1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL
1972 was the longest year in the history of mankind due to two leap seconds being added to its total length, an event that has since not been repeated. It was the year that U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered a development of a Space Shuttle Program, totally unrelated to the fact that the Russians had just managed to land the unmanned Spaceship Luna 20 on the Moon. It was the year of multiple plane-crashes, the premiere of The Godfather, the release of arcade versions of Pong, the frst arrests of the Watergate scandal and the victory of the west over the east, where Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky in a chess match held in Reykjavík, Iceland. Also, there was the Vietnam war going on.
It was a year of tension. Knee-deep in the cold war, America and Russia engaged in a global staring contest, daring each other to make a move, each of them praising its independence of the others products, people and intelligence. Embarrassingly self-aware and ruthlessly cunning, each country prepared for the worst from the other. By taking pre-emptive precautions, research on defence systems like missiles, weapons and viruses were given increased funds. One lab in particular has a very interesting story.
The Kensie Research Lab was a marvel of 70s technology, with the best equipment money could buy. Situated in Edinburgh, smack in the middle of an old veterinary hospital so not to raise suspicion, the lab was designed around the research and creation of vaccines and viruses, both airborne and fluid. The mastermind behind the project was professor Lyall Kensie, a brilliant bio-chemist and an avid cinephile. He had a vision of a world where every illness could be healed simple medication. In this world, there would be no need for war. But Lyall wasn’t alone. Along for the ride were his two sisters, Isla and Elise, both of them brilliant in their own fields of physiology and molecular science. They were triplets, inseparable by nature for as long as they could remember. They would have probably been featured in the newspapers as “The genius three”, if only they had any interest in fame. Instead, they chose to focus their efforts on their work. And my, what work they did.
As the government placed pressure on Lyall to weaponize his creations, he became distraught. Seeing the obvious ramifications of lies and half-truths of representatives of the world’s biggest nations, he became obsessed with the notion that lying was in fact a virus. All it needed was a vaccine. After months of isolation, Lyall, Isla and Edith finally sent a note to Buckingham Palace. Smelling of champagne, it read: “To those it may concern. We have cracked it. We have found the cure. More news will follow. Signed, Lyall, Isla and Edith Kensie.”
Expecting more letters, her majesty the Queen waited with baited breath for days, but with no prevail. Three weeks later a ragged and torn piece of paper arrived at her doorstep. It read simply: “There was an outbreak. It is contained. Never open the lab again. Isla.” The three professors were never seen again, leaving people to speculate on their whereabouts. The lab was sealed up and not opened since. Scribbles on the outside of the door indicated whatever virus was in there, Lyall had named it “L.I.E.”, and its primary attribute seemed to make the host unable to utter a single truth. The lab faded into obscurity over the years, causing rumours and legends to popup, some of them more accurate than others. But then, yesterday, during a simple blood test, a patient in the Marchmont Medical Practice right here in Edinburgh, was tested positive for the L.I.E. virus. No-one knows why, but the infection has started again. If we don’t recreate whatever vaccine the professors invented 44 years ago, the city will be obliterated by government officials in an effort to purge the danger. They will not risk it infecting the rest of the country or the world. We can’t allow this to happen. We must enter the lab.show full description
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Secret Lab came with quite a reputation to live up to, having been described as the best game in the UK by probably the three most experienced escapers in the country, including a certain well-known reviewer. Did it live up to the hype? In a word, yes.
The decor is more high-tech and ambitious than the other games at this venue. If that makes it not quite as authentic-looking as those, it makes up for that in visual impact and 'wow' factor; and it is i...
The Secret Lab is, to put it simply, a brilliant game. I was left pretty much speechless for quarter of an hour after playing. It delivered a coherent set of puzzles that meshed beautifully with the story, forced you to criss-cross the space throughout the hour, made good use of technology and pitched itself at a perfect difficulty level. The satisfaction at having made your way across the expanse of puzzles was awesome. At the time of writing, this is my favourite game. Ever.
Technology in escape rooms is an odd thing. Ultra high-tech rooms, ones that look like a spaceship or something out of a science fiction film, are notoriously expensive to build, at least with a level of resiliency you need to deal with some of the more “heavy handed” escape room teams. Hence technology and “lab” style rooms often elect to go back in time a few decades, where the props are cheaper and easier to modify and manipulate. Often they’re even more delicate, of course, but ways can be found around this. And so it is with The Secret Lab: you’re re-entering a lab that was sealed off in the 70s, and trying to recreate a vaccine in order to save the world.
A fantastically unique game set in a very large space, with a great variety of puzzles and an excellent storyline. It’s the hardest game we’ve played to date due to the sheer volume of puzzles.
Expectations were high for this widely recommended room, which sees a former veterinary school re-imagined as a mysterious science facility that conceals a dark secret. Was it everything we hoped for?