NOT AN ESCAPE ROOM
There has been a real influx of escape style book on the market recently and new to the scene is the Sherlock Holmes book from Ammonite Press. I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to take a look at, what they hope, to be a serious of escape type books.
According to its official release:
The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book is the first in a unique new series of puzzle books, in which the reader is trapped in the pages and must find their way out by solving the puzzles that hold the key to their freedom. Visual clues are hidden among the intriguing illustrations; fiendish riddles, logic puzzles, and timed challenges unlock hidden doors and reveal the direction of travel; and mathematical problems provide the codes required to follow the correct path. There are maps and mazes to explore; references to the original Sherlock Holmes adventures to unravel; and a code-wheel that holds the key to unlocking the next page. Solve the puzzles correctly to escape. Get them wrong, and you will find yourself further and further along the path to your own demise. This ingenious new series is a spin on the current urban craze for “escape rooms.” Here, the book becomes the locked room, the pages become the path, and the reader can take on a challenge every bit as brain-teasing from the comfort of their own home. 25 full-colour illustrations
Just like any good Sherlock story, this pits Holmes and Watson against his arch enemy Moriarty. Based in the London Waterworks, Holmes has to solve a mystery behind the kidnap of the Governor, some strange disappearances and a link to the local Gail. The book is said to be written by Ormond Sacker. For those of you that know your Holmes, he was the original name suggested for Dr Watson.
The book is a mixture between a puzzle book, escape game and a choose your own adventure book. The unique element to this is that you don’t just turn the page to find out the answer. There are several times in the book we’re there are multiple choices and each will take you down an alternate path. Some will prolong your adventure, some will cut it short and mean you miss vital clues and some will send you right back to where you can from. The game also comes with a unique clue solving front cover. Here, you use a spinning dial on the cover to help solve clues that come with some of the puzzles. Some times these are one step and sometimes two but often you’ll find the puzzle is self contained to that section. There is only one meta puzzle in the book and it’s very clear from the start what information you need to collect to help with it. And this, I think is the book’s biggest downfall. Often, I found the book was a little over helpful. Rather than expecting you to solve the puzzle yourself, it gives you hints immediately to what needs to happen. There is a hints and solution section that might give further clues but the first handful of puzzles really don’t need it because they are over explained.
My initial thoughts of the book were mixed. Many of the earlier puzzles were pretty easy, standard fayre for any experienced escape fan but as it progressed you found a few more meaty puzzles in the middle. These definitely got my brain ticking over. This is a great book for a beginner escape enthusiast, if you are very experienced you may find the content is a little too simple for you. I competed the book in just over a day but spent quiet a number of hours on it.
The book is not just puzzles but also makes attempts at creating a new Sherlock story and it does this successfully. Each puzzle fits not only with the story but also the theme of the book on the whole. There is a substantial amount of reading too so if your are looking for a large amount of puzzles but no story, head for something like Journal 29. As the story is fairly comprehensive, it’s a book to take in over a short period of time. There are some vital parts of the story that require you to retain information in Watson’s notebook. Coming back to it over a series of months may mean you confuse yourself when you return.
Overall, this is a great attempt at an escape book and I hope it’s the start of a series. For real enthusiasts it’s a good book to keep your hand in but without too much to really test your metal. For anyone new or has taken a break from escape rooms, it’s a really great way to hone your skills. It certainly passed a good few hours on the beach this summer.