Only five minutes walk from Bethnal Green tube station, Escape Land was easy to get to but as the sign was above the door rather than on it, it took us a couple of seconds to actually find the correct entrance.
This was the first escape game any of us had participated in and, in all honesty, once we walked in we were a bit dubious. The lobby seemed a little on the simple side, and wasn’t at all what I’d expected when I booked. However, the guy working there was very friendly and didn’t over-explain anything and the room itself was fantastic!
There were lots of clever and engaging puzzles. The variety meant we could all work on puzzles separately or together, and if we got stuck we could turn to a different one and let the difficult one percolate in our brains.
The one problem we had was when we had the right code for a padlock, but as I was the one turning the eh.. cylinders? of the lock, it didn’t work. This was absolutely and purely down to my fingers not having sufficient strength and I should have told the others immediately.
We absolutely loved Escape Land’s room, and I hope so much that they do well enough to create another room, because we’d love to go back and play again.
Because we loved Escape Land so much, we booked a slot at The Escape Hunt Experience. It was definitely a more of an experience. Again, a short walk from a tube station (Bank this time), but slightly better signage at the entrance. Unlike Escape Land which was very accessible, Escape Hunt was two floors down, and as far as I can tell the lift only went between the basement and the LG floor. Not that we discovered the lift until afterwards.
The lobby was very nice; dark walls and floors with lots of heavy, old leather sofas and dark wood furniture. A friendly young woman dressed adorably in an faux deerstalker and matching plaid skirt explained the premise and setup for us. As I’m one of those people who don’t do too well with what I consider “Disneyfied” experiences, I didn’t like that part very much. I actually prefer not to have the whole “you are stepping in for a famous detective” wrapping, but that is just my personal preference. So after the whole detective spiel, we were shown to our room and had our personal belongings (bags, and cell phones) stored in a cupboard next to it, before being locked in.
The Escape Hunt room setup was pretty slick, with a screen on the outside allowing the game master to view the participants via cameras and an intercom for use in communicating hints, or clarifications. We chose “Kidnapping in the Living Room”, which Escape Hunt rates as their most difficult room. Not only do you have to escape the room within 60 minutes, you also have to identify the kidnapper before he murders his victim, presumably also within those same 60 minutes.
The puzzles were not as much to our taste as Escape Land’s were. They felt very linear, and required odd leaps of thought at times. Also, if you got stuck, there wasn’t really much else to turn to and work on, and were not well suited for solo puzzling; there were simply not enough concurrent puzzles. Music and sound effects blared out of a ceiling mounted speaker throughout which was cool, but also distracting at times. I had problems with the padlocks again, but this time I got one of the boys to deal with it straight away so it wasn’t an issue.
After escaping, we took a picture keepsake at a photo booth using props and faux deerstalker and plaid wrap skirts. This was possibly the most fun part of the experience in my opinion, and I wish we could have taken more photos.
Escape Hunt was by all means a fun experience, but I’d have liked more variety and internal consistency in the puzzles. I loved the photo booth part though.
Escape Land was definitely much more suited to our tastes. It was more challenging, and we left feeling exhilarated and excited. I highly recommend Escape Land to anyone who hasn’t tried it.