Set in the barracks of a P.O.W camp, you and your comrades quickly discover the legend of Bob Hails – the only prisoner to have successfully escaped the camp. And what’s more he’s left you his journal to help you and your team evade the enemy and make your own great escape. But do you have what it takes to earn your freedom?
Completion Time: 49:48
Date Played: 5th June 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Adventure Seekers! Larger groups, teambuilding, beginners
After playing Roll out the Barrel (Escape Plan’s brilliantly light hearted ‘steal all the booze from your boss’ game), we travelled back in time to the height of 1941 and into a POW camp for their most cinematic escape room game yet: The Adventure Begins!
Our second game at Escape Plan (this one) was slightly more serious than the first, but no less brilliantly themed with a great (if menacing at times) atmosphere. In fact, my team and I spent the whole walk home arguing about which was our favourite. It just goes to show that the two games on offer at the moment are both consistent and well worth checking out.
Escape Plan is located inside Rich Mix in Shoreditch – an indie theatre venue well known for showcasing media by diverse groups and ironically one of my regular stomping grounds. How on Earth it took me so long to actually book Escape Plan, I’ll never know. But better late than never, eh? And no better time than on a sunny Saturday morning the day before your birthday. I love escape rooms but I love birthday escape rooms even more.
We were hosted by Games Master Django who played both a passive guidance role at some points in the game, nudging us along via a speaker in the room, and other times an active role frightening the living daylights out of us as the base commander coming to inspect the prisoners.
We were told at the start of the game to make sure we “lock the door behind us” but we took that very very literally and actually locked our GM out with a series of barricades. This might have robbed us of one ‘surprise’ towards the end of the game, but even if I played it again I think I’d still do the same thing. Well, better to be safe than sorry eh! Can’t take any chances against the enemy running the POW camp!
What Escape Plan does really well is create an atmosphere inside their escape rooms. Note that I’m calling it atmosphere and not simply theming, because it’s so much more than cool props. Everything is immersive from the waiting space outside the room, to the background noise, to items from the era. It’s easy to believe you’re actually there, in 1941, hiding from the enemy
…Which if it really were my 25th birthday in the year the room is set, would make me in today’s years: 105. Niceeeee! Not looking too bad for my age.
In The Adventure Begins you have two rooms to explore. Better than the sum of both rooms however is what connects the two. When you first walk into the space there’s absolutely no clue that it’ll open up into two – and I’m not going to give any spoilers as to how this happens, only that it’s absolutely delightful!
The first space is themed around a POW bunker complete with a bunk bed, a couple of chests, and some exercise equipment to keep us prisoners fit. I’m not overly familiar with WWII but it seemed perfectly themed to the era. The second space gave us access to the commander’s office where the theming changes once more. Clean, organised and hugely foreboding with a large red, black and white flag on the wall.
There’s a unique aspect to The Adventure Begins which links back to the story. The story goes that only one prisoner has ever made it out of the POW alive – a man named Bob Hails. Bob Hails has left you his notebook which details how he escaped. Too bad it’s quite cryptic, but there in lies your puzzle. What Bob has put in his notebook is vital to solve the the room and make your great escape!
It’s recommended players start with page one and work their way from there, but I’m fairly sure we were quite cavalier about the notebook. There’s plenty to do in the rooms that don’t rely on the notebook to solve, meaning you won’t have 6 players all crowding around one A5 notebook. The rest of our team powered ahead with ancillary puzzles.
Other than the cryptic clues in the notebook, we encountered a range of other delightful puzzles, each one forcing us to interact with our environment and truly understand the greater plot in order to escape the room. In particular, I’d mention the signposting as being particularly good in this room, which greatly helped with the flow of logic and never once did we need to pause and think “ok what next?”
As a fairly non-linear escape room, the whole thing just worked together so well and felt like an absolute joy to play.
A very happy birthday indeed and I’m quietly confident when I say that Escape plan might well be one of the best escape room companies in London. The care and effort that’s gone into not just The Adventure Begins, but also Roll out the Barrel before it is second to none.
If you’re thinking of introducing a skeptical friend to escape rooms, or a group of work colleagues who just want to have fun and forget about the office for an hour – then Escape Plan is PERFECT. Seriously! Go book it now! And let me know what you thought in the comments.
The Adventure Begins can be played in Escape Plan Shoreditch for £79 – £120 per team by heading to Escape Plan’s website here.