It’s 1945 and the Air Commodores at RAF Tangmere have secured a barrel of ale of the highest quality, which they shipped in secretly last night under the cover of darkness. Whilst they are planning a jolly good knees-up for the senior officers, you and the rest of the squadron face an austere Victory Day celebration. But the Air Commodores have been called away to Sector Control and there’s a window of opportunity to break in, find the stash and roll out the barrel!
Completion Time: 47:50
Date Played: 5th June 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Adventure Seekers! Larger groups, teambuilding, beginners.
For a game set during World War II… It’s surprisingly light hearted and funny! But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Roll Out the Barrel isn’t technically set during World War II. It’s set the day after. Your mission? Throw the best party for the troops you possibly can. Everyone knows the best parties involve obscene amounts of booze which is why three intrepid troops and myself just broke into our officer’s
top secret bar cabin to steal all their barrels. It’s party time!!
“What are you doing for your birthday?” a friend asks.
“Playing an escape room with YOU. Let’s book it!” I reply.
Escape Plan is right around the corner from my apartment and surrounded by brilliant places to eat. It’s actually situated inside Rich Mix, an arts centre I’ve been to many times (it’s famous in London for championing media by underrepresented groups and so puts on a lot of incredible cinema and music shows!). In any case, it was a no brainer for a sunny Saturday morning after a breakfast of cake.
After chatting with the owners, we were also invited to play a second game right after this one (The Adventure Begins), with a short break for chai tea in the Indigo cafe upstairs.
Note, for this review I’m not calling it “the theming”. No, that’s too boring to describe Roll Out the Barrel. What this escape room does best is create atmosphere.
Originally created as a Christmas pop-up, Escape Plan have kept the game running as an all year round ‘lets celebrate everything’… A great way to celebrate lockdown easing, or if you’re me, celebrate my birthday weekend. As such there’s no real sense of peril, just an up-beat and excited game with a tongue-in-cheek motive to prepare the best party. Distantly, the all clear sirens sound and with a piano and happy chattering accompanying the room, the atmosphere is delightful.
The environment you play in is wonderfully themed – in fact, one of the best World War II themes I’ve ever seen.
Okay well I haven’t done a lot of World War II rooms, but if I HAD this would be the best. I say that because the props were wonderfully appropriate, complete with real aged barrels, a real plane propeller, and hidden cupboards and doors that are a delight to discover.
In terms of difficulty, Roll out the Barrel is about a ‘medium’ difficulty. We didn’t use any hints, but our GM Django helpfully nudged us in the right direction when we faltered. The other thing to note is that it’s a non-linear room, meaning there are plenty of puzzles that can be tackled by different people at different times before coming together for the finale.
This game has two rooms, which isn’t a spoiler for me to say, as you’re told right at the start your job is to find the hidden bar though I did find it funny that whilst walking into the room we spotted the ‘exit’ door that said “Definitely not a hidden secret bar.” on it.
“Hey guys, I think it’s over there.”
The puzzles you’ll find in both rooms are brilliant though. It’s a very padlock-heavy room, with the one central anchor to the game (stealing the barrel of booze) requiring at least 6 locks to achieve. All things given, this works well in the setting, so I’m not complaining. I love a good lock.
As well as locks, played can expect to encounter spatial awareness puzzles, musical puzzles, many chests to unlock in creative ways, playing card puzzles, and a good old fashioned logic puzzle too. It’s a great room for a larger team and at no point were any of us just standing around.
Roll out the Barrel was a fantastically fun room, and made for a perfect birthday weekend. In particular, the wealth of ‘stuff to do’, quality of props, and helpful London location makes this a brilliant game for a larger group of friends or even a team of co-workers out on a team building exercise.
Of the two we played together at Escape Plan (The Adventure Begins being the other), this was my easy favourite. It’s a MUST DO for the next time you’re in London, and especially if there’s a History buff in your team. They’ll love it to pieces.
Roll Out the Barrel can be played in Escape Plan Shoreditch for £79 – £120 per team by heading to Escape Plan’s website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.