Diamond Duel (Experimental Escape Lemington Spa)

Game Date: 20/03/2019
Game Number: 23
Price for Two: £40
Website: https://www.experimental-escape.com/

Game Overview
Twin brothers Walter and Winston have never worked a day in their life. They sit on a multi billion pound fortune and a large diamond inherited from their Father, The Earl of Leamington. Since his passing, the brothers have been fighting for superiority. They will stop at nothing to have the upper hand. You have a 60 minute window. Can you assemble a crack team, locate and steal the precious diamond then escape before their security team catch you?

Arrival and Introduction
We were having a few days holiday in Stratford-upon-Avon and manged to squeeze in a visit to this venue en route down. We parked just round the corner in the Chandos Street Car park which was reasonably priced for a few hours. You can find the entrance just next to Coffee#1 and is well advertised (I cant stand having to be made to work to find out where to enter-puzzles should only be found in the room itself!). NOTE: All of Experimental Escape’s rooms are up a number a few flights of stairs and no lift was available. We were met by Charlie, who is the owner of the company and shown to the usual lockers/toilets etc. The game brief was given partly though a video (always a nice addition to add to the experience) and from Charlie himself and then it was into the room.

Gameplay
We entered what was a very sparsely decorated study space that we had previously seen in the brief video and this provided us with our first challenge. We work best when confronted with lots of things at once as we like spending some time moving around the room and calling out the things that we find so that we can agree a plan of action. As there was so little in the room, this became a challenge as we didn’t know where exactly to begin. This is definitely not the rooms fault, just a product of how we prefer to play. Once we had worked out where to begin we began to make slow progress through the room. It took as a long time to get some of the puzzles as we were guilty of overthinking and not simply working on what was in front of us. There was a neat little tech puzzle in the first room that we liked the idea off but needed a bit of extra signposting to understand what was going on. As I said above, it took us a long while to get going but eventually we hit our stride and and made our way into the second area and were faced with a very clear goal in order to move forward, into where presumably we would find the diamond. Two puzzles in here really stood out for us both for use of tech and how to actually enter the correct answer once found. Upon reaching the final room and seeing the diamond, initially we were struck by the cool mechanism that needed to be used to retrieved the diamond, however we found it much more difficult than it needed to be and so frustrated us greatly – and with only one person able to work on it at a time – left the other player feeling a little useless. However, eventually retrieved the diamond and escaped the room!

There was a distinct lack of padlocks throughout this game which means the focus is on technology and there were some really innovative ideas of how to input correct answers to puzzles. However, the down side of this is that unlike a padlock where you know for a fact when you have the right answer, on a few occasions, entering the right code did not seem to actually do anything and we had to be prompted by Charlie to find out what had happened. This is probably mostly our fault for not paying enough attention, but I enjoy those “ah-ha” moments of cause and effect which was missing for a few of these puzzles.


Outcome
We retrieved the diamond and escaped the room with just over 8 minutes to go. We took a large numbers of clues in the first part of the room just to get us started and to correct us when we started going in the wrong direction entirely. These clues were delivered by walkie-talkie. We chatted with Charlie for a while afterwards about the plans for their new room and an augmented reality game in the “real” world which sounds very exciting. Charlie also explained the cool mechanism they have for when teams play this room as a duel – both teams are fighting for just one diamond which I think is a really cool way to ramp up the pressure of the duel! Would definitely recommend playing the room as a duel after hearing this. Oh, and you get free pack of haribo on exit which went down very well with my escaping partner!

Credit: Experimental Escapes

Overall
A frustrating room for us as we should have done much better – it felt like we were definitely not on top form. However, the room was still enjoyable though a bit more signposting, especially when entering correct answers to puzzles, would not go a miss. This would likely not be a problem if you had a bigger team as you fill the space much more than a pair, however as a pair if you are both working on a puzzle in one section of the room and the correct “answer” does something at the other end of the room then you are at risk of missing what has happened. Teams of two should take note of this when playing the game, but apart from that the number and difficulty of puzzles should not stop teams of two from escaping.

Customer Experience – 4 out of 5
Theming – 3.5 out of 5
Enjoyment – 3.5 out of 5
Gameplay – 3.5 out of 5
Overall – 3.5 out of 5

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