Loughborough has more than one Escape Room and with a third opening soon, we thought it was best we went and tried out Hour Escape. They have two rooms and this time round we played Escape the Gallery
You and your team have been caught stealing a priceless work of art. Security are holding you until the police arrive in 60 minutes. Do you have what it takes to escape the gallery in time?
This game is fairly linear in style and one of the things we enjoyed about it was that we always felt that we were making progress. Not only because we had a good number of puzzles to complete but also because there was a side quest to the game that would happily keep people busy for hours.
We played the game as a team of two and found there was more than enough to keep us going for an hour. Much of the game does rely heavily on numbers and there are often repetitions of find a code, translate to numbers and then find a padlock to make progress to your next step. The way they are presented means there is some variety in the game but looking back you do realise how number heavy the game is. Most puzzles in the room will allow you to put 2 and 2 together to make 4 (pun intended), there is one puzzle that requires you to have a little bit of art knowledge to solve but common sense should prevail if you think about it long enough. On the whole, the majority of the games offers up clues as to what steps to take next. There are a few puzzles which really do require some assistance from your games master as they are not at all obvious and are unlikely to be, as they really require a leap of logic that is not very obvious. There are some very clever puzzles in the room, one in particular that we’ve never come across before and I enjoyed particularly. It is clear to see that the owner has thought about different ways to present the puzzles. Dan spent time after the game going through the puzzles and showing some quick ways to solve some of them. I’ll be honest, there has been some real thought into how they fit in but they are way to obscure for 99% of people who play escape rooms. None the less, some clever thinking and little touches Dan, the owner, is proud of. I am a sucker for the clever little touches!
One final point about the game play. The side quest involves you doing a lot of searching. There are a fair amount to find as you need to search for jewels, rings and cash hidden all over the room. The more you collect, the more you can take from your overall time. One of the things you are told before you go in is that you are welcome to make as much mess as you want in the room and, you really can pull the room apart. I can imagine that resetting this room after some people have gone to town on it could take some time! I think we were quire reserved in comparison.
We all know that Art Galleries are often blank white spaces with painting spaced out well. The good news is that this room isn’t just white walls and the odd painting. Yes, there is a large amount of white walls but there are enough elements thrown in to make you feel like there is more of a theme to the room. The aim of the room is that you must escape from an art gallery because you’ve attempted to steal a painting. My gripe is that the second room, although well themed, doesn’t quite fit in with the gallery idea. We liked the look of the room but there was little explanation with regards to how this might have fit into the theme and story of the gallery. The Gallery space itself was well themed and there was clever use of visual clues to help solve the second part of the game. It’s hard to make a gallery make you go wow and compared to other rooms we’ve done, the theming was close to the mark but not quiet there. This didn’t detract from the entertainment value at all, it was still a solid room to play.
I left feeling a little torn about the game. I often try to review something based on how much I enjoyed playing it and , I can say I certainly did. It was a lot of fun. But, I can’t help feel that sometimes we weren’t given enough time to try and solve somethings ourselves. A few times we were already on the right track and we were given a clue a little prematurely. It did take a way a little of the “I did it by myself” feeling and I think I commented out loud a couple of times that I was already doing it. Clues come from a computer screen and a times, a clue can be a little bit of a walk to go and read it so having a clue to something you are mid way through solving can be a little tedious. Having said this, there are some nice elements of humour used on the screen.
This was Hour Escape’s first room so I’d love to go back and try some of their others. The Abandoned Cabin sounds like a totally different experience and, having spoken to Dan after the game, Pandemic and Snatched sound like they could be something totally different again. A good evening of entertainment which will certainly entertain many an escaper, if it doesn’t always challenge.