Outside the room
Ah, Lock’d. In some ways, our previous visit here had heralded our descent into madness by the owners convincing us to play back-to-back games. That felt pretty out there at the time but, since then, I’ve had double game days often enough that I’ve lost track and even played three in a day on one occasion. So we were back in the Biscuit Factory to play their third and final game at this location, Perpetuum Mobile (and, fittingly, going on to make it a double by playing at their neighbour, AIEscape).
This time, the game was being hosted by an employee as opposed to the owner, which generally makes for a poorer experience, but this host was one of the best I’ve seen. He added humour to the dull stuff, told us the story well and was very clear about how the clue system would work (you could ask questions and he’d answer but, if you wanted help with a puzzle, then that counted as a clue and you could get clues on a maximum of three puzzles). It was clear he was enthusiastic about escape rooms – asking us about other games we’d played, telling us about the new HTC Vive and what people were doing with it, and explaining how the puzzles in the room worked after we’d finished. Top marks!
BackgroundPerpetual motion, the holy grail of energy generation. Professor Richter was right on the cusp of discovering the secret when he went missing. Unfortunately, the crystals he was using to generate the limitless power provided by perpetual motion have become unstable and are threatening to wipe out the planet. You’ve got one hour to find the secrets of his laboratory, work out how to control the crystals and stabilise them, or you can say goodnight forever.
Inside the room
Ah, the scientist’s laboratory. The friend of the escape room reviewer; I can confidently predict there will be a Bunsen burner, a lab coat and a periodic table. Well, I got two out of three right this time! Actually, this was on the upper end of decoration for laboratories – in some places it might have looked a little thrown together, but there were other areas where they’d gone to a lot of trouble to bring out the theme.
The puzzles in the game were loosely themed around the story, with most (maybe all?) having some sort of science link. If you go in with the understanding that the Professor was trying to keep people out of his secret laboratory, you could even argue that the majority of the puzzles fitted naturally in the space, although it would definitely be a bit of a stretch. More importantly, when we got the correct answers we always felt reasonably confident that we were doing the right thing.
It’s not a spoiler to tell you that this room has a safe in it, but what would be a spoiler is if the batteries on the inside of that safe fell out so you couldn’t open it… Unfortunate, but it was clear by the way the host knew the problem before opening the safe that he’d seen this problem before. Fortunately, it was possible to get past that part of the room, so it didn’t block us, but eventually we called up our host to confirm that the safe was dead (and he then confirmed we’d got past the relevant part of the puzzles). For all that he was an excellent host, that highlighted one of the key weaknesses at Lock’d; your host is shared between the three rooms, so they can’t pay the same amount of attention to you as a dedicated host, with the result that they don’t notice things like a safe you never opened.
Don’t let the safe put you off. While there were some numerical codes to be generated and a few keys, I was impressed by the variety of ways they’d devised for locking things up. I realise that combination locks are one of the simplest ways of achieving this, but it’s always a bit disappointing when you spend your hour fiddling with tumblers, especially if you have to do it repeatedly across multiple padlocks.
The finale puzzle was one of the best I’ve seen, but it was also a little bit, shall we say, temperamental. The instructions left you feeling a little unsure as to whether you were doing it right, and I’ve heard of people getting very frustrated with it. Personally, I think it was reasonable but, if you’re the sort of person who likes everything to work seamlessly, then be warned! On the other hand, they do explain the frailty and bind that into the game story, so I can’t hold it too much against them.
We escaped around the 39-minute mark without taking any clues. Lock’d don’t have a timer in the room (!), so that’s as accurate an answer as I can give you. No clues were killed in the making of this escape.
I described the other two rooms at Lock’d as “solid”, but I’ll go further with this one and say it’s good. I enjoyed this room. Yes, there were moments that were a little frustrating, but it had a good variety of puzzles which combined mechanics and technology nicely. They weren’t numerous, but they were satisfying and, while we escaped in under forty minutes, it felt like this room should give most players a decent challenge.
I’d probably steer first-time players to one of Lock’d’s other rooms, but I happily recommend this game to anyone and suggest they play as a team of three or four. If you like technology, then this game is particularly fun.
In spite of ending up playing two games back-to-back, we headed out to the local Japanese restaurant, Poppy Hana, for dinner afterwards. I had an excellent chicken katsu don and other people round the table seemed to enjoy theirs too. Would recommend.