Posted in Deadlocked

The Vault Squad – Deadlocked Loughborough

Game 24

With such a large space to play with, it was only a matter of time before Deadlocked opened their second game at their Loughborough venue. This time, the location of your escape is the Wexell bank. Your mission, to take on the security system of the bank and escape with the gold.

THE STORY

A group of talented criminals brought together by the criminal mastermind, Shanks, are tasked with testing the security of the huge ‘Wexell Bank’ in Loughborough, but is Shanks really on your side, or is he setting you all up to take the heat for a real heist?

Scalable difficulty means it’s great for escapers of all experience that want a little more immersive story and humour from their rooms.

THE GAMEPLAY

The gameplay in this room is fairly straightforward and we found that things led fairly well from one puzzle to the next. It brings a combination of physical, logic and observation puzzles with a small amount related to maths. There is a nice use of technology here too. All the puzzles in the game also fit perfect with the theme.

We always like to come across new and unique elements to a game and The Vault Squad certainly has this with its beginning. Unusually, the game begins on a different floor to where most of the action takes place. In order to arrive at the main part of the game you are required to make your way to the next level. The puzzle to do this is great and we enjoyed working through it. Upon reflection though, as fun as it is, it’s actually fairly redundant with regards to progress in the game. The concept is great but there is no cause and effect. Make a mistake and there is no reaction that would require you to start again. So, in theory, it’s a puzzle for the sake of being a puzzle rather than to hinder or progress. This doesn’t make it any less fun but left us wondering why it doesn’t impede your progress unless it’s done properly.

Within the main space, made up of multiple sections, there is a good use of props often found in a bank. These support the game play and provides good signposting as to their use. One prop, which is used multiple times, allows for some logical thinking that leads to some nice ah ha moments. There is even a clever way to introduce people to a directional padlock that is perfectly fitting with the game. Several multi-step puzzles also lead to some satisfying outcomes.

As we’ve already mentioned, the game play is fairly straightforward and the game play is perfect for newcomers to the escape room industry. If you are looking for something that may help persuade friends that escape rooms are a good source of entertainment, the gameplay here is a good mix.

One final point we want to make about gameplay is related to a point made on their website which states that “Scalable difficulty means it’s great for escapers of all experience that want a little more immersive story and humour from their rooms.

While we don’t deny there is some elements of humour in the room, we were a little perplexed by the scalable difficulty of the game. It has one main objective which all players must achieve but there were no optional elements or puzzles that made the game easier or harder for players. It left us a little confused.

The clue system in the room is well through out. It keeps you constantly updated on what is happening and gave you a nudge in the right direction if needed. The video production for this and the directional video was really well done.

DECOR

It’s always hard to make locations that a generally seen to be everyday look especially different in an escape room. After all, a bank is a bank. Usually there is a cashier’s desk, advertising posters, offices and a customer areas and all of these are present in the rooms decor. The issue here is the quality of the finish applied. The space used for the game is unconventional for an escape room and we applaud Deadlocked for utilising it as they do so really well but, we felt that the finished look needed more work. An exception to this was the vault itself as this looked really well done and worked really effectively. With the quality of builds consistently on the rise within the industry, it feels like Deadlocked are falling behind a little. The room, being built in a space with a high ceiling meant that it had no proper roof. In its place was sheeting held together with gaffer tape. In places, gaps meant you could see out of the room and the real ceiling above. This corner cutting kind of finish was unfortunately evident in much of the room. A Wexell sticker on the wall that looked unfinished and old transfers on the window to the outside, related to the building’s former use. Although there is an attempt here to place things on walls, there is still a lot of space that could be filled in order to make the space more immersive. At times, the space did feel like it was unfinished. At one point we managed to pull part of a prop off as a lock was used on it which would normally indicate that the item would love. When part of it came away in our hands very easily it became clear that this wasn’t it’s use and asking questions at the end of the game it became clear it has a use but not what we thought it might.

Escape rooms aren’t cheap and with people paying a lot of money to play escape rooms, I feel people would be a little disappointed with regards to the quality of the space they play in.

OVERALL

The gameplay here is good but the aesthetics for us fell very flat. If the look and feel of a game is important to you then this is a game you may want to miss but if you are looking for gameplay there is enough here to satisfy most players. .

Escaped: 35 minutes with 1 clue

You can book your Deadlocked escape rooms at https://deadlockedrooms.com/

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

NOTE: We did not pay to play this game but that did not influence this review.

