#49: Escape in Time (London) – Secret Studio

An exciting room that stepped up the tension well through the game, with a few standout elements making the room easy to recommend, though let down a little in places, mostly by poor organisational choices and the occasional unthemed puzzle.

Rating:★★★☆☆ (Recommended)
Location:London
Team:Rhubarb Rhubarb
Date:8 September 2019
Hints taken:3 + some for technical difficulties
Time:58m37s (adjusted to 56m37s after)
URL:Escape in Time

Front & Briefing

Secret Studio is one of London’s older escape rooms and immediately lives up to its name, sending you instructions to find their secret location by email shortly before the day of your booking – I think this makes it the first room I’ve played where taking a photo of the entrance for this blog would constitute a spoiler! I would, however, suggest you arrive marginally early as this will get you a slightly better experience than another team that turns up for the same slot – there are multiple copies of the room and the times aren’t staggered.

Once we made it inside, we were briefed alongside the other team that had appeared in a joint session. This was in the form of a spooky tale which to be honest fell a little flat for me, and I had trouble following the storyline, which was roughly: a film editor has gone missing from the edit suite while editing a horror film, and you’ve been sent in to find out what happened to them.

Theme

The themes in this room lend themselves quite well to being reproduced pretty faithfully, and we could tell that this would have been pushing the envelope when the room was new in 2015 – the final puzzle in particular was a very clever use of space and some real-life processes that made performing the actions particularly enjoyable.

There were also a couple of very nice surprises done using a mechanism that I haven’t come across before, which makes the room much more easy to recommend than I think it otherwise would be.

The soundproofing could have done with being improved a little; the other team playing in the copy of the room next to us could be heard winning which is a little disheartening while you’re still going!

Puzzles

An interesting mix of lateral thinking, pattern spotting, use of space and plain old hunting for clues (where once again the team took a couple of hint hits for failing to spot something we should have!) made for a room that kept our interest going throughout, with some satisfying payoffs.

On the other hand, some of the puzzles felt completely out of place for the space they were being performed in, and unfortunately others were well into the escape room clichés by this point.

We had one setup/technical problem that left us confused and needing to take a literal answer for one puzzle; we queried it afterwards and the GM confirmed that they’d reset the room badly after the previous occupants. It felt like the sort of thing that should have been on their reset checklist, and so close to the end of the game could have cost us the win, even though they added two minutes back to our time, retrospectively, after we queried it afterwards.

Hint system

Hints were at the GM’s discretion, and via text on a monitor, though they were able to hear us – in particular we appreciated that they responded to one of our team member calling out that we didn’t want hints just yet after the GM chipped in a little early on one puzzle. The time was also on display throughout.

Finale

Smart, and unique. I shall say no more than the fact that it was one of the more memorable finales I’ve experienced.

Debriefing

The GM was happy to go through stuff with us, and had noted a few amusing things we’d said throughout. Both teams in the time slot were around at the same time, though I’ll note that each team did have their own GM.

Finally, a photo of the team, which was later emailed to us with a custom note from the GM; a nice touch – it wasn’t just a generic Facebook link.

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