The House of Irene Adler Review | Irene Adler has disappeared under highly suspicious circumstances and Sherlock has nothing but a cryptic note to go on. Will you venture into the spiders lair? Will you make it out again unscathed? Will you find her before it’s too late?
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 12th December 2021
Party Size: 2
The House of Irene Adler is an escape room by every traditional definition of the word, but we were ever intrigued by the signs around the space that indicated what we were about to experience was very much a show. One hour long, and leaving through one of the exits would end the show early… How curious!
For a limited time, The House of Irene Adler has popped up down an unassuming cobblestone alley in Kentish Town. When Bianca (of Shiny Life For Me) suggested we try out this new part-theatre, part-escape room on the opening weekend, I couldn’t hit “book now” fast enough. But what exactly is The House of Irene Adler..?
About ImmerCity, The House, and Irene Adler Herself…
An new, interactive, immersive mystery from the company that brought you “Silhouette in the Smoke” and “The Unholy Marriage of Slice and Sweetly”
ImmerCity is the brain child of director Rosanna Mallinson (who on this occasional also hosted our game – and someone I am 100% sure I’ve crossed paths with before in the escape room world, but can’t quite put my finger on where!). The company is best known for putting on immersive theatre like no other and pushing the boundaries between what is fiction and real.
In their latest show, players are invited to step into Sherlock Holmes’ London – but rather than meeting the man himself, we found ourselves hot on the heels of Holme’s accomplice, Irene Adler. Miss Adler has gone missing and left nothing but a cryptic note in her wake. The police have been and gone, finding nothing suspicious. Now, it’s your turn.
We arrived at the location and were invited into The House of Irene Adler by Adler’s housekeeper. She insisted there was nothing left to find, but let us have a look anyway. From here, we were led into the dresser room, the door closed behind us, and we were off.
Take a Trip to Victorian England
One of the most impressive things about The House of Irene Adler is the decorations. It’s a Victorian parlour that has been entirely sourced dressed from objects found in charity shops and it’s impressively authentic.
After a fairly plain lobby space of a normal office building, the first room in the game was by far the most impressive of all of the different environments and was a joy to open the doors and emerge into. From gorgeous period clothing, to trunks of treasures and dainty fans. Beyond this space the environment became a little more rough around the edges but – if you look closely enough – this trend of authentic objects from the era continues. The ‘secret’ living quarters of Irene are decorated with an 1800s cot, and there’s a few really lovely items of furniture.
As your average escape room players, we’re used to picking up every object in a room and handling it from all angles to see what it does. By contrast, The House of Irene Adler doesn’t require a lot of ‘search and find’ and the objects are very, very old. As such, players should afford to be a little more delicate with what they do find.
Another really impressive facet of The House of Irene Adler by far was the presence of hidden rooms. This game contained some of the most brilliant room reveals we’ve seen in a long time. Let’s just say I love it when a whole wall gives way.
When you have eliminated the impossible…
Decor aside, your goal as players is to solve the mystery of Irene Adler. To do that, you must work together as a team internally, and communicate well with the outside world too. You can book for any sized team from 2 – 6 and honestly? A team size of 2 was perfect.
Whilst there are puzzles to be solved and hidden rooms to be discovered, the game is far less about the puzzles and more about the story. There’s a mystery at the heart to be cracked, but you can’t do that by solving ‘puzzles’ alone – you’ve got to think logically about all the evidence you collect over the hour and make a verdict.
How did we do? Not great. But, the more I think about the experience, like any good murder mystery, the more it all fits into place.
There was one dexterity puzzle in the middle of the game that took us a lot longer than we should have done – we definitely feared we’d broken it, but by a stroke of luck we managed to pull it off in the last second. No, the majority of the game was spent reading and pouring over details in letters or telegrams in order to make our verdict. As the time was ticking down we were no closer to the truth, but helpfully hints and theatrical moments from the host weren’t far.
The House of Irene Adler: The Verdict
Even though this experience plays a lot like an escape room, we can’t judge it as an escape room – for those differences are what makes The House of Irene Adler so different. Not a few hours later I was having a discussion with a game designer about ‘social deduction puzzles’ in escape rooms, and The House of Irene Adler was on the tip of my tongue as a game that is all about that. To solve the case, rather than solve puzzles, you have to analyse evidence and communicate with a host of ‘characters’ to succeed.
There were a few teething issues that come with opening weekend and a few immersion breaking moments and a slightly disappointing ending that hadn’t been built up to properly – but many more very satisfying moments of brilliant theatre that make this game stand out. I’ll be thinking about this experience for a long time.
Overall, we had good fun. It’s a shame the experience is only available for a limited time and I would love to see this pop up as a permanent game. But, since it’s only on for a little while longer, it’s definitely worth checking out – whilst you still can!
The House of Irene Adler can be booked for a limited time in December 2021 – January 2022 by heading to their website here.