Colchester, Dec 2017
Many Sherlock-themed escape games need an excuse for why the great man himself isn’t present – perhaps he’s been kidnapped, or has died, or is simply too busy with more important cases. Escape’s version takes a novel approach: here you are in fact the bad guys, sent by Moriarty to infiltrate Sherlock’s apartment and steal a particular one of his possessions.
Although the Escape venues tend not to invest too heavily in the room decorations, 221B Baker Street looks more impressive than their norm. We’re still talking bookshelf wallpaper instead of actual bookshelves for most of the room, but it does an acceptable job of evoking a Victorian gentleman’s private den.
I’ve opened enough numeric padlocks in ‘ancient’ tombs to (usually) not complain too much about how they don’t match the ostensible time period. Baker Street has more flagrant anachronisms, in particular a thoroughly modern piece of electronics that was quite jarring to find when I’d been under the impression the game was set in the Victorian era. But let’s assume it’s intended to be Benedict Cumberbatch’s modern-day Sherlock, and that the rest of the furnishings simply reflect a taste for the old-fashioned.
As with most of the games from the Escape chain, Baker Street is mostly linear and has a very classic style of escape room puzzle, as well as a low-ish difficulty level. My favourite moment in the game was a head-fake I didn’t see coming, that invites players to dive into a metaphorical blind alley in a way that could be infuriating but which struck me as amusing. The nicer appearance of the game would give it the edge over the other games from the same company, but that’s counterbalanced by a bit of over-reliance on simple paper clues and too many similar padlocks, where each answer needed to be tried on each of several three- or four-digit locks to find the right one. So it’s a little stronger on the decor, a little weaker on the puzzles, but in both respects still firmly in the acceptably average range.