London, Sep 2017
Our third Room Lockdown game was their Egyptian themed room, where the team is of course trapped inside an ancient pyramid with an hour to solve the pharaoh’s riddles or be trapped forever.
Different games make wildly differing attempts at creating pyramid interiors, and despite having generic converted office space to work with, Room Lockdown’s take on the theme uses low lighting and some nice large-scale props to successfully create atmosphere. It’s a slightly campy, theme-park version of an Egyptian tomb, but if you don’t mind some flagrant anachronisms and the occasional off-limits box of game electronics, it’s an entertainingly fun one.
This game’s biggest weakness is its heavy reliance on UV clues. Ignoring the question of why an ancient tomb is decorated in UV ink, the problem is there were a lot of hidden UV clues to find and only one UV torch. I can’t remember many games that managed to create bottlenecks for a team of only two players, but that was the case here. I shudder to think what it’d be like with six players all fighting over the same torch; especially since Room Lockdown use an open booking system, meaning a team may mix strangers together. And just to aggravate that further, this game shared the same problem as their Prison one, of useless clues being left as distraction information, presumably from a previous iteration of the game design.
It looked like the most high-tech of the games at Room Lockdown. In fact, one mechanism confused me in that it appeared to require sensors to detect something with a precision that seemed impossible to achieve. In fact, that puzzle and at least one other use manual triggering from the host. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing – it’s more resilient against device failure, for example. It also allowed the operator to fudge a puzzle that had a particularly tenuous and obscure clue, letting us through when we’d done something close enough; which is good in that otherwise we’d otherwise have been completely stuck, but simultaneously less satisfying for players.
I have to add this to the list of games from which I’ve failed to escape in time, which probably also makes me less forgiving of its flaws than its sister games at the venue. (I blame the failure primarily on us spending a long time trying many combinations of some colours that turned out to be irrelevant. We’d utterly failed to notice the actual set of colour clues that we should have used; thoughwe should also have made more tactical and timely use of our clue allowance.)
It shares some of the strengths of Prison Break as well as the weaknesses: a good sized area with a sense of exploration and discovery, plus decent atmosphere and decorations. It adds on top an Indiana Jones vibe and one or two surprises. Even so, the puzzle ambiguities and the constant reliance on written UV clues mean I’d suggest picking one of the other games before this one.