REVIEW: STRANGE THINGS - ROOM LOCKDOWN

HORNCHURCH, ESSEX

Room Lockdown Hornchurch

As fans of the cult Netflix series Stranger Things, we were excited to play Room Lockdown’s homogeneously titled Strange Things - Escape The Upside Down. 

Similar to the shows own plot, we were to be transported to a small town in Indiana where unexplainable goings on; flickering lights, fuzzy TVs and unusual power activity have occurred, along with 5 members of the community reported missing. A witness says he saw a man type figure with no face and long arms and after investigation it turns out the children of the neighbourhood were right after all! … Demogorgons have teamed up with other creatures and plan to take over the world. Our mission? To stop these strange things!

We were invited to sit on a sofa inside the room during the generic rules chat with our games master. Unless the GM is in character, we’re not huge fans of this talk taking place inside the main game space as it breaks the immersion a little. It’s also rather difficult to not snoop around at your surroundings whilst simultaneously nodding in agreement as the lock instructions are explained to your team. 

The room started well, with us all being instructed to remain seated until the first task allowed one member of our team to evoke the games 60 minute countdown timer. The space had a few interesting props to investigate and puzzles to solve which kept us busy for a short time but in our effort to reach the latter stages of the game we soon became bottlenecked upon completing these initial obvious tasks . 

Strange Things Escape Room Review

There were a few novel additions we enjoyed but nothing we hadn’t seen elsewhere. Most tasks were traditional in their execution - with the odd temperamental NFC puzzle to break away from an otherwise primordial padlock/code heavy game. The game flow was fairly open in terms of puzzles to complete throughout, but lacked any 'wow' moments at its previously mentioned linear points, and whilst its challenges admittedly suit newbies or younger players, enthusiasts who favour a tougher ride will likely plough through the game within no time at all. 

One annoyance was the inclusion of a tinny prop that was frustrating to use rather than the novel challenge it was likely intended to be. Another bugbear was the resolve of one particular lock requiring a clue to complete. Without requesting a clue, there was seemingly no logical explanation nor hints within the space to find its resolve. The explicit necessity for a clue to resolve any puzzle in any escape game is - in our opinion - never good escape room practice. 

The decoration was adequate with the first space being the stronger of the areas available. We felt the room had far greater decoration potential than what was offered and sadly was not up to the same standard of immersion found at other independent escape room companies. With its mediocre build quality being far rougher around the edges by comparison. We also felt that there was an opportunity missed to create something special in the latter part of the game that unfortunately really fell apart in terms of puzzle quality, set design and was sadly topped off with a very lacklustre ending.  

Having said that, this is a new game and Room Lockdown are known for creating regular puzzle/room refreshes (in the form of different seasons of each game.) Should they incorporate some more trickier and unique puzzles paying homage to the array of 80’s nostalgic references it almost alludes, along with a greater attention to detail in its interior and some much required standout moments there is potential for Strange Things (season two) to be an excellent escape game. In its current format however, having completed it in just 34 minutes we couldn’t help but leave questioning whether we had spent our pennies wisely. 

It’s probably still worth playing if you’re a fan of the show for the novelty of its tepid tie-ins. Although if you attend expecting to be fully immersed in the world of The Upside Down there’s a high chance you’ll be leaving Room Lockdown with Eggo on your face. 

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-2-STAR-FIN-2019

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