Peterborough, Feb 2017
Second in our play through of Escape Peterborough’s new trio of rooms was “Witchcraft and Wizardry”… and as a certified muggle, I can say for certain it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Harry Potter. Honest. Maybe. Possibly 😉 I can say, however, that fans of Ms Rowling’s magnum opus will be absolutely delighted with this room and how it looks. We can also confirm it is different from other similarly named rooms elsewhere.
Getting there from Cambridge on a rainy Thursday night was relatively painless, and the bizarre maze of one way systems prodded me in the direction of the Market multi-storey car park, rather than the on-street parking close to the venue. Eagle-eyed visitors parking there for Escape Peterborough will inevitably notice the outstanding Thinking Outside The Box ER venue, based at the bottom of the car park, too. So that now makes five rooms within a stone’s throw! It’s a great place to spend a day doing rooms now, and with excellent and good value train access from London.
Once there, the Escape Peterborough team were their usual jovial and welcoming self. They’re definitely some of the nicest ER owners I’ve met, and it does make a big difference to the ambience and feel of the venue.
The lobby area is modern, clean, and unusually for escape rooms, it looks great and inviting from the outside too. Whilst walking in, I noticed passers by taking a very close look at what was going on inside. It’s an underrated marketing technique, for sure.
For this review, we had a team of three. With around 40 rooms of experience between us, we fancied our chances. Famous Last Words.
On entry, I was struck by the size of the room and the decor. Small, but perfectly formed, the room is very nicely themed, and had a set-like quality, aside from the large clue TV screen somewhat breaking the illusion of a Hogwarts style classroom.
Adorned with old-school (in the true sense of the word) desks, potions, bottles, wizard statues, symbolism and a number of nicely presented chests, there looked a LOT to do in this space.
I think groups larger than 4 may find it a little cosy, but sometimes that can add to the fun/comedy/chaos depending on the group.
On to the game itself. Let’s be clear – this is a lock heavy game. However, unlike some I don’t believe this is necessarily a indicator of poor quality. Locks are a good way of managing progress visually, and there’s certainly a variety of them in the room which helps delineate where progress is to be made. For me, the skill is in how your codes are revealed. Get that right, and the locks are invisible.
There’s a nice easy puzzle or two to start with – to encourage progress early and give the team a nice early boost. Progress was steady throughout the game. Without spoiling too much, there’s a neat collect-as-you-go puzzle running as a seam throughout the hour, and some nicely themed red herrings that cause a little bit of a diversion throughout. A few partial reveals help create a feeling that you’re never quite in control of solving the room, whilst still making progress.
The gameplay is clearly well honed – we only called for a clue on a couple of occasions, and despite the rookie games master (his first ever game!), we were looked after well via the clue system screen. There was one minor issue with a clue being given for a previously solved task – which we had partially shortcut through some nefarious means. It was quickly corrected. Towards the end of the game, the technical wizardry increased, and some lovely set pieces really add to the theming and leave teams (well, the escaping ones) with a feel of a tight, immersive experience. A great “final lock” technique which is as smart as their “Baker Street” escape is particularly impressive.
We escaped in 55.04 with a couple of clues. The time went pretty quickly, which is usually a good sign.
There’s ample themed costume to find throughout the game, and aficionados of the Potter series will love dressing up and getting into character. It’s worth pointing out that prior knowledge is not required for this game, however the team will adapt clues based on their reading of the team’s enthusiasm for the genre.
Oh, and add half a star if you’re a Harry Potter fan 🙂
Witchcraft & Wizardry is certainly a pretty room, with plenty of fan service to those who like the Harry Potter franchise. It’s also a noticeably small room, which means this is a game I’d recommend playing with a small team.
To my cynical eye it was rather heavily based on unlocking one padlocked drawer after another, with a few more red herring items than I can approve of. The rule that everything is used exactly once was broken in the other direction too, with an item being unexpectedly needed for two different puzzles.
When this game was first created it would have been one of the visually impressive games from Escape. They’ve upped their standards since, and it’s now more middle of the road; a decent enough escape room but with little to stand out.