We take a look at escape rooms, in our review of the Placebo room in Sheffield…
“You may remove your blindfolds when I tell you, then you’ll have just 45 minutes to find the antidote and escape…” these are the last words we hear as the door is closed and we are locked in to play the game. No, this isn’t a dodgy version of Saw – escape rooms or exit rooms as they are also known are actually growing in popularity locking people up all over the UK. Here, GP reviews the Placebo room of the Great Escape in Sheffield. Will we make it out in time? Or indeed, alive at the very least…?
Escape rooms are essentially just that. They usually consist of a room you are locked in for a set time limit and need to work together to solve clues and puzzles to escape. Rooms are based all over the UK by different companies and originated from Japan, where they now have entire experiences in several rooms as opposed to just one and can last several hours.
Being locked inside a room for 45 minutes with puzzles to solve isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially whilst celebrating a birthday, but if you’ve never tried it, you definitely need to give it a go. The Great Escape in Sheffield have 4 rooms available to try named Alcatraz, Mad Scientist, Homicide and Placebo.
We are pretty much escape room pros (well, we’ve done 3 others before…) so opted to play Placebo with a 4 star difficulty on their website.
Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s set in the winter of 1957 where you have taken a new drug as part of an over the counter medicine trial. But after taking it, something isn’t quite right. Feeling paranoid and with a sense of being followed, you awake in a locked room with no idea how you got there! (And no, it isn’t because of the effects from a typical Friday night down the pub)
Four of us attempted the room, before we get started we must pick “characters” for the game – something we haven’t seen before in other rooms we have played. The characters are essentially our role in the game, we select the role of time keeper, communicator, and one able to gain a 4 digit code & light giver. Then a friendly guide gets us dressed in hospital attire (the very best in medicinal chic) and we are given a “placebo” pill before being lead blindfolded into the room.
Placebo isn’t all it appears to be…
When told to do so, we removed the blindfolds and found ourselves in a small dark space, with a flashing light to see by & not much else it seems. The walls and floor are covered in a retro black and white design that we soon realise these have a part to play in the puzzles. Working together, we make it through the different codes and find out Placebo isn’t all it appears to be…
We aren’t going to ruin the story or puzzles with any spoilers, so instead we shall review the overall experience – which, was really positive. It’s great that the puzzles in the room were well placed, the difficulty of which were just about right and the overall experience fits in well with the 1957 paranoia feel. Little touches makes the room stand out from others we’ve played before (such as the blindfolds, wearing hospital gowns and being led into the room unaware). Little winks to players are fun also – at one part we found a red herring that actually said we were “wasting our time reading” it! Some nice touches that make the up the feel of the game.
Decoration certainly added the psychedelic vibe Placebo aimed for the effective use of lighting, painting on the walls and the little surprises dotted around each corner making each of us getting into the spirit of things. Though. The Great Escape missed out adding in sound effects or music to the room, which may have given us a more sense of urgency to escape.
The only criticism would be that the props appeared a little cheap – instead of laminated bits of paper, scraps of scrolls or scripture would have added an extra element of realness to the game. But we understand the props are needed to last as not all customers would take care of them.
Best of all was the customer service. Being friendly and chatty with customers takes very little to do yet so many companies fail at doing it. So it’s refreshing to feel like our custom isn’t just a transaction of coin – more of an experience on both sides. Each person who worked there seemed amiable, upbeat and made the process a lot of fun.
It was a fun experience the placebo we took….. was it just a placebo?