Present, 18th November 2018, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger
This was our first escape* room (*as in the ‘escape’ brand). Perhaps ironically, this was our first escape room where we haven’t been asked if it is our first escape room. In fact, they didn’t ask us much at all. “Oh, you’re here”, “this is the room”, “don’t break anything” and “off you go” was pretty much the sum of it. Didn’t think I was a big fan of the escape room virgin question. Usually, when asked, we just sort of squirm and mutter that maybe we have done this a couple of times before. But turns out I’m not a big fan of not being asked, either. Shouldn’t they want to know, so they know how to pitch it? Makes for rather an impersonal approach, or maybe they just believe in treating everyone the same. Theoretically admirable; in practice not the best way of ensuring your customers have the optimum experience. Maybe they just didn’t ask us because we exuded seasoned escapees’ confidence? Hypothesis undermined by their comment on our escape “that’s a really good time, especially if this is your first room”. Pfft, at the backhanded compliment. Did we look that incompetent?
We did spend quite a lot of time tripping over each other – but mainly because the room is tiny. And with two leggy, poorly co-ordinated teenagers and me, the overstuffed set was going to get a bit of a battering. I could not recommend this room for groups of more than four, unless you are all Olympic gymnasts, or very intimate friends. The exception would be if you were bringing a small, patient child that you could park in the enormous armchair – except for being sat on a few times, Jack-Jack and Cbeebies would have been fine in here.
Puzzles were classic escape room stuff, and very linear, which got a little frustrating when stuck with one and nothing else to work on. Slightly surprised by the lack of quality control in some areas – typos, bad grammar and inconsistencies littered the written riddles. None impacted on the game flow, just a source of annoyance for the linguistic pedants amongst us. The set was beautifully realised as Arthur Conan Doyle original era Sherlock, with detail down to correct period books and a soundtrack of coach and horses clip-clopping through the rain.
So it was also a bit of a surprise to have the end-game suddenly lurch from the 1880s to the 1980s with two pieces of anachronistic tech that rather broke the mood. Odd choice, really, given that a proper candlestick telephone would have done the job of both bits of tech just as well.
Generally, a fun, neatly made, just about Gen 2 room – suitable for a small group of newbies or teens (as long as they are not all great galumphing creatures). Nice touch that under-16s are given a discount, catering for the teen birthday event market. Just a bit lacking in the customer relations department – the staff members were perfectly nice when we got them talking afterwards, but we never felt that they were at all engaged in our experience. The difference between independents and chain companies? Or maybe a bit of a bad day? Other group result pics on Facebook show lots of cheerful, colourful signs being held (not offered to us), and the lack of a second booking discount offer to encourage returning customers seems crazy for a large venue (maybe we just weren’t offered that too). Hasn’t completely put us off a return visit, as Escape Peterborough has plenty of intriguing games on our wish list, but maybe before-and-after-care is something they can work on.
- Storyline: Nice twist, to be against Sherlock rather than with him, not badly followed through.
- Theming and Set: Lovely, until the weird timey-wimey wobble at the end.
- Searching: Not really enough to keep the teens occupied while solving one riddle at a time.
- Puzzles: Nice, straightforward and logical, but only really one outstanding.
- Physicality: Very little.
- Scare factor: Cosy enough for a baby to sleep through, if there had been space for a pram.
- Company Age Guidance: “The puzzles may be too demanding for those under 10. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult*.”
- Age suitability: Could take in a toddler if needed, suitable for young teens; those in-between would probably get bored at lack of stuff to do. *Teenage Avenger did another room at this venue with only under 16s, just needed to ask.
At the same venue, see also: The Bank Heist