Present, in January 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant, Lioness, Parker, Amazing J
The importance of narrative purpose is something that is often understated with Escape Rooms. Yes, having a theme is all well-and-good, but often it does feel a little like the theme is just “there” – let’s have a murder room or a pirate game, without much depth or history behind the choice. I don’t think it is a coincidence that some of my favourite games have more of a backstory or universe to them, showing that they have been created with particular care or passion.
I didn’t think that Fakenham Escape Rooms would necessarily have that kind of narrative, but it turns out there is a genuinely quite touching story behind their game Disaster Strikes. The Escape Rooms and Fakenham Superbowl are a family business and the patriarch, Bryan, volunteered for many years with the real-life International Rescue Corps, a British-based charity sending fast-response emergency aid workers to natural disasters at home and abroad. To honour the work of this amazing organisation, and using genuine decommissioned rescue equipment, they have created a room that mixes the fun and puzzling with some education and a lot of heart.
This isn’t a typical apocalyptic disaster game, despite the poster and doom-laden title. It is more of an investigation – trying to forecast where the next global catastrophe might occur so the IRC can be prepared. Nicely blending elements that an emergency team might use, this game is heavy on searching and rewards good teamwork and communication. Players are working towards a fairly simple metapuzzle but there are plenty of interesting and fun tasks to do along the way.
The set is appropriate – although basically an office it manages to feel absorbing, with a couple of cute tricks up its boilersuited-sleeve. The tech on display is used sparingly but effectively and the game runs smoothly. The space is well-lit and family-friendly, however it is worth noting that there are brief strobe lighting and possible smoke effects, if any of your team might be adversely affected by those.
It is a non-linear game and, even as a team of five, there was plenty to keep us occupied, without ever falling over each other. There were so many nice touches and really sweet surprises in this game, an entertaining use of the soundtrack, and a fairly individual clue system – we smiled for our full 43 minutes (11th on the leaderboard!).
Housed inside the Fakenham Superbowl, the whole venue feels welcoming and run with obvious pride and care. Sharing space with another entertainment attraction makes great sense for Escape Rooms and this is a really good example. We had a drink and snack (well, tomato crisps and salted caramel Twix) in the tidy bar downstairs before heading up to the comfortable Escape Room lounge. A little noise from the alley and a very jolly kids’ party bled through into our room, but was in no way detrimental. We had exemplary care and friendly customer service throughout.
This is such a lovely game, run by really nice people, and I was left very impressed with their whole set-up. Playing three rooms in an afternoon was a step too far for Amazing J, so we didn’t immediately book to play their second game House of Evidence, but I’m glad we are saving that treat for another day.
- Storyline: Find the missing information for the disaster forecasting machine. Made sense.
- Theming and Set: Smart without being showy.
- Searching: Got to be on the ball with this.
- Puzzles: A mix of fun tasks and nice storyline appropriate puzzles.
- Physicality: A little scrambling and hand-eye co-ordination required.
- Scare factor: None, very family-friendly.
- Company Age Guidance: “While there is no restriction on age, the puzzles may be too demanding for those under 12, so they may not fully enjoy the game. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult”.
- Age suitability: The search element would suit younger kids, but you definitely need a mixed age team.