London, Feb 2017
‘Escape the garage’ might not sound like the most thrilling of themes, though this actually has a Fast & Furious style plot of fast cars and bank heists. But once it gets going it’s an engagingly physical and just plain fun escape game that left me with a big grin on my face.
In contrast to the first Breakin’ room we’d done (Blackwing’s Cave), this room was brightly lit. It’s also less high tech, though only relative to that very high bar – while there are plenty of keys and locks and physical puzzles, there’s no shortage of technology well-used too.
There’s a clear sequence and progression to the game, all based on and tying into the story. Like Blackwing, it uses a mostly linear structure. Both the linearity and the sequence were less obvious to our group though, since we managed to intuit the answers to two of the puzzles and jump ahead. In both cases we only realised we’d done so when we solved something else and received a clue to the thing we’d already done. In neither case was it in any way a problem, since we missed out on nothing as a result, and the game worked perfectly well anyhow.
It’s hard to describe just how well the puzzles fitted with the theme without spoilers, so I’ll just say that not just the props or decor matched the theme and story, but the nature of the puzzles fitted it exactly. Everything carried the story in a way that was both satisfying and huge fun.
We played with a team of four, and I’m fairly sure that’s the optimal number. One major skill-based puzzle works best with that number, in that it would be significantly more time-consuming with fewer people, and with more than four the extra players would be stuck standing around watching. That puzzle is perhaps extended a little more than it need be – we thought it was great, but I can see that for a team that struggled with it a bit more it could quickly become tiresome.
The final climatic section is great – although it’s more a solo moment than something the whole team can co-operate on. But that’s only a brief bottleneck. Great mixture of physical and skill puzzles with more mental ones, and an all-round quality escape room, this one’s going straight on my ‘top recommendations’ list.
Brilliant! Perhaps my experience is coloured by how smoothly everything seemed to run together for us (after all, we had all just warmed up on
Nite Owl’s Nest Blackwing’s Cave) – it feels like the design for this room was geared for a great flow. They told us it would feel different and it really did! Gone were the dark corners, and spot lighting – and instead came a series of very different style puzzles (some of which were far more physical/skill based than they were intellectual) – which made the game feel exciting. Sound was well employed, as were some automated elements that gave a little bit of a swish feeling to what was coming next.
Again, everything fitted the theme extremely well, and I’m beginning to think that having a larger number of different rooms meant that designers for Breakin’ didn’t feel like they simply had to throw something into a room because they could. Instead, they were carefully choosing their games and puzzles for the theme.
We got out reasonably quickly, but not because the game was in any way light on puzzles or easy.
Overall – once again, I’m very impressed. Breakin’ have a lot of respect for atmosphere and theme – and so far, the gaming elements have proved to be reliable, and fun to play.
I love physical and skill team puzzles, and this room had them in abundance. From the get go, each puzzle helped move the story along; I love that Breakin’ in all their rooms have costumes and props to help get into the story, with appropriate sound effects and surprising elements. You don’t need to be a fan of cars and racing to really enjoy this room; I however am, and it was like being an 8 year old again – I just had a huge amount of fun.
The penultimate puzzle is the only thing that lets this room down; it broke for us, which was very frustrating and time consuming. This is one of the top London escape rooms; if they can make sure the penultimate puzzle works reliably smoothly, I’d give it a full 5 stars.