Strood, Dec 2017
I was frankly a little apprehensive about playing You’re Next; it was clearly a horror theme, and with no website other than a Facebook page and a location in the Medway suburbs Time 2 Escape looked like a fairly low overhead operation. While there’s nothing wrong with either of those, in combination I’ve found they sometimes mean a game where darkness and restraints are used as a substitute for good design. In fact, You’re Next uses neither restraints nor darkness, and has plenty of good design.
The backstory is that you have unwisely accepted hospitality from a certain Lord Addington, who turns out to be the type of scenery-chewing villain who likes to murder his guests. Rather than, say, a dank basement, you find yourself in a bedroom that’s richly if creepily adorned. While this is a low tech game built around zero tech puzzles, there’s little to complain about in the decor, which is enhanced with suitable background music.
Hints are via walkie talkie; there’s no in-story explanation for it, but it’s an effective enough way to give hints and which is not intrusive when not being used.
We were wrong-footed at an early point by a puzzle involving colour, where the clue is straightforward when interpreted in the intended way, and thoroughly confusing otherwise. I’d consider that a weak puzzle but not a badly flawed one, since once the correct approach is spotted it becomes immediately clear that that’s what you’re supposed to do. Between that and some silly mistakes, we ended up finishing this game about a minute over time, though that’s also due to the game having somewhat more content than typical – there’s plenty to get through.
The zero tech design includes plenty of familiar escape room tropes and is unembarrassed about including elements that are obviously there as puzzle items, such as digits for padlock codes hidden on decorations. Still, I found it showed a good level of creativity, with several steps turning out to involve more involved or interesting solutions than I had initially guessed, and a couple of smart fake-outs. As a horror theme it never sets out to terrify and its gorier elements are amusing Halloween nasties not anything actually disturbing. While the design stays comfortably within the style of a traditional escape room, it’s executed well, and if there are a couple of rough edges they’re more than balanced out by the game’s strengths.