Present, Christmas Eve 2018, were: The Ant, Teenage Avenger, Aunty Ant, Groot
A year to the day after discovering Follow In My Footsteps, we returned to the Secrets of South Lodge (described as the #1 Escape Room venue in Yorkshire) to tackle Lightning In A Bottle. Our first impression last time was that it was a bit posh for the likes of us, but again the warm greeting and happy holiday buzz of the venue put us at ease. The chilly walk down the hallway to the lab did make me wonder how well their new outdoor room is going to work in Yorkshire weather, but head honcho Bob’s enthusiasm and knowledgeable confidence helps you believe that anything is possible.
And based on Lightning In A Bottle, Kanyu certainly know what they are doing. The game name references Benjamin Franklin’s attempts to capture atmospheric electricity in a Leyden jar, and continues the story of Sir Henry Cunningham in the context of his dangerous lab experiments, rather than the geographical adventures of Follow In My Footsteps. The steampunk visuals are certainly arresting, and the stark difference of style and content between this and FIMF show that Kanyu are not a one-trick pony. Could loosely describe FIMF as literature and history, LIAB as science and maths, with the lab having more of a practical edge. Both rooms have an effective, if incongruous, clue delivery screen and it would be nice to see something less anachronistic. Like FIMF, the room initially feels quite serious, and then reveals more playful touches as the game moves along, but that’s where the similarities end. The range of puzzles is better in LIAB, with more variety and not much in the way of searching, but plenty to keep all four of us occupied.
Groot rarely does escape rooms with us. A game of communication and teamwork in a confined space is not his idea of entertainment. Which is a shame, because his brain is perfectly suited to a room like this. Fortunately there was enough going on for him to Grootle away on his own on a puzzle in a corner, was persuaded into enjoying a fun teamwork challenge, and then really came into his own with a unique problem at the end that had the rest of us stumped. Any game that impresses Groot has to be a winner.
As for the actual kid in the room, Teenage Avenger very much enjoyed the scientific bent, and the fairly familiar ground of periodic tables and lab equipment should give a confidence boost to (nerdy? geeky? no shade intended) secondary school age pupils. It’s not perfect for young people; we got stuck and needed a hint after some mindless teenage tinkering with a bit of kit nearly made a puzzle unsolveable. Having a bunch of kids in here might lead to more problems like that – it rewards a steady, scientific approach rather than a more excitable attack. But a sensible teen or two would be fine, TA learned quickly not to mess with the gear. Wouldn’t bring Jack-Jack in here, I’m sure he would be welcome, but it’s not really a game to juggle with childcare, and the content would be over the heads of young ‘uns.
We were stretched to the wire with this one and felt like we had a really thrilling finish (although actually a few minutes to spare). We were praised by Bob (always nice!) for our methodology on the endgame – he said many teams get funnelled into a frustrating linear pattern, whereas we worked sets of puzzles all the way through. More luck than judgement may have been the secret of our success, but that is not the secret of South Lodge. Might not be as revolutionary as the Leyden jar, but their judgement is electrifyingly good, and if they can, they should bottle it.
- Storyline: Love the ongoing storyline across the venue. Want to know what Sir Henry did next!
- Theming and Set: Just looks kind of grubby in the photos; in reality a steampunk treat right the way through.
- Searching: Just right amount to encourage exploration without getting tiresome.
- Puzzles: Classy, solid and something to keep everybody happy.
- Physicality: Some skill based challenges requiring hand-eye co-ordination, nothing strenuous.
- Scare factor: No hair-raising shocks here.
- Company Age Guidance: 12 years upwards.
- Age suitability: Not unsuitable for kids, but it is a grown-up game which might not be appreciated by less mature (or less nerdy) types.