Margate, Jul 2018
If you’ve played a fair number of escape rooms, you’ve probably seen the inside of several Egyptian pyramids. While you can be pretty confident they’ll be liberally decorated with hieroglyphics, there’s plenty of variation in style, light levels and layout. Occasionally you even find one with actual sand for the floor – such as The Escapement’s take on the theme. I happily played barefoot in meticulously clean sand that comfortably outclasses what you’ll find on Margate’s nearby beach.
Trapped in the cursed tomb of Ramses III by a rockfall, you need to find a way to escape before angry spirits or poor ventilation finishes you off. Fortunately, you have a fellow archaeologist on the outside, whose cheerily plummy voice calls down to make helpful suggestions where needed, in a good example of how to design a hint system to fit with a game instead of breaking immersion.
Despite the stated peril, the tomb is comfortable enough you might not feel the need to hurry. At least, I’m going to claim that as my excuse for making zero progress for the first sixteen minutes of the game… The design makes it quite possible for a team to spin their wheels for a while before getting going though, despite an initial cryptic pointer from the gamemaster for where to start. But having eventually found a starting place the game flowed smoothly thereafter.
The other two Escapement games I played each contain a large multi-part puzzle that presents a decent level of challenge even for enthusiasts. I think that’s the case with Egyptian Exodus too, but the game has two difficulty levels, and as a team of two we were given the gentler option, which I suspect took the edge off what would otherwise have been the game’s trickiest step. Even so, of their games it’s the one which is most clearly focused on puzzle solving, as well as having the smallest physical space.
Realism in the decor extends to consistent use of hieroglyphics in place of English letters, but only as a simple cipher for them; I found it hard to ignore that several puzzles were based on English under a veneer of ancient Egyptian. But that’s unlikely to bother anyone with a less pedantic mindset than me (which is to say, probably everybody in the entire country bar a few language teachers and maybe a grumpy vicar somewhere).
The website description claims that the room is “highly immersive and theatric”. Making allowances for marketing hyperbole, it does a good job of living up to that billing in ways I won’t describe for spoiler reasons. But it also doesn’t take itself too seriously, with some intentionally silly moments being some of the most fun parts of the game. In many ways it’s a very classic style of ‘ancient tomb’ escape game – but it’s a very slick and enjoyable one.