Guardian of the Gallery – Want To Escape – Rushden

Present, in July 2020, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger

In my (imaginary) Escape Room venue, I’d like to have a game called Dr Topsy-Turvy’s House. Opening room, everything is upside down, chairs on the ceiling, chandelier on the floor, etc. You solve your way into his lab, fix the thingummyjig and return to the opening room to find everything now the right way up. Ridiculous, I thought. A pipedream. No-one would make a crazy room like that.

And then we played Guardian of the Gallery. Obviously (*spoilers/not spoilers*) not actually the same plot or anything. But the same kind of sleight of hand that makes you gasp and, just for fun, it’s not a one-time trick that they pull.

Your mission is really a test. The previous Guardian of the Gallery has nicked a couple of priceless goblets, hidden them somewhere in the world (this is relevant) and has challenged your team to retrieve them. It’s a fairly standard set-up for a mad, adventurous journey, although the beautifully designed tonal shifts between each phase are anything but standard. Very hard to say more without giving too much away – this game should truly be experienced with as little prior knowledge as possible.

If you played Santa’s Stowaway at the same venue, some aspects will be familiar, but all the puzzle elements were fresh and, in places, beyond anything else we’ve seen in UK Escape Rooms. There’s a mix of codes, a few padlocks, some more ‘physical’ challenges (although nothing like Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop) and lovely use of tech which really adds to the magic of the room.

Parts of the puzzling are complex enough to be a test, but it remains family-friendly, and all members of mixed-age groups should find plenty of things they can get involved with. There’s a nice dose of humour present throughout the game together with effective, charming world-building, not harmed by the 75-minute running time, which allows greater immersion than a usual hour-long slot.

We played before the new face-mask regulations came in, but Want To Escape feels like a safe environment. All the necessary precautions are in place, without impinging on your game experience. And, in the absence of being able to travel, it was a real treat to enjoy this magical, global journey. And you may mock, but I still have no idea how they do it.

GO AND PLAY THIS GAME!

  • Storyline: Cast-iron story, followed through right to the end. Absolutely nothing to do with superheroes, space, raccoons, etc.
  • Theming and Set: Amazing. Especially entertained by the wine collection.
  • Searching: Some, but all integral to the game.
  • Puzzles: A lot of content here, with huge variety.
  • Physicality: It is physically immersive – many puzzles are quite real-world practical, so some very gentle hand-eye co-ordination required.
  • Scare factor: No peril here.
  • Company Age Guidance: “We recommend 8+, but wouldn’t restrict anyone from having a go. Children under 16 need to be accompanied by an adult at the venue, but not necessarily in the escape room”
  • Age suitability: Family-friendly, children able to enjoy the sense of wonder, as much as anything else.

Want To Escape