Alice In Puzzleland – Escape Hunt – Kingston upon Thames

Present, in March 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant

At the end of Alice In Puzzleland our GM Jon (excellent) bounced through the door and declared that we might not have been the fastest but we were certainly the best team he had ever seen play the game. Very flattering stuff! No great surprise to us though that, after a little consultation, he down-graded us to definitely the luckiest team he had ever seen, and advised that we went straight out to buy lottery tickets…

Our trip to Alice was very spontaneous – in the local area with a couple of hours to spare we rang round the nearby rooms to see who could take us in at such short notice. Great customer service, and possibly a bit of luck, landed us in the spacious lobby of Escape Hunt Kingston. It wasn’t a particularly conscious choice of room – I did discover (as with the Wizard of Oz) that Aunty Ant is surprisingly unfamiliar with the world of Wonderland, so we definitely weren’t approaching this from a fan perspective.

Despite that, we couldn’t help but be thrilled with first glance of the room, so cute, with lots of fun quirky touches. For those who do have a working knowledge of Lewis Carroll (or the Disneyfied version) there are plenty of lovely character references and a marvellous Cheshire Cat hint system. It is an entirely padlock-free game (no keys or 4-digit codes) which isn’t generally important to me, but was pleasingly on-theme here. This also makes the room quite a tactile experience with maybe more of an emphasis on observation than on specifically mental puzzling.

So this brings me round to our supposed brilliance. We did dilly around a bit here – hence our time of 54 minutes – and had a couple of traditional search fails (including not noticing when a door or two had opened). There were, however, a few puzzles that we solved outstandingly quickly (compared to some other teams anyway). Unfortunately we did have to admit to Jon that these had mostly been pure fluke. One, we just put the pieces down as a place-holders and immediately got the “ker-ching” of a right answer – we calculated after that this was a 25-1 shot. Another, we confessed that we hadn’t actually noticed part of the puzzle and were incredibly jammy that our third trial-and-error go using our partial information was correct (the odds on that were even higher)… I don’t think either of those were flaws on behalf of the puzzles, and we weren’t deliberately brute-forcing. Like Jon said, we just got super-lucky.

There were a further couple of maybe vagueish puzzles, where we did manage to get an answer not exactly in the way we should we thought those could have been tidier, but it did just add to our general air of serendipity. But along with that were some very nice puzzles which did make us feel smart; one in particular was a real high-five solve. Possibly not the level of genius assigned to us initially, but enough to give us a nice, fairytale glow, from a very sweet, enchanting game.

  • Storyline: Find the tarts to save the Hatter, slightly bonkers but a totally sane game would have been out-of-place in Wonderland.
  • Theming and Set: Quite snug but quality and with a good use of space.
  • Searching: Only a couple of bits of actual searching, more observation.
  • Puzzles: Mostly riddle-based, aptly, and fairly practical.
  • Physicality: None bar a little scrabbling at low level.
  • Scare factor: None, this avoids some of the nightmarish elements of the Alice films.
  • Company Age Guidance: “All of our Escape Rooms are rated PG (8+)”.
  • Age suitability: Kids could definitely get involved here, a nice room for them, while also providing a reasonable challenge for the grown-ups. Bit of a squeeze for a babe-in-arms but nothing to alarm the little ones.

Also by Escape Hunt: Our Finest Hour; The Fourth Samurai

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