Travelling Escape Room Experience “The Lost Librarian” Visits Cullompton, Tavistock & Okehampton

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Following a sell out first run at Exeter Library this July, their pop-up escape room experience “The Lost Library” is back this October – November touring around three more libraries in Devon. It uses mechanical books in a 60 minute journey for 6 players to tell the story of the last witches in the UK.

Six people, ten books, sixty minutes, one mystery… Can you solve it?

The Lost Librarian

The idea is to delight and inspire teenagers and young adults in Devon with local history mixed with fantastical storytelling through the medium of puzzles. The story follows the Lost Librarian herself, Molly Allison. Molly has been researching the Devon Witch Trials, but hot on the trail of a breakthrough (and treasure!) she’s had to hide her research within a series of mechanical books, hidden within the library.

The types of puzzles that players will be able to engage with include touch sensitive mazes, logic puzzles, word searches, as well as some quirky puzzles that require certain hand gestures to unlock their secrets!

Image (c) The Lost Librarian

The Lost Librarian By Evolve

The Lost Librarian is part of the Exeter, UNESCO City of Literature Programme and designed and produced by Evolve. The two designers on The Lost Library Project are Elizabeth Johnson, a resident artist at Puppet Place and Matt Gibbs a WGGB Award nominated writer and editor, of games such as Battlefield 1, Total War: ROME II, and Driver San Francisco. Evolve is a part of the Libraries Unlimited programme and brings to life the worlds hidden on the shelves of libraries through playable artwork.

Image (c) The Lost Libraries

Where and How to Play The Lost Librarian

The Lost Librarian will be touring around Devon throughout October and November. Tickets cost £12 per person and can be booked via the Libraries Evolved website here. The experience is recommended for those aged 12+ unless accompanied by an adult.

Here are some dates for your diary:

2nd – 16th October | The Hayridge Library in Cullompton

23rd October – 6th November | Tavistock Library

13th – 27th November | Okehampton Library

Don’t see your local library yet? Fear not! The Lost Librarian will be returning in Spring 2022 for it’s third tour. Keep an eye on the Libraries Evolved page for more news.

The Other Tales Printable Escapes: Gatekeeper | Review

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Your Uncle Keith always stood out from the rest of the family. He lived alone in a grand old mansion, and everybody thought him to be a bit of an eccentric. It was a great surprise to you when you received a postcard from Uncle Keith. You haven’t heard from him in many years. You arrive at his home, but find the house empty. What mysteries await you within?

Rating: Lighthearted!
Completion Time: ~45 minutes
Date Played: 15th May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: A fun game to play at home – if you have a printer handy!

I kept planning to play The Gatekeeper and waited for the perfect sunny day to take photos… And waited… And waited. Yep, the perfect sunny day never arrived (*shakes fist at London rain*), so instead I tackled the print & play game with my Player 2 on a Saturday morning over a pot of tea.

What followed was a particularly charming game about breaking into your uncle’s house- but I get ahead of myself! Here’s the review:

The Story

The story starts with your eccentric uncle Keith who lives alone in a mysterious old mansion- alone. One day, he invites you to come visit but immediately you know something is not right when you arrive and Keith is nowhere to be found. Perhaps this is just one of Keith’s peculiar games, or perhaps he is testing you? In any case, you decide to see if you can find your way into the mansion.

What follows is a journey from room to room as you explore the mansion and uncover secrets along the way. Behind each new door is a delightful new environment filled with surprises. The magic you’ll find at the heart will surely change your life forever, if you can unlock it!

The Experience

The Gatekeeper is an entirely printable game, meaning there’s no online interface to grapple with. Even the clues can be printed in advance, making this a pretty good game to pack with you on a holiday if you know you’ll be without internet for a while.

The game is played in ‘chapters’ where each chapter has a number of puzzles which must be solved before you can proceed onto the next one. Each of these puzzles is marked with a unique symbol that relates to the puzzle at hand. For example, a star, or a key, or a potion bottle. These act as locks, and your answers are the key.

The Puzzles

There are 11 puzzles in the entire Gatekeeper game – 11 symbols to find, dotted around the pages and we both really enjoyed the puzzles. There’s a good mix of nice and simple and really hard but the different difficulties are dotted around the whole pack giving someone something to do at all times and no big blockers to continuing the game.

As the game is magic themed, players can expect to come across puzzles that make use of dusty old tomes, of strange language ciphers, mixing potions, harmonising crystals with magic properties, and crafting keys. In particular, I really enjoyed the first half of the game’s puzzles the most. There’s a puzzle early on involving books which took us a while but it was worth all the more when we finally cracked the code.

I also enjoyed a puzzle involving the Herbarium – or maybe that was mostly because I loved looking at the beautifully drawn pictures of flowers!

In terms of difficulty, I’d overall rate the puzzles as “Medium”. We definitely struggled more than we expected to – probably the pot of tea wasn’t strong enough! But there was plenty to do in this game and persevering on the harder puzzles made it worth it. In short, a great mix of different things to do in this game and the creators have made good use of the printed medium!

The Clues

If at any time you need to check your answers, there’s a separate PDF. I think Gatekeeper actually does their clues and answers system really well for a printed game – it’s kinda like a mini puzzle in of itself! The reason being, the clue system is designed so that you can’t accidentally spoil the game for yourself.

For each answer there is a 5×5 grid of letters. If you cross out all the letters contained in the answer you think is correct, the Xs will make a shape and you can check if this shape is correct. Pretty ingenious actually! And, if for any reason you want to skip this, the actual answers can also be found later in the PDF but written backwards so a skim read won’t be a huge spoiler either.

The Art

The artwork in this game deserves it’s own header as it is frankly fantastic! The whole pack has a whimsical, magical allure to it and this is made all the more special by the hand drawn illustrations on each page. It’s almost water-colour style and really brings the house to life.

Overall

Because of the light hearted nature of the game with it’s bright colours, warm vibes, and magical plotline, I’d recommend this game for families and kids in particular – and I think it would be a big hit in this group! I really enjoyed it, but after a whole lockdown of printing out play at home games I think my printer might be on it’s very last legs these days. Worth it though to see the bright colours of The Gatekeeper in all their glory.

The Gatekeeper can be downloaded for $29 USD on The Other Tales’ website here.