Guildford, Apr 2018
Containment is located a short drive outside Guildford, on the Merrist Wood College campus, and between the countryside location and ebullient staff, it had an outdoorsy style that reminded me of a paintball centre – though that impression may also have been because our first game used a military theme.
Each game is hosted in a large shipping container, hence the venue’s name. That might sound cramped and basic, but the playing space was surprisingly spacious, on a par with typical games elsewhere. The heating kept the chill away, and I saw an air con unit that probably keeps it comfortable in hot weather too.
The Bomb is of course a bomb defusal game, and it has perhaps the largest bomb I’ve seen in a game, as a big centrepiece that dominates the room. While there’s plenty to solve throughout the room, each of the puzzle strands leads back to one of the four steps needed to defuse the bomb. These four steps are listed as goals from the beginning, and can be tackled in any order, though typically you won’t know which of the room’s puzzles lead to which goal until you’ve completed them.
A minimum team size of four is listed, and although it would be possible to tackle it with fewer the game is set up well for larger groups with its non-linear structure. (It sounds like Containment get a lot of corporate business as team-building days, and in fact offer packages combining their escape rooms with outdoor activities.)
The military decor fits very well with the space they’ve used, as do the various pieces of Cold War style electronics.
While plenty of the puzzles are based around finding numbers that are plausible codes for padlocks, it was usually clear which lock we should try a code on, and the game included several much more interesting puzzles, such as a familiar but entertaining physical task, and some steps involving wiring and codebreaking that worked very well with the game’s theme.
I felt there were small points that could be tightened up on, such as the occasional piece of unnecessary distraction information, and some puzzles that seemed like filler; but it’s free of glaring weaknesses and fun to play. I particularly liked the way all parts of the game sooner or later led back to the bomb; even where puzzles weren’t obviously related to the bomb, the structure kept the point of the game front and centre. Between that and the slightly retro military style of the equipment and decor, it’s a solid game that does what it says on the tin.