Unfortunately, Pharoah’s Chamber wasn’t much more than some reasonably interesting puzzle loosely tied together with a vague theme. For a central London location, this made it all the more disappointing.
|Rating:||★★☆☆☆ (Not recommended)|
|Date:||8 September 2019|
|Hints taken:||0, or 3, depending on who’s counting|
Front & Briefing
A couple of minutes’ walk from London Bridge station must make this the most central location I’ve been to a escape room in, and the venue was naturally pretty easy to find, just tucked away down a side street off the main road. We were welcomed inside and given the basic info jointly with another group doing a different room. Our GM then lead us to the room and gave us some more room-specific details before setting the timer on the wall and leaving us to it.
The title of the room implied a fair amount about what we might expect of the content, though upon entering I found myself a little disappointed at the sparsity of the area, especially given the marketing material on Escape Rooms’ website. There were some Ancient Egyptian props, most obviously the ones spaced around the exterior, but apart from that it was largely a white room with some thematic cues rather than feeling like you were truly raiding a tomb as per the room’s description.
Similarly, by and large the puzzles felt like they could have been transplanted into any space, and some were out-and-out anachronistic. One of the trickier puzzles, which required some intuiting over how a system worked, was made even harder by an instruction given to us during the briefing, which, at a guess, had been added to the briefing to make the first stage of the puzzle less bewildering for escape room beginners, but it actively prevented us from finding required information later – we required a not-a-hint (see below) in order to solve it.
One other puzzle stood out as a massive missed opportunity to engage all the members of the team more, and as it stood there really wasn’t much teamwork involved at all in the whole game; certainly not at a physical level.
Escape Rooms (that is, the company running this venue) has a different notion of what counts as a hint to most other places I’ve been to. The GM is happy to talk to you and provide what I myself would call hints or clues in any other game, without it technically counting as a hint. (And they did so with quite a high frequency!)
This mattered a bit for this venue as no-hint winners got a team photo on a special wall of fame in the foyer. We didn’t take any official hints, but I would imagine they are pretty much just telling you the answer based on the non-hint information we received.
The game ends when the last of a few possible puzzles were completed. This reminded me of Cathedral (#42), where inevitably the puzzle that has been most aggregating ends up being your last, which I’m not convinced is good game design. As with Cathedral, it also meant that one team member had started the puzzle and didn’t really need input from the others mid way through.
As one of the team put it afterwards, this was actually the most fun bit of the room! As winners we were given a black sheet of paper on which to affix a team photo, and some glittery pens to decorate the border with. This is then put up in the hall of fame in the foyer.