London, Apr 2017
This game was originally listed as ‘Terror Alert in London’, and the operators made the sensible decision to rename it when real-world events made the original name appear in questionable taste. In either guise it’s a variant on the common bomb defusal theme, with a modern (as in present-day) setting.
Compared to their Alcatraz room the decor starts off on the bland size, though the highlight is spectacular – some beautiful custom technology here.
Adventox again show a good eye for designing puzzles that are ‘realistic’ in the context of the story, and fit into the setting in a naturalistic way – although in Mission X that’s only true of some of the puzzles, with others being thoroughly artificial.
Several of the weaknesses in Adventox’s other game affect this one too. For example, it’s entirely possible to solve one multi-clue puzzle and get a code that appears usable but which does nothing until later; it would be trivially easy to avoid that frustration by making one of the clues inaccessible until the resulting code can actually be used. An interesting, unusual piece of equipment is close to unusable for its intended purpose, and both our teams ended up using a workaround.
The Adventox venue is in a spacious, easily accessible location in the Shepherd’s Bush W12 shopping centre, and they’ve built two copies of each room. Pairs of teams can therefore play head to head, and the website says that teams playing that way can be told partway through the game which team is in the lead. (We’d intended to try that out, but due to the late arrival of one player our teams ended up starting at staggered times.)
The downside of the sizeable venue is a somewhat corporate feel. I always notice a difference between operators who are passionate about escape games and the rooms they’ve built, and employees who are less engaged with the genre – while they may be perfectly professional, friendly and able, the greater understanding and enthusiasm of independent venues adds to the experience. Adventox’s staff were fine, but when asking for a hint in Mission X via walkie-talkie we normally needed to ask twice to get a reply, and then explain to the game master what we needed help on, giving a definite impression of inattention.
Both the Adventox games have good potential but definite flaws, and a group could have a great time or come out quite frustrated, depending on how the game goes for them. Mission X was the one I liked less of the two, and I’d recommend trying Alcatraz first, and if you find you enjoy that room you’ll probably like Mission X too.
I found one puzzle really repetitive and too search-intensive. There was also a point where we had three sets of three digit numbers with no clue as to which pair of them needed to be combined; one of the three turned out to be a red herring.