Published on September 4th, 2018 | by Dean Love0
Live Escape Salisbury – Spectre
Live Escape Salisbury has perhaps the most comprehensive briefing email I’ve ever seen, for reasons that soon become apparent. It’s pretty amusing, with lines like “don’t turn up drunk – you’ll just get frustrated that you can’t get past the first puzzle, and we will mess with the heating, the clock and your mind,” though one in particular stood out during our play in March 2018: “there is no need to climb on/through anything. There is a perfectly lovely play-park nearby if this is your thing.” That particular play park being the site of the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, still cordoned off with police tape when we arrived and the reason Salisbury was offering free parking across the city all weekend, in an attempt to re-invigorate the more traditional tourist trade! At this point, Live Escape were likely very glad they hadn’t gone with a Russian spy theme.
Rather, the setting is an abandoned genetic research station, with players being tasked to find out what is going on. This is a rare room where it’s actually worth paying attention to the story, as you discover further twists in the tale as you progress. It actually gets really, really dark in tone, though it’s easy enough to overlook that either by accident or if you’d rather not engage with it.
There’s clearly a lot of attention to detail in this game. The initial area is the typical bland office space, but it feels a bit more luxurious and purposeful than many other designs. There’s a lot of puzzles that can be approached concurrently making it good for larger teams, and there are a lot of hints for these puzzles scattered around the place. Significantly more hints than you need to solve most of them, which is a nice touch. We often found clues relating to things we had already solved, but equally we found clues that nudged us in the right direction to solve something that we theoretically could have solved earlier. There’s also a big book of notes that you can consult for additional clues, if you can work out what’s relevant. I’ve seen a few games do this now, and it’s an approach I’m increasingly appreciating. None of the clues in the book are essential, but if you get stuck, spending a few minutes browsing it for additional ideas adds a welcome extra stage between being stumped and asking for a hint.
There’s a good mix of puzzles throughout, with a significant emphasis on teamwork and cooperation (for reasons that relate back to the story) and some big tactile props to interact with. The game later opens up in terms of space and more interesting set design, while becoming a bit more linear in terms of actual puzzles, and leading to a dramatic finale which provides some excitement and sense of accomplishment.
Overall it’s a great game that flows really well.
Result – we escaped in forty minutes
Date played: 24 March 2018
Team: Dean, Katherine, Jess
Summary: A great game that emphasises teamwork