Carnival to run forever but all deals come at a cost…that cost was his brother.
More than 100 years later the Carnival continues on, bright lights hiding a dark past. The stench of popcorn and despair is the perfect combination for a fantastic time!
One of the acts Madame Mystica has reached out to you to try and free the carnival and it’s acts. Can you set them free and escape the haunted carnival? Or will you become one of the attractions forever…
Having just completed four other rooms at Panic Room Harlow (CSI: Murder Mystery, Strike Force, The Panic Room, and The Tomb) we were hoping we had left the best ‘til last: Carnevil. Carnevil is the newest room at Panic Room Harlow having only opened in January 2020.
Panic Room’s Harlow location is a bit of an odd place in that it shares a space with an entertainment centre containing crazy golf and laser tag. The upside of this is that the waiting area has a bar, a cafe, and pool and air hockey tables so if you’re a bit early there are plenty of things to keep you occupied. When we arrived we went to the main reception and one of the centre’s staff radioed to the Panic Room to let them know that we were there.
After a short wait our GM, James, arrived very much in character to ‘welcome’ us to his domain. After filling in the health and safety waiver that we had become so used to by now we were led around the labyrinth that this complex is, up some stairs, to the entrance to Carnevil. Outside the room, James did more of a detailed intro (fully in character) and explained our mission, then it was time to enter the Carnevil…
If you’ve ever been to a carnival then you’ll probably have a good idea of what you’re likely to find in this room, I won’t spoil the fun but be prepared for more physical tasks rather than the usual escape room tropes. They even had a challenge that we have come to hate but fortunately, I think our GM was kind.
There is one task which technically needs three people but Panic Room have built-in a workaround which means it is doable as a two – and really you don’t really notice it. If you do want to play as a two, you are no longer able to book online for this reason and will need to phone.
Arguably one of the biggest ‘puzzles’ for this room is the size. There is a fair amount of ground to cover and if you’re in a team of two like we were, then you’ll need to spread out and move pretty fast if you’re going to get around it all.
Early on the room plays out in a non-linear fashion so you can start with whatever tickles your fancy. As the room progresses it does become more linear but we were both kept busy for the entire time.
Ignoring the more physical tasks, you will encounter traditional puzzles which were more observational, and although you need to be sure to have a good look around the room I wouldn’t class this as a massively search heavy room.
This room is all about immersion (and creepiness) and immersion is what they deliver. Before you even set foot in the room your interactions with the in-character GM sets the tone and that tone is carried out throughout the entire room.
I would guess that many of the puzzles in the room are triggered by the GM rather than sneaky tech, but if anything that takes away from them being glitchy and we had no issues with the ‘system’ knowing when we had completed the task.
There’s loud music playing the entire time you’re in the room which does a good job of keeping your adrenaline pumping! Couple that with the lack of timer in the room and you can’t help but feel under pressure to finish.
The weakest point for us was the ending as it felt a bit anticlimactic. We thought we had completed our mission but after we did the final task we found ourselves wandering in the room questioning if we had in fact finished or if there was something else we should be doing. It was until our GM appeared a few moments later that we realised we had succeeded.
Clues were delivered over a speaker system in the room and were requested by waving at a camera. Due to the volume of the music in the room, we don’t think it was possible for the GM to hear what is going on so visually requesting help is key. When we did need a clue (one for a search fail) he offered it immediately and it got us back on track.
It’s worth noting that there is no timer in the room, although there are audio prompts to alert you to how much time you have left. It felt like time went far too quickly in Carnevil!
James did a great job, and for all our interactions with him (up until we finished) he was in character and didn’t drop character once, even when we had issues with a padlock.
There was a certain type of padlock in the room which we have seen before but unfortunately, it was faulty so we couldn’t progress. James listened to us when we said it wasn’t working and a few minutes later he came in (in character) to check on it. After he struggled with it for a few more minutes he left to find a solution. Moments later he returned with some very large bolt cutters and chopped the padlock off there and then. Ok, the immersion was slightly broken, but these things happen and it is how it is handled that makes the difference, and he handled it perfectly. He also added on the time we had lost just to make sure we weren’t unfairly disadvantaged by the issue.
We had a great time in Carnevil, partially due to our GM, but mostly just because it was an upbeat, fast-paced room that kept us engaged fully while we were in it. It’s also worth noting that there are no live actors in the room, and the vibe is more creepy than scary.
Team: Two players – escaped in 47:50
Address: 1-5 Harvey Centre Approach, Harlow CM20 1HF