Just like being in the movie (Kingsman)
A rogue agent is destroying the secret service from within; you must delve deep into the world of espionage to expose the perpetrator, your cover is an unassuming tailors shop but all is not what it seems…
Through a series of puzzles and tasks, you must uncover hidden files which pertain to the agent’s identity, be quick – intelligence has informed you that the agent will return in 60 minutes.
Get out with the files as soon as you can!
As we ascended the stairs we were met by our GM, and owner, Dan at the top, almost as though it were a clandestine meeting of the spies we were meant to be. We were escorted into the darkened hallway, reminiscent of a darkened London Street, and stopped in front of the perfectly dressed tailor’s shop window. (If you are familiar with the 2014 film Kingsman: The Secret Service, nods to the film and the theming are immediately obvious; there are even a few actual props from the movie located within the room.) We received our briefing outside the shop window, able to see through into the beautifully appointed ‘shop’. Once we received our mission, along with the usual health and safety talk, we were through the doors and on our way to finding the double agent.
While we were quick to decide exactly where to begin with the first task, I feel as though we were off to a bit of a rocky start, with the first puzzle taking an inordinate amount of time to solve (in hindsight, this was mostly due to me, as I can see ways in which this might have been sped up), and then immediately hitting a wall once we managed to solve this. The game progressed for us in bursts of activity, followed by hitting the metaphorical wall for at least the first thirty minutes. Eventually we found a rhythm though, as things started to fall into place.
Despite our slow start, and moments of frustration, the game was enjoyable, and incredibly immersive; it’s definitely worth the trip out to the countryside.
This was perhaps one of the most difficult games we have ever played, with the owner proudly boasting a 7% escape rate. While difficulty is certainly subjective, we often found ourselves floundering, unable to quite figure out exactly what we needed to do from the information provided, which necessitated a number of requests for clues. It is certainly possible that we were having an off day (and while two of us were very experienced, for the other half of the team this was only their 5th room), but we often felt as though there was a very distinct lack of sign posting toward what might be a puzzle, particularly at first. In retrospect, I think we were mostly over-thinking things, as once we did receive hints, it was often pretty clear what needed to be done, though there were a few times where the cryptic nudge just simply wasn’t making sense.
The vast majority of the puzzles required logical deduction, but there were a few moments where you might need to think outside the box, or decode a message. There was very little in the way of searching, with the majority of what you might need right in plain sight; however, we often felt hampered by not quite knowing what was set dressing and what was part of the puzzle, as well as making assumptions that we perhaps shouldn’t have, particularly at the start of the game. I, personally, found myself frequently frustrated by what felt like slightly ambiguous clues that often made little to no sense to me. I will say that this is probably just the way my brain works, and others may not have this issue. If anything, this should indicate to the enthusiast that there are a great many puzzles that were new to me, despite playing 100+ games. Be warned though, there is one task that I struggled with due to my height. Luckily, we played with the Man-Mountain on this occasion, and it wasn’t an issue for long.
As a padlock-free room, Templars immediately shoots to the top of my list for immersive gameplay. The set is beautifully designed, and the game takes you on an interesting journey, with the decor and theming fully supporting the back story, and contributing towards it. The use of available space was clever, and the set had some delightful surprises for us, as the game progressed.
The gameplay unfolded in a completely linear fashion; I find this can become frustrating when you just aren’t getting something, or when one task is taking a large chunk of time, as it leaves the rest of the team with little else to do but wait. When we play linear games, I prefer to play as a two, but I’m not convinced we actually would have managed to complete this game as a two, if only because it was a bonus to have the extra brain power, and people that are able to see things differently to me.
I am of two minds about the clue system used for this room. On the one hand, I loved it as it was integrated, with clues delivered in character, and a bit of fun built in. On the other hand, I found that it interrupted the flow of the game, as it required one to recognise when they just weren’t getting something and actively pick up the phone to request help, and that bit of fun became less fun the more often one needed to ask for help, especially with the time ticking away and the pressure mounting. While Gord and I are experienced enough to not want to receive help when it isn’t necessary, I immediately lose a sense of rhythm to the game when clues have to be requested. For me, this immediately detracts from the immersion, especially if I am already frustrated by a puzzle that is thwarting me. However, this is a personal preference, and while it didn’t necessarily detract from the game, and I frequently found myself thinking, ‘Am I going to get this in a minute, or do I need to ask for a clue?’ Teams that end up needing only one or two clues, (or those familiar with the film on which this room is based) may find that the clue system enhances the experience.
As for our GM, well, he was pretty great. Dan greeted us, and remained in character throughout. As our intelligence agent on the outside, he provided information that was cryptic, but generally got us back on track. Although, there were a few times when he had to spell things out like I was a five-year old, as the cryptic clue just wasn’t enough. We really weren’t on form that day…
While it would be advantageous to players to go into this room without any preconceived notions of how an escape room should work (you avoid over-thinking that way), I would hesitate to suggest this room to players without any experience. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
Team: 4 players
Address: Unit 51, Fatherford Farm Industrial Estate, Okehampton EX20 1QQ