We’re old hands at escape rooms, we escaped from first one to open in London with mere seconds to spare and have had played the good, the terrible, the beautiful and the obnoxious.
This week we went whimsical with Inkwell Investigations: Murder History.
WHAT IS AN ESCAPE ROOM?
Usually, but not always, an escape room tasks you with solving a series of clues, riddles, puzzles, and tasks of manual dexterity and ingenuity to escape from a room.
Some are clever RFID tagged beasts, others are a series of poorly held together clues which bear no resemblance to the story and simply have padlocks. So many padlocks.
THIS ONE IS IN A PUB
But not necessarily… We arrived at the Coborn Arms in East London and are greeted by Professor Inkwell of Inkwell Manor, and his assistant Dame Inkwell.
We grab some drinks and crisps and are shown to seats in a corner of the pub. On each table a box.
IT’S AN ESCAPE ROOM IN A BOX
This time we’re not escaping from a room, but instead unraveling the mysteries of the time machine on the table in front of us…
The box is opened, the timer begins and an almost overwhelming number of pieces of paper and items spill out onto the table. The mission begins for our characters!
A MURDER MYSTERY TOO?
Unlike most, indeed any I have played before, Inkwell Investigations assigns you a character to play. A name badge is given with secrets on the back – one of the players is in fact the murderer. While they still want to succeed at the escape box – no one wants to get trapped and lost in time – the clues are also interspersed with snippets of information about each of the characters and the players should attempt to identify the identity of the killer along the way.
WHAT OF THE PUZZLES?
There’s not a huge amount you can do with a wooden box and yet the multiple layers provided enough for our group of 5 to largely be engaged at any one time.
Maps, words, numbers, as you delve further into the box the items build up and more puzzles are revealed.
Professor Inkwell is on hand to remove any items that are no longer required which helps to keep on top of things but the items…
Yes, I have been spoiled by some high budget time travelling escape rooms. Yes, I do have a slight problem when an escape room is all about padlocks, though this one has built the reasons into the story, which is a nice touch. Yes I have been spoiled by professionally printed information instead of laminated sheets.
All of this would have been forgivable; this is after all a low-cost option and clearly designed to be run in a pub, office, convention etc.
What isn’t forgivable is that one of our items lacked the necessary information to continue. We’d been given a dud. We had amassed a strong lead and it was gone as we examined our items and paper, while the Inkwell team stood over us, and eventually as the other teams finished, we were given one of their items, and 5 minutes knocked off our time.
In all honesty we deserved about 20 knocking off and would likely have beaten the record but it was not to be.
With two boxes already open, and ours finally revealing the final layer, our minds turn to murder. Who was responsible? And why?
While this was a bit tacked on the end, it was fun to accuse each other and find out whodunit. Each team had a different culprit and unfortunately one team had been given two murderers and so were unable to reach a conclusion. Another letdown of organization which should be easily rectified in future.
I’d love to be able to recommend this; it’s a fine way to spend an hour in a pub with friends or family and the box itself while compact has a whole lot of puzzling within it.
We were told punters have a 59% escape rate, which is a great balance of trickiness, though we didn’t have too much trouble getting through the puzzles until we hit the snag of the broken piece.
And that’s where this falls down completely. You have to be able to trust in the game that everything is there, everything works, and if it doesn’t that someone will fix it faster than the 15 minutes we spent agonizing over the one puzzle which didn’t work.
Save your money and buy one of the EXIT games.
Or get your work to book it. That’s also an acceptable outcome.
Inkwell Investigations costs £120 per game and each game can take 3-8 players. It takes place at, or near the Coborn Arms, Bow, East London.
Nearest tube is Mile End.
It can also be run anywhere else if you ask them nicely.
Robin Bates – has escaped through time more than once
Want to try an escape game at home? Try one of these. Exit games can only be used once but offer an escape experience in a box.
Exit – The Abandoned Cabin – http://amzn.to/2FrRtU5
Exit– The Secret Lab – http://amzn.to/2Ho6PFB
Exit – The Pharaoh’s Tomb – http://amzn.to/2Gg25CJ
Exit – The Forbidden Castle – http://amzn.to/2Hpu9mC
Exit – The Forgotten Island – http://amzn.to/2p74uaH
Exit – The Polar Station – http://amzn.to/2Ilmyqa