Present, in December 2021, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger £
Nothing says Christmas to GATAPAE more than the raft of Santa-themed Escape Room pop-up games opening up at all our favourite venues. So, on a freezing December evening, we hauled two not-very-festive teenagers (Panda’s shirt read “Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come”) to One Way Out at Oakham in Leicestershire.
We had a lovely warm welcome from owner Tessa, complete with Santa hats, in-character game briefing and magic snow (!) and were plunged into the game. A tag has fallen off a child’s present and we have to help the elves by identifying the intended recipient, calling Santa to let him know and, of course, save Christmas (presumably so the elves or Santa don’t get issued with P45s for general incompetence). It’s a fun, gentle premise, set in the elves’ workshop.
Like most pop-ups, Tagalong is quite low on hi-tech. It is occupying the space usually used for the Robot’s Return game, so don’t expect an elaborate set. Having said that, they have done a great job of creating a cosy, seasonal space with a hint of steampunk workshop. Cosy is relevant – there isn’t a huge amount of room with four fully-grown humans, so I wouldn’t recommend a much bigger group unless most of them are kids (or very well acquainted).
For a pop-up though, the game has dealt quite well with its temporary nature – there are mostly padlocks but a clear amount of thought has gone into adding variety wherever possible. Same with the puzzles themselves; some real creativity here, balancing the Christmas theme with One Way Out’s sciency-bent. More than anything, many of the puzzles are just FUN, and even the teenagers were soon giggling gleefully and battling over who got to complete certain tasks.
Despite the small size, this room has a Russian doll feel, with more and more items to open being unveiled, to the extent that I wasn’t quite sure how it had all fitted in the space to begin with. Mostly linear, there are a couple of areas where the team can split up, and we were all pretty well occupied throughout. We needed a couple of mini hints to shove us in the right direction – shout out to the very cute clue system – but overall the flow was great. It is a 70 minute game (a One Way Out policy) and we set the record* at 44 minutes. Most enthusiast teams won’t need a full hour. But the extra time is a good incentive for younger and newbie groups, value for money and allows players to relax a little, knowing they are likely to complete the whole game. (*from limited competition, the game actually hadn’t yet opened…)
Overall, this is a super-sweet, very inventive and genuinely fun festive game. It is only open for four weeks, before Robot’s Return returns, and it is just a lovely, much-needed, Christmassy blast.
- Storyline: Clear aims and follows through.
- Theming and Set: Cosy and festive.
- Searching: None, really.
- Puzzles: Varies from classic coding to party fun, with some clever science thrown in. A dreaded smell puzzle is very well done.
- Physicality: None. There is disabled access for this room, although not always for evening games.
- Scare factor: None.
- Company Age Guidance: Not specified for this game, but likely to match their other guidelines “suitable for 9+ although younger children may be fine in a family group.”
- Age suitability: Some of the puzzles aren’t easy, so would suit a mixed group better than just kids, but is very family-friendly and there would be plenty of bits for small ones to help with.
£ Note: We were not charged for this game, but that does not affect the content of our review.