Cardiff, Dec 2016
While Disturbed is a traditional, padlock-heavy escape room, it’s a good example of how that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It uses a horror theme but is definitely a puzzle room not a scare experience.
It’s not a huge space, though didn’t feel cramped with a team of four. The use of video at the beginning and mid-way is a nice way to reinforce the theme and give more of a story to it. However, what I really enjoyed is the way the puzzles divided up well across the whole team. At most points there were several different things to investigate and work on at once, a non-linear structure that rewards good teamwork; and the puzzles involve a variety of skills, from searching to maths-y problems, through more visual and intuitive tasks. For the most part it involves a large number of medium difficulty puzzles rather than a smaller number of hard ones, meaning there’s a good sense of progression and momentum.
If you loathe the use of UV, be warned that it does make an appearance, and my heart sunk rather on seeing a UV torch for the third room in a row! However, it’s used sensibly, such that it’s clear where it’s needed and we didn’t end up having to tediously scan every single surface with it for the rest of the game. The high number of padlocks also meant there were occasional moments where we found ourselves trying a code against more than one lock.
We got a record time on this room, and that means I have to be careful with this review. It’s easy to over-rate a room in the happy glow of success; plus if it went smoothly for us, then by definition we didn’t encounter aspects that might prove frustrating for a different team. However, thinking over it as objectively as I can, it was designed with variety and creativity, avoiding common ways that puzzles can become tedious or frustrating; and though a killer’s basement filled with padlocks is pretty standard fare for frequent players, this is a familiar theme executed well.
This room was a lot of fun, involving a nice mix of searching, problem solving, and reasonable theme. However over-reliance on identical combination locks / padlocks can and should be easily avoided, and they could really up this room by putting in a few automatic opening cupboards/drawers, possibly adding to the theme as well.