I really really wanted to love this game, because it started so well upon arrival and welcomed us so theatrically, that I just wanted it all to be a success.  But….

Professor Thaddeus Clockwork greeted us at the main door and showed us into a wonderfully set room – it was so good we actually thought we had walked straight into the game.  Handed with the first piece of written info, he walked off and left us to it.  So, yes, we started searching…. like all good escapers should.  Imagine our inner ridicule when the Professor returned a few minutes later to show us into the actual game room!

The Nolan Exhibit is about retrieving a gem from a museum exhibit.  The build-up provided by the professor before entering was exceptional – he is so good at the character role, completely believable and he had captured our imaginations before entering.

So, it did feel a little like being let down once we entered the game rooms, because they were far less theatrical and presentable in regards to both theme and story. It caused a disjointed effect in our thinking, and because the Professor had regaled us with riddles and rhymes, we were acutely tuning in to every minor aspect of the room.  It wasn’t necessary, most of the puzzle answers were obvious and simply solved – but because the entire team were looking for complexity, we missed so much of the obvious.  Our fault on that, we shouldn’t have let the Professor lead us astray.

There were many red-herrings or pointless bits of information in the room.  The Professor mentioned at the beginning that there were things in the room to ignore, he had removed parts of some puzzles which are there for larger groups (we were there as a 4).  Part way through we were informed that we were looking at the wrong things – the bits that were not part of our game.  And that was a little frustrating.  I think if the room is needing to be adaptable for group size, then the sequencing of the puzzles should be completely cleared to correspond with that.  It shouldn’t be set so that a smaller group has to pretend information isn’t there, because it’s impossible to know what is or is not relevant.

There is one great expansion part as you find a hidden section, and we were so excited to see what was in there.  It’s one of the moments when you go “ooh  look at that” as you stand motionless trying to work out where to start.  We were particularly interested in what was at the back of the room, only to have Professor tell us after a minute or so that we were to ignore that because it’s for the larger groups. Of course, we realised we wouldn’t have time anyway at that stage, but it was a little deflating to have eyes on something so yummy, but which we couldn’t get involved with.

It may have been because the room is designed for a greater number and had been ‘clipped’, or it may have been that the puzzle flow was genuinely disjointed, but we struggled as a team to function together in this room.  There was no logical process, and no indicators of which answer led to which next step.  We all found ourselves standing with bits of information wondering what to do with it next.  And that included the obvious things, because we were all in a disjointed frame of mind.

Applause has to go to Professor Clockwork for his role play and attention in trying to improve the flow of the room as we worked.  As I said, it would have been great to be able to say we all loved this room, but it just wasn’t possible under the circumstances.  The Clockwork Escape has potential, and with some tweaking it could be such a worthy opportunity for escapers.

I have to say though, the game room is built primarily with easily breakable components and props, and that’s likely going to prove to be a continual problem for the Professor. We know people can be rough in escape rooms, and they need to be built accordingly.  We were missing two components within our game which had been broken “the day before”….. and it does lessen the enjoyment of the whole experience.

Go to this one for a bit of fun, and with a view to not analyzing aspects of story or quality of puzzle flow.  It’s a good laugh with the Professor, and will suit non-competitive groups very well indeed.

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Time Remaining: 7 minutes Clues Needed: 9 Escapers Top Tip:

Go as a larger group, there are a lot of small components to explore.