Sheffield, Apr 2018
Since my last visit to this venue, they’ve changed not only their entrance point, but also the space in which the games are hosted. Sort of shuffling down the building, if you will. The usual faff of buzzer-entry escape rooms ensued, and we were hanging around the doorway in the rain for a good five minutes before someone finally let us in. Sort of like Time Run, just with a much less impressive, but no less urea-fragranced door in the way.
Anyway, once in the building we realised that a group of first timers were booked at the same time for the adjoining room, Zoltan, and we had a somewhat bizarre double briefing where we learned all about their game, and then ours. After the usual Health and Safety spiel (in one ear and out of the other, as always) the game began. The host was… underwhelming and didn’t have any passion for escape rooms, either before, during or after the game. For this escape, my team consisted of 2 – with the other player having previously done just one room, in Mansfield.
Apartment 9 is set in, you guessed it, an apartment. An apartment that looked incredibly like office space with a sofa. Practically zero styling in place for this room. Call it Gen 0.5, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Looking past the (lack of) theming, the story roughly goes that a local sleuth has been investigating a series of murders in the fine city of Sheffield. Said detective invited us over to peruse the evidence and perhaps help figure out who was responsible. She was just a bit late and we were to make ourselves at home.
Whilst I suspect sitting in the sofa for 60 minutes would have been a nice piece of quiet contemplation, I hadn’t paid £40 to sit on a British Heart Foundation charity shop sofa for an hour. Better get puzzling.
The gameplay itself was actually pretty good, some pretty logical puzzles, a few red herrings, and no huge surprises along the way. Doing it with a “newbie” was actually great fun, and it was nice to play alongside someone enjoying some of the puzzle styles for the first time. A couple of tongue-biting moments along the way helped it be a fun experience. There were also a few original puzzles as well, which is always refreshing,
We didn’t ask for any clues during the hour, but a couple of times we realised that something had been put up on the screen, without warning. As it happened, they were for things we’d already solved, or were guidance towards solving something which we’d already started. If you’re a keen NO CLUES team, then I would make it pretty clear at the start.
There was a pretty interested puzzle chain towards the end of the room which might prove trickier if you’re not a Sheffield local, for two separate reasons. It was a little frantic, but we got there.
We escaped with around 3 minutes left, with much time wasted on a puzzle we solved, but completely forgot to carry out a final calculation stage which is explained in huge writing on the puzzle itself. No excuses – it was a bit embarrassing!
Game host and poor decor aside it was still a fun hour of escaping.