Crime and Punishment Lab felt like an early-generation escape room despite being quite new, but pulled it off with a high standard of theming and a huge stack of puzzles that we found very enjoyable.
|Rating:||★★★★☆ (Highly recommended)|
|Date:||21 April 2019|
|URL:||One Pound Lane / Escape in the Towers|
Front & Briefing
One Pound Lane, just to the side of Canterbury’s Westgate, seems mostly to be a bar/restaurant when you go in, but there’s a small foyer with a couple of seats for escape room attendees. At the correct time our very enthusiastic GM collected us and led us upstairs to where, oddly given we’d been sat downstairs, there was an actual briefing area to sit in.
This is an escape room inspired by the location, the venue’s original 1830s prison cells, rather than aiming for more historically accuracy like One Pound Lane’s other offering, The Comms Room (#45). The storyline is a little light but essentially you’ve become locked in a macabre 19th Century punishment research lab. The room immediately gets off to an immersive start as you’re lead to the starting point of the game.
There was a high standard of work put into this room, which used the existing space cleverly and complemented the building rather than trying to disguise it (for instance, the GM was keen to point out a few original features of the jail cells just before we began). Aside from a few anachronisms and bits of escape room logic, it was easy to get into the spirit of the room
The creators have jammed a lot of puzzles into this escape room! There was always plenty to do and yet the room was designed to unfold at a rate where we never felt too overwhelmed with the number of tasks to get through. During our briefing we were told there would be audio cues if we were getting behind, which is an interesting concept, though it wasn’t used for us, so I can’t say whether it would have been motivational or panic-inducing! The puzzles themselves were all of pretty high quality, with a mix of purely physical puzzles and some ones with some underlying tech. My only two issues would be the presence of quite a few escape room tropes, but they were on the lines of familiar puzzle mechanisms rather than flaws in the room; and a sizeable number of identical padlocks, though it was generally clear which one or two to go for at any given point.
The time was shown on a screen which also displayed a visual hint for our single clue during the game – it’s nice to see when escape rooms have anticipated what areas might be problematic for players and have crafted clues appropriately. The hint we got was enough to give us a moment of realisation without straight up telling us the solution.
There wasn’t a big finale moment, which is fine, though the puzzles at the end were a lot more physically entertaining than at the start, and included one puzzle that felt particularly satisfying to perform.
Our GM went through the game with us, took our photo with the escape time written on a board, which ends up on social media, and had a nice chat to us about other escape rooms in the area. We booked two later in the day based on his recommendations and they were good!