Present, in August 2017, were: The Ant, Teenage Avenger, Papa Ant
Escape Room clue systems and kids are not always an easy mix. Audio clues should be helpful, in theory accessible for the whole room; in reality getting the kids to all shut up simultaneously (so it can be heard) is tricky. Walkie-talkies go astray too easily with absent-minded teenage wanderings. Monitors with written clues are easier – until you get a multi-room game with one monitor, and a pair of teenagers Chinese whispering the hints through. More than one puzzle has been mangled that way. Fun, creative clue systems are great, everyone loves those, but make it too entertaining and interactive and the children will spend more time playing with that than knuckling down to puzzle. And then there is the clue system at Escape Reality, which is no use to man, beast or frustrated ER players.
Such a shame that this affected our experience, because there was a lot to like about the Jungala room we played. It was always going to be a little stressful – this was Papa Ant’s first game and we were without the reassuring presence of Aunty Ant to see us through. Papa Ant’s grasp of technology is ropey at the best of times, so when the hint system consisted of being handed a tablet and told to scan QR codes it put him on the back foot immediately.
If we hadn’t needed to call on any hints, we would have enjoyed the room much more. But in the very first space, set up like a living room, we got stuck, when a board game puzzle refused to co-operate. Huffing and garrumphing and trying every which way, the clues given were in no way helpful, and after 15 minutes the GM had to come into the room and activate the mechanism for us. We were right, it was just temperamental, but the GM couldn’t tell us that without stopping the game to come in. After that, we pretty much abandoned the tablet – although it was harder to persuade Papa Ant that the numbers on the walls were the clue order and didn’t make up some kind of combination lock answer.
There were lots of cute aspects of this game to appeal to kids. Multiple rooms with different themes in each space are always a winner, and some touches (the soft toys!) were family friendly and functional. Low light was a problem in a colour challenge, and I wouldn’t say the solutions were always the most logical. We got stuck again in a couple of places. Our faith in the technological aspects had gone early on, and we ended up double-checking and fiddling around rather than approaching each section with confidence. Inevitably we got locked in, with quite a lot left to do, scuppered completely by that stumble at the beginning. I don’t know if a different clue system would have saved us. But better means of communicating with the GM at that crucial stage would certainly sped us up and been much less frustrating. It felt like automating the hints in a quest for efficiency had produced completely the opposite effect.
- Storyline: The game concept (think Jumanji) is a bit of a McGuffin that is just an excuse for randomness.
- Theming and Set: A mix of themes, some work better than others.
- Searching: Important-ish.
- Puzzles: Didn’t manage to do all of them, not the most logical.
- Physicality: A decent sized space to travel through, some physical aspects to puzzles.
- Scare factor: Less terrifying than Christmas family Monopoly.
- Company Age Guidance: ” The Escape Reality experience is fun for all ages thus there is no age restriction. However, please check with the respective locations for any limitations.”
- Age suitability: Would have quite happily taken Jack-Jack in here. Under 10s would have some fun getting involved.