Swing your razor wide!
Your friend, Captain Thornhill, was last seen entering Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. There have been a number of other unexplained disappearances in the area and a pattern is emerging. In your quest to discover what happened to Thornhill you decide to investigate the barber shop, but you must wait until you think Sweeney Todd is not around for fear of incurring his wrath and renowned bad temper!
Can you discover evidence of what happened to your friend and escape before Sweeney Todd returns?
I’d been lucky enough to meet the owners of XcapeNow, Michelle and Gordon, at ERIC (they are lovely people) so it was pure chance that we happened to be up in Telford not two weeks later, of course we had to try and find time to check out at least one of their rooms.
We were being tourists at the Ironbridge and had a bit of time to kill so I contacted XscapeNow to see if they could fit us in for a last minute room and asked which one they’d recommend, they suggested Sweeney Todd, and they had space for us: result! The venue is easy enough to find and like so many escape rooms it is on a nondescript industrial estate; fortunately that meant that parking wasn’t an issue.
Upon arriving we were greeted by Gordon (who was also our GM for the room), and we had a little chat before getting down to business. Their reception area is large and comfortable with a couch and lockers. They’ve gone for the graffiti approach of decoration meaning that teams can write their names pretty much anywhere they want, although they are currently building some new rooms upstairs so there’s a good chance some of these names will soon be gone forever!
Gordon gave us the health and safety briefing and the room specific briefing while we were standing outside the room. It’s nice that they’ve gone the extra step to decorate the hallway so that each door and surrounding area fits into the theme of the room you’re going in – no plain white corridors here! With the briefing out of the way, the door was opened and we began trying to solve the mystery.
There was an element of searching required for this room, but it was minor and mainly focussed on logic. There was one particular puzzle which we’d seen before and are not fans of but they actually made it fit in to the room so that helped (still not a fan).
The multi-linear design meant that we could split up and working on different things at the same time, while still working to the same goal. There’s nothing worse than a large group in a very linear game and half the team just become spectators – fortunately that wasn’t the case here.
Signposting on puzzles was good and it was often clear to see where you needed to go next or what fitted with what.
One puzzle confused us much more than it should have as we discounted an element of it thinking it was poor design (it wasn’t), so we needed a clue to tell us to investigate a bit further. It’s a simple puzzle but they throw in a massive distraction that helps blur the logical thoughts in your head.
The decor in the room was generally on theme, think Victorian wallpaper, general barber related items, and of course no Sweeney Todd room would be complete without a genuine barber chair. Not only did they make sure that the room design was on theme, but also the puzzles were in one way or another linked to it too.
Accessibility could be an issue for some teams but as long as one person on your team is agile then you should be ok with this room.
I particularly enjoyed the flow of this room and how you thought you knew where you were going next, but then you go in a completely different direction. Everything throughout felt like it belonged in the room, there were some items that were purely set dressing but it was easy to discount them and move on.
The room was arguably padlock heavy, but not excessively so and I didn’t find it detracted from the game at all. XscapeNow have managed to mix in a nice use of technology to make sure you are kept guessing. For me, a room is only as good as the ending, and although there was no ‘wow factor’ to the ending of this room, it was very clear that you had reached the end and Gordon was there to meet us when we did.
Gordon was on the ball with the clues and we never had to wait long to get one if we needed one. As it turned out, we needed two. Clues were delivered via the screen in the room but there was also a voice that came over a speaker at one point so I don’t know if that was just part of the room or if it was a nudge. We were never told that clues were limited, however the screen did display a number of padlocks which would indicate that they probably were limited, if that is the case they were generous as there were seven or eight padlocks on the screen.
The time you had remaining was also displayed on the screen in the room.
Apparently the theatre version of Sweeney Todd is different to the original version, and the latter is the version that this room is based on. Personally I didn’t know that, but Gordon explained it at the end and it made some of the other room design choices make more sense.
Team: 5 players
Address: Units 18-19 Ketley Business Park, Telford TF1 5JD