Published on July 18th, 2016 | by Dean Love0
Hidden Rooms, London – Prison Break
I was looking forward to playing Prison Break. We’d done the other room, Chain Reaction, just after launch and it was a good room with a few buggy bits around the edges that needed improving, but showed a lot of potential. Their Prison Break room had reviewed better generally, and we’d had a Groupon for it for ages, that we’d not been able to use as they get booked up very quickly – in part because of the persistent Groupon offer they’ve run for about a year now.
On arrival we were ignored a bit while the guy was on the phone, then a bit more after handing over the Groupon. No “we’ll be with you in a minute” or anything like that. We just kinda sat down and grabbed some water of our own accord, while being ignored by the guy on the reception desk. Eventually he gets word that the game is ready and takes us down. It’s been spoiled everywhere else so I’ll spoil it here too: you start the game handcuffed together and to the wall. Which makes sense in the theme, but while one team member gets free quickly, it’s a fair few more puzzles before the others do. And because they’re proper metal handcuffs, designed to tighten if you move around too much, and the game is designed to encourage those still cuffed up to move around to see what’s happening… well it’s not a good fit. Padded, locking leather cuffs would be far better, if a bit more S&M than prison theme.
I was on the end of the chain, so got free first, and then came the pole. There’s a pole in three parts. You screw it together, and poke it through a grate to push a button in the other room. Great concept. Simple enough to do. Except, one of the threads on the pole is basically worn apart. So the last piece doesn’t really screw in properly, it’s really loose, could easily fall off and is really hard to control. I’m convinced I’m missing something. There’s something to tighten it somewhere, surely? Because otherwise I could poke it through, it could fall off, and then the game becomes impossible. But no, that is the intended solution. It takes ten minutes before we’re desperate enough to try it, and another five to line it up right (while the rest of the team are still handcuffed up). It’s doubly funny because we were given the usual “you need to use your mind, not your body, to escape” speech, but if someone with smaller arms was doing that bit we might still be there today.
I won’t spoil the rest of the room, as there were a few interesting bits and some decent puzzles once everyone was free. There were also things that looked like they used to be puzzles but weren’t any more, and there definitely seemed to be things missing that I’d heard about in other reviews.
When we got close to the end, we lost more time because a word-lock wouldn’t open, and the host had to come and “fix” it for us, which turned out to be just pulling it really hard. And we didn’t quite escape because we failed to find a light switch.
It does seem that Escape Rooms have been the victim of their own ‘success’ – the Groupon offer is pulling in a lot of people, but that means a lot of wear and tear on the rooms. And while a room designed a prison leaves a lot of justification for things being run-down and dilapidated, when it gets to the point that puzzles aren’t working, it just isn’t good enough.
In my last review of Escape Rooms, I mentioned there was a lot of potential to have a great game. I never really expected it to go the other way, with the games left to end up run-down and semi-functional.
Result – we failed, though we near enough to know what we had to do to finish.
Date played: 24 May 2016
Team: Dean, Katherine, Kirsty
Summary: A room that has potential but seems to be deteriorating rather than improving.