Take your time, savour this room!
It’s Tuesday 4th September 1666 and The Great Fire of London has been burning for two days. Order has begun to break down and chaos is threatening to erupt – fuelled by the rumours that the fire was started on purpose… Londoners are blaming every stranger that crosses their path. Is it another attack in the long running feud with the Catholics? A retaliation in the war with the Dutch? Or was it just an accident?
On our last visit to TimeTrap to play Station X and Imaginarium, Pudding Lane was still in the process of being built, opening just a month or so after our visit. Given how much we enjoyed the company’s previous games, it was a given that we would be returning to Reading, and Pudding Lane would be first on the list of must-play games, it was really just a matter of timing.
Finally, we managed to arrange a date that suited our entire extended team of five, and fortuitously, Pudding Lane had an opening in the late morning – perfect for grabbing brunch beforehand. Full of pancakes, we headed around the corner to TimeTrap, through the gate and up the stairs to reception to check-in for our booking. This time we were led straight to the spacious waiting area, full of comfy furniture where we received our health and safety brief.
I am a bit of a history nerd, and as such, games that take their inspiration from actual historical events always pique my interest, and I was looking forward to how this experience might play out. I knew from our last trip to TimeTrap that Pudding Lane would be good; what I didn’t realise was that it was going to surpass good and travel into great.
The puzzles were an engaging combination of logic and observation, with a few communication challenges and some minor search elements, plus a few more physical tasks to keep things interesting. With two parallel puzzle paths, Pudding Lane is a good choice for larger teams, but also completely achievable with a smaller group. Thanks to the variety and the volume of tasks on offer, whether you play as a team of two, or a team of five (or six), there is plenty of puzzling to be had for the whole team, with something to suit all players.
While puzzle difficulty is subjective, there were no red herrings, and we found that each puzzle flowed seamlessly from one task to the next, with clear but clever signposting to guide us along our journey. And my, what a journey it was, as we were sucked back in time to find the truth behind the Great Fire of London.
One thing that never fails to amaze me about the games at TimeTrap is the attention to detail. From the slightly hazy atmosphere from the Great Fire to the cobbled streets of London, the set was completely immersive and just beautifully designed. Thanks to the well thought out puzzles, I found myself fully engaged with the story as we travelled the streets of London in search of Thomas, with the puzzles and tasks becoming part of the journey, rather than obstacles in our way.
The game flowed well from space to space, with new surprises around every corner and behind each door. Each distinct area we came across brought something new to the adventure, and never felt contrived, or as though they had just been put there for the sake of adding content without making any sense in the context of the story. Inevitably, we reached the end of our game, but the conclusion of Pudding Lane was far from disappointing, with a dramatic climax, and a clear and satisfying finale.
Our lovely GM for the day was Verity. We found out later that she had recently started, and that our game was one of the first that she would be running solo (although she did have some backup if she needed it in the form of Andy, the owner of TimeTrap), but I never would have guessed it from her briefing. Granted, we didn’t need to ask for any clues, but it was clear from our debrief following the game that Verity was paying attention to our progress and would have been able to chime in when needed.
TimeTrap have employed the use of a screen in the room to deliver clues, although it has been disguised slightly to integrate this into the story, rather than just having a giant TV in the middle of a street in 17th Century London, a rather nice touch as the screen is small, so you can easily forget it is there and allow yourself to become immersed in your surroundings with the comfort in knowing that if a clue does arrive, you’ll receive an auditory cue to alert you.
I enjoyed Imaginarium, and loved Station X, but Pudding Lane is by far my favourite of the games on offer at TimeTrap, cementing itself a place in my Top Ten Escape Rooms.
Team: 5 players – cracked the case in 30:01
Address: 11 Friar St, Reading RG1 1DB