While visiting family this Christmas it was time to take on our most southern escape game to date. Having hear such good things about Exciting Escapes we had to pay them a visit and try out the newest room at their Southampton venue, Silence is a Virtue.
There’s no time to spare in Silence is a Virtue, especially when the entire city’s fate rests in your hands…
It’s 1941, a German bomb has crashed through the roof of a local church but it hasn’t exploded… yet.
The only thing that separates your team from success is your wits and cunning. Oh, and the bomb seems to have a slight fault…
Your Mission: In just 60 minutes, you must retrieve the top secret documents from the church before the unexploded bomb detonates and lays waste to the city.
Before I start to talk about the game play, I feel it’s important to talk a little about your experience from the very beginning. Placed in the middle of the High Street in Shirley, Southampton is Exciting Escapes original venue. If you didn’t take a look at the sign on the building, you’d probably be a little confused. That is because the inside looks like a very old fashioned tailors. It’s here that your experience begins. It’s very unique for the experience to begin immediately. We’ve only experienced this before at La Mina in Barcelona. You’ve entered a secret establishment and have been recruited as agents to complete missions in different decades. This particular venue has games set in the 1940s, 50s, 70s and 2050. The setup, very reminiscent of Kingsmann, is a superb way to begin the experience. A GM welcomes you and advises on the suit you’ve come to purchase before ushering you into the secret briefing room to discover the reason you are here.
Now, onto the game. Ably hosted by Agent Natalie, we were to enter a local church and retrieve the secret papers hidden inside. The only issue, a bomb has landed in the church and there is a risk it’s going to explode. I won’t give too much away here but this element adds a very tense first part of the game. It’s also very unique and not something we have experienced before. Given the room is setup initially to try and trip you up with the first part of the game certainly adds a very different start and one that is a lot of fun. We aren’t sure if what we are told in the briefing is actually true or not but it was far more fun to play along than test the theory.
Most of the game is fairly logical and there is no great leap of logic needed to solve any of the room. There is a nice mix of puzzles combining the use of logic, observation, physical and number. There are elements of the room that work in a mostly linear way but the middle part of the game opens up to become non-linear and allowed our group of four to split up and try and solve puzzles separately. A larger group would still find enough for them to do but would find the smaller space at the beginning and the end of the game a little difficult and the end could leave them twiddling their thumbs although this doesn’t ruin the overall experience.
The mix of puzzles in the room played to many of our strengths with us only asking for a small number of clues. As I have said previously, most of the puzzles were logical but a couple did leaves us several options in order to solve. Either option were more than plausible and it did lead to some confusion in the group as to which way is right and wrong. Sometimes we felt the mechanics in the room were a little temperamental and this meant we solved a puzzle once with no reaction, tried the opposite with no reaction and had to go back to the original solution before it worked. This may be user error or a sticky switch but this was the only real negative we could find in the rooms game play.
The clue system is another unique part of the game. It ties in beautifully with the idea of being an agent and requires a good GM to keep up the pretense, which Natalie did to great effect. Is the clue system a little cumbersome? Maybe, but it was something different than just a screen with a typed clue.
One thing to point out is that this isn’t an easy game. If you are looking for a game for those who may be inexperienced this probably isn’t the one to begin with, unless you have some really experienced members in your team to pull them along.
When you have just entered a building on a high street flanked by an Iceland and a Wilkinsons, it’s very difficult to transport yourself to a totally different place entirely but with the help of some outstanding theming, this is exactly what Silence is a Virtue does. The decor of the entrance through to the game’s final moments are so well themed it immerses you into the game entirely. The room is designed to look and feel like the interior of a 1940s church and no expense has been spared to get it exactly right. The use of space was also excellent. With limited space available, the room effectively created more through its design. This did mean that there was a limit to the number that could participate on rare occasions but this was only for a short period of time. If their other rooms are as well themed as this then they are definitely on our to do list. It doesn’t matter how good a room’s puzzles are, if the decor doesn’t match the game can fall flat. Integrating authentic props into the games puzzles created a very authentic exoerience indeed.
Exciting Escapes are a company that everyone should be putting into their plans. With venues in Southampton, Portsmouth, Croydon and Basingstoke there are plenty to try. Having now tried one, we know we need to go back and try the rest. They are a must visit if you are ever in the area.
Escaped: 54 minutes (given to us on a fridge magnet to take home too)