Nottingham, Nov 2019
I narrowly missed out on the chance to play Lockskey the first time round, when it briefly opened and then closed again due to problems with the underground location (since when it’s been completely revamped, so I believe is safe to play even if you did the original version).
Robin Hood is an obvious theme for a venue based in Nottingham, and I’d have expected something in bright primary colours with an archery motif. However, Escapologic’s take is a lot more archaeological. The setting is modern day, and there’s a back plot involving kidnappers who are demanding a certain golden arrow, but it’s pretty much an excuse for a game that’s as much Lara Croft as Robin Hood.
It might not be apparent at the outset, but as with many of their rooms, there’s a gritty, cluttered dustiness to the decor that will be off-putting to those who prefer their rooms clean and streamlined, and engagingly authentic to others. Escapologic create outstanding sets for their games, and Lockskey is better than most, fusing together chunkily convincing artefacts with an impressive level of behind-the-scenes electronics.
I particularly enjoyed the sense of exploration in the game, moving from one space to another and not always in the expected directions. On reflection, that structure may be one reason it was a quite easy game – at each step there are relatively few clue items and puzzles to solve, and you’re always moving forwards through the mostly linear structure, meaning there’s less scope to get confused. That said, we spent a while needlessly stuck on one step where there were explicit instructions for what to do, because we weren’t applying those instructions in quite the right place.
Turning a critical eye, you could object that there are locks and possible clue items which turn out never to be used; and not everyone will like the rusty, dusty setting. But for me the main drawback to the game was simply that it was rather short and easy. Still, that’s vastly better than a game that’s too difficult due to obscure leaps or prolonged process puzzles, and even though it was over too soon I enjoyed it thoroughly throughout.
As a result, it struck me as a first-class option for a beginner team, and would be a real eye-opener for players who have only played simple ‘box and lock’ escape rooms before. Enthusiasts may be left hungry for more, but it’s absolutely one to include on a schedule of Nottingham games.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.