A visit to Locked in Glasgow became our most northerly game to date. Travelling up to the Cairngorms for a ski trip meant a stop over in Glasgow on the long drive. It also meant the chance to take in some Scottish escape rooms. Having taken a look at what was on offer, Locked In was recommended to us as the best escape rooms in the city. So, we made a last minute booking to take on their game The Surgery.
It’s important to note here that The Surgery is a hard game and usually asks for a minimum of 3 players. Locked in will accept bookings from smaller groups of experienced players. On the night we visited we played as a 2 (after a 5 hour drive from home!)
The one thing you remember from the night before is that you were drinking Martini with a Doctor in a Hotel bar. You woke up handcuffed to a wall in The Surgery …
Will you get out alive?
We knew we were going to be in for a challenge with The Surgery as it’s billed as a room for 3-6, 4 out of 5 difficulty and it is non-linear. Having driven 5 hours from home, we weren’t sure what we were letting ourselves in for but, we knew that Locked in had a great reputation. The game begins, as you are told in the description, you wake up handcuffed and, true to their word, that’s exactly how the game starts. We found that this was a great way for the game to begin and enjoyed finding the way for us to get ourselves unlocked and underway. We were quick to the task, finding objects that looked useful and deciding if they would help us make progress or not. Things were going well and we bounced off each other in our usual way. The Surgery has a nice mix of puzzles, much is based around the idea of logic, observation and mental. There was much less in the way of physical puzzles although the room certainly made you need to interact with it. We found the room to be well signposted and on the whole, puzzles were fair with an obvious outcome. Our stumbling block came around 20 minutes in. We found a puzzle, we thought we knew the answer to. We used what we thought was right, but alas, it wasn’t. We tried something different, again, not right. We tried a third way but still no luck. This left us a little frustrated and we wasted a large amount of time trying the same ideas. After getting rather frustrated with the puzzle our GM did give us a nudge and we got the correct result. I’m not against a GM sitting back and allowing more experienced players time to experiment and reason with something but when I get frustrated with a puzzle and express that fact very loudly I would hope a GM would take that as a sign that we weren’t going to solve it on our own in a month of Sundays. When our GM (who was great by the way) gave us the right guidance it became much clearer. After that stumbling block we began to make progress again. A puzzle around patient files stumped us for a while but our GM jumped in with some help and we were on the move again.
The Surgery was a fantastic room but if I have to look at it objectively I would say that sometimes there was too much information. We found ourselves wasting time reading a lot of text which was superfluous to what we actually needed it for. I do understand that a game wants to be as authentic as possible and I am all for immersive experiences, but I do find that red herrings that can be so time consuming (especially in a room with well over 20 puzzles in it) can cause frustration.
We continued on our quest to discover what the doctor was up to and made yet more progress, finding items we knew would be key to our escape. The room has a good use of technology and their were multiple occasions we found there was a really nice way in which technology was integrated. I don’t want to give away too much about just how they do this as it should be a surprise for anyone thinking about playing, but I do want to mention a frustration we found with one item of technology. Part of the game requires access to a laptop computer. We’ve all probably played a room where this is the case. Our frustration came when it meant entering the computer’s password. This particular type of laptop meant that every time you entered a password, even if the password was wrong, it would take sometime for the computer to tell you so. At times up to one minute a guess. With several potential possibilities for the correct answer, we wasted a large amount of time trying to gain access. Ultimately, I think this may have cost us the escape along with the frustrating puzzle earlier on.
Once we had access to the laptop, the game became much more straightforward for us and we found our stride. We picked up a substantial amount of time in the latter half of the game and dived in head on. In fact, so head on that I felt around in some fairly gross stuff (good fun though) without realising there were gloves provided!!
After the laptop incident we really found the joy of the game we had right at the start and things were falling into place, sadly for us, the clock had other ideas and before we could reach the end, the countdown clicked to zero. We were so close to the end and when our lovely GM walked us through the rest of the room we knew just how close we had come!
With regards to the recommendation of players, we can see why Locked In suggests a minimum of 3. One of the things none of their rooms are short of is puzzles. Talking to staff afterwards at least one of their rooms has around 50! You can’t say that you aren’t getting value for money on a trip to Locked In. This room, being non-linear, means the more you have, the merrier. There is one point in the middle of the game that will mean some may be twiddling their thumbs as the space isn’t large enough for 6 but they can be involved in a different way. This is definitely a game for a larger group due to the sheer amount there is to do.
I have to be honest that when we first entered The Surgery I was a little underwhelmed by the decor. It was simply a doctor’s surgery office and, although very authentic, there is only so much that you can do with an office. The old adage of “never judge a book by its cover” definitely fits here. As the game progresses and the story of Doctor is told, the theming progresses too. The darker the story, the darker the environment and this story certainly gets dark. The design of the room has given real thought to give a creepy feeling to the game. Authentic props and, at times, genuine items work so well in this environment and this adds so much to the game. Everything you come into contact with gives you a true feel of a surgery and the twisted mind of the doctor.
This is probably the time to also mention the warnings that come with the room. Locked In’s website states ” CREEPY AND DISTURBING PLEASE BE ADVISED, THIS ROOM IS CREEPY WITH SOME SCARES AGE RESTRICTED 16+”. Although we didn’t find anything scary, the room definitely has a creepy atmosphere at times. There are no live actors involved and if the idea of something creepy puts you off a room, be rest assured that the room is on the milder side.
It’s good to see that games north of the border hold up to the standard we’ve played in England. The room brought some niggling frustrations but on the whole still brought a solid escape rooms with a large number of puzzles. Don’t attempt it as a 2 unless you are pretty experienced.
Escaped: We failed!