Ticket Price: £15pp
Address: 12 West Street, Southend on sea, Essex, SS2 6HJ
Our first experience with Room Escape Southend was with their original game, Zombie Outbreak. It was an escape room that we’d already played in London under a different name (and from a different company.) What surprised us was that a few months into operation, the company announced that they were closing the game down and replacing it with a new experience. And then they repeated this pattern with the game changing every three or four months. It’s a very savvy move as escape rooms in general must have a certain shelf life considering that they have zero replayability.
It had been a considerable amount of time since playing Zombie Outbreak so we figured that we’d give these guys another crack and see how things had moved on since their first game.
Let’s talk about the set first and foremost. We were impressed! Knowing how the space had looked in a previous life, we were amazed to discover just how much it’d been altered. Especially for a temporary attraction. This wasn’t just a lick of paint and some new posters on the wall; if you hadn’t told us that it was the same room, we would never have guessed! As you probably expect, the game takes place in an apartment and has been fitted out accordingly. Everything that you’d expect to be in a home was present and accounted for, this didn’t feel like a set so much as an actual flat! And in a cool little touch that demonstrates the lengths that these guys went to, the reception area was even on-theme! So yeah, if it wasn’t already clear, we were in awe of the set design here!
The downside to this was that it was just someone’s place of residence and therefore not the most exciting of areas to explore – we like to feel transported to somewhere out of the norm when we attend experiences and events!
The game itself had a few interesting twists. Unlike Zombie Outbreak, the threat in this game wasn’t ever-present, only appearing at seemingly random points. We don’t really want to say too much but their arrival was signaled by the lights going out. This meant that we knew someone had suddenly appeared in the room with us but couldn’t see where. They played with you a bit here, using the odd flicker of light to tease the encroaching menace. It worked. We won’t talk about how it could be evaded but it felt way more dangerous than the zombie on a chain did given that it wasn’t bound in any way and only appeared in total darkness. This was a brilliant addition to the game as it really messes with you, especially if you’re halfway through solving a puzzle!
The other inspired feature was the clue system. We were told before the game that the number of clues was capped and that they had to be earned. It’s probably not much of a spoiler to talk about it but we’d rather not all the same because we thought it was quite fun. We’ll say this – you don’t start with any clues and you’ll collect them (in the form of paper sheets) as you progress through the puzzles. This means that they’re obviously finite and if you need a clue, you trade them with the host. The extra fun part of this is that they can be traded for something else but we won’t say what!! Again, its a nice little twist, not anything major but enough to demonstrate that the team have put some thought into providing a distinct experience.
That said, one real problem that we had with this game was that the puzzles felt very awkward in relation to the theme. Again, we can’t really talk about this in detail but there were a number of times where we questioned whether what we were seeing would actually be present in an apartment. Yes, I guess you have to expect that there’s going to be a slightly different logic in escape games to control flow etc. but this all just felt a bit too disparate. It was especially glaring because everything else around it worked really well – the realistic set, the presence of the demon etc. Personally, it took us out of the game, constantly dealing with things that had no reason for existing other than to present a puzzle. Having spoken to the host afterwards, we were told their next game will do away with padlocks (although, bizarrely, in this game they maybe made more sense – considering that the person living in the apartment was possessed, you can imagine paranoia may have driven them to lock everything up) and will be themed around an Ancient Egyptian tomb. We can see this working well considering the Ancient Egyptians’ propensity for heiroglyphics… As it stands, everything surrounding the game works brilliantly apart from the actual game itself. If the team can work on better incorporating the puzzles into the narratives that they present, they’ll be onto something.
Attention to detail with theming.
The scenes with the demon.
Puzzles felt thrown into the room with little context.
Apartment 666 - Room Escape Southend
The Room Escape Southend team are on the right track with a game that is much improved from their debut experience. It's a decent experience but has the potential to be much more if the puzzles could be worked on.
To keep up to date with our latest scare attraction and horror event reviews, be sure to visit our social media channels:
Like us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ScareAddicts/
Follow us on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ScareAddicts