REVIEW: TERMINAL - ESCAPE PLAN LIVE

CHATHAM, KENT

Terminal Escape Room Review Chatham Escape Plan Live

Escape Plan Live’s Terminal is a 90 minute game set inside a real, disused bus depot within The Pentagon Shopping centre in Chatham. Its website boasts of its huge space, alongside the promise of live actor interactions with a caution to players of a nervous disposition to try and not chicken out! 

With us all aboard and suitably intrigued, we signed up for our one-way ticket.

We discovered this venue on the top floor of the shopping centre and found ourselves still waiting to get in well after our booked time slot for arrival. Unable to get any response from our rat-a-tat-tats on the door, we were uncertain if this was an intentional ploy to amp our anxiety or whether our booking had been seemingly forgotten…(turns out it wasn’t intentional).

After the eventual greeting we were invited across the threshold to the games immediate starting point. There was no reception area and neither were there lockers to stow our possessions and although this is not a huge deal it was already proving to be an unusual set-up from our typical escape room experience. (It’s probably also worth noting there are no toilets available at this venue so you'll need 20p to access the shopping centre loos for your pre-game business, so do visit before you arrive!) 

Our GM made quick work of evolving from our friendly welcome party to immersed character and we soon found ourselves plunged into chaos. Unfortunately there was no real introduction or mention of the rooms competition winner plot that's detailed on Escape Plan Live's website:

“You thought this new travel company seemed too good to be true…and you were absolutely right! None of the passengers who’ve made the mistake of booking with them have ever completed their journey in one piece. Having won a trip in a competition we didn’t remember entering, we’re far too excited about our prize to notice that things are not quite right here until it’s too late…or is it? Maybe we can escape the station before our bus arrives as we start to realise it’s headed for a destination from which we’ll never return…” 

The start of Terminal was promisingly strong. The ominous space and interactions that followed during these initial moments really had us suitably on edge and immersed, but sadly the wheels on this bus began to rapidly fall off... 

Due to the rooms marketing (or perhaps naivety on our part), we had genuinely expected to be running around an actual bus terminus here. Instead we found ourselves dashing about a cluster of derelict offices that if we’re honest could have been within the walls of any disbanded civic centre. We’re admittedly unfamiliar with Chatham's port authority past but there was nothing inside to suggest that this was historically the site of a bus station. 

Escape Plan Live Terminal Escape Room Review

There had also been very few decorative changes to its walls or furniture to modify the spaces relevancy for an escape game - somehow managing to allude any notable nods to its transportation hub theme. Any mild interior efforts involved were easily implemented with the occasional uninspired MS-Word document that had been printed off and tacked to notice boards. Aside from the extensive spaces' business rates, very little money has been seemingly spent here. 

Although there was plenty to investigate, the vast majority of the many nooks and crannies to mull over were almost entirely irrelevant to the game. These on occasion unintentionally offered letter or number combinations that could be erroneously interpreted as possible clues. There were also 'props' dotted around that had no significance, not even as theme-appropriate artefacts, just junk assumedly left behind from the previous occupants that was never cleared away. 

The puzzling aspects here were equally as weak offering little more throughout than the inclusion of a few generic riddles pulled straight from the Internet. Another gripe was the entirely illogical resolve of one particular task. This puzzle presented us with a two-digit response for a 5-digit padlock. At a loss, we asked for guidance and were told to complete the rest of the lock using three numbers offered to us that had absolutely no relevance, making zero sense! The one and only technical puzzle here also malfunctioned during our run and whilst disappointing, admittedly we did think the situation was handled rather well. 

There were also occasions where our ability to progress was fully dictated by an actors interaction rather than our own ability to move on at the pace of our puzzle-solving which padded out the game in effort to justify its 90 minute duration. Sometimes this left us needlessly investigating spaces unnecessarily. And despite the boast of its physical size, we found there to be predominately one or two mediocre puzzles in the majority of each of its rooms. The game was also completely linear, so we strongly advise avoiding the 16 person maximum capacity, as you’ll likely find 14 folk with nothing to do other than fill space. 

The one saving grace was the inclusion of the live actors who performed their roles faultlessly and maintained character throughout, even when dealing with our technical hiccup. Admittedly through their performances we did find certain moments rather foreboding. The theatrical element alongside its slightly better finale was Terminal's strongest point, but ultimately size really doesn’t matter if the puzzles and theming are nonexistent, rendering this self declared largest escape room in the UK an en-tyre let down.

At £135 for our team of four we felt like fully paying passengers that the ticket inspector had wrongfully fined! The extortionate fare for this rickety ride quite simply wasn’t worth it. Until there’s a timetable of change to enhance the decor and props better relevant to its theme, and most importantly a much stronger quality and variety of puzzles implemented in to Escape Plan Live's priority seat, then sadly we must warn you against alighting here - perhaps even skipping this stop all together on your next escape room route around Kent.

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-1-STAR-FIN-2019

Terminal - Escape Plan LIVE. Chatham, Kent
Rating: 1

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