ESCAPE THE WILD WEST - Escape Hunt
What do you do when you have a couple of spare hours and you find yourself having lunch next door to an escape room? You pop in of course! We weren't planning to do a room, but it was rainy and we know 'Escape Hunt' are pretty reliable of rooms, so we weren't going to do know. Fortunately for us the place was empty, and they have one room free, which made our decision for us!
Pros: Set, non-linear, puzzles
Cons: Hints, triggers
As the name suggests, in this 'adventure' (as they are referred to by the company), you find yourself transported back to the wild west. You have just struck gold in your town, but there is a gang out to steal it from you (and probably shoot you for good measure). The first room you enter is quite small, and doesn't necessarily scream 'wild west' - it actually is very reminiscent of the first room of Escape Hunt's "Their finest hour" adventure! However, as you move through the game you discover a much more sprawling space, filled with high quality props and exciting set design which feels quite transportative.
There are some nifty triggers in this game too, requiring you to interact with the set more than I can recall interacting with a set in a long time. These were all ways that felt very natural for the setting and fit the narrative. However, some of the triggers were a little fiddly - there were times we did the same thing a few times before it 'clicked', times where we had to do something for longer than expected (with no indication it was working) before it was completed, and one where I think it was triggered by the GM (as I can't see any way in which we could've triggered it).
The first room was quite small and fairly linear, so I was a little worried about what the rest of the game had in store for us. However, as soon as we were into the next area all fears left my mind. There was plenty to do and find - throughout the experience I was constantly looking for (and finding) various hidden objects - not just for the variety of puzzles we were currently working on, but also for one of the final puzzles too. I loved finding these objects - I had an idea of what I was looking for, and it was fun to have a few things to find. These were well hidden too - rather than the usual method of 'hiding' objects in fairly obvious places, some of these were obviously meant to require a thorough search.
The puzzles themselves (that I saw) were very varied and I enjoyed the various challenges. Some were as simple as recognising the right code from a journal (such as a birthday), but others required a little more lateral thinking. There were quite a few 'physical'/'mechanical' challenges in the room - without giving away too much, just remember this is a cowboy themed room. In general I really liked how the puzzles fit with the room (there were no keypads here!), and is one of the few rooms where I've vaguely kept up with the narrative. All the puzzles made sense - they weren't just there as puzzles, but rather some of the actions were things you could imagine someone doing in this scenario.
With the immersion, puzzles, and narrative this is probably my favourite 'Escape Hunt' room However, one thing ruined the experience for me slightly; the hints.
The hints were delivered via a speaker, so there was no two way communication (not that you get that with monitors). They were pre-recorded, so although I appreciated the fun cowboy impression, it felt a shame to lose that edge of personalisation and it made it a little harder for me to understand. The main part I disliked though was how fast they came towards the end of our game - we were stuck at points previously and didn't receive any hints. However, towards the end we were given many hints in fairly quick succession, with barely a few minutes to even attempt the last few puzzles ourselves. Some of these I'm not sure how we would've solved without the hint, as there were no prompts for the puzzle otherwise. Perhaps because we were rushed through so much, the ending was also unclear - we managed to complete the room without realising, and it wasn't until we saw the GM that we realised! When we exited the room we saw the waiting room was absolutely packed, so it's possible the GM needed to get us out of there quickly, which is a real shame but perhaps the price to pay for being squeezed in last minute!
There are many stairs in the venue, and although the room is flat there is limited space at first. There are a number of puzzles requiring some sort of physical movement, including some fairly low down. Hearing is necessary (for hints), as well as colour perception. The room is well lit throughout, and wasn't too hot.
Outside the room
This location has possibly one of the nicest waiting areas I've see - lots of comfy chairs and sofas. It was very spacious, with toilets available. It is also surrounded by many places to eat, drink, and shop, so perfect pre- or -post activity.
Our GM Holly was lovely, and even though she seemed a little rushed at the end, was still enthused by our escape and took the time to take photos for us.
Was it worth the money?
We paid £20 each for a team of 4. I think this is pretty reasonable - we had a good time and I would say it was worth it.