While we stayed in Edinburgh for a week of Fringe madness, we managed to fit in eight escape rooms. Seven of those were part of Escape, while the other one was at Exit Plan.
221B Baker Street
We were tasked with stealing something dear to Holmes’ heart. Mortiarty had recruited us to break into Sherlock’s flat and make off with his dog. Which he, weirdly, keeps locked in a box. So if anything, it’s more of a mercy mission than a heist.
The setting was suitably Holmes’-y, with all the things you would expect – violin, deerstalker, desks, that sort of thing. And the puzzles were good as well. There was the usual one where you (well, certainly us) find yourself cursing for not realising that a piece of furniture opened a certain way even though you know you should never just assume cupboards and drawers are the be-all and end-all of furniture operation. And there was one puzzle – just one – that caused some consternation when solving but otherwise it was superb fun.
We smashed it. Obviously. Because we’re amazing.
The Magic Emporium
This one is, it goes without saying, entirely 100% not Harry Potter. It is completely legally distinct in every way shape or form. But anyone who fawns over the front of the Elephant House would have a serious Potter-boner doing this room. You have to find out what happened to the owner of the magic shop – although, looking back on it, you never actually do find out what happened to her.
This room – as with the Sherlock room – was new(ish) having only opened in June. There were some tweaks that needed to be made, in my opinion because…. well, when one of the puzzles relies on you having found a black key safe attached to a black bookcase in a dark corner of an already dim room without expressly being offered any kind of illumination by the establishment and having to resort to using your phone torch which is – on the whole – a bit cheaty then something does need to be done about it.
Between that and the fact that the initial puzzle, in which you gain entry to the shop, is delivered in such a way by the game’s introductory blurb as to be entirely misleading, it’s clear that some kinks do need to be ironed out.
That being said it was a very atmospheric room – the shop front was very impressive. Magic trinkets everywhere. Wands, candles, crystals. All the stuff you’d expect to find in a magic emporium, in fact. The back room of the shop, not so much. That was more of a dim empty space, really, primarily housing the final puzzle and the key to escaping. A puzzle which, bizarrely, we were given the hint – practically an answer – for before we’d even really had a chance to digest what we were looking at it.
But it has potential. I think it just needs a bit of adaptation along the way. I still enjoyed it, and we still smashed it, I just felt it was let down by a couple of things that had been overlooked early on.
Both rooms, incidentally, live underneath the Noughts & Coffees board game café which does bloody delicious breakfast sandwiches. I sampled them all. They were magnificent. And they also offer a very large selection of board games for an awesomely little price. They’re probably worth a visit on their own, to be honest, and if we’d had another day – or half a day at least – to spare I reckon we’d have dropped some monies and scratched a board-gaming itch or two as well.