Newark, Nov 2019
After so many escape rooms hidden away in dubious industrial estates, it’s a bit of a shock to reach LetsXcape, driving through acres of landscaped gardens up to the very grand country house that is Kelham Hall. This building has recently become a hotel and conference centre – and now also hosts LetsXcape’s escape rooms. Both of the games we played there draw on the Hall’s history.
As you might not guess from the name, The Rig is based on the real-life fact that American oil miners were stationed in the Hall during World War II, and adds the premise of an oil drilling site within the Hall itself, which after seventy years of decay is now about to explode.
I’d heard enthusiastic reports of The Rig before playing, and on entering it was immediately clear that it’s a high quality build. You’re supposed to be entering a drill site build in the 1940s, and the result blends industrial machinery with period detail in a way that feels convincing and provides plenty of opportunities for entertaining puzzle tasks. It successfully gave an impression of a workplace abandoned decades ago, untouched since its workers downed tools and left, leaving behind scattered minutiae of daily life. But that was a backdrop to a game that spends as much time playing with scientific and industrial equipment as it does investigating the lives of oil riggers.
We spent some time waving a UV torch around before finding the right place to point it, and some more direction there would have been appreciated. But that was the exception in a game which offered a succession of interesting tasks, often based on physical manipulation, building up to the big final sequence of shutting down the rig.
I also enjoyed how it managed a clear sense of forward progression, never letting us forget what we were trying to achieve, and came together to a big finish once we were in a position to achieve it. There’s an interesting contrast to their second game, Sacred; my teammates preferred that one for its more fantastical theme, whereas The Rig is a bit more anchored in the real world and a bit more hands-on, and was my favourite of the two.