Present, in August 2021, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger
In general, an Escape Room with kids is a very wholesome activity. I mean, not necessarily the ones where you rob a bank, break into a meth lab or are chased by a guy holding a chainsaw, but most of the time Escape Rooms with youngsters can be fun, screen-free, confidence-building, bonding experiences. Sometimes they can even be, whisper it, educational. And I have to admit that this was the considerable draw of One Way Out, during the intellectual desert of the school holidays.
Created by a former science teacher, Gas Alert has plenty of genuine educational pedigree and it shines with authenticity and passion for the subject. Theoretically, this is a heist game – sneak into the professor’s lab to swipe some chemicals for stink bombs – but quickly adds another layer of intensity to this challenge with a neat twist and some cool special effects. It carries the story well and never loses the thread of basing the puzzles around real science and actual experiments.
This is a 70 minute game and with good reason, as there is a lot of content, over a large space. We did a fair amount of rushing about and the four of us were active more or less all the way through. A little proviso about the special effects: it includes a smoke machine, which TA found gave him a bit of a headache and ended up sitting out a small section. If your child is sensitive to that type of thing, it is worth mentioning in advance, as I’m sure the venue could accommodate it. There is also a taste puzzle, in case that also causes issues (it did for us, but that was because we were rubbish).
Don’t be put off if you feel that science isn’t a strength for your team. Real chemistry equipment and practicals are used in the game, but it is all straightforwardly laid out and no external knowledge is necessary. There is a lightness of touch which brings a ton of fun to the puzzles, as well as being a decent brain workout. There are plenty of padlocks, but enough tactile tasks to make this not matter. Signposting is good and we found the room flowed well, finishing with five minutes or so to spare. This game genuinely manages to make science exciting, rewarding and entertaining.
I’m not a big fan of the GM role-play aspects for most games. But here it does work, it is appropriate to the story and is done with gentle good humour and sound judgement. GMing was solid throughout – I imagine this is particularly useful for younger and less experienced teams.
The venue currently has three rooms, all 70 minutes and family-friendly, plus two portable games. Oakham itself is a lovely town and well worth a visit. One Way Out is a considerable asset to the area and deserves to be widely known, with bonus points for originality and being enthusiast-run.
- Storyline: Well thought through and nicely book-ended with a bit of theatre.
- Theming and Set: A old school nostalgia blast in a quality set-up.
- Searching: Some, but there is a lot of everything else too.
- Puzzles: Obviously, science-based, but also some classic coding and creative thinking required.
- Physicality: Hands-on tasks, but nothing strenuous.
- Scare factor: A couple of gentle jolts and some tension, but also plenty of reassuring humour.
- Company Age Guidance: “suitable for ages 12+ but younger children may be okay in a family group.”
- Age suitability: Secondary school age kids would probably get the most out of the theme, but I definitely wouldn’t discourage younger ones, with adult help.