Published on January 31st, 2017 | by Dean Love0
Omescape, London – Biohazard Laboratory
The second of two games played in somewhat different circumstances. This time around I’d been asked to book an escape game experience as a team-building exercise at for the day job, and after being let down last minute by another London-based company, we secured bookings with Omescape and clueQuest. Worth noting that in both cases their corporate functions folk were great and helped get us booked in at less than 48 hours’ notice.
I was in the team playing the Biohazard Laboratory (tempting as it was to replay a room I’d done before and look like a genius, common sense won out and I did the one that I hadn’t!). While the game is listed as 3-5 players, Omescape offer the ability to add in one extra player per room on top of this, so we were playing in a team of six.
It’s another solid offering from Omescape, on par with The Penitentiary, this time you’re attempting to located a secret lab and sequence a cure for a neurotoxin. The first part of the game is focused on the “locate” element, leaving you in the “sewers” attempting to solve the first lock and reach the lab itself. We spent a lot of time stumped here – there certainly wasn’t the usual straight-forward starter puzzle to get you going. Not something I’d usually realise, but playing with five people who hadn’t done a room before made it a bit more obvious. Indeed, at various points throughout the entire game different people had the “aha” moment of “ooh, I get this now”, but that opening room was a little obtuse for first time players.
The game then progressed smoothly from there, with some more interesting environments to explore, and some neat, though not strenuous, physicality to the rooms. Playing with six, rather than the four we had for Penitentiary, made the “two torches per team” limit a bit more frustrating than before, and the low-light conditions were a bit more contrived in a lab than in a prison. But neither were huge turn-offs. In actual fact, the torches forcing the team to work together in two smaller groups probably actually helped our corporate team-building objectives, even if it frustrated the escape gamer in me!
The one fly in the ointment was that one of the puzzles was broken. They’d gone as far as moving the clues around so the room was still solvable, but had left in the operating instructions on how to play this one puzzle (it involved a bunch of technology), so it was quite obvious something was missing. Was doubly frustrating as we had another team from work in the second copy of this room, and their puzzle was working, so that made any comparisons between our times false.
That aside, it was another solid offering from Omescape, with the same pleasing physicality that The Penitentiary had, if a bit less intense. And the whole experiment of using them for work team-building seemed to work, with most people seeming to enjoy it. What was interesting to see, and what those of us who have done a few games can tend to forget, is that people have preconceptions about what escape rooms are, only to find once they’re in there, that those preconceptions were wrong (for better or worse). Explaining what this hobby is while conveying any sense of what it actually feels like remains a challenge!
Result – we escaped with around 8 minutes to spare
Date played: 3 October 2016
Team: Dean, Dean’s work colleagues
Summary: Another strong game from Omescape