After hearing so many good things about ‘The Panic Room’ we finally made the pilgrimage there to complete one of their “Enthusiasts’ packages” (a genius business move on their behalf). After quite a few emails back and forth with the wonderful owner Alex we finally came up with our list of 5 for the day.
I’ve decided to split the review into three, to give each room the attention it deserves before talking about the rest of the experience. Part one here.
We began our visit with Old Father Time, followed shortly by Wizard of Oz. We then took a lunch break before Ten Fathoms Deep and The Loop. Another break (and cake) before finishing off with Espionage.
Ten Fathoms Deep
The set of Ten Fathoms Deep is a submarine. It is quite well themed, but nothing amazing. In particular the ending was a little meh. This was my least favourite room we played, although it was still high quality.
In particular, I really disliked the floor – although it fit with the room I did think it was unnecessary, and when it comes with a warning not to drop anything, I wonder if it’s worth it!
The puzzles fit with the theme of the room, but I was too short to complete the first puzzle, which wasn’t a great start! For reference, I’m 5ft3, so not particularly short.
We were stuck for quite a while when we first went in, and even after we got moving I still felt stuck and lost at times. This room had two main issues for me; clarity and the hint system.
To get the easy one out the way, the hint system was a walkie talkie. I really struggle to understand these, and so straight away I was put off from asking for hints.
What I mean by clarity is that we didn’t always know what to solve or how to solve it. At one point we thought we had solved one puzzle, but instead had actually completed another. I returned later just to try that first puzzle, as we were stuck and then discovered it wasn’t quite done. There was another puzzle I completed quickly but didn’t realise. We, therefore, spent a while attempting to redo it.
That being said, I think it did have some clever mechanics, including multiple ways of doing one puzzle, and if it hadn’t been up against such tough competition it would have been stand-alone room.
There is a step into the room, and it’s fairly narrow inside. You will also need to crawl at one point, and as mentioned there is one puzzle which requires you to be taller than me (5ft3), although not massively taller. There is also nowhere to sit inside the room.
There are some colour puzzles, but the room is well lit and you should have no difficulty reading anything (which will be required).
Pros – Set design, puzzle theme
Cons – Puzzles (clarity and difficulty), set design!
We’d heard some amazing things about this room, which I think really built it up. I actually really enjoyed the briefing room for this room, and was disappointed when we didn’t get to spend longer there! The set itself is pretty well done and you really feel like you’re in a lab. I also really enjoyed that it wasn’t the typical “science lab” I’m used to seeing.
There is a “twist” for this room, and how they managed that was genius. I also enjoyed how we had clear goals to complete.
The puzzles in this game were really good. Extremely varied and enough for everyone to be doing something.
I particularly loved one of the first puzzles, which began with a mechanic I’ve only seen in one other room, and which had then generated a puzzle with three iterations building each time. The puzzles were also perfectly suited to where you were in the room (narrative-wise) and some really did force us to work together (in a good way).
The hint system was like a sophisticated pager, which we really enjoyed.
I’ve realised I don’t have much to say about this room, and that’s because I don’t want to spoil anything! It is a really fantastic room, and you should all go to play it, even though I haven’t said much at all.
There is a step in the room, and steps in the venue. There isn’t anywhere to sit, but there is only one particularly physically taxing puzzle. The lighting isn’t particularly bright, but enough that you can read comfortably. You will need to be able to hear and see colour. There is also a fairly tight space you will need to enter, which may affect those with claustrophobia.
The soundtrack here can also be a little disconcerting, but it does add to the experience. However, if you do have any issues with hearing I would recommend asking for it to be turned down.
Pros – Set design, puzzles, uniqueness!
Cons – difficulty (if you’re not ready for it), space