Not just a short back and sides
It’s 1930’s New York. A Back Street Barber Shop has been under surveillance by the New York Police Department for a number of weeks. Strange opening hours, unusual clientele, missing police officers. Something doesn’t add up. Is there more to this Shop than meets the eye?
Your Goal – Enter the Shop, unravel the mysteries held within and return undetected with the evidence. Have you got what it takes?
While on holiday with family near Bournemouth, we found ourselves in need of a little escape, both from the family and of a different sort. Enter U-Escape, since three games would be more than enough to keep us occupied – at least for a little while 😉
Our day began with a lovely and warm welcome from our GM Jamie and U-Escape owner, Jodi, swiftly followed by a visit to the Psycho Surgeon. We were to finish the day with their brand new game, Franksy, but in between the two, we planned to solve The Barber Shop Mystery. After successfully evading the surgeon, we took the opportunity to have a little break for some water, and of course, another chat about all things escape rooms with Jodi and Jamie. But it wasn’t long before Jamie disappeared, and reappeared in his guise as an NYPD officer to tell us all about the mysterious Barbershop Mystery.
Covid-19 Precautions: Although the Government has now lifted all restrictions, we still wore masks in common areas, as did the staff on site. We were told we could remove masks once inside the game space. Hand sanitiser was also available in common areas and games.
Jamie led us to a door, and as we stepped through it, we were immediately transported to a 1930’s barbershop – even down to the 100-year-old barber’s chair in the middle of the room. The space was beautiful, with a lovely atmosphere and was just all-around pleasing to explore. What was wonderfully refreshing for a game that contains actual antiques, everything was in play and we were invited to touch and explore everything without a single “Do Not Touch” sticker to be found.
There were plenty of moments throughout the game that surprised and delighted us, and as we progressed through the game, the narrative unfolded. For, it is not enough to merely escape from the barbershop undetected, but you must also uncover the evidence as to exactly what’s been happening behind the closed doors of the Barbershop and be able to present it to your NYPD colleagues to be successful.
Although The Barber Shop Mystery had a lovely feeling, it was by no means relaxing. The game started out with a fairly straightforward linear progression of puzzles but quickly exploded into a totally open puzzle free for all, increasing the pace of the game, building to a climax and the very definite finale, where we revealed the secrets we had learned.
I’ve found it rare for a non-linear game that is simply loaded with puzzles to use those puzzles to drive the narrative forward, but the puzzles in The Barber Shop Mystery blended seamlessly in with the theming, and any puzzles that weren’t part of actively furthering the narrative certainly re-enforced it.
Puzzles were delightfully varied, ranging in style, and a total pleasure to solve thanks to the excellent sign posting and intuitive design. The Barber Shop Mystery is a combination escape room/whodunnit and the challenges within incorporated everything from a bit of searching, to some logic, a bit of maths, and so much more. The amount of content and non-linear structure will undoubtedly keep even a larger teams quite busy throughout the game, and offer up a little something for everyone to really get involved with solving.
Jamie returned as our GM for The Barber Shop Mystery, and having already guided us through the den of the Psycho Surgeon, he was familiar with how we operate, and knew exactly when to give a nudge, or not. For the most part, we made his job easy, due in part to the intuitive nature of the puzzles and the excellent signposting.
But, as per usual for us, we did have one or two moments where we overlooked evidence, or overcomplicated something simple, and it was necessary to actually ask for help. Within seconds of ringing the bell for assistance, Jamie, in the guise of police intelligence, put us back on track with audio clues over a loudspeaker system.
The Barber Shop Mystery was a pleasure to play, with a lovingly crafted set and thoroughly pleasing puzzles. Of the games at U-Escape this is the one most suited for larger teams, but really, it’s great for everyone!
Team: 2 players – escaped in 36:00
Address: 1 Poole Hill, Bournemouth, BH2 5PW