Swindon, Feb 2017
This game has a plot involving a dodgy doctor and a poisoning outbreak; locked in the doctor’s office, you need to find evidence and get out.
A doctor’s office is a relatively easy theme to decorate for – some posters and excess hospital equipment goes a long way. There are lots of red herrings here. However, unlike in Incarcerated’s other two rooms, we didn’t end up over-interpreting every visible number as a possible lock combination, because the room has a clear structure that means most of the time you know exactly what sort of answer you’re looking for, and usually also have a good idea of what information is relevant to it.
Search is considerably less important here than in their other rooms. However, we utterly failed to find one hidden item. That was despite having just been burnt by not searching carefully enough in the previous room, and even though four different players checked in the location where it was hidden. It’s a matter of subjective opinion whether a hiding place is ‘challenging’ or actually ‘unreasonable’; personally I felt this one crossed the line into the latter.
The room contains some solid puzzles, creative and suitable for the theme. Others are flawed in ways minor or not so minor. The worst of these grated because even when we had all the relevant clues, there were multiple plausible ways to interpret them, and quite a few more tenuous ways, with a time delay between each attempt. We had to take a hint to solve it, and even with the hint it was still ambiguous.
Of Incarcerated’s three games, this one should have been the best match for my taste in escape rooms, in terms of the types of puzzles and the structure used to link them. But between flaws in specific puzzles, the quantity of red herrings and a certain slap-dash, thrown-together quality to the room’s contents, I found it hard to enjoy.