Published on December 18th, 2017 | by Dean Love0
Agent November, London – Christmas Crisis
I’m always intrigued when an escape game does something a bit different, and on this particular occasion, having just returned from three days of intense escaping in Prague, this was just what I needed.
Christmas Crisis is a very different sort of escape game. You’re told from the start that this isn’t the usual intense battle to save the world in 60 minutes. Rather you’re “just” trying to save Christmas and while there’s a time limit, you’ll have many opportunities to get extra time along the way. Indeed, the recommended way to enjoy the game is over a Christmas dinner, with most of the game taking place between courses. Since I was already signed up for two Christmas dinners this week, we instead arranged to just play the game itself, albeit with a few mulled wines.
Either way, it’s a portable game that can be set up for you in one of two London pubs, with everything you need being found on the dining table. That could potentially feel a bit restrictive, or make the game feel like a very elaborate “escape room in a box”, but the drama is added to by your in-character hosts, and the props are extremely elaborate. We played at the Victoria in Mile End, and the function room the game took place in was clean and pretty enough – it’s still a pub function room but the pub has character.
Over the course of the game you’ll pick your way through various Christmas themed items that transform and create new clues as you manipulate them in interesting ways. There are riddles and puzzles to be solved and they’re also heavily on theme. You’ll be engaged in a number of Christmas-related activities from carol singing to tree decorating to find the codes you need, much of it remarkably silly. It’s worth noting at this point that this is a game that absolutely requires outside knowledge: in more than one place you’ll need someone who is hot on classic Christmas songs, though if you get stuck, in line with the relaxed atmosphere of the game, Google is allowed.
Perhaps the one criticism here is that the game is almost too relaxed in places. At one point we “cheated” by using something external (after doing the usual “we’re going to try this now” and waiting to see if the hosts would stop us) and were allowed to, which resulted in solving something out of order which created a bit of confusion. We were quickly hinted back on the right path, but a nudge to just not do it in the first place would have been better.
So this isn’t exactly your regular escape game experience. If you’re looking for a serious, heavy, challenging game, this is not it. But if you fancy having a fun end-of-year blow-out with your escape room team, it’s a really nice way to put a cherry on top of the year. Equally if you’re looking for a way to spice up yet another Christmas dinner with your friends or colleagues, it’s a nice alternative. Crucially, it’s a game that cries out to be approached with that mindset: go in expecting to have fun and enjoy the company of your friends or the food you’re eating. Let the game act as an adjunct to just having a nice time, not the centerpiece.
That might sound like a criticism, but it’s not. Christmas Crisis knows exactly what it wants to be and pull it off perfectly.
For obvious reasons, Christmas Crisis only runs on limited dates throughout December. This is the second year the game has run and we’ve no reason to expect it won’t return in Christmas 2018 and beyond.
Result – we saved Christmas with around 20 minutes to spare
Date played: 11 December 2017
Team: Dean, Sarah, Sharan, Kirsty, Annabel, Toby
Summary: A relaxed game perfect for winding down a year with friends or colleagues.