MINDLOCK - The Dark Arts
Having finished "Viking Valhalla" we were greeted by the owner of Mindlock, who suggested we take on 'The Dark Arts'. Both he and the GM agreed it was their favourite room, as well as the favourite of many staff members. We were unfortunately quite tight on time, and tight on budget, but he was so confident that we would enjoy the room that he offered us almost a 50% discount in return for this review, so how could we say no?
Pros: Theme, puzzles
Cons: Searching, linearity
In this room you are tasked with finding the spell to thwart a dark wizard. Walking into the room truly did feel transportative - the whole room is beautifully decorated and themed, with many unexpected surprises and little easter eggs. For a magical themed room, there was a delightful lack of Harry Potter references, which was a breath of fresh air - this room doesn't try to be Hogwarts at all, but is instead completely it's own thing.
When you enter the room you realise just how much there is to look at, interact with, and find. The props are all great quality, to the extent you don't necessarily know whether something is essential or set dressing.
Unfortunately, it became obviously fairly quickly that the room is very linear - complete one puzzle, unlock the next. Rinse and repeat. For the smaller team this is ok, but at 3 enthusiasts it was on the border of becoming boring at times.
The puzzles themselves were a great variety of hidden objects, logic, decoding and riddles. However, there was (once more) a bit too much reliance on maths, and at one point we were gathered round a single piece of paper attempting to figure out the answers to the sort of puzzles you'd get in an IQ test (e.g complete the sequence, how many X in this image). It should be noted that 2 of our team have 1st class maths degrees, but we still found these puzzles (and the other maths puzzles) annoying and time wasting, rather than exciting puzzles to crack.
Similarly, when it came to another puzzle we knew exactly what we needed to do, but due to low light level couldn't find the thing we needed. It took quite a while before we received any sort of hint or acknowledgement through the monitor (especially given we were being very explicit in what we were looking for). I expect this is as the GM was monitoring two rooms at once, but obviously was a little frustrating for us.
Despite this, the room had everything I'd want from a magic room - I got to wear a cloak, wave a wand, and make a potion. Apart from the brain teasers, there were no moments where we were too stumped - it was fairly obvious what needed doing at each point, so it flowed nicely. We solved this is pretty much the same time as the Viking Room, and I enjoyed this experience much much more!
The venue is up a flight of stairs, and the room does require a little bit of physical ability to navigate. It was quite small and cramped in quite a few areas, as well as low lighting and quite warm. You will need to be able to differentiate colours, and smells.
Outside the room
The waiting room itself is lovely - a larger area with plenty of chairs and sofas. There are toilets on site, and not too far from local amenities.
The GM was very friendly and professional, and we had a great time chatting to him.
Was it worth the money?
Usually this would've been £55 for a team of 3 (~£18.33 each), but we paid £30 (£10pp). It was definitely worth this, and I would say is also worth the full price.