London, Jan 2017
Perpetuum Mobile starts in a reasonably sparse room. The premise is laid out in a little speech: The key to stopping a perpetual motion machine that could destroy the planet lies hidden in the professor’s room. The website advertises it as “the most challenging escape game in London” which is a little far fetched. It’s a good game, and it’s fun to play, but we’ve felt more pressed in other games!
The game was well put-together, and we never felt like we were just “completing a series of puzzles in a room”. Despite feeling like the room was pretty sparse/minimalist, it held a good number of components (a few of which seem to have been custom built); and very few red herrings.
The game itself was pretty traditional with a few different puzzles available in parallel (which suited us just fine). There is a little searching to do at the beginning, but the room is laid out simply, so provided you’re thorough you won’t feel like you’re at risk of missing anything.
It seems like Lock’d had made efforts not to repeat mechanisms, which is very welcome. There was really only one combination lock in the game. The automated components seemed to work reliably, although on a couple of occasions (including the final artefact) they seemed a little slow to notice we’d got the right solution.
In this room Lock’d use an hourglass timer rather than any kind of display which, whilst quirky (and coincidentally a little cheaper than a screen), doesn’t really help us gauge the passing of time very well. This seems to be a known issue, as the games masters make efforts to give you notice of the time towards the end of the game. Personally, I’d have preferred having better visibility of the time, but perhaps there’s something to be said for helping players to not fixate on the clock as the seconds tick away.
During the game we managed to miss an important clue, but it would have led us to one piece for a puzzle with several inputs. We made an assumption about the missing item that was right anyway, so it didn’t matter too much.
Missing: The game had no background music or sound effects, and the lab itself felt like it was an office room with white-painted breeze blocks. A little more effort to decorate the space (or perhaps a slightly smaller space) might have added to the immersion. When we tried our solutions on the final artefact, it gave us a visual clue about how close we were – but audible clues (and perhaps a threatening hum!) would have drawn us in and created the feeling we’d saved the day. (Although who doesn’t get a little rush from the soft-click of the final door unlocking?)
Overall, the game is good. It could do with a little more polish to help transform the room, but it was fun to play and we’ll be back for more.
There’s a curious contrast here between the initial section of the game, which is perhaps even more low-decor than the other rooms at Lock’d, and the cool custom tech at the climax of the game. Perpetuum Mobile is a more ambitious game than the others at Lock’d, and the most memorable – largely due to the last 25% of it. A particular deliberate red herring annoyed me, and arguably as a whole Museum Warehouse is a more cohesive game overall, but comparing all three, Perpetuum is the one you’re most likely to be talking about afterwards.