If you’re stuck in an outdated seaside town in freezing temperatures and winds soaring high – looking for some indoor action must surely lead you to an escape room. And what a delight to discover Scarborough now has one.
Opened very recently is Escape Room Scarborough – Mr E Rooms – and first approach earns it some merit…. a stone throw from the public car park – tick. A warm and welcoming reception area – tick. An easily accessible loo – tick. And a pleasant greeting and briefing from the game host who is also the owner, taking care of his two rooms himself.
Our late booking got us a slot in ‘The Mission’ a game of secret agent where you are saving the world from the possible launch of a nuclear weapon by the Soviet Union, set during the cold war period. The premises are a former office building spread across 3-4 floors vertically. So we were led up the stairs to the second floor and briefed that we were going into one room to the right, representing Britain, but would be heading across the landing later to the second room on the left, representing Russia. That in itself was already a bit of a break in immersion, but we didn’t let it interfere with our desire to get on and enjoy the game.
The first room (British spy office) is nicely done, with good props for the 50’s/60’s and some nice puzzles to crack on with. It was nice as the game expanded and more involved elements to the puzzles came to light. However, after the first 20 minutes or so, things started to go a little awry.
Throughout, there had been a continual stream of hints and clues coming through, and we generally don’t like that, we prefer to ask for clues when we are genuinely stuck because we want to have a really good go at the puzzle first. So, I made a big mistake…… big…. mistake! I turned to camera and asked for the flow of clues to please cease unless we asked. Seemed like a good idea at the time!
We concluded the puzzles and tasks in the British spy office, and headed across the landing towards the Russian sector. There’s a minor bit of stretch there, in that you have to use an ATM to get the access code, which just doesn’t fit with the time period. However, once in Russia….. things collapsed spectacularly for us.
The room is filled with miscellany – props that don’t make sense, things that are not going to be used for anything, and quite a lot of red herring material. To the eye, it looks interesting as you enter, but there is no logic, reason or purpose to the presence of the props and items. After 10 minutes or so, we all realised that actually, the game was completely and totally dependent on that continual stream of hint direction that I had asked to stop.
To quickly avoid the wrath of the team that was fast going to head my way – I turned to camera again and asked for the clues to come in again! Hee hee… Gamehost wasn’t present! Numerous requests got us nothing in return. I suspect that because I’d purposely asked for no help, he had gone off and done something else.
Alone in our misery, we were standing around, wondering, looking at each other, twiddling thumbs and confused about all the items that we had collected in the earlier room, for which we had received clear instruction to take into Russia with us. Then, just completely out of the blue, the Gamehost walked into the room, asked where we had got to, pointed out a clue we had missed, and just stood there while we finished the remainder of the game and diffused the bomb! Oh well!
I particularly asked about all the unused, unnecessary items, and the owner just shrugged at me. Fillers I thought, and such a shame because being the only escape room in Scarborough, it could do some very good business in the local area.
In overview, I think the game has potential. The first part is done well enough to provide some good entertainment to the general public. But the second half of the game needs some reconstruction to make it feel worthy and satisfying. Also, the logic and flow of the whole game could do with re-assessing in order to lessen the stream of required hints that players need to make progress. The rooms haven’t been open long, so I’m sure the owner will be making improvements and tweaking the game designs.
You don't need what you think you need.