Peterborough, Jul 2019
With three seasons of the Stranger Things T.V. series now released, I’m starting to see plenty of escape rooms popping up using it as a theme, but I’m fairly sure the one at Hour Escape Rooms was the first one in the U.K. Unlicensed IP considerations aside, the setting works very well for an escape room, with a variety of immediately recognisable environments and objects to include, and this one does indeed have some obvious references for fans of the show to enjoy.
We played Stranger Things straight after a sometimes frustrating play-through of their older Dead Planet game, and notwithstanding a few small ambiguities I was pleased to find that this game flowed far more smoothly. The early game is quite focused on padlock codes, but in some inventive ways and with various cool props. Perhaps the design could have found more interesting things to do with some of them than to produce another set of numbers, but I was too busy having fun to quibble.
Suitably for its theme, Stranger Things manages distinct styles of decor and gameplay, linked by some excellent transitions.
The final step of the game misfired a little. It was a decent concept that worked well with the story and allowed efficient use of the game’s various props. The flaw was just that the mechanism was quite fussy and particular about how you provided the solution, such that you end the game entirely distracted from the story and the experience and instead are focused on working out exactly how to get the electronics to register your solution.
The three of us were a good size team for the room; I’d suggest not playing with significantly more than that number. You could certainly play this game without any knowledge of the show on which it’s based, and it’d be an enjoyable experience; however, it’s clearly best suited for existing fans who’ll catch the references and appreciate the set design.