Published on September 5th, 2017 | by Dean Love0
Bewilder Box, Brighton
Attention to detail. It’s often what separates a good game from a great game. If you’ve seen any of the publicity around Bewilder Box, they make a point of featuring Hugo Myatt in the briefing videos for the game – Hugo played Treguard on 90s kids TV show Knightmare and so holds a special place in the hearts of those of us a certain age. It’s a good start already: niche nerd appeal plus the fact they’ve actually gone to the effort of hiring an actor rather than having the owner put on some cringe-worthy performance for the camera. But he’s not even the first person you see on screen. Rather you’re told that the scientist he plays has gone missing, and it’s your job to find out what happened to him. You’re told this by his also-a-scientist son, who is portrayed on screen by Paul Flannery, perhaps best known for his involvement in the stage show adaptation of Knightmare where he played… Treguard. Attention to detail.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, especially as the whole set-up for the game is pretty impressive. It’s set above a pub, so you can head in, get a drink, and wait to be collected by the host. He’ll be the one in the lab coat. Here you’re briefed, in character, by the two scientists currently working at the Bewilder Box, before being shown the aforementioned videos. You’re also introduced to the clue system D.A.V.E, an artificial intelligence which essentially offers all the benefits of interacting with a real human being but without losing any of the immersion.
With all that set-up, first impressions on entering the room are something of a let-down. The clean sci-fi lines of the briefing video give way to a dingy, dark laboratory that really does look like someone turned an upstairs room in a pub into a lab-themed escape game. It’s certainly not bad by any stretch, it’s pretty standard escape game fare, the lower production values just sit uneasily next to the slickness of everything up to that point.
Once the game itself starts, however, this fades away and what’s left is a really good room with an exceptional collection of puzzles. There’s no real stand-out here, but that’s because it delivers a number of very smart puzzles in an almost throwaway fashion; puzzles that lesser rooms might rely on as being their big centerpiece are dropped in as if nothing. This room might well have the highest density of really good puzzles I’ve yet seen. There was one small hiccup involving a sensory puzzle that none of us could really manage, and was perhaps a little worn out, but other than that it flowed perfectly. The variety in puzzles is also strong, with a definite attempt to engage at least four of the five senses.
Throughout the game you’re fed bits of the story, discovering the truth behind what happened to the original scientist of the Bewlider Box – it’s more story than you’ll get in 95% of escape rooms, so while it doesn’t entirely come together and feels a little brief and disjointed, it feels a little unfair to critcise a game for actually trying to have a compelling story in the first place.
The finale has a neat mechanical moment that actually made more sense if you’d followed the plot through, but even having lost track at that point it was still pretty neat.
A fantastic game overall and one well worth travelling to play.
Result – we escape in around 45 minutes
Date played: 29 July 2017
Team: Dean, Katherine, Jess