Nothing to do with Racoons or Space
Can you help? There have been multiple strange occurrences at the gallery recently, leading up to the missing artefacts. But not all is as it seems. ‘The Caretaker’ has disappeared too, with strange messages left in his stead. It’s almost as though he’s done this on purpose – but we know very little more.
We can supply the message from the caretaker, but have nothing else to go on.
Could you and your crack team come and help, and SOON!?
Before even starting this review, it’s probably wise that I deal with the elephant in the room – this room is in no way connected with the film ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, literally in no way at all, so let’s move on.
We visited Want to Escape on day 12 of our epic stupid 59 escape room, two week road trip. We were booked in to play seven games on this day and the first four of them were at Want to Escape; Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop, Conspiracist, Teacher’s Revenge, and the game we’d heard a lot about, The Guardian of the Gallery.
We’d heard a lot about this game because it was nominated in the TERPECA’s, so of course that instantly got our attention and we knew that we’d have to make sure we popped by Rushden to see what all the fuss was about.
Want to Escape are really easy to find and also have on site parking which is an added bonus. When we visited, their waiting room was a little more sparse than what they perhaps would have liked it to be (thanks Covid), but it was still comfortable and had plenty of room to spread out. There was also a nice little leaderboard on the wall for all of their games, if you got on this leaderboard you got an actual record (vinyl) to keep with your time on it – something nice to add to the collection.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the owner (and our GM), James. James is a true enthusiast and we could have spent ages talking to him about all things escape room. But of course, we were there to play games. Guardian of the Gallery was the final game we played and was the only we were probably most looking forward to, so with our health and safety and room specific briefings out of the way, we entered the gallery. Oh, and yes, this is a 75 minute room!
Covid-19 Procedures: Excellent COVID precautions, a (covered) outdoor sink was provided and visitors are requested to wash hands before entering the building. Plenty of hand sanitiser provided and there was a strict mask policy when we visited in May 2021.
Guardian of the Gallery starts off pretty much as you’d expect, in a gallery. Where you go from there though couldn’t be further from that as the sense of adventure ramps up and you are transported to multiple destinations, each very different to the last.
The way this room was designed is impressive and it’s very hard to work out exactly where you are and where you will go next, yet strangely it all fits perfectly into the story and nothing feels out of place. Really, the less said about this game, the better. It’s safe to say that we loved every ‘destination’ that we visited and the mechanic used to move us between these locations was arguably perfect, and really rather comfy.
We’ve played a lot of games that take place in art galleries, and the start of this game was exactly that – think of a very bleak and modern gallery and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. But that is the only way in which this game is similar to any other art gallery themed room, once you leave the gallery, you will find a game that is unique and for lack of a better word, beautiful.
One thing that I can’t decide if we liked or not was the lack of ambient soundtrack in any of the spaces. I would guess that this was a deliberate choice, perhaps to make us focus more on what we were doing and not get distracted. We didn’t notice it at the time and only realised once we had left, so it obviously wasn’t a big thing.
I must admit, at times we struggled with the puzzles in this game, not all of them, but there was one point in the game where it took us a while to get going and I felt like we were being a bit dim. Saying that, we really had a great time in this game and once we woke up, we found the puzzles to be satisfying and a joy to solve.
Because of the way the game is created, it does play out in a linear fashion, but there are times where you can split up and work on different things. The puzzles themselves were of a good variety; logic, codebreaking, teamwork, observation, searching, wordplay, and some more tangible/physical puzzles. One puzzle in particular had a strong use of colour, but it was still doable for our resident colourblind team member.
The puzzles usually resulted in codes for padlocks or resulted in some cool tech making something happen. There was plenty to keep us guessing and we genuinely never knew where we were going to go next.
James (as expected) was the perfect gamesmaster. I’m not ashamed to admit that there were a few points that we were stuck, and James chimed in at the perfect moment to get us back on track. When clues did come in, they were via a screen in the room and were accompanied by a noise so we knew they were there. These clues were actually provided by a “character,” making them slightly more immersive, but to tell you more would take away some of the mystery – and the mystery is half the fun! One particular room, however, didn’t have a screen available, so if we had got stuck there, then it would have been an audio clue.
The screen(s) in the room also displayed the timer so we knew how long we had left. The problem with games like this is that you don’t know how far is left to go on your mission, so it’s getting the balance of rushing the game to make sure you complete it, but still going slow enough to savour it – a hard balance to find.
The Guardian of the Gallery doesn’t feel like your average escape room. You can tell that this is built by an enthusiast who wants to push boundaries and create something different. This room is challenging, yet fair, and will likely be a firm favourite on the enthusiast scene for a long time to come.
If you’re not an enthusiast, still go and play as this will show you what escape rooms should be like.
Team: 2 players – escaped in ?? minutes (we lost all track of time and can’t remember)
Address: 40a Newton Rd, Rushden NN10 0HD