Poachers' Compound – Kanyu – Wetherby

Present, Christmas Eve 2019, were: The Ant, Teenage Avenger, Aunty Ant, Papa Ant

Christmas Eve tradition is now for us to visit Kanyu in Wetherby for a strenuous holiday brain workout. Having completed both their indoor rooms, our choice was down to Poachers’ Compound, their newest game. Drawback – it’s outdoors. At night. In December. In Yorkshire. We were doubting our sanity, and the suitability of our clothing (particularly Teenager Avenger’s, as he forgot his coat. Fortunately, Aunty Ant had supplies in her car).

How could we ever doubt Kanyu owner Bob though? He know what he’s doing, when it comes to designing Escape Rooms. And, while we were lucky that it wasn’t raining/snowing/blowing a gale, this game is still fairly weather-proof. The opening section is in a snugly enclosed shack, moving then to the larger outdoor area where the bulk of the puzzles are under shelter, meaning darkness, water and gusts of wind aren’t a problem, without ever losing the open-air feel. Set in Africa is maybe pushing it for a roundabout on the A1, but they give it a good go. I imagine it will be a lovely space in summer, but even in winter it was surprisingly temperate.

Although not that sunny

Focusing on the puzzles rather than worrying about cold fingers was helpful, as we found there was plenty to do. I’ve previously described their other two rooms, Follow In My Footsteps and Lightning In A Bottle, as history/literature and science/maths respectively. Poachers’ Compound, maybe as you’d expect, centres firmly on animals and nature. The concept is that you are removing locks from cages so that the Poachers can’t imprison their purloined safari creatures, and even if that storyline is a little weak, everything is nicely on theme.

Kanyu’s motivation behind this room was firstly to make use of their outdoor space – but also to design a game to cater for the kids’ market. They quickly realised though that a solely junior room wasn’t economically viable, so have managed a compromise which, from what we saw, works well. Puzzle content overall is of standard difficulty, but with sections that can be swapped in or out to make it more or less challenging, depending on the age of the playing group. It is a non-linear game, and as a more open area than a normal room, Poachers’ Compound can handle a larger group of energetic young people (up to 10 kids). And as a final, fabulous option, Kanyu will accept child-only groups on request and provide a live actor/GM in the game to help them along – while dressed as a gorilla… So sad we didn’t get to try out that version!

To say that the game content will appeal to young ones does sound like damning with faint praise. However it really means that there are sections that will just appeal to the kid in all of us. The focus on African wildlife is good, clean (mostly!), educational fun, and the finale is an absolute hoot, a particularly big hit with the grandfather in our party. We were having so much fun we didn’t realise we’d succeeded opening the exit door…

So, whatever your age, whatever the weather, get along to Kanyu for a little slice of Africa. But most of all, gather a group of kids to give the gorilla a workout, and to indoctrinate the next generation in the joys of a brilliant and entertaining game.

  • Storyline: Don’t examine the logic too closely.
  • Theming and Set: Great detail, from the lanterns and the field telephone clue system to the props and the chests.
  • Searching: More observation than actual searching, I’d say.
  • Puzzles: A fun mix, strongly themed.
  • Physicality: Rewards energy, and some physical skills required.
  • Scare factor: None (although the gorilla costume might well freak out more sensitive kiddies at first!).
  • Company Age Guidance: Complicated because of the differing age options, but basically 8+.
  • Age suitability: 8-88, definitely.

At the same venue, see also: Follow In My Footsteps, Lightning In A Bottle