Posted in Deadlocked

The Magic of New Orleans – Deadlocked Loughborough

Game 12

Deadlocked has been growing their brand across the UK and it was great to see them venture into the East Midlands with a new venue in Loughborough. We went along to play their game The Magic of New Orleans.

Before I begin, I held off on publishing my review for a little while as, at the time of playing we were very new to escaping and this was the first time I’d done one without my usual team. Having now become a little more experienced, I was ready to revisit the review I’d written and feel more confident in what I thought.

It’s also important to point out that the game is a heavily adapted version of Voodoo, an S6 escape game that used to exist in Sheffield. Having not played the original incarnation, it’s difficult for me to judge how similar it is to the first version.

THE STORY

The Wexell Corporation has sent you and your team to investigate their ex-employee, Dr Rhyar Lafayette, who has been using company funds for research into the occult. Your mission is to investigate his Voodoo Emporium and report back to Wexell, but beware, there is more to Dr Lafayette than meets the eye, and if he captures you, it may be impossible to escape.

THE GAMEPLAY

The beginning of the game was a little strange. You are welcomed into what was once an church. Reception seems to be what may have been a church hall and also doubled as the main entrance to the game and a very visible GM console. It didn’t really set the scene for the game and we’ve enjoyed far more comfortable welcome areas.

The game begins with you blindfolded and led into the room. A nice touch and one that does disorientate you. I won’t spoil what you find when you remove the blindfold but it’s safe to say that if you are a larger group and you aren’t familiar with all your teammates, you will be by the time you start the game. The first part of the game will require some communication and team work in order to make progress into the main part of the game. A little bit of searching will help but be careful that you don’t pull out anything you shouldn’t. We managed to remove part of a radiator as it wasn’t fixed properly. We are pretty sure this wasn’t supposed to happen! The puzzles in the first part of the game are all pretty logical and lead on to one another fairly well. We found that they weren’t particularly challenging and this resulted in some quick wins for us and some rapid progress. It was after this first section that we found things went a little awry. The game is very linear and this does allow you to make connections to where you may need to go next. The issue we found was that there were times where the logic applied to some of the puzzles wasn’t always sound. There was one particular puzzle that require a real leap of logic, one that very few people will get and will leave you frustrated when you realise what the expectation of the puzzle was. There were some unique elements to the game and some puzzles we haven’t come across before but on the whole many were your standard faire. I think the game suffers a little from the fact that it has been repurposed. Having purchased the game from another escape room company, it felt at times a little like they were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Please don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t poor but it felt a little disjointed the further into the game you got.

The clue system was something new and we don’t want to spoil what is was but the execution could have done with a little work. The idea behind it was sound and very ambitious but when you can see the mechanism that is creating the illusion in plain sight, it makes it much less believable. The visual element of the system is only available further into the game, leaving you with a disembodied voice for the first part. The sound level of the clues in conjunction with the music did leave them very difficult to hear at times.

From playing, it’s clear that the game created by Deadlocked is a re-purposed version of an original. I admire their ingenuity by trying to bring new life to an old game but for us, the gameplay missed the mark slightly.

DECOR

The idea here is that you are in the middle of a New Orleans town. The website sells the idea as “Fans of ‘The Princess and the Frog’ may especially enjoy this.” The decor we experienced didn’t come across as very Disney like and although we can see what they are trying to accomplish, the New Orleans, voodoo, element is only there in some of the decor. There are some really nice touches (anyone afraid of spiders beware) and there is a very clear attempt to get the theme right but as we played we felt that the decor seemed fragile. We played with a fear that we may actually break something and at one point one of our players manage to create an indent in a surface that should be very sturdy. Many of the props we encounter were fitting with the theme and some of the puzzle items were certainly in keeping. But again, the repurposing of the room did mean that some of the ideas behind puzzles meant that the props needed didn’t quite fit in with a New Orleans Bayou.

OVERALL

The idea behind the game is well intentioned and although Deadlocked have tried to make an immersive game we sadly felt it missed the mark. The entrance space to the game area probably doesn’t help with the immersion but we felt it was a game that was lacking a little in cohesion. It left us a little baffled as Deadlocked’s games in other venues are so highly thought of. We know that The Vault Squad will be coming along soon and we are hoping that this may be the return the Deadlocked everyone loves.

Escaped: 45 minutes

You can book your Deadlocked escape rooms at https://deadlockedrooms.com/

DISCLAIMER: We did not pay to play this room but this in no way affects our opinion of the room.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****