THE CUTTING ROOM - Locked in Edinburgh
Before heading to Edinburgh this was one company that kept coming up again and again, and for good reason. Of the 110+ rooms I've done, this has shot to the top. It has everything you're looking for in a room; set design, narrative, and great puzzles. My teammates also put this at the top of their lists, so I wasn't the only one overcome with love!
This is one of the best rooms I've ever played (if not, the best). Just go play it.
In 1987 a series of bizarre murders plagued the city of Edinburgh. Over a span of a few months, 6 victims were found in various closes in the city.
There is a serial killer on the loose who steals organs from victims and leaves them to die. There have 5 attacks, but fortunately the police have located the killer's layer and it's up to you to retrieve the organs before the killer returns.
Naturally, the lair is an 'abandoned' operating theatre, which just so happens to be what this room was before Locked In took it over! I absolutely love that rather than redecorating the room, they played with it and created the most immersive set I've experienced. The room feels like an operating theatre because that is what it was. The doors are surgery doors, the floors are surgery floors, the sinks are surgery sinks....you get the picture. The whole room is full of thematically correct items (they deserve more than to be called 'props'!).
There are surprises too, and this is one of the few rooms where I really felt we could 'play' with the set, and interact with it in a way we would naturally interact in such a scenario.
Thrust into a serial killer's layer, the first thing you're going to do is look around, right? Wrong. You barricade the door...naturally.
I love that this is the first instruction of the game, as it immediately put us into that tense, dramatic headspace and threw us into the immersion. Narrative is a big aspect of the game - as you discover the missing organs you're also learning more about the crimes, and keeping one eye on the CCTV to know whether the killer is approaching.
My gosh, what a tense room. Knowing there was a killer approaching made us jump at every noise - especially when that noise is the loud sound of a lung falling through a vent! I won't give too much more away about this, but trust me when I say there were plenty of tense moments in the room, but fortunately for me no overt jump scares or horror moments.
So, amazing narrative and set successfully covered...onto the puzzles, of which there were many. The room is large and there was plenty to find, and plenty to do! It is non-linear right from the start, with us splitting into pairs, and even dividing further from that! I loved the sheer amount of puzzles, which are so excellently planned that you are never bored, frustrated or lost. There were no annoying leaps of logic, trick questions, or feats of dexterity. Instead, you are handed the keys and tasked with figuring it out, so best put on your best deerstalker.
The puzzles themselves also fit perfectly with the theme - using contextually appropriate items and methods. There were the usual sort of puzzles which required an extra step here or there, and then there were some very clever puzzles, which had us screaming "OMG" before excitedly doing the thing.
Finally, the hint system fit fantastically - messages sent via a heart monitor, which your GM had managed to 'hack'.
I truly believe this room is an absolute work of art with how perfectly everything fit together, and should be used as an example for other budding room designers.
The room was flat, but there is a part that requires some physical movement to navigate, so I don't believe it would be suitable for a wheelchair user, but may otherwise be fine for those who are less mobile. It is well lit and all writing was legible. There is one puzzle requiring hearing. In terms of space, for the most part it is large and spacious, although there is one section that may become a little cramped (depending on the number of your team).
Outside the room
Along with the best room we've played, we had possibly one of the best GMs. He reminded me of Hank Green in both looks and personality. His enthusiasm was infectious - we had a great time with him before and after the room, and he was probably the best actor we've had! One minute we were joking around, and the next he was a little worried he'd forgotten something, before suddenly launching into the pre-game preamble! It was seamless and an indication of the immersion that would face us once inside. Even once we escaped we still had an amazing time chatting with him, and he popped by to say hello before our next game. Honestly, GMs like this are a real asset to the room and say a lot about the company.
The ONLY negative I have for this room is the location! We were a little late as we just couldn't find it! After spending a while wandering around outside, we finally found some phone signal to give them a call. IGNORE GOOGLE/APPLE MAPS - the room is actually inside the summerhall complex. A simple sign or poster outside would soon solve this issue though! Being in the complex means there are plenty of facilities, both bathrooms and refreshments, and some lovely places to wait.
Was it worth the money?
We paid £20 each for a team of 4. I would say it's worth double that.
If you're in Edinburgh...please go play this.