Carfax (Cave Escape Nottingham)

Game Date: 18th August 2019
Game Number: 33
Price for Two: £44/53 Off Peak/Peak
Website: https://www.caveescape.co.uk/

Game Overview
Your eyes begin to focus through the dull light. The croak and groan of the Russian cargo ship, The Demeter, makes you feel uneasy. You sense that a terrible event has occurred – the crew are missing, presumed dead. Only the body of the Captain is later recovered, found horrifically bound to the helm of the vessel. You have been called upon by Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the noted Dutch Metaphysician and his former student, Dr. John Seward whom’s patient, the aristocrat – Lucy Westenra, is presenting a series of bizarre symptoms. She seems to be drawn under the power of an unknown force which yolks her strength, day by day. What is causing her decline and could it be in some way connected to the eery appearance of the deserted ship upon Whitby’s shore? Only you can find the truth!

Arrival and Introduction
We made use of the multi-story car park just across the road which is attached to the Intu shopping centre. Cave Escape ask that you only arrive within 15 minutes of your game starting and not before, and so we ended up wandering round the shops for a bit. The waiting area inside is a beautiful designed area full of artefacts and antiques and it is almost a shame that you do not actually spend that long in here! You would be forgiven in thinking that everything is going to be dark and dingy given the name of the company but it was such a nice surprise to have such a warm and welcoming, and unique, reception area.

The benefit of playing games at venues with only one game is that you get 100% of the host attention and you know that you are going to be their sole focus for the game and we felt well looked after for the duration of our experience. Becky, our host and who I think is one of the owners led us down into the caves and gave us the our brief and a slight bit of back story outside the room. *Slight spoiler warning* Becky did tell us that there was a crawl space in the room and that if we wanted to avoid it all we have to do was ask and we would be taken an alternative route. Despite giving away some of the secret of the room, I like that this was made clear as getting down on your hands and knees and crawling is certainly not for everyone.

Gameplay
More of the story is delivered via voice over in the room and really helps to set the scene and to give more details on the story line. The room itself is very well themed and not what you would expect from a company titled Cave Escape! Instead of using the caves as the theme, they have used the natural environment of the caves to enhance the theme and decoration which gives a strangely unique feeling to themes we have seen plenty of times before. Discovery comes thick and fast in this game as you progress from area to area, each with a completely different fell and themeing but each one woven into a very convincing and solid story line. Most of the puzzles across the game rely on searching and given the strength of the theme, this was certainly welcome as you got to appreciate the effort that has gone into making the room rather than just giving things a cursory glance as you focus on puzzles. Too often we find puzzles are just thrown in to add difficulty to a game but all of these were well woven into the story line and worked very well within the unique theme of each area.

As you travel through the game, you learn more and more about what your end goal is going to be and by the time you are in the final room the end goal has revelled itself. A personal bug bear of mine is when rooms do not have a clear ending or you have an arbitrary code to enter on your escape door that has no real connection to the theme. Thankfully, Carfax does not go down this path.

Outcome
We completed our final task with 11.55 left on the clock and exited the room in great spirits. It was truly and enjoyable room and one that makes you remember why you enjoyed/are addicted to escape rooms. Becky asked us before the game how we wanted to go about clues, and as usual when we are given the choice, we left it up to her as she knows much more about the room than we do! Overall we only needed two hints – one nudge during searching and one clue we when had not thought through what was being asked of us properly. They are delivered via voice-over in the room.

Credit: Cave Escapes

Overall
A really really enjoyable game that is different enough to be enticing in a very crowed escape room market in Nottingham. The natural environment is used to enhance the game and the puzzles are solid and enjoyable to solve. The room had the potential to be frustrating but there was enough subtle signposting to avoid this. We left feeling that we could have done it quicker but actually didn’t mind taking almost 50 minutes as it was such a fun room to be in. We will definitely back for Monuments when we can. Given the linear nature of the room, I would go for a smaller team but given the amount of searching 3 is probably ideal. Pairs of players will be fine.

Customer Experience: 4.5 out of 5
Themeing: 4.5 out of 5
Gameplay: 4.5 out of 5
Enjoyment: 4.5 out of 5

Overall: 4.5 out of 5

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