CO-DECODE – Professor Dunstan, Sub Terra

We had heard a lot about these two rooms, and so thought we’d make a day of it and do both in the same day. For that reason, I’m going to review them both here.

I’d seen “Co-Decode” ads popping up on my feed, and TripAdvisor, but hadn’t given it much thought. It was only after seeing so many excellent reviews on our Facebook group, and hearing it from another Escape Room Manager in Swindon, that we decided to make the booking.

The two rooms were very different, but we enjoyed them immensely.

I’m the only one who enjoys dressing up…

The Set(s)

Professor Dunstan: This is marketed as an “Archaeological Mystery”, so some may be disappointed to find themselves in an unassuming office/study/living room. However, the set is very high quality, with sturdy props and just the right amount of red herrings vs relevant props. It’s not often that a set can surprise me, so this one gets bonus points for that reason too! All in all, what at first appeared familiar and overused proved to be exciting and one of the best examples I’ve seen.

Sub Terra: This room is described as “An underground Operation”, so we were immediately surprised to find ourselves stepping into what appeared to be a science lab, akin to the space themed rooms we’ve done previously. I think this was a extremely clever idea, and as we progressed through the room we saw this science theme meld perfectly with the suggestion of being underground. It was an extremely clever move, and conducted beautifully. Again, all props and sets were obviously high quality, with a lot of love and care put into them.

The Game

Professor Dunstan: Alex (the founder) very cleverly built this room with varying difficulties, which can be tailored depending on the team. Obviously we asked for everything (maximum difficulty), and managed to escape with only 8s left. This is the closest we’ve been in a long time, and we loved it. There was a lot going on in the room, so almost immediately we split into pairs, and remained in pairs pretty much until the final puzzle.

The puzzles were varied, and even surprised me with the variety and amount of new concepts we saw! Even solving the puzzles brought some surprises – there were quite a few which gave us different outcomes and tracks to what we thought was going to happen!

The room was multi-linear (yay!), with hints delivered via a monitor (double yay!). Alex is clearly an expert – delivering nudges when needed, and keeping us on track. We had the time we needed to try and discover the solution for ourselves, without leaving it so long as to get frustrated.

All in all, we had a fantastic time in this room.

Sub Terra – Having completed the other room with only 8s left, we were both nervous and excited to step into this room. Rather than being given a simple task (find X, then escape), we were instead given a number of tasks to complete, in any order that we wanted, and told we only had to complete a few key tasks to ‘win’. Obviously, this wasn’t good enough for us and took the extra time needed to complete them all, still escaping with ample time.

Once again, this room was high quality, with a wide variety of puzzles and hints delivered via a monitor. As the brief suggested, the room was once more multi-linear, with the added bonus of clear indications for some of the ‘paths’. Without giving too much away, to ‘win’ you need to obtain at least 1 of 4 items. These are clearly visible, with signs marking the relevant puzzles.

To add the cherry on top, even puzzles we’ve seen before are improved here – there is no need to memorise long, annoying sequences or spot flaws in logic of so called ‘logic puzzles’. This room was like a breath of fresh air, a remedy to many past frustrations with other rooms. This room is like what other rooms should aspire to be.

There was definitely something for everyone in this room, with enough going on that you could be by yourself , or help your team mates. The added bonus of difficulty scaling, and essentially allowing you to plan your own strategy for the room, really puts this into my top 10.

Outside the room

The rooms are located in a fairly unobtrusive industrial park (which could be forgiven as they are based in Swindon!). It wasn’t the easiest to find, and we decided to head to the shopping park for food beforehand, as there wasn’t much in the vicinity. However, the waiting area is nice, with lockers so you don’t need to take your belongings with you. Alex (the founder) is also an extremely nice guy, who we enjoyed talking to. It definitely shows when someone truly cares about what they do.

Accessibility

Alex displays the accessibility of each room on his site. The location is wheelchair accessible, as are the rooms. However, there are some tight spaces, and wheelchair users will likely find their gameplay restricted due to this.

In both rooms there were some slightly dimmer areas, although I’m sure this could be rectified. Colour perception was required in both, although this was in areas of good lighting. There were some slight physical puzzles in each, but nothing above head height. Both rooms had air conditioning (it was a very hot day), so the room was a comfortable temperature, and didn’t feel stuffy. However, Sub Terra was a little crowded at the start, and at one point there was a small room to enter (although not everyone needs to). The ceilings have also been lowered (as this is meant to be a mine shaft), so it may be worth checking with the company before your visit if you suffer from claustrophobia.

Was it worth the money?

We paid £21pp for each, and I would gladly pay double this.

TL;DR

Pros; Puzzles, Difficulty (levels), Customer service

Cons; Location

2 thoughts on “CO-DECODE – Professor Dunstan, Sub Terra

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