• Georgiana Hunter-Cozens

CODEBREAKERS - Mission: Breakout

London is full of interesting locations and hidden history, with no shortage of escape rooms. What could be more special, then, than an escape room in a hidden piece of history? Mission: Breakout has been built within an old tube station, and has been on my list for a while so I was excited when I finally got an excuse to play!


TL; DR

Pros: Location, Authenticity

Cons: Cost, set, puzzles, hints

Safely made it to the bunker!

The Set

The game is WWII based, set within the 'abandoned' Kentish Town Station, which was used as a bomb shelter during the war. Having the chance to enter this historic building felt amazing, and the company have really honored the history - there are photos everywhere showing the station in use, as well as many period-specific props.

Inside the room itself you are once more immersed in the WWII vibes, with very authentic props. However, there are times the set design actually got in the way of the game, throwing up red herrings. Where the designers had added their own features they were either non-sensical or too obvious, one stop short of just writing the code next to the lock.


The Game

In this game you are charged with finding an enigma machine, cracking the code and identifying the double agent within MI5. Simple enough, right? However, there are a few steps you need to go through to achieve these goals.

Throughout the game the puzzles are all period specific - rather than electronic screens and computers you will be dealing with padlocks and rotor phones. The majority of puzzles themselves were also fairly unique - certainly there were quite a few I hadn't seen anywhere before. However, the game was both over complicated and oversimplified at the same time. For the complicated side, there were plenty of props scattered amongst the room, and unlocked via puzzles, so we amassed quite a collection of paperwork which looked important. However, very little of it was in fact useful, meaning the rest were annoying red herrings, suggestions of puzzles that never were. The puzzles instead were often vaguely linked together in a method that required soaring leaps of logic - imagine trying to figure out the word for a combination lock, to then discover it was in fact a random word you had discover amongst other things, which didn't have any obvious link to the puzzle. Often it was unclear what a puzzle had unlocked, and there were a number of occasions I knew we hadn't solved a puzzle, yet were moved on anyway (the hand passing us the key was a dead giveaway for one of these).

Simultaneously, the game was made too simple (probably through necessity of poor design) by the dearth of hints. Throughout the game hints (delivered by screen) became more and more hand-holdy and less like nudges, more instructions. I am all for hints, but when we were receiving the instructions with minutes of finding a puzzle it removed some of the magic of the room. Rooms should also not require such extensive clues - if puzzles had been linked better, or indeed made sense at all - we should have been able to easily identify the next step and what was required. It's worth reminding you that at over 100 rooms, I am not an inexperienced player, yet for 90% of the puzzles I was given a hint for what to do next, then how to solve it.

In the end we had less than 10 minutes left, but rather than finding it enjoyable or exhilarating, we were instead just relieved to be able to get on with our day, and a bit let down at the whole experience.


Accessibility

The location is down a set of steep stairs, with many steps throughout. The room itself also requires you to be nimble enough to crawl through a small space (the whole team needs to do this). The lighting is low, with a lamp and torch in each room to aid you, but I expect most players may struggle to read. You will need both colour identification skills and the ability to hear.


Outside the room

There are some lovely cafés nearby, and it's pretty well situated for transport. We were asked to arrive 15 minutes early, and even though we didn't and were 'on time' instead, we were still left in the waiting/briefing area for a while.

There are lockers for your items, as well as toilets. There isn't a waiting area as such though - just a briefing room where you are asked to complete a H&S form. After the game we were taken to a nicer area for a photo and debrief, although this seemed to double as the staff room/kitchen.

The staff were nice though - we had a chat with the owner afterwards and it's clear he wanted to make sure everyone had a good experience when they visited his room, which counts for something.


Was it worth the money?

We paid £28 per person, and the minimum number you are able to book is 3. It is absolutely not worth this. I would hesitate to say it is even worth half of that, as we spent a lot of time frustrated and just didn't have fun, so the only value for me was the ability to visit this historic building.


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