Published on July 14th, 2016 | by Dean Love0
Escape Plan, London – The Adventure Begins
This was my 17th room at the time, and the rest of the team were just a few behind. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I knew what I was doing as much as I did in Escape Plan. This game was smooth. Not easy, we had to think hard, but never really got actually stuck.
The game is set in a 2nd World War POW camp, where you’re trying to follow the path of the one person who has previously escape from it. When we arrive, we’re given a quick briefing which included two things of note: firstly, each puzzle has a unique icon associated with it, and everything you need for that puzzle has that icon, so you’ll never be wondering which lock a particular code relates to. Secondly, the window in the room does open, but the way to escape is not to open it and climb down. Even though there’s a rope in the room. What I love about warnings like that is the knowledge that they usually come about because someone has tried it.
In to the room itself and it looks great, with it soon becoming apparently how important those puzzle icons are. There are plenty of things in the room that are just decorative, so don’t have the icon and can be immediately ignored. We’re quickly searching, assembling things and matching them up with other things having those same icons – the net result is that far more time is spent actually solving puzzles from a known set of clues, rather than attempting to figure out which bits go with which to create a puzzle. It’s hard to explain exactly how different that made the feel of the room. Sure, we’re still get stumped at points, but then we’d be able to step back, look at what puzzles we hadn’t solved, look at what we had, and either search more, or try and put together a solution. Whereas in most rooms, you’ll get stuck and start to try weird combinations of items or go searching again randomly.
There was no point at all during the game where we were lost. Where we were stuck with no idea what to do next, and begin to panic a little or get frustrated. Which is great, right? Well, yeah, that feeling of truly mastering something and being in constant, steady control was great… but I also kind of missed feeling a bit lost. The tension created by not knowing what to do. See, I’ve made some really nice flavoured vodka. A strawberry and basil infusion with sugar to make it extra tasty. It’s nearly as strong as neat vodka but shots of it taste like pop. It’s lovely and easy to gorge yourself on. But after drinking it for a while, well, you start to miss the taste of hard liquor, the sort that burns your throat on the way down and makes you pull a weird face.
The puzzles themselves are great, the room is non-linear so you can split up and work on different things, and there were a few neat places where some of our team’s skills let us simplify a few solutions. And while there’s a lot of locks and boxes, there are also some clever custom-designed puzzles.
Now I should say, we made the leaderboard, which is a first for us in any game ever. Generally we’re remarkably bad at these games given the amount of experience we’ve had. So maybe our experience isn’t representative. But I think a lot does come down to those icons – they really let you think about the room logically, so if you can do that, you’ll likely do well. That’s far from a criticism and it really worked for us, but those who enjoy the sense of confusion escape rooms can create may feel differently.
And okay, we got stuck at one point, because I opened something and found something so cool I immediately started playing with it and totally ignored the other clue that was in there. That’s why we weren’t top of the leaderboard!
Result – we escaped in 44.54, putting us third on the leaderboard (and the fastest team with 3 or fewer players). Alas we were gone from the leaderboard by the time the game was featured on the Mary Portas TV programme so those bragging rights are gone…
Date played: 2 January 2016
Team: Dean, Katherine, Jess
Summary: For those with logical minds who want to feel awesome