We would have got out of Dodge – if the room worked
Dodge City in 2127 remains a stronghold of the wild west. The constant tussle between the Sheriff and local gunslingers means there’s opportunity abound for some creative bank robbery for those with wits and courage.
As a member of the Notorious ‘Barn Door’ Gang you’ve been caught by the local sheriff breaking into the bank. Locked away with little hope, hired by an unnamed outlaw and facing the ruthless justice of the old west you’re left with only one option.
As the sun sets the race is on to break out, reclaim your supplies, pull off the bank job of the century and get out of Dodge City.
To say we have been looking forward to this room for a long time would be an understatement. On two previous visits we had completed Nethercott Manor, Outfitters, and Mutiny – and loved all of them, so we were expecting really great things from this room.
As with all the other Tulleys rooms, the experience starts before you get in the room, with some nice theming in the foyer near the entrance to the room. One thing we weren’t expecting was that this was going to be a split start room, so our team of six was divided into two teams and we were led into separate rooms.
Once in our room(s) the usual Tulleys health and safety video played, followed by an on-theme video which gave you a bit of story about why you were there – in a nutshell, steal gold and get out in one piece. Personally I am a fan of briefings that take place outside of the room; it could be for lack of space, but Tulleys do all theirs in room.
The room started off promising, although early on we needed a clue as we believe there was a reset error in the very first section which threw us off and delayed us. Then we needed another clue as we really couldn’t see what we needed to do next and even when it was explained to us it seemed like a stretch, but that could have just been us so we’ll let that one slide.
There isn’t a lot of room to work once your team joins up again and we really felt like six people was far too many for a room of this size, the ideal number of people for us would have been four people as we couldn’t get past each other and at times were literally blocked from getting past in places.
As the room progressed we started to get in our rhythm but realised just how much there was to see and do – daunting!
Unfortunately we encountered a major reset fail about midway. This particular reset error meant one aspect of the game was impossible and we wasted a lot of time trying to solve it. Once we finally admitted that this puzzle may be beyond us, and asked for a hint, we were told where to look for the missing clue and despite our entire team of six searching the entire area multiple times, we still came up blank. Eventually, our GM said “let’s pretend you found it,” and pressed a button to override the puzzle. This at least enabled us to carry on a little but that damage was done and we would never make up this lost time.
In the end we didn’t get out. We were on the last puzzle and they shut down the power and told us we had failed. Needless to say the final ‘de-brief’ was not pleasant, and we took both the GMs into the room to show them where we had found things and explained we had told them this early on yet we were ignored. They apologised profusely and passed the blame on-to the previous ‘reset’ team but this tainted the entire experience for us.
If we had lost because of something we had done, then fair enough, but to lose and not experience the full room because of a mistake on their part just leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Yes these things happen, but really it is how mistakes are dealt with that makes/breaks a room, and unfortunately for us, it broke it.
The puzzles in Dodge City were on a level to other puzzles you would see in other Tulleys rooms, including many many padlocks. There were some cool pieces of tech and one in particular was quite fun to do, and there were a couple of impressive puzzles that you had to work on. Generally for this room you need communication, search skills, logic, and some maths.
There was one puzzle you needed to solve to give you access to something else, however because of how it was designed you actually could just bypass the first puzzle completely and do what you needed to on the secondary part.
In one place early on in the room it felt like the designers had given up a little as one puzzle/cupboard needed three different padlocks to be solved to get into it. I could understand this for a big puzzle, but not just opening up a cupboard.
I like rooms where you feel truly immersed in them, where you are responsible for what happens. There was one puzzle in Dodge that requires you to do something which is then ‘judged’ by the GM and they then press a button if you have done it. Yes it is a bit of fun, but for me it took something away from the rest of the room.
You can’t really fault the room design in any of the rooms at Tulleys and Dodge City is no exception. The attention to detail is impressive and at one point I even stopped what I was doing to look up and take in all that was going on.
When you think you are coming to the end of this room you realise there is much more to do and at times it seems like a never-ending labyrinth – depending on how much time you have left this is either a good or a bad thing.
Generally the GMs are good at Tulleys, but we have only experienced them when things go smoothly. On this occasion when things weren’t working right we found them lacking. We told them where we found an item, they ignored it. If they had acknowledged that it was in the wrong location straight away then this would have all been very different.
When we got clues they were in character and timely, but as soon as they had to go off-script they struggled and arguably failed. Being a good GM is more than just giving clues, you need to listen to what the team is saying, and if an entire team (with some experienced players) is saying they can’t find something and have spent a long time searching, then chances are something could be wrong.
Your time was shown on the screen the gave your briefing and any clues were delivered over a speaker system. Ordinarily, the speaker clues work well, however, not all rooms had speakers so if you weren’t in the right place you couldn’t hear what was being said, especially with some of the other noises going on in the room.
When we chatted with the GMs at the end and pointed out what we had found and where, it was quite clear that there is no way we could have completed the room without the GM’s intervention. It was like being stuck in a circular reference loop in Excel – you need the piece to solve the puzzle but you couldn’t get the piece without solving the puzzle!
I would say that this room was harder than Nethercott Manor which goes against what Tulleys say, but it could just be down to teething problems and when it is running smoothly perhaps it will be easier?
Success / Failure – Due to Reset Fail
*Update: After speaking with the team at Tulleys we have revised our rating for this room. They have made some changes which should stop our experience being repeated for others and we are confident that Tulleys will continue to be the ‘go-to’ place for Escape Rooms. Our previous experiences at Tulleys were wonderful so our scores for GM/Company are now a reflection of those experiences and not our (hopefully) one off experience.
Team: 6 players
Address: Tulleys Farm, Turners Hill Road Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex,RH10 4PE