ESCAPE LONDON - Taken 2 & Mayan Temple
After having such a great time playing the Casino Heist at Escape London last weekend, I just couldn't wait to jump back in. Unfortunately, the only unplayed rooms remaining at the Shadwell branch were now "scary" rooms, and the 20 minute "Mayan Temple" adventure. After calling Escape London to discuss the rooms, we agreed I could probably cope with the "Taken 2" room, and so I went ahead and booked it, with the Mayan Temple as a nice little dessert for afterwards.
You enter into a very unassuming room, with the classic collection of furniture you may expect to find. However, as you can probably guess from the image above, you soon find something more sinister is lurking.
The room really is very sparsely furnished, with quite basic looking decoration and props. It felt almost unfinished or homemade in places, but in others it was obvious the props were very high quality. It was quite an odd mix - it definitely felt like someone wanted to upgrade their old room to meet the times, but rather than starting from scratch they simply patched up what was there. I would say this is the only thing that let down the room, but not enough that I would let it put you off visiting!
As a final note on the set, I found it quite atmospheric. I'm quite a big wimp, as our wonderful GM Yoan was aware, and I did feel fairly tense throughout (but in a good way...?). However, for the horror enthusiast out there I would recommend trying out their "Fear" room - Yuan let me take a peak and I couldn't even make it past the door.
As a team of 2 we were aware the pressure was on as soon as we entered. Fortunately, this room focuses more on puzzles than discovering hidden objects or unlocking numbered padlocks. This left us free to dive straight into it - blasting through the initial part at a speed that could have put us on track for a record...if not for two pesky physical puzzles.
Yes, this room included two different physical puzzles. One was a familiar friend with an added layer of difficulty (which we just about managed), but the other was quite a fun, ingenious little "trick" that I haven't seen since one of my first escape rooms. I don't want to give it away, but for a moment it did feel like we were having to use our ingenuity to find a solution, rather than the simple "Puzzle>clue>solution" format we usually get.
Outside of these physical puzzles there was a nice array of puzzles, mainly connecting a puzzle to a solution via a clue. Looking back on it, they were all fairly simple to solve, but at the time we had great fun.
As a 2 player team we had plenty to do, and only felt on top of each other when it came to back seat driving the physical puzzle. However, it was a pretty linear room, so I would really advise against any more than 4, and certainly not if you are also an enthusiast team. However, the puzzles flowed nicely and at no point were we frustrated, or unsure what we were meant to do - there was a clear link between the clue we found and where it went, and some nice lightbulb moments.
Unfortunately, we were handed a walkie talkie as we entered, which I promptly discarded on a chair. That being said, this is the only room where I did end up using it - not to ask for help, but because our GM told us we were doing a great job as he gave us a time check, so I had to say thank you! I almost picked it up again after he apologised for choosing to trigger the jump scare on me, but a fist shake into the camera sufficed.
The room is downstairs, and requires mobility inside, so would not be suitable for someone with mobility issues. However, there is a chair inside for anyone who is mostly mobile, but may need to sit down within the room. It's not a huge space, and may feel cramped in points, although with enough breathing room to space out if needed.
The room was fairly well lit, although still gave off the creepy vibe. Colour perception is necessary for the room.
The music was fairly loud, and the hint system was a walkie talkie, but other than these factors hearing is not a necessity.
I also want to give a, potentially obvious, trigger warning for blood, bodies, and clowns.
If you ever visit this location, you cannot miss this room! The door just blows you away, and I was itching to get inside.
This room was designed to be a single, 20 minute room. As you can imagine, it was quite small inside, with only a few puzzles which ran simultaneously - leading to the final puzzle.
The team have done a great job at creating atmosphere in a small space, and the puzzles were all quite varied.
Hearing and site are essential for this game, and it is low lighting. However, the room itself is flat and not cramped.
This was a great little room, but I'm glad I had another, full room booked as it wouldn't have been enough for me by itself!
Outside the room(s)
My experience actually began a couple of days prior, when I called the company and the GM took the time to discuss my concerns with me and advise me as to whether I'd be able to cope with either of the rooms, before offering me the returning players discount.
As per Covid restrictions, we arrived 5 minutes before our time to Yoan opening the door to us, and then admitting he recognised us from our previous visit! I will say now that Yoan was one of the best GMs we've had - he encouraged us in the room, and had fun with us. After we completed the room we spent the remaining 20 minutes chatting away - he asked for our opinion of the rooms (what we liked, didn't like...what could be improved etc), and then we just discussed rooms in general, swapping recommendations and experiences. It is always a real pleasure to play these rooms when the staff are like this.
The location itself has lockers for valuables and a toilet. There is a small waiting area, although this is not currently in use due to Covid.
On a more general note, I recommend this company in general as I have never been disappointed when playing their rooms, and their staff are just the cherry on top.
Was it worth the money?
Without the discount we would've paid £34pp for Taken II and £15pp for the Mayan temple. The £34pp feels a little steep for Taken II, but this comes down to £26pp for a team of 4 (the Mayan temple is £10pp for a team of 4) which I think is completely reasonable!
Pros: GM, Physical puzzles, Flow, Atmosphere
Cons: Slightly shabby set, price for 2 players, linearity