Edinburgh, Apr 2017
Many escape game venues are in commercial office space, or a spare room in a pub. It’s quite a surprise therefore to walk into the grand entrance of the Summerhall building where Locked In are based. Nor is the location incidental to the game: Animal Hospital is based in rooms that were actually used for veterinary purposes, and the game is built using items and furniture from genuine practice.
The back story is that you’re slipping into the offices of someone who might just turn out to be a rogue vet performing illegal experiments on animals. Pet lovers need not fear being faced with anything gruesome – the illicit activities of the doctor are no more than implied, to the extent that I wasn’t entirely sure what he was doing that was so sinister.
Much of the content of this game is fairly typical escape game fare, with objects and symbols that can be combined or decoded to find padlock codes. Where it shines is the setting and props, starting from some distinctive lock types and continuing through to a couple of lovely old pieces of genuine equipment, which are actually used in the game not purely for decoration. One of these could have been fiddly and ambiguous, which has been my experience with similar puzzles of this type in other games, but the design neatly avoided that pitfall.
One padlock seemed unnecessarily stiff / fiddly to open, but that was an exception in a game that came across as quietly well-designed, in the sense that all puzzles felt fair, without accidental confusion between unrelated clues, and an absence of all the little ways in which a game can accidentally get in the way of the team’s enjoyment. The ending left us smiling too, nicely rounding off a thoroughly fun game.