Tenovus Virus Tinkerers Review | Do you have what it takes to be a Virus Tinkerer? Welcome to the Tenovus Cancer Care Research Labs. Dr Alan Parker has been conducting ground-breaking research in the field of fighting cancer. He’s managed to change the DNA of specific viruses and train them to attack cancer cells instead of healthy cells. Dr Parker is away at a conference. You arrive in the lab and realise the electricity had failed in the cleanroom and the backup battery, which powers the incubator has been running all weekend. It now has just 60 minutes of energy left, if it runs out of fuel the retrained viruses will deteriorate and fail. It’s down to you to gain access to the cleanroom and change the backup battery to the incubator before Dr Parker returns from the conference.
Completion Time: 54 minutes
Date Played: 30th December 2018
Party Size: 5
Having completed most of the rooms in Cardiff by this point (barring those companies we refuse to return to), we were very excited to see a new company open, perfectly situated on the high street nearby 2/3 other companies.
As an independent company, rather than a franchise, we knew it could be hit and miss. However, I want to say now that it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had, and extremely well done. You can really see the owners’ passion in the design of the room, as well as their customer service and the whole experience. This has shot to the top of my list of the best rooms in Cardiff, and at the time was in my Top 10 of all-time experiences.
I believe the company have essentially rented a large, open space, and then built all the rooms by hand. Their handiwork is very impressive, and we wouldn’t have realised if we hadn’t been told!
For the set, they’ve worked with the room rather than against it. The theme of the room is a deadly virus (sound familiar?), but rather than lots of zombie tropes they instead created this from a science perspective. Given the room was designed (and played) before the pandemic, it seems the company are psychic! The set perfectly fits with the theme, and is excellently done. It isn’t crammed with lots of furniture or objects, and feels very clean and sleek. However, there are enough ‘props’ for it to feel realistic, and act as red herrings without being too frustrating. In a way, it felt like a snowflake – simple at first glance, but complex and beautiful when you look closer.
The room is not at all what you expect when you first enter, but for such a small space there is a lot to get you started. Admittedly one of the first puzzles was quite frustrating (technological issues), but once we were through the game really opens up. It is non-linear for the most part, and I believe there were different orders and methods for solving puzzles (which is extremely clever!). The hint system is a screen (YAY!), so it blends in unless you need it.
The puzzles themselves fit the theme perfectly and were an ideal level of variety and difficulty. We were a team of 5 experienced players, and we had a great time. However, I also think a team of new players would do just as well – there were no leaps of logic required, and the signposting through the room was very well done.
The only part of this game I disliked was the end. The goal of the room is to prevent the outbreak of a plague, so rather than ‘escaping’ you end by releasing the (hopeful) cure. I understand why it was done this way, but I always find these rooms can fall a little flat. That being said, what the ending lacked in drama it was made up for by the staff’s enthusiasm…
Outside the room
The staff were amazing. We had a really lovely chat with them prior to doing the room, where we were able to geek out about rooms we’d all done and how we found them. They were so welcoming and interested in what we were saying that we felt right at home. After the room we were able to discuss how we found it, things they’d noticed about how we played (and that they’d enjoyed seeing), and recommendations we had (very few). It was great to see they were genuinely invested in their room, and making sure their customers had a good time. It was refreshing to not feel pressured to get in and get out, and instead have the space to relax and take our time.
The ‘waiting room’ is a really nice touch too – lovely big sofas, food and drink and a really great atmosphere. I believe they have since added board games too, which I think is a nice touch.
Unfortunately, the room is situated up a flight of stairs with no lift, although the room itself is flat. There was nowhere in the room to sit down, but I’m sure they would be able to accommodate if required. The room itself was fairly spacious and felt pretty airy.
There is a color puzzle in the room, and a slow flashing light (the ‘plague alarm’ – like a slow siren). However, it’s not particularly bright and very easy to ignore.
Was it worth the money?
At only £12 a person for a group of 5, this far exceeded expectations. I believe the price is now £25pp, and I maintain that’s still a great price for such a fantastic experience, especially when you consider the customer service and overall vibe.
Honestly, this is so worth the visit if you’re in Cardiff. It is simple, and the theming may not be as amazing