Present, in August, 2019, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger
So, taking advantage of a half-price flash sale, our Russian room fetish led us to Reactorvate in Leicester. Our first trip to Escapologic, and we also factored in that Reactorvate is their easiest room. We wanted to get an understanding of the company’s mindset before tackling anything too challenging, work our way up in difficulty level. Would recommend this tactic if it is feasible for you – no point rushing straight into a “must-do” room if it then ends in miserable failure, when a prep run at an easier game might have tuned you into their thought processes first. Doesn’t always work – keep an eye out for our Operation Magnus review! – but we were still happy with our choice.
The Escapologic Leicester venue is very cool. Bang in the city centre, basically underground, below an impressive Victorian former bank building, visiting here has a sense of occasion and adventure before the game even begins. They have made inventive and immersive use of the space, no chipboard divides or artificial ceilings noticeable here, and the thick stone walls and narrow passageways pass convincingly for a 1970s disused nuclear reactor.
The story is a slight twist on the disaster scenario that you might expect from the name. No cliched meltdowns here – rather than shutting down the reactor, your aim is to start it up, to clear the family reputation after your uncle is framed by a rival scientist (or something, gets a bit convoluted). Basically, crank it up without blowing it up, grab the proof that it works and get out. Pleasingly old-school covert spy squad/A-Team vibes instead of a hi-tech mission or a stressful apocalypse.
Immersion is great. Many Escape Rooms are self-consciously artificial, even when the puzzles are quite effectively incorporated into the game. You can often clearly see the join between story-telling and the insertion of the puzzle element. Here, that line is very blurry. It does feel like genuine, practical problem-solving (in the most part) with very few of the classical Escape Room tropes. The props and whole set are tactile and chunkily solid, with buttons and pipes and switches all convincing quality, and so much fun to play with.
Reactorvate isn’t very intellectually challenging, not in the same brain-strain league as Kanyu’s Lightning In A Bottle, with which it shares some atomic structure. But it is a good test of practical and logical thinking, and also of teamwork. Two sections in particular require good communication and co-operation, very much enjoyed by the teenagers – even if Teenage Avenger did spend a disproportionate amount of time getting (unnecessarily) dressed into a hazmat suit!
We really did have a terrific time in this game. If you’re looking for anagrams, riddles, directional locks, jigsaws, crosswords and sudoku, then this won’t scratch your puzzling itch. For using your senses, satisfyingly plugging stuff in, hitting that big red button – all very democratic things that kids can really get stuck into – this is the bomb. Or, more appropriately, a precision-tooled explosion of fun in an Escape Room power-house.
- Storyline: Seemed a bit complicated, but actually baseline solid.
- Theming and Set: Great. Not beautiful, but what disused nuclear reactors are? Special shout-out to GM Joe’s Russian accent.
- Searching: Well, some groping around in the dark.
- Puzzles: Strongly practical, with a hint of science.
- Physicality: More than intellectual, but not strenuous.
- Scare factor: Couple of moments to get the adrenaline going, but not scary .
- Company Age Guidance: ” We say that anyone from the age of 10 and up can play but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been surprised by younger players before.”
- Age suitability: Great room for tweens/teens. Ages 8 and up could join in with adult assistance.