London, Jun 2017
We played Invisibility Gene shortly after Timelock, and it had an equally slick intro sequence, slightly weakened by its close similarity to the one we’d had for their other game.
The format is very similar: lots of four-digit padlocks and a highly linear sequence of puzzles, each of which usually gives a code that opens a lock and provides a clue for the next puzzle. The difficulty level here is a step up from Timelock, and I found the puzzles here a bit more variable but overall preferred them.
One of the ways we most reliably screw up, other than failing to search carefully enough, is by over-thinking puzzles. I’ve learned to recognise the signs and, as with a particular puzzle here, I might say mid-confusion: stop, we’re over-thinking this. The thing is, that doesn’t always help. Sometimes the team is just getting carried away with wild ideas and not pruning them down to the plausible options properly, but sometimes the nature of the puzzle allows for a huge variety of somewhat plausible hypotheses to be generated, particularly when tackled by an experienced team who’ve seen many many different types of puzzle in different games. In the worst instances of this the true solution is no more plausible than any number of false ones, but that wasn’t the case here. Rather, there were sufficiently many nearly-plausible ideas to try that we could spin our wheels on it almost indefinitely, and that was compounded by there being four or five identical locks on which to try each wrong answer.
Each team makes different mistakes, and as a reviewer there’s a constant risk of criticising the puzzles that we struggled with, forgetting that another group might find those ones perfectly reasonable while getting frustrated with something else. But I’d speculate that this puzzle is one that teams are more likely to need a hint on, and that enthusiasts in particular will find it frustrating if they don’t happen to jump in the right direction.
Apparently this room has also seen a lot of small revisions with puzzles added and removed, so if you’ve played in the past or will play in the future, it may not be exactly the same game we did.
There are some interestingly unidentifiable equipment scattered around the room as props, but otherwise not much decor or theming. Curiously, the final debriefing area is the most visually impressive part of the whole venue, and the games would benefit from some of the decor used there! As with Timelock, it adds up to a decent game that doesn’t stand out of the crowd; but which is a well-run and accessible escape game that I’d particularly recommend to beginners – though with the increased difficulty of Invisibility Gene, it should be for beginners who fancy a challenge, or who played Timelock and want a step up.
Full disclosure: we received discounted tickets for reviewing purposes; and I’ve played escape rooms elsewhere with one of the Locked In A Room staff.