London, Dec 2016
Don’t be put off by the trek down to South Wimbledon. This labour of love of a room is well worth a visit! We were sworn to secrecy by Professor QB, so I won’t say anything about the theme of the room, which may or may not be a cube.
We visited as a team of three and loved getting stuck into the plethora of puzzles, some of which were pretty unique and inventive. The game is non-linear and makes you work individually or in small groups, depending on size of team. The clue system is low tech, with hints offered according to a strict timetable.
The timer gets a special mention for sheer creativity. A few other quirky little touches and the enthusiasm of the host made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Not the flashiest of rooms or locations, but who cares when you escape from the room with a big grin on your face because you have had so much fun?
The Cube is not a large scale or ambitious escape room. It’s built around a large number of padlocks and involves a fair bit of searching. There’s a goal for the game but no particular theme that links the puzzles. And yet it’s a quirkily charming room with rock solid design (even if some of the components are a little on the fragile side) and I defy you to not have fun playing it. If the creative home-made feel doesn’t win you over, the hosting will.
A sticker system helps a great deal in avoiding time trying keys in the wrong locks. A similar system for numeric codes would be an improvement, though trying to find the correct place for codes never became onerous enough to detract from the game, mainly because (with one very small exception) all puzzles resolved clearly and unambiguously.
With a very non-linear structure, there’s plenty for a team to divide and conquer. Despite the sheer quantity of puzzles it’s fairly accessible with plenty of points for a team to get stuck in, including the many objects hidden in not too tricky locations. The unembarrassed lack of a linking theme makes it more of a grab-bag of puzzles than any kind of immersive story, but also frees the designers to include anything and everything that they wanted to include, meaning great variety and some cool ideas.
Mystery Cube is unlikely to make it into many enthusiasts lists of all time best games. But it’s well designed and well run, and manages to add up to more than its relatively humble size and structure would suggest, for a whole lot of old-school escaping fun.