Ms B & I have finally done the ‘The Game Is Now’ escape room experience ten days ago with two friends of ours, and what a great afternoon it was!
Created by the two guys behind the popular recent Sherlock Holmes TV series, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (the latter known by most as Mycroft Holmes, whom he impersonates in the series), as an official franchise together with escape room experts Time Run, no expense was spared. It is the actual world-famous actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, and Martin Freeman who speak to you over audio and video from pre-recorded tapes. Considering that two of our group were so-called Cumberbitches, you can imagine the level of excitement. Not my choice of words, just to mention it, this is the ‘scientific’ term; you might not YET find it in the Oxford dictionary, which will show ‘cucumber’ as first match, but you can certainly find the term in plenty other dictionaries.
Without giving away too much of the story, the basic plot is relatively simple. Moriarty, being himself, is out again to destroy the world. Sherlock is busy otherwise and hence not available. Secret agents around the world are getting slaughtered, so “The Network” decides to hire new recruits in order to try to prevent the near-certain collapse of global civilisation.
All photos (c) The Game Is Now, except group photo (c) BSqB
Once you’ve paid for your tickets (from £32 per person, we paid £38, still much lower than the initial price of £58 when they opened; min 4, max 6 people), you’ll receive communications that order you to arrive at an optician in a slightly run-down, small shopping mall in the fabulous SheBu, or Shepherd’s Bush, just over 10mins on the Central Line from Oxford Circus. The mall is just opposite the station exit. I used to volunteer at one of the charity shops there a long time ago.
I’m not very good at these games, so didn’t even realise right away that the optician was a fake set-up run by the escape room operators. However Ms B & our two friends picked up on it right away. There were some suspicious marketing posters, several similar-sized groups around the tables, there were no glasses involved, except for the displays on the walls, and everyone seemed to have way too great a time.
Sure enough, when our appointment time had arrived, we rang the door bell (a sign said “by appointment only, please ring bell on time” or similar) and were asked to put our mobile phones and anything else we didn’t want to carry around into a container, which we did. Most of the rooms are below what’s usually considered to be ‘room temperature’, so I would recommend wearing something warmer than just a shirt or blouse. We all sat down at one of the tables that had just been vacated by the previous group to receive our instructions. The hired actors clearly enjoyed their jobs and their enthusiasm immediately caught on.
After the initial briefing you’re being led into a room where you receive more information and guidance from Martin Freeman’s Sherlock Holmes character, Dr. Watson. It’s really nicely done, with an annoying Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) whispering guidance from the off, quite to Watson’s disliking. From there you’re led into Sherlock’s apartment in 221B Baker Street, a nearly perfect replica from the TV series, where the big feller and his brother give you some more hints.
And then the actual escape room experience starts. You have 60mins (90 to 100mins in total, including the briefing sessions and admin) to prevent the world as we know it from ending. Like I said, I’m pretty rubbish at these games, even though I do enjoy them, so I mainly rely on the other three players when I confirm to you that this was one of the most difficult and complex escape room experiences any of us have done.
I basically just followed orders from the others who were throwing tasks at me, like “look for a six-digit code in this item”, “try to find out if that item contains any geographic reference”, “find out what this person’s profession was”, and so on. I often wondered why literally everyone seems to be better than me at these games, and I’m still not sure. I think it partially has to do with the fact that crime novels and crime TV series to me were always a way to relax and shut down my senses, rather than try to outdo someone as brilliant as the fictitious main character. I also keep telling myself that I’m simply not good with chaotic environments without structure or a hierarchy (well, I’m always at the bottom of the hierarchy, all the others are giving me orders, but they are all on the same level). I just really hope I will never find any undeniable evidence that I’m just not very smart haha…
We didn’t manage to achieve all targets within the time available, so formally failed, but we did manage to save the world and received commendations from the tall guy with the funny face and from Watson for “remaining calm under pressure” …and for that saving-the-world-thingy of course.
Everyone in our group, including me, ranked the experience 5 out of 5, it really was that much fun. I probably would have leaned more towards 4.75 out of 5, until I found out that there’s a fully-fledged, escape-room-owned pub at the end of the experience. We ordered pizza (which comes in cartons from the nearby Pizza Express but is served with plates and cutlery) and beer and talked about the previous 90 minutes.
Looking for more escape room experiences, check out our two posts about Lock’d’s experiences in London: ‘Alastair Moon’s House’ and ‘Grandpa’s last will’, as well as ‘Heaven and Hell’ with Cambridge Escape Rooms.
Other fun things to do in and near London include taking a ride on a powerboat, the Thames Rocket, or The London Helicopter. For restaurant reviews, please do not be shy and try our articles about Rowley’s, London, Il-Horza in Valletta, and Her Name is Han, New York.