York, Sep 2017
This is the second room I’ve tackled from the excellent Can You Escape team, the first being the spaceship themed Operation Odyssey in Edinburgh.
There’s some similarity between their two locations, both hosted upstairs in generic over-shop office space, with a buzzer to press, and stairs to clamber up before meeting the host.
We were doing this one as a pair again, whilst away on a short “babymoon” break to York.
There’s a sense of familiarity for the name of the room, too – Operation HERO. Thematically, this one revolves around four super heroes (all seemingly based on their staff members… I spotted my previous GM as one of the four heroes) being captured, and some other convoluted storyline whereby we had to prove we were as strong/fast/clever etc as they were, to spoof access to a computer system which would identify where they were being held. Still with me?
In short, do some stuff, release the heroes. So far, so good.
Entering the room as a pair, our initial reaction was “HOLY MOTHER OF ESCAPE ROOMS” there is a lot to tackle in here. This fairly small space was packed very tightly with puzzles/tasks. This is not a object hunt, nor a padlock fest at all. Instead, a number of (mostly parallel) challenges await teams. More Crystal Maze than Escape The Room.
Eventually we decided to give one or two of the tasks a go. In fact, we probably wasted about 3-4 minutes just trying to work out where to start.
The various tasks are split (with labels) into the four heroes’ abilities, and four “final” tasks are available mostly from the start, too. Progress is indicated fairly clearly on the longest wall.
Without revealing anything specific about the puzzles, there’s certainly a wide variety of things to get your head (ears, and eyes) around, and would suit a team of varying skill sets. Whilst we did this as a pair, I would recommend three or four as the optimum number to keep everyone busy and interested.
Progress improved after a relatively slow start – deciding how and where to start took time, and we managed to pick some of the trickier puzzles from the off. Fortunately a couple of GM instigated hints kept us on track, and we didn’t really feel the need to ask for a clue at any stage.
On the negative side, a couple of the puzzles felt a little shoe-horned in, and lacked that final level of polish. This is a relatively new room, so will probably benefit from some minor adjustments as they see patterns in game play. It’s also quite a small space, which is apparently used for teams up to 6. I couldn’t recommend that many team members in there – we bumped into sharp prop corners quite often as a pair! It also lacked a little bit of comic book pizzazz, and had signs of wear and tear already. Finally, quite a lot was made about interacting with an operating system, and tricking it into doing X or Y to find the heroes — this never felt like the case during the hour, so the briefing bore less relevance to the room than expected. This doesn’t make for less of an experience, it just wasn’t quite as complex as the GM made out!
The parallel, progress-tracked game flow is pretty similar to Odyssey, in many ways, and that’s definitely a positive.
We managed to escape with around 3 minutes left, without feeling too concerned about running out of time.
The host was great, and although clearly fairly new to hosting (or the game) he was pleasant and made us feel welcome throughout.
A difficult room to rate in some ways, but definitely recommended for anyone looking to play in York.
There’s a good Brazilian all-you-can-eat-meat place opposite, if you need food before or after your visit.