Athens, Jun 2018
You are a reporter in 1947 and your girlfriend who works as a nurse in the nearby Roswell airbase morgue has gone missing after telling you she had discovered something exciting.
The room manager spoke with some passion about how stories drive his rooms. On entering it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into making the room feel like a real 50s Morgue. The strong theming continues throughout with some particularly good decoration towards the end. For once the use of UV actually felt appropriate and added to rather than lessened the experience.
There’s also a clear linear puzzle / storyline to follow, and a couple of particularly amusing and pleasing physical puzzles that make you feel part of the story. Some of the puzzles were unconventional and very enjoyable. There was a lot of content (as a group of 2 we struggled to get through it, but with a relatively small room size I’d say 3 would be the ideal number).
This then has all the potential to be a really fantastic room. And yet… I came out of it unsatisfied.
An escape room lives or dies on the quality of the puzzle design. Whilst the puzzles towards the end were all excellent, the first 55 of the 70 minutes were peppered with unnecessary small frustrations.
I dislike having identical padlocks with no indication which one to use the code on; here there were 4 at once. On at least one occasion we had the code but weren’t sure so didn’t want to try on multiple locks. Eventually we were told just “try another lock, the code is correct”. Some rooms get round this by clearly signing locks to puzzles, but that wasn’t the case here. This was compounded by at least two puzzles where even after you worked out the four digits, the sequencing remained arbitrary (e.g. left to right vs top to bottom vs front to back and vice versa).
There were also two puzzles which had elements that looked nearly identical. To the credit of the operator they intervened to say it wasn’t related to the puzzle we needed to solve, but that shouldn’t have been necessary. Similarly, there was a colour puzzle which not only had no provision for the colour blind, but also had other colour items we had to be told to remove.
That was all surprising and frustrating, since it should all be easy to improve, and held back a room with huge potential to have been one of my favourites.