If you break(in) it you don’t necessarily have to pay (much) for it. Part 1

Breakin London is currently offering significant discounts through groupon and living social. This means that for those of you who want to play multiple games in one day, you don’t have to pay through the nose. Breakin Escape Rooms, London, Breakout in its native Romania, offers six rooms and are in the process of building replicas of two of their existing games. They have 12 games in their portfolio but are currently embedding 6 of their most popular in London. They have very quickly established themselves as a market leader in terms of size and quality.

89 Holloway Road is on the site of an old shoe factory turned dance studio, now housing a purpose build control room, spacious reception area, games hub room and 6 games. The brand has been well crafted and the minimalist rusty steam punk motif really works.

I assembled the new dream team, Brian, T man and Sed, and just like in our last encounter Sed was late, even though he lives round the corner. Fortunately it was early and there were not many bookings so Stefan kindly waited until he arrived. Steffan was a smart engaging young man from Bucharest who knew the industry inside out. After Sed finally arrived we were professionally briefed and led to Heist. Now Ken, of the logic escapes me had already given me his initial thoughts on the games and on that basis I was definitely looking forward to Heist.

Heist was a cleverly designed room that employed some excellent mechanical, skill based puzzles. There was variety to the activities and the story line and linked puzzles made perfect sense. Their hint system is clever and requires minimal observation from the control room with the hint being delivered via a walkie talkie in the form of a number which reveals a written clue on a fixed tablet by the door. We escaped with thirteen minutes to spare and we all felt a great deal of satisfaction. Sound effects were excellent made the overall experience top notch.

Next up was Sherlock’s despair. Despite being Breakin’ hardest game it is one of their most popular. From the moment you walk in the feel is atmospheric and authentic. There was a very traditional approach to the game play. There was probably a higher than usual reliance on a need for knowledge that cannot be found within the escape room universe. I didn’t mind that but I know some people may find it frustrating. There was a mix of skill, word and number puzzles, most of which made sense in the room. Music was incidental but added to the ambiance.

We didn’t escape but I wasn’t too bothered. We lost a significant amount of time an a search fail assuming everyone else was doing it and we became obsessed with something that turned out to not be quite what it seemed. This is the kind of room I like, very challenging and very traditional. It was T man’s favourite room, I liked it, Sed definitely did not like it and Brian thought it was alright.

We broke up the day with a chicken burger at Bird, round the corner. Tasty food, slightly cheaper than London prices.

Our last game of the day was the Butchers Lair. We got off to a quick start and looked to be flying through the room but with 30 mins to go we started slowing up, which is probably how it should be. It is billed as their easiest room but was that because the puzzles were a little bit more straight forward. There wasn’t the same degree of complexity that there was in say Sherlock. The puzzles tended to be a little bit more self-contained and not involving multiple layers of working things out.

I described Butcher as a horror theme to the new dream team before we entered but it really wasn’t that horrifying. If you don’t like blood you may want to give it a miss but in reality as realistic as some of the props are they are not very scary.

Overall I really enjoyed the experience.  I would encourage you to have someone in your team who do intermediate maths! Fortunately T-man had that covered. I particularly enjoyed the homage to certain films without ripping off the IP or infringing on trade marks. There were some nice little Easter eggs that true fans of the film would really appreciate. This definitely gives Clue Quest a run for its money and the lack of a second room within the room doesn’t detract on the experience at all. Two thumbs up.