London, Jul 2018
The UK’s largest escape room franchise has been busy this year, with new branches popping up across the country. In London they’ve added a branch in Shadwell to the existing one in West London to double the number of games on offer. Seven Seas is one of the new additions, and uses a pirate theme.
My experience with Escape is that they usually provide beginner-friendly rooms that are reliably entertaining as mainstream escape experiences. My first impression on entering this one was that they’ve upped their game. Almost all of the pirate games I’ve played were visually impressive, and while Seven Seas uses quite a small space it looks good, with lots of dark wood and the usual pirate trappings of ropes and barrels and chests.
The atmosphere also benefits from low light levels. Of course, what dim lighting adds to a room in atmosphere it tends to take away in gameplay, and that could easily have been the case here – there’s no fun in squinting at tiny padlock dials in darkness trying to work out whether you entered the code you intended. Escape London took the novel solution here of permitting and encouraging us to use our phone torches. While that was wildly off-theme, in practical terms it worked fine and meant the low lighting never got in the way.
I disliked a particular final puzzle, where the clue appeared to have been elaborated more than needed, either to make it harder or more decorative. Since it also involved a set of quite fussy sensors that sometimes gave no reaction even when doing the right thing, it was an easy one to end up wasting time on. A couple of the other puzzles struck me as ambiguous in smaller ways, but otherwise the content was up to Escape’s reliably solid standard.
If you do hit problems, they may be exacerbated by the gamemaster’s inability to hear you. I guess the vast majority of teams’ sticking points are ones that are easy to diagnose from what the operator can see on the cameras, but the lack of microphones in this room seems to me something that’ll inevitably cause frustrations in the rarer cases where the host doesn’t immediately understand why a team is stuck.
Barring problems of that sort, you should find it a reliably fun game if not a particularly challenging one. As with many of the games from this company, experienced players will rattle through the various mostly padlock-driven puzzles with few problems, and are likely to finish comfortably ahead of time. If you’ve played a couple dozen games there’s little here that you’ll be talking about for weeks afterwards, but the decor looks great and it’s reliably enjoyable throughout – perhaps with the exception of that final puzzle.