Prepare to be immersed
The staff at top secret WW2 code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, have become suspicious of a spy in their midst, culminating in the discovery of an incriminating letter from the spy which reveals that they’ll be leaving on the 9.05pm train from Bletchley Station to London. The letter tells of several German decrypts the spy has stolen and concealed within the station, ready to flee with. The heads at the park have intercepted the 9.05 train and found seven suspects boarding, whom they have taken back to HQ. They need to find out who the spy is and make sure all stolen decrypts are recovered.
Of course Bletchley Park is so secret that no one from the outside world can know about the situation without blowing its cover. Unless…they’re from so far in the future that, there, the secret has been revealed! That’s where you come in.
Secretly drafted in by the heads of Bletchley Park with Professor Potch’s help, you will be assuming the identities of hard-at-work Bletchley Park staff to solve this crime; reveal the spy and retrieve the stolen decrypts!
We entered TimeTrap completely unprepared for the adventure we were about to take. We arrived exactly on time as instructed, and were quickly buzzed in through the outside door. We entered the brightly decorated hallway, where we were warmly greeted by a lab coat-wearing Time Travel technician. It was at this point that my expectations were completely shattered as we were whisked straight past the comfortable looking waiting room and through the time warp hallway straight into the 1940’s.
We were transferred from our Time Travel technician, directly to our snappily dressed Station Master, whom I could quite easily believe had stepped straight out of the ‘40’s; it was at this point that I fully expected that we would be sent straight on to our mission, which was a bit of an issue, as I had had a rather large quantity of water at lunch, but again, I was surprised as we were instead led to an exceptionally appointed train carriage, and given time to get settled, and yes, use the loo, before we were briefed on exactly what it was we were there to do, as well as hear the usual Escape Room health and safety.
With our mission clear, we entered the station and quickly got to work. TimeTrap have created an excellent experience with clever puzzles, excellent set design, and a massive amount of fun. I’m only disappointed that it took us so long to make it to Reading; Station X is one not to miss!
Game play was semi-linear, as you would expect with the number of locked doors, but there was still plenty of opportunity to work independently from the team, rather than all five of us focusing on the same thing. Puzzles throughout the room were a nice mix of observational and decoding for combinations, physical tasks, team work, and some logic, as well as a few bits that I won’t mention (to avoid spoilers). In short, there is bound to be something that will appeal to everyone on the team, and will keep things interesting. One thing to note, TimeTrap have done an excellent job of keeping every puzzle on theme, and it was easy to lose yourself in the moment.
One of my biggest pet peeves in game design is padlocks on everything. Gord loves a padlock, but I find they make me very aware that this is just there to hinder progress. Station X managed to include locks without making me feel this way. While there were some padlocks that possibly looked a bit more modern, they weren’t in illogical places, only appearing on things you might expect people to lock (luggage, boxes, etc.).
Alongside the primary goal of identifying the spy before the departure of the train, there is a secondary mission: to find the stolen decrypts! Of course, this means that there is a hefty amount of searching involved here and, annoyingly, we missed one. It might have been helpful to know exactly how many had been stolen, so we had a benchmark for success, but not knowing does add a little bit of tension to the ending as you wait to find out how successful you were. Whilst searching a room is not my strong suit, an added task like this is a real bonus for larger teams, as it does give someone who isn’t actively involved with puzzle solving a task, and I can see this being a great hit with families that play with children (TimeTrap recommend 10+).
Immersion started from the moment we entered the door, and the hand-off from the present day to the 1940’s was flawless as we were transferred from our Time Travel technician to our Station Master. From there, the attention to detail paid in the set design and aesthetic of the space, only helped to further immerse you into the world. Even the toilet had period features, and I must admit, I did admire the lengths that TimeTrap have gone to to make Station X feel as though you really have stepped into a time warp.
TimeTrap have managed to create an incredibly special game that almost blurs the lines of Escape Room and Immersive Theatre, with costume clad GM’s that form an integral part of the experience, and a very well designed set. As the primary goal of the room is to identify the spy, I was concerned that the ending might fall a bit flat, but was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case. Instead, this managed to provide a clear ending to the game, with just enough excitement as we delivered our findings and discovered if we were indeed correct.
Furthering the immersion, was the clue system. We opted to request clues if we needed them, and these were delivered in character via the tannoy system, that even managed to sound almost like a station announcement at times. My favourite clue delivery method is always something that sticks to the theme, and is fully integrated; I am also a massive fan of a timer that also manages to remain on theme, which this did, with an analogue timer ticking away the seconds until the spy was to depart on the 9:05 to London.
Our GM/Station Master remained in character throughout, and was always prompt when we felt we required assistance. We didn’t need much, but we did have one or two nudges, and one clue, that was required due to a tempermental mechanism, which caused us to miss something unlocking, despite correctly solving the puzzle.
Some of the spaces felt a bit tight, so we often felt quite cramped as a team of five. We’d put off a visit as a two due to the cost at peak times, but if you’re willing to give it a go, Station X is absolutely achievable in a smaller team, and well worth the price for that privilege, as this room swiftly earned a place in my Top 10 Escape Rooms. Of course, you’ll still have an awesome time as a five, or you could play as an even larger team in Versus mode.
Team: 5 players – escaped in 43:26 with 15 decrypts
Address: 11 Friar St, Reading RG1 1DB