Present, in January 2020, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant, Jack-Jack, Lioness, Parker, Amazing J, Mr and Mrs Catwoman (phew!)
It is tricky trying to find an Escape Room that will take a team of seven plus a non-playing (non-paying) six year old. Puzzlescape at Dereham has accommodated us before (despite not having the most spacious of rooms) so we were surprised when our booking phone call raised concerns from the venue. The owners were worried that a small child might cause chaos in their brand-new, beautifully designed room. But, being the super-lovely people that Puzzlescape are, they agreed to risk us.
Our first sight of the room and I understood why Gill and Andy had been anxious. Edgar The Explorer is set deep in the Guatemalan jungle and, although that is a challenge to replicate in darkest Norfolk, they have done a nice job. The opening space is a cream-coloured canvas explorer’s tent, so sticky fingers and boisterous rough’n’tumble would be the room’s Kryptonite. It is a really nice, simply elegant set and I can see the pride (and effort) they have taken with it. Fortunately, Jack-Jack was on his best behaviour and, after some polite interest, settled down in a corner to watch. Sighs of relief all round.
We thought we knew what to expect as this was our third Puzzlescape visit. But as you can tell from the ambitious theming (above is NOT an actual image from the room!), this is several steps beyond anything they have produced previously. The set is well thought-out and (no spoilers) has some brilliantly built surprises and decor. Anyone underwhelmed by the look of Diamond Hunt and Sleight of Hand should be impressed with the design and immersion of Edgar.
The puzzles themselves are a few steps up too. A really good mix, built with classy and appropriate props. The game elements stay on theme, in both content and physical appearance, with maps, bugs, stars and the explorer’s log to tie it all together. Not too many padlocks, balanced out by some clever progress elements and tech. A pleasing vintage explorer feel, so one electronic keypad lock felt out of place, although actual era is never specified. Quite a non-linear game, which does narrow down later on, but we did manage to keep everyone (even the nearly newbies) occupied through most of the game. And we loved the razzle-dazzle of the finale.
We did get a good time, but then there were a lot of us steaming through the tasks. A smaller family group would probably get good value for their hour. It is a game that kids (and fans of Indiana Jones!) would like – with entertaining interactions and Amazing J (14) did very well in here. The game (and the precious set) would be most suitable for slightly older kids like her, who would behave with the respect it deserves. And I’m so happy to see that the lovely people have Puzzlescape have the top-notch new room that that they deserve. Highly recommended.
- Storyline: Classic quest game, decipher the notes of the explorers who have gone before you. Nicely tied together throughout.
- Theming and Set: Beautiful and good use of the space. Middle section is the weakest for decor but still nothing to complain about.
- Searching: Not a search heavy game.
- Puzzles: Smart, and on theme. Emphasis on codes and letters rather than maths.
- Physicality: A little bit of scrabbling and some hand-eye co-ordination needed.
- Scare factor: A tiny bit of spookiness.
- Company Age Guidance: “We like to think our rooms are suitable for almost everyone…Children under the age of 8, as part of family groups, love searching and helping adults find clues. We do advise that children under the age of 14 are accompanied by an adult, as our rooms will be difficult to do on their own.” *with proviso that they are more cautious about youngsters in this particular room.
- Age suitability: Overall, this room is perfect for everyone – babes-in-arms, room for a buggy, teenage explorers, Aunty Ant on crutches… But while it is still very new, I’d suggest not bringing snotty-nosed hooligan sproglets (or drunken YA yobs) as they would ruin a gorgeous room for the rest of us.
Also at this venue: The Diamond Hunt