Guildford, Apr 2018
The original room at Guildford Escape Rooms is dramatically different to its sibling game, in tone, style and setting, but achieves a similar high level of quality. The Case of the Missing Gun is based in 1930s Prohibition, and where the venue’s other game is sleek and intellectual, this one feels grittier and more physical. The premise is that you’re searching the office of a private investigator, who has met an unfortunate accident the day before he could appear in court to provide the crucial evidence needed to put a crime boss behind bars. To prevent the criminal walking free, you need to find the murder weapon that will clinch the prosecution’s case.
Missing Gun is not easy. Early on it hits players with an involved multi-step physical task; while the elements of that were familiar from other games, they were combined here in a cunning and more than usually fiendish way. It’s a tough task but an appealing one to tackle, and I missed several of the other early puzzles in the game because I was focusing too hard on dealing with it.
The game content was tough but fair. We missed one tricky step that felt like a bit of a stretch; if you also need to be clued past it you’ll probably agree, and if you solve it unaided you’ll no doubt think it perfectly reasonable while revelling in your genius. It did have all the necessary clues to be solved, it just needs good observation skills to notice that several disparate elements are linked. I’d expect certain sections of this game to catch out even very experienced teams, not because they’re flawed but because there are a lot of subtle bits and pieces and it’s easy to miss one or another of them. Whether that reduces your enjoyment will depend on how willing you are to be rescued by the hint system. (Speaking of which, the hint system is a custom themed device that fits the game beautifully.)
Both games at Guildford Escape Rooms struck me as somewhat tougher than most escape games, but in different ways. Where Venus’s challenges were intellectual and co-operative, Missing Gun fittingly requires the skills of the private investigator: thorough searching, careful observation, the linking of what initially appear to be unrelated pieces of evidence. That’s a stylistic difference, and although their other game fitted better with my personal tastes, I found a lot to admire in this one too.
Both provide a difficulty level that’s well suited for enthusiasts, both are designed not just with creativity but in a way that goes beyond superficial theming to match the game style to the setting. I got the impression that the backstory had been worked out in more detail than was actually necessary for the game itself, and little details such as the hint system and the background audio updates helped deepen that sense of taking part in a well-developed narrative.