Don’t worry, this review is spoiler free, so if you’re headed to the new Escape Hunt in Birmingham, you can read on safely. Locked room games have become incredibly popular recently, with seemingly dozens popping all over the city. The newest in town is from global company, Escape Hunt. Laura, Emma, Fay and I went along to check it out. As we said, four anxious people locked into a room? What could possibly go wrong?
Well, first of all, we couldn’t find the place. The game is located just behind the Oasis Market, in The Square, but it’s actually tucked away slightly up the pedestrian ramp at the back. My Google maps led us to the centre of The Square and insisted we had arrived. After some confused wandering around, we found it, slightly nervous about what this said about our chances of getting out…
A receptionist met us at the door and led us through a series of doors and stairways, while we tried to pay attention to the escape route. The main waiting area was a real surprise. There are comfy chairs to lounge in and puzzles to play with while you wait, and it felt very chic with the moody greys and velvet chairs.
Our Games Master, Robert, arrived and talked us through what would happen. Escape Hunt currently have two games, with a third soon to follow. You can bring between two and six players, and the game is always £25 per person. You go into the room, the door locks behind you and you have 60 minutes to find your way out. Your Games Master is watching the whole time, to make sure you’re safe in there, and also to see if you’re stuck. You can ask for clues at any time, or your Games Master may provide more information to keep you on the track.
We played Our Finest Hour. We were World War II spies, trying to prevent Nazi invasion. HQ was on hand call in with further intel (which we soon realised was Robert’s code for giving us a hint if we seemed to have spent longer than we should working out a clue). The attention to detail was great, with plenty to explore and atmospheric noises playing at you the whole time.
Without giving away the plot, it was great fun, but difficult and it took us a few minutes to get started. I think as none of us had ever done a locked room game before, we had no real idea what to expect, so weren’t sure where to start. When we got going, we did get a good way through the puzzles, although we didn’t manage to escape or avert the missile strike (sorry). There was a lot of yelling and running about, and the satisfaction of cracking a clue was huge.
Robert came to rescue us, and talked us through the rest of the game, was which interesting. I’m not sure we’d have solved it all, even with more time!
All in all, it was a fun hour, and Robert was fantastic and so enthusiastic. I’d like to go back and play The Fourth Samurai and whatever the new game they put in ends up being. Now I know what to expect, hopefully the failure won’t be quite so complete! Possibly not though, as we when got back downstairs, we couldn’t work out how to get the front door to release to let us out…
top tips for cracking escape hunt
Learn from my failure with spoiler free top tips.
- Check everything. Everything. If it opens, open it. Look inside and underneath everything. Move things around. Lots of clues are hidden! We had a torch in our room and we used it to look under the furniture and to check things for blacklight clues. Both were a good idea to check for.
- Don’t over think things. There were a few simple clues we completely missed the answer to because we over-thought and were sure it must be something more complicated. Try the simple solution first.
- All games at Escape Hunt have a ‘Back to Reality’ button by the door, so you can escape at any time if you find being locked in makes you feel claustrophobic (or you just really need a wee).
- While you can take up to 6 players, Robert told us he thinks teams of 4 have the most success. 2 isn’t always enough pairs of hands to do things, whereas 6 can be a case of too many cooks.
- Don’t be afraid to divide and conquer. We tended to work all together, which I think slowed us down when we had multiple clues on the go. Split into smaller groups if you can, and work on separate clues or in different areas.
- Communicate. Found a key? Yell about it, because maybe your team mate spotted a keyhole earlier. Sound out your ideas, talk out what you’re thinking and keep communicating.
- Stay organised. Leave used keys in locks to avoid confusing yourself later and leave used clues out of the way somewhere so somebody doesn’t waste time thinking it’s a new clue.
- Take a tall player. There was one clue in ours that only Laura could reach!
- Enjoy it. According to Robert, most teams don’t make it out on their first ever game. Even with experience, a large number don’t make it. Take the pressure off and just have fun.
Emma was invited to bring some friends to review the game. They didn’t know we were all bloggers, so I was not obliged to write a post. All opinions are honest and my own.