A very well-planned room with a strong theme and extremely well-themed puzzles, The Comms Room worked well as a dual WW2 experience combined with an escape room, and we came away feeling like we’d learned something about the history of the building too!
|Date:||21 April 2019|
|URL:||One Pound Lane / Escape in the Towers|
Front & Briefing
An escape room in Canterbury’s medieval Westgate! Having lived in Canterbury for quite a few years while I was studying, it was a pleasant surprise to see that when they said the room was in the Westgate, they really meant in the Westgate. The briefing area, if it can be called that, is in an area off to one side of the main road, however, and consists of little more than a couple of seats in the foyer of One Pound Lane’s bar and restaurant area. It was only because another group were already there that we were sure we were in the right place!
Our very smartly dressed GM turned up at the time of our booking and led us across the road to the entrance to the building. We were briefed that this was somewhat more of an experience than the average escape room, and they were making the most of the location which genuinely was used as a Second World War comms room.
The aim is to defend Canterbury from air raids during the second world war, and the room was decorated using authentic equipment from the period featuring various command and control areas to deploy various air defences. While the floor space is quite small, they’ve fit quite a lot in here and it felt very immersive, save for one piece of modern tech used to move the game along.
The creators had gone to great lengths to make the systems for defending Canterbury as close to the actual tasks wardens would have been expected to perform at the time, which is a good game idea as, of course, none of your team is likely to have had training in this area, so there is a lot to figure out! Very little “escape room logic” here; in fact you really do have to consider what you’re doing in the context of the game in order to solve some parts. There was one puzzle that was a bit of an escape room cliche, but in the theme of the room it worked well. You’ll also need a tiny bit of local geographical knowledge, and knowledge of the Imperial system of units, which I lacked, so it would have been useful to have a hint about these somewhere in the room, but that’s my only minor gripe with the puzzles.
The GM will give you clues at their own discretion – in fact ours told us beforehand that asking will almost never get us anything as they like people to apply themselves first. We had one technical fault with the game early on which required us to vacate the room while it was fixed; the GM was a little slow to pick up that this had happened and it took a while to fix, and I’m not convinced that the five minutes we were given back was sufficient to cover this. After we’d restarted, the GM seemed a little over-keen to give us search hints before we’d even finished scanning around the room, which irritated us; it felt like they had a tight schedule to get back on. We were given the offer of a free coffee afterwards to make up for this.
It was fun! We’d got into the rhythm of the game, which was pretty linear, by this point, and it managed to pull out a couple of things to surprise us anyway.
Another thing that felt like we were being hurried out was that although we were told our time, there was no opportunity for photos despite seeing that other groups have had theirs published on social media. Photos aren’t an essential feature for me but it highlighted how tightly packed their schedule was following our technical fault.