Don’t believe the hype
London needs Sherlock. Instead, it has you.
Sherlock is absent. As a rash of break-ins ripple across the capital, one thing is clear: his brilliance is required.
Mycroft Holmes has put out the call. The Network seeks recruits: volunteers with sharp eyes, keen wits and a hunger for adventure.
Can you step into the shoes of the legendary detective? Good luck: The Game Is Now
Sherlock: The Game is Now is located in a shopping centre in Shepherds Bush (no, not the shiny new Westfields, the other one) and is arguably hidden in plain sight. We’d actually walked around this mall when we did the rooms at Adventox and even though we saw the entrance to Sherlock we discounted it as just another store.
I guess you could say that the first puzzle of this room is actually finding it. It’s well disguised as an opticians and I’d imagine any ‘regular’ person would just think it’s a bit of an odd opticians store.
We’d actually put off playing this game for a while for two reasons; the public booking systems, and the cost. However when a message went up online about some fellow ERIC attendees looking to put together a team to play, we jumped at the chance.
Once we were buzzed in to the ‘opticians’ (at the appropriate time) we were greeted by Stamford who gave us a trolley/trunk to put our belongings in and then gave us an iPad to log in with, the usual disclaimers etc.
Having signed the disclaimers and coming up with a team name for our newly gathered team (ERICs Idols) we were taken through to a secondary briefing room which doubled as a warm-up room to introduce us to the concept of an escape room and a location for the mission to be delivered to us.
Once we were suitably ‘trained’ we were then taken to yet another briefing room which was decorated like Sherlock’s home. In this room there was a little more in character interaction and our team photo was taken – pre-room which is a bit different. We actually met another team in this room which seemed to confuse everyone in the room including the GMs (all named Stamford), probably a little mix-up but they handled it well.
After the briefest of stays in Sherlock’s house we were taken down another maze of corridors for our actual room to begin. This was certainly the biggest build up to any game we’d ever done. The light turned green, and we were in.
For a room themed after Sherlock, you’d be surprised if you got in and there were no logic or reasoning puzzles, and this room was full of them. There was very little searching required and the searching that was there was basic or more based on observation skills rather than physically finding items.
For the most part the room was non-linear meaning we could all spilt up and work on different things at the same time, which was probably good for a team that didn’t really know each other. Very few of the puzzles really required teamwork, obviously it made things easier but you could do it all independently.
The puzzles, for the most part, fitted with the theme and they’d tried their best to avoid padlocks. In fact thinking back there was only maybe two padlocks (and a few keypads) in the entire room, most of the puzzles relied on technology.
You experience a number of very different rooms as you progress through this experience, but then all of a sudden everything changes. It’s like it lulls you into a false sense of security, then BOOM! There’s lots to be done.
This room is all about immersion and from the moment you enter to the moment you leave you are thrown into the world of the BBC series Sherlock; if you loved the show then chances are you’ll probably love this room too. Every member of staff we met before and after the room stayed in character and didn’t break it once.
The theming is wonderful and you really can’t fault it but all the early stuff leading up to the room felt very drawn out and went on far too long, it’s probably good for first-timers or fan of the show, but enthusiasts like us just wanted to get going on the room.
The rooms had a nice flow to them and they were aesthetically pleasing with some nice touches. As you’d expect from a venue with this budget (and price) the rooms didn’t feel worn down at all and nothing seemed to be broken or not working.
My least favourite part of this room was the ending. Everything else is so slick and refined and then there’s the ending. The last thing you do is quite anticlimactic and then you wait around for a few minutes wondering if that is it before the GM arrived to lead you down a maze of blackened corridors to the debriefing room.
We only really interacted with our GM, Stamford, at the beginning of the game. During the game the clues and interactions were delivered via a screen from Sherlock (he was watching and helping us remotely apparently). Obviously these clues were delivered by our GM and they were timely and helpful without giving away too much.
I don’t recall a timer being in any of the rooms so it was hard to know exactly how we were progressing, but that just added to the feeling of pressure in the experience.
After the game we had a debrief by another member of Sherlock’s team. It sounded like she wasn’t actually the one watching us in the room as she was working off a scorecard that the GM had put together for her. This scorecard enabled her to debrief us on our teamwork and other skills, and give us a rating, a nice touch but felt a little odd.
This was a fun experience, but for us at least it wasn’t worth the money and was over-hyped. Sherlock enthusiasts will probably love it, escape room enthusiasts will probably find it like Marmite. Since we did the room they have dropped the price which makes it more worthwhile, but there are still better rooms in London at the same price point.
If you get a chance to go in the Mind Bar after your room then it’s definitely worth a look, the drinks aren’t cheap but the cocktails are certainly something different.
Team: 6 players (escaped in around 50 minutes)
Address: West 12 Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush, London, W12 8PP