Sherlock the Game is Now 221B Review – London needs Sherlock. Instead, it has you. Sherlock is absent. As a rash of break-ins ripple across the capital, one thing is clear: his brilliance is required. Mycroft Holmes has put out the call. The Network seeks recruits: volunteers with sharp eyes, keen wits and a hunger for adventure. Can you step into the shoes of the legendary detective? Good luck: The Game Is Now.
Completion Time: 52 minutes
Date Played: 2019 – 2020
Party Size: 5 – 4
Please Note: This escape room was played by Georgie in 2019 as a team of 5, and Mairi in 2020 as a team of 4. This review is written jointly to reflect both experiences!
Elementary, my dear Watson
I am a huge Sherlock fan. Before that I was a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. Before that, I was an Agatha Christie fan.
Basically, I like mysteries (no surprise I like escape rooms then).
When it was announced that team from the amazing Time Run escape rooms (RIP) were teaming up with the writers of Sherlock (Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss) I may have fangirled a little. Just a bit… Massively.
The Sherlock escape room would be combining two loves of mine, with the most amazing teams behind it. The question is, did it live up to the Hype?
Definition of elementary: of, relating to, or dealing with the simplest elements or principles of something.
Okay so if I had to choose one word to describe this escape room, you know I couldn’t resist the great detective’s own catchphrase “elementary”! But I must preface, The Game is Now was far from simple!
Five Orange Pips- I mean, 5 unique spaces!
First things first; the set. The room is in the W12 shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, London. This is the smaller shopping centre close to Westfield, and I believe there is already another escape room there.
When you arrive, this looks just like an optometrist from the outside – it’s brilliant. Looking in, the walls are lined with glasses and the staff are all dressed in their lab coats and name tags. There are even posters on the windows advertising eye tests – truly the attention to detail, and dedication to the ‘front’ was brilliant.
I don’t want to give too much away about the room that hasn’t already been told, but most people are already aware you visit 221B. I believe they consulted the fabulous set designer, Arwul, for this – and it was amazing. It did genuinely feel like we were in 221B – lots of props from the show, including the Persian slipper, headphones on the bison, and game of Cluedo.
However…you don’t actually stay there for long. It’s just pass of the initial pre-game briefing.
The actual game rooms were…ok. I’d say they were just like good quality escape rooms, honestly. Some clever tricks here and there.
In our briefing we were told we’d travel around London very fast. They weren’t wrong! What starts as a very unassuming opticians shop quickly becomes an exciting briefing at 221B Baker Street (the iconic residence of Sherlock Holmes). We then rushed off to a series of fantastic locations from the TV series such as St. Barts Hospital, Mycroft’s office, and a brilliant (if a little creepy!) museum of medical instruments.
Each one of these rooms I’ve just mentioned was as large as any regular escape room. Furthermore, the attention to detail was practically perfect, giving a real sense of immersion. Despite never leaving the building, I really did feel like I was exploring a whole new location from the TV show each time. Wonderful!
I’ve already touched on the pre-game experience, but I do really want to emphasise how fantastic the staff were prior to the game. It was the most entertaining pre-game experience I’ve had, with some really super staff.
Post-game, you get a debrief, which was quite nice too. You get given your time (55mins for us), a brief rundown of how you performed, highlighting anything particularly clever (or stupid) that you did, and get handed a nice little souvenir. You then get to go into the bar, which again is fabulously themed, with friendly staff.
The Game (Is Now)
What of the game itself?
The reason I thought it important to mention when we went was because there had been teething problems when it first opened. However, I think this is the case for any new room, this one just happened to be more high profile, and therefore they were scrutinised more and their mistakes were more public.
However, by the time we went I think most of these issues were ironed out. We only had 2, at most 3 issues with the room, and it sounds like one of the issues only happened to us.
In terms of puzzles, it has a brilliant variety. There’s a great mix of looking for things, solving puzzles, connecting clues…it was your classic escape room.
However, one of the first puzzles we encountered was probably my favourite puzzle I’ve done in any room. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was very Sherlockian, fitting with the theme perfectly.
It was mostly non-linear, which you need with a team of 5.
One of my only criticisms for this room was the hint system. Although it was slightly different, fitting the theme for each room, we found the hints were a bit hit and miss. Most of the time we were getting hints for things we’d already done, or they came at points when we didn’t need them…or they were coming too late…I think we ultimately only used one of the hints we received.
The Perfect Game for Sherlock Fans
At this point I should maybe mention that I am personally a big fan of Sherlock. This effects my review of course! It’s not just the BBC adaptation I’ve got all the books, and gobble up every TV adaptation as fast as they come out. How on earth it’s taken me this long to visit The Game Is Now is in fact, beyond me.
If you are also a fan, The Game is Now will give particular joy of brand recognition. For the first time in my life I could stand in Sherlock’s room in 221B and look really, really closely at the books on the shelf. Suddenly, the screen flickers and Mycroft himself is talking… To me! Wooo… All the good kind of chills!
Is 221B Worth the Price?
This cost £54 each, which is quite a bit more than the usual rooms I go to.
However, I personally thought it was worth the money.
Admittedly, some of this price tag is based on the name (for me, both the Sherlock name and Time Run name). Yet, when you consider you’re effectively getting 2 hours of entertainment (at least), it’s really not much more. The room was excellent, and I had a really fantastic time.
This is definitely a room I would urge you to visit if convenient.
If inconvenient, go anyway.
I think it’s fairly understood that The Game is Now is possibly one of the more expensive escape rooms in London? I don’t have the statistics immediately to hand, but for our team of 4 players on the specific day we visited, it came in around £38 per person. On top of that, you have to pay an extra £10 if you want to purchase your digital photo. Then, there is the (extra brilliant and actually definitely worth it) upsell of “The Mind Palace” – a bar at the end of your experience to relax and talk puzzles with your team. Which yes, costs even more money. Possibly a lot more, depending on how thirsty you are.
I only really mention the price in this review because the full experience could end up costing around £60 + per person, depending on a few factors!
But that’s the big question: “Mairi, is it worth it?” Here’s my answer: Yes!
Especially if you’re a fan of the show. But non-fans will get a particular kick too. At the core, it’s more than just an escape room, it’s an immersive experience from start to finish. You can’t put a price on sneaking up to an unassuming opticians for an eye test, speaking to your favourite actors, then travelling to immaculate sets from the show where you quite literally get to become Sherlock.
From an accessibility point of view, the room and venue were entirely flat, and I do believe there would be enough room for a wheelchair to move around comfortably, and access pretty much all of the puzzles. There was a place to sit in every section except the last.
You will need one team member who can hear, and one who is fully sighted. The majority of the experience is well lit, bar one section, which is fairly dim (and later, dark). I also found the atmospheric music a little loud at points, but not deafening, and I’m sure you could ask for it to be lowered.
My team and I genuinely had a great time. For that, I have to give it an almost flawless mark. Sure, I could spend a long time picking apart each puzzle, talking about customer service, decorations, locations etc. Since originally writing this review I’ve had some negative interactions with the company, but those are for another review. At the end of the day I’m in the business of having fun and that’s what I’m looking for. Was I immersed? Did we leave this experience smiling? Yes, yes and yes.
TL ; DR
Pros; Set, Staff, Pre & Post experience, puzzles
Cons; Cost, hype, hint system
The Game is Now is located in Shepherds Bush, London, W12. Tickets start at £30 per person. The Game is Now can be booked on their website: www.thegameisnow.com