Published on May 29th, 2017 | by Dean Love0
Unescapable, Derby – Tommy
Take a quick look, if you would, at the first photo on this review. Maybe click it to enlarge it. See that? That’s not composite art, nor is it a photo from inside the room. No, that’s Unescapable’s lobby. They’ve built a giant time machine in the building’s multi-story atrium. As first impressions go, Unescapable hits a home run.
You’re greeted in character by two scientists working at this time travel facility, which is using the concept of an escape room as a cover story. It’s a little barmy but it works: you’re going to be helping with a quick test run of the time machine: there and back again, no problems. This is all done with the time machine right there, and the doors on both levels are different ‘time portals’ which will take you different eras of history. Or in escape game parlance, they’re all different rooms you can play. Only one was open when we went to play, Tommy, but the conceit is fantastic. Unescapable are basically creating a coherent fictional universe for all of their games, and the lobby, and even justifying the booking process. There’s so many directions they could take this, including storylines that interweave between multiple games or some sort of ongoing progression. I love the idea that once a few rooms are open, a team could book in to play three in a row and spend their entire time within this fictional universe, with no need to step out of the immersive environment.
It seems a fairly simple concept on paper, yet I’ve not seen anywhere else in the UK try it, at least not to this extent. Of course, that’s all speculation. The sort of speculation that excites me, but on our visit we just had the one game to try. The time machine can take us anywhere in history and so it’s a little disappointing to find ourselves ending up in a World War bunker. Still, at least this time it’s World War One.
There’s a neat bit at the start which will test your searching skills as you try and power up the machine, but you’ll soon emerge in WW1. And it’s fine: it looks good, there’s military paraphernalia and there are keys to find, puzzles to solve and items to find. There’s some codes to decode and there’s some tests of skill and… well it’s all fine but it just feels a bit rote. There’s a cool moment involving some special effects that really helps with the atmosphere and is done really well, but there’s just not enough of that sort of thing. The space you’re in is fairly small, and you’ll get access to another few small areas but they’re not really used much. The puzzles fit the time period but they’re not really that original, nor did any really stand out. Clues were given over the walkie-talkies, in character, which makes sense even if it’s not ideal. We were nudged in the right direction at the right times. The production values are high, even if the room itself was too small to really feel impressive. There’s not all that much to say about the actual game, really.
It’s a good room. It really is. It just falls a bit short of being great. I’m really, really excited about what Unescapable are doing. I’m very excited to try their future rooms and see where they take this. But Tommy feels almost like a proof of concept. Something solid and enjoyable but not particularly ambitious. A theme that’s an easy sell and allows for a couple of good set pieces and some traditional puzzles.
So a solid “thumbs up, worth playing” for the room itself, with a note to pay very close attention to the venue in the future!
Result – we escaped in around 40 minutes
Date played: 1 May 2017
Team: Dean, Katherine, Jess
Summary: An enjoyable game that's worth playing, especially for those fairly new to escape rooms. More experienced players may find it a bit derivative, but the theatrics and immersiveness of the venue as a whole are worth checking out.