MINDLOCK - Viking Valhalla
We were recently on our first holiday in a couple of years, so naturally we needed to squeeze in some Escape rooms! When on holiday I always try to do some more unique rooms, ideally local rooms with great reputations or themes linked to the area.
Viking Valhalla ticked both of those boxes - I've not seen a viking room before, and they're a large part of the history of York. 'Mindlock' was also one of the best rated companies within York itself, so it seemed like a natural fit!
Pros: Atmosphere, red herrings, puzzles
Cons: Set design, linearity, ending
The theme of the room is effectively limbo - you have just died, and need to complete a series of puzzles to prove your worthiness to enter valhalla. I think 'Limbo' is a good word for this room, as it was really quite plain and bland. The atmospheric music was great, but otherwise it was really quite sparse - just (almost) plain white walls, with some wood accents and the occasional prop here or there. Walking in was certainly a disappointment, and unfortunately set the tone for the adventure.
Throughout the game it was pretty easy to figure out what we needed to do at each stage, and how to solve each puzzle. Unfortunately, it became obvious very quickly that although there were things to find and see, the puzzles were very linear and, in most cases, only required one person to solve, leaving the others standing around helplessly.
The puzzles themselves were pretty varied, with just the right amount of red herrings to keep them interesting. However, the room was pretty maths heavy, and the inclusion of a calculator (though necessary) broke what little immersion there was. The puzzles themselves were also very easy - for a room rated 4/5 for difficulty, the maths puzzles were the only sections that really required any thought.
On the positive side, they did flow together nicely (as you would expect from a linear room), and there were no points where we were frustrated or stuck, or wondering what to do...apart from the ending.
You know it's not a great room when you don't even realise you've 'escaped'.
Having completed the final puzzle we were still searching for what we had unlocked, getting a little confused, when a GM came into our room to ask if we had found the key, at which point we were congratulated for escaping. This was a different GM to the one who had briefed us, and he then had to dart off as he was overseeing another room.
I'm sure this room would be great for any newbies out there, particularly as the hints come via a monitor, but I would probably advice against and experienced players taking it on.
The venue is up a flight of stairs, but the room itself is flat with plenty of space and a bench to sit on. There was also a fan, keeping the area cool.
There is a soundtrack playing, although hearing is not needed. Colour perception is required.
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.
We had a different GM from the start than the end, but they were both friendly and professional.
Was it worth the money?
We paid £15pp for what was originally a team of 4, and in hindsight £15 isn't bad. This rises to £22pp for a team of 2, where you'd probably have more fun. So yes, although I don't think it was a great room, or even that good, £15 for 37 minutes of vague enjoyment isn't a bad price to pay.