Underground 2099 Review | May 2027, the world was turned into a blazing hell. Nuclear weapons launched by our national leaders set all cities aflame in minutes. There were no winners, only losers. Humanity was plunged into chaos in which morality, solidarity and dignity burned. London 2099, 72 years have passed since the Great Fire; among the radioactive debris of this once-great city, rats have survived and transformed, trying to take the lead in this new disfigured world. Your mission is to thwart the plot of their leader, King Rat, hidden within the depths of the London Underground.
Date Played: 7th April 2022 Number of Player: 4 Time Taken: ~60 Minutes Difficulty: Medium
How better to welcome a new player to The Escape Roomer team by taking on an escape room together!? No sooner than we brought the lovely Karen onboard, we all headed down to Mission: Breakout’s brand new room – Underground 2099. In this case, we were joined by two friends. On a previous visit Mairi had enviously noticed other players in the briefing room getting kitted out with very cool looking futuristic backpacks and neon green glasses, but other than that we weren’t sure what to expect.
So, without further adieu, here is Karen and Mairi to talk about the exciting new escape room, Underground 2099…
Team The Escape Roomer
Karen: If nothing else Mission: Breakout can certainly lay claim to having one of the quirkiest and most original locations for an escape room in London. Based in an actual, real life, genuine, honest to god abandoned tube station, to play their games you must head into the underground bowels of the old South Kentish Town Station. Trains only ran from this ghost station between 1907 and 1924 but there is still much of the old station’s infrastructure in place and built directly into their games. Transport fans (I’m looking at Mairi here) will love it. Those of a more claustrophobic nature might be a little less enthusiastic although I’m honestly not a lover of confined spaces and I didn’t find it a problem because it’s just so much darned fun.
Mairi: Yep! If anyone spotted in an earlier review for The Lost Passenger, you’ll know the thing I love the most about Mission: Breakout is the environment. An old disused train station? SIGN… ME… UP! It makes it the perfect location for an escape room like The Lost Passenger about descending into the bowels of an old train station in search of a missing person (and finding ghosts instead). But this new room, Underground 2099, has a completely different theme. It’s sci-fi with a little dash of time travel in it. But this isn’t your “mom and pop” time travel escape room, as the future that awaited us was dystopian and depressing. In other words, the dark vaulted caverns of the train station made it a perfect place to travel to.
Karen: Mission: Breakout’s other games definitely trade in on the historic setting – Lost Passenger tells the spooky story of a missing commuter doomed to wander the tunnels forever, while Codebreakers recalls the station’s use as an air raid shelter during World War 2. Underground 2099 heads in totally the other direction. To the future. A future in which a nuclear winter has devastated most of the world and a time-travelling scientist needs help to stop a race of irradiated mega-sized mutant rats overrunning London through the tube network. Imagine a nightmare version of ‘Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh’. It’s like that. But with puzzles.
Photo (c) Mission: Breakout
Karen: Once the team have been kitted out with energy back packs which are needed to trigger the start of the game (no spoiler – your GM tells you this right from the start), it’s off to your time-travelling shuttle where, ensconced under what is obviously one of those 1960s old fashioned hair dryer hoods, your puzzling begins. From the start the game is fairly linear with the team passing from one game space to another as puzzle solutions open doors, but in most cases there are enough elements to figure out that the team can split up to work on different puzzles simultaneously. I say in most cases because there were a couple of points where a team member or two was left spinning their wheels while others worked on the main puzzle. As a team of four that didn’t happen often enough to be a major annoyance, but a bigger group, especially of enthusiasts, might find it more of an issue.
Karen: Mission: Breakout’s use of the limited space amidst the existing tube station infrastructure is impressive. This game takes place mostly in the old elevator shafts, with satisfyingly curvy walls, and although there are a couple of pinch points where a bigger team might find it a bit of a squeeze (or an opportunity to get to know each other better) for an underground bunker it’s surprisingly roomy and Mission:Breakout have even managed to build in some larger scale physical puzzling.
Mairi:I agree, in terms of space, Underground 2099 felt simultaneously a huge escape room and sometimes a very cramped space. This is due to the limitations of the physical space – taking place in the old engineering tunnels and lift shaft, the designers are limited by the physical space. But by contrast, there are a LOT of rooms to discover in this escape room. I counted at least 8 distinct and unique spaces in this whole experience. In some of those, we split up, but most of the time we were all together and with so much stuff to do we almost ran out of time!
Karen: Just as Mission Breakout blends old and new, history and future, into the themes of their games, they manage the same blend with their actual puzzles. While some feature nicely modern tech which will satisfy the gamers and the lovers of little shiny lights (or is that just me?), others offer more old school, practical, hand built puzzles, including one particularly tactile game that I had never seen before and found particularly joyful to complete.
Mairi: Post-game, we all remarked as a team that there were several puzzles in this escape room that we’d never seen before. Between us, we’ve probably played in the region of 400 escape rooms, so that’s no small praise to say we encountered very unique puzzles. Otherwise the types of things players can expect to encounter include plenty of physical puzzles – be prepared to put your hand inside holes, pull levers, reattach mechanical equipment and operate big machinery.
Karen: The varied puzzles offer tests of dexterity, memory, communication, teamwork (and miming ability!) with a few little jumps and a bit of theatricality thrown in for good measure. The basic narrative, that you need to stop the mutant rats’ leader, King Rat, before he overruns London is simple enough to keep in mind throughout play and builds to a satisfyingly comic climax.
Mairi: The puzzles may have been slightly easier if not for an absolutely terrifying rat king that kept popping up when I least expected it. In escape rooms, I like to dawdle. This means I frequently found myself the last to leave a room, only to turn around to find a giant rat monster lurking out of the corner of my eye. Cue screaming. I assume if you don’t like scary rooms you could ask the hosts to tone any jump scares down. But honestly? I loved the host-I mean, the king rat interaction.
Mairi: Speaking of our host – a note on our games master Georgina, who was absolutely fantastic by the way. From the first briefing to the last, she ran our room brilliantly. I always love it when a games master really cares about you and your team, and Georgina was super knowledgeable about the room, our team, and the specific ways we solved each puzzle (even if some of them were slightly bizarre, haha!). It’s only my second time at the site, but I just got such a really nice feel from all the people from all the people at the venue both times.
Mairi: Mission: Breakout is very quickly going down in my personal hall of fame of “escape rooms you must visit if you’re in London” and Underground 2099 is another fantastically quirky and fun adventure in their catalogue. It’s well worth checking out for the physical location alone. At the risk of sounding like The Escape Roomer resident train enthusiast (a moniker I’ll wear proudly), I love the architecture and heck, there aren’t many places in London you can go and experience a period building so beautifully integrated into an escape room. If the company’s earlier rooms erred on the side of ‘slightly too easy for enthusiasts’, I’d implore those same enthusiasts to come back and try Underground 2099. The designers have levelled up the difficulty comfortably and players will get well over an hour’s worth of challenging puzzles and creative brilliance. Whats more, the team themselves are a thoroughly wonderful bunch of people, so make sure you set aside extra time to have a chat with your Games Master in the briefing room afterwards.
Karen: I’m totally with Mairi on this one. If I’m honest my previous experience with Mission: Breakout’s ‘Lost Passenger’ game wasn’t as positive as Mairi’s had been. It was just one of those games that left me frustrated. So I went into Underground 2099 with lower expectations. But boy were those expectations exceeded. It was such fun from start to finish. Venue, theming, puzzle build, puzzle quantity and complexity, GM engagement were all right on the money. Definitely a fab addition to London’s ‘must play’ games. Wonder if they can squeeze in one more game down there?
Post-Script: As with many rooms it is likely this one will be tweaked further before the creators settle on the perfect flow that’ll suit every team. Whilst we had a fantastic time, it’s possible the experience may change slightly. For a comparison, please do check out GATAPAE’s review here. who played a week after we did.