We need to test that this portal works properly, we’re pretty sure that it does but we just need to be certain! From what we can gather Tommy has landed somewhere in the midst of the Western Front in 1917. There is a very significant chance the slight possibility that the portal could break when you go through (but it probably won’t don’t worry) If it does, don’t panic, your team are just going to have to fix the time portal before the bridge collapses and you’re trapped in the past forever.
For day eight of our escape room road trip we were finally going to Unescapable in Derby, a place that we had heard a lot about. On this day we were tackling all four of their games back-to-back. We’d already played Edith, Mary, and Alan, so next up was Tommy. I don’t know why, but I love it when games have regular human names, like a dog called ‘Steve’, it just seems funny.
I don’t actually know Derby, but I’d guess the Unescapable would be classed as in the City Centre, either way, it was easy to find. The first thing you notice when you enter the venue is the epic lobby area that awaits you once you climb the stairs, and the hundreds of photos of previous players time travellers.
Our gamesmasters for Tommy were Stephen and Marcus and they did a wonderful job of making us feel right at home. We took a quick convenience break after finishing Mary and then we were ready to get straight into Tommy. Really, Tommy is the only game that has a name that gives an insight into what it may be about. That’s right, it’s a WW1 themed game. I’m not sure if that is unique, we’ve played WW2 games, but never WW1.
Our charismatic GMs performed the health and safety briefing outside the entrance to the portal and also made sure we understood our mission (I think we did). So with our trusty and oh so funky backpack, we were teleported back to 1917. Game on.
Covid-19 Procedures: All staff wore masks and kept a safe distance. We were the only team on site and plentiful hand sanitiser was available. Track and trace was used and I gather rooms were thoroughly cleaned between sessions (we played in May 2021)
Tommy has the most dramatic opening to any of the games at Unescapable and it was a good way to ramp up the excitement before we actually began our mission. The theatrics calmed down after that, but the set design didn’t diminish in quality.
Having read stories and seen movies about WW1, one of the main things I’ve taken away is that the trenches were not pleasant places to be and they felt claustrophobic. Tommy was a pleasant place to be, but they managed to get the claustrophobic feel and a sense of exploration. Once in the game, everything takes place on one level so if you’re a bit less agile, you should still be ok in here.
I remember going to a war museum as a child and that had trenches to walk through that carried sounds from the trenches, that is how it felt being in Tommy. Think air raid sirens, bombs going off, and just general ambient trench noise and that is what you’ll get here.
Our biggest gripe was that in places this game was dark, and all we had was one sad little lantern. I don’t know if this was a choice based on historical accuracy, but as we were trying to unlock a modern padlock, nearly in the dark, I would assume that wasn’t a factor. We hate ‘difficulty by darkness’ so a bit more illumination would have certainly helped.
The puzzles in Tommy all fitted the theme well although we found the first puzzle to be quite a time drain and went on for a bit too long, but if you were a larger team and could get everyone involved, it may not be as bad.
The puzzles encompassed; minor search elements (some of which were fun to solve), logic, decoding, audio, observation, and then a few other WW1 relevant tasks. Generally the puzzles flowed in a relatively linear manner, although there were a couple of opportunities where we could split up to tackle two things at once.
So I’ve said about not really enjoying the first puzzle, but to balance that up, we did quite enjoy one of the last puzzles – it was a bit of fun and has some accuracy in science.
Most of the puzzles gave combinations for padlocks, but there was also some tech involved too – how else would you get a time portal back up and running?
Clues for Tommy came over a walkie-talkie that we were provided, so I’d argue if we could take a walkie-talkie, surely we could have taken a better torch?! Anyway, if we needed any clues they would have been provided over this walkie-talkie and I don’t believe we needed any clues. However, our GMs were a bit overzealous in giving them which was a bit annoying as sometimes we just needed a moment to figure something out, but we didn’t get that time.
We obviously didn’t struggle with this game as we completed it in 28 minutes, and had similar times in the other games we played here, so we weren’t sure why the GMs were jumping in so quickly to help. We often tell a GM that if we look like we’re struggling, and falling behind in time, then to give us a nudge, but we never really faltered on anything for more than 30 seconds and we were being given help.
A fun room that had a good sense of exploration, but perhaps play Tommy as a warm-up for the other games here. Our game was tainted by over-eager clueing by our GM, and a laborious first puzzle, but we ended on a high and that’s the main thing.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 28 minutes
Address: 25 The Wardwick, Derby, DE1 1HA