Back To The Future – Agent Brains – Letchworth

Present, in September 2021, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant

Escape Rooms, or the good ones at least, have a lot in common with a live theatre experience. Narrative, set, props, interactions with the “cast” are all obviously important. A crucial element that sometimes gets overlooked though is the soundtrack. Adding atmosphere to the space, tension to the time pressure, jump scares, a sense of occasion to successes, an effective soundtrack will be a great mix of unobtrusive and immersive. Or, in the case of this game at Agent Brains, just a madly cheesy mix of nostalgic earworm bangers, ensuring this movie-inspired room is an absolute blast from start to finish.

But this is just one of the aspects that make this offering from new venue Agent Brains so compelling. There are plenty of ’80s rooms around now, but this was a new spin for us – you have been transported back in time to thwart the dastardly plans of Dr Nogood (Agent Brains’ archnemesis). You have to crack the codes in his teenage bedroom to access his time machine so you can return home and, naturally, save the world.

We were really pleased with the set, joyfully nostalgic at the first glance, but then with a few extra layers. The puzzles are all beautifully worked into the vintage props – very clever and super fun to play with. The solutions were solid and satisfying. There were a fair few padlocks alongside some more creative progress elements, and maybe the logic of matching clue to lock wasn’t always the clearest, but this was a very minor quibble, and far outweighed by the gleeful squeals when understanding smacked us in the face.

This is a really family-friendly game, a very happy experience, with enough of a challenge for the grown-ups combined with some searching and physical tasks to suit younger ones. In a genius touch, teams get to pick the mixtape of their choice to soundtrack the room – an impossible decision when faced with five hours-worth of iconic ’80s hits, which may cause the odd argument even before the game starts! Fortunately, as a family business, it also has a great atmosphere, a very warm and enthusiastic welcome and supportive GM-ing. We didn’t need many clues (except for our classic search fails!) but everything was neatly delivered via the timer screen.

I hadn’t been to Letchworth (the first Garden City, apparently) before and was really pleasantly surprised (was expecting something similar to Milton Keynes). Agent Brains is in a lovely central location, surrounded by enticing eateries, interesting street furniture and independent shops. Would thoroughly recommend a visit to the town, based on what we saw but, to be honest, whatever the location I would encourage a trip to Agent Brains. Particularly if you love bopping along to childhood memories while you puzzle…

  • Storyline: Good plot, with humour, logic and nice tension, followed all the way through.
  • Theming and Set: A well-decorated retro bedroom set, with a twist.
  • Searching: Some for youngsters to help with, not excessive.
  • Puzzles: A good mix, nothing too fiendish, but cleverly using props.
  • Physicality: Maybe one or two little bits. Could burn off a few calories dancing along though.
  • Scare factor: A little jeopardy (and some low light levels) but all balanced with humour.
  • Company Age Guidance: “Whilst our games are not designed specifically for children and some of the puzzles may be tricky and confusing for the younger ones, our games are family friendly and suitable for ages 10+ to 100+”
  • Age suitability: This is really aimed at ’80s big kids. But everyone would have fun in here, even slightly younger than 10.

Agent Brains website