Trapped. In a room. With a ZOMBIE! Sounds like some kind of zompocalypse nightmare, but in fact it is just the latest in a genre known as ‘escape games’. London is awash with them right now. HintHunt was the first but now we have Escape Rooms, Escape Hunt, Escape Land. And those are just the ones with ‘Escape’ in their names. Joining them are Room Escape Adventures aka Trapped in a Room with a Zombie.
The premise of this American import is simple. You are locked in a room and must solve clues and riddles to get out. But there’s a frantic zombie in there with you, intent on having a snack. That snack would be you. Not only this but every five minutes its chain is extended by a whole foot meaning little by little you have less and less space in which you can manoeuvre. And you only have 60 minutes in which to solve everything and get out, which is pressure enough!
I actually wondered if the presence of a zombie would be too much for me and have me paralysed in thought and action from fear. But it was really, really fun. I’ve only done HintHunt before and Agent November (which has a similar premise but takes place outside so no ‘escaping’) so I can’t compare this to all the other ones out there, but I can say I loved it.
Only having 60 minutes in which to get out is enough of a pressure to get your adrenaline going but having a zombie thrashing around and lunging after you made it even more exciting. We were leaping out of the way and practically climbing up walls to avoid getting bitten. Of course, it’s only a person pretending, but there are real consequences if you get bitten. You have to stand out of the game for the remainder – you can verbally participate but you can’t hunt around for clues or touch anything like the rest of your team.
Which is the main part of the game. I don’t want to give anything away, but they had a good mix of different types of clues; some basic visual clues to add up, some puzzles and riddles to solve, some things to find and a couple of ‘activities’ as well. A couple of times we felt completely stumped but the unlocking of another clue would be all we needed to open up the game again.
You can have teams of up to 12. Mine had 11 and I would say 9 is probably the ideal amount. There were definitely a moment or two when I felt I didn’t really have anything to do, as you can only get so many people crowding around a clue trying to work out what it means. But I would much rather have a bigger team than a smaller one as there was so much to get to, even though it was all in one moderately-sized room.
I had a team of pretty seasoned puzzle hunters and so we were fairly confident we would be able to get out, saying as much to our guide (in the guise of lab assistant – the only person who could somewhat control the zombie). So we were very relieved that we did, in fact, escape the room and with almost four minutes to spare, breaking the previous record. But if we had only our wits to save us we could easily have ended up zombie fodder. Luckily, as with HintHunt, you do get a little guidance along the way, a nod in the right direction if you need it, a shake of the head if you’re barking up the wrong tree. This comes from the lab assistant who is in the room with you – there to help, but also there to ensure you abide by the rules. She is observing everything. A really nice touch was at the end, we discovered she had made notes about our roles in the game and was able to kind of give everyone their ‘best bits’ (a la Big Brother but without the visual montage). It was so nice to hear that even if you felt you hadn’t had a big role in the game, someone had noticed your vital contribution.
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