*Edit: This venue has changed ownership and is now named Horton’s Emporium. AFAIK, the rooms have remained the same.
Present, September 2019, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger
Our Escape Room trips don’t often run completely smoothly. Getting lost on the way is a frustrating habit, as is generally running late and, ironically, being unable to open the venue doors. Topped pretty much this time – we were just getting in the car to go to Atlantis at Trapp’d Wellingborough when we were told our game was cancelled due to flooding. You couldn’t make it up. So, we hit the phones to find an alternate venue (having completed the rest of the Trapp’d roster) and the lovely, if slightly bemused Richie at Deadlocked Northampton agreed to take us in, at only half-an-hour’s notice. Customer service at its best, including a warm welcome when we turned up bedraggled and breathless (we couldn’t find the entrance, despite parking within sight of the front door…). We didn’t even know which room we had signed up for.
Jekyll and Hyde was allocated to us. Feels like a familiar theme – even though we hadn’t done one before, it has those mad scientist vibes that work well in exit games. It was interesting to see where they would take the classic split personality part of the story, and immediately we saw we were in good hands. The ‘briefing’ is conducted by video within the game; not a unique idea but entertainingly and immersively done, cleverly setting up the story, the game start and the clue system in one go. Love that, and thoroughly entertained by the actor in the dual role, who is an on-going (virtual) presence in the room.
Room is a bit bipolar itself, with the contrast between the granny-ish retro sitting room and the bright white flat-screen video panel. The puzzles and props all use the old-fashioned vibe (back-story says Victorian-era), which should have made the use of the screen more jarring, but it was so wittily done, incorporating a real ‘wow’ moment, that we completely embraced it. Panda and TA had several good chats with the lovely Dr Jekyll, almost convincing themselves it was a live feed, so appropriate were some of the reactions. Excellent GMing work.
Puzzles were mostly quite traditional, with a mix of word and number challenges as well as some searching – not too taxing but with enough imaginative interactions to be fun. Any game incorporating both poetry and pets is alright by me. Potential bugbear was a scent problem – again the teens were the best at this. We found some ‘alternative’ solutions to one or two problems, which maybe meant there was too much ambiguity (or just us overthinking something simple) although these were outweighed by some other satisfying solutions. Didn’t feel padlock-heavy, and it was a non-linear game mostly, with us splitting up, searching and solving several strands simultaneously from the start (apologies for the alliteration..).
A few props were a bit worn – a raven had fallen off his perch, while the frog guts had seen better days and I don’t want to know what they were wrapped in – and TA’s heavy-handedness with a set of scales meant we had to randomise an answer, but generally this was a quality set-up. Neither the hybrid house search/lab environment or the puzzles themselves were ground-breaking or breath-taking, but the human interactions (both real and virtual) made Jekyll and Hyde more than the sum of their split personality parts. Not just an adequate stand-in game but well worth the rush in its own right. And when we go back, at least we’ll know where the front door is.
- Storyline: Yes, it works, it all makes sense and keeps going, with the in-game virtual Dr Jekyll tying it all together.
- Theming and Set: Not quite Victorian but full of interest.
- Searching: Plenty of clever touches to keep the teens busy.
- Puzzles: Fairly traditional with a couple of imaginative curveballs.
- Physicality: Very little, bit of scrabbling around. Stairs up to the venue were harder work.
- Scare factor: Very, very, very mild peril.
- Company Age Guidance: “For anyone over the age of 8 although under 16 year olds do need to be accompanied by an adult.”
- Age suitability: Definitely a good game for 8+s, would be involved and entertained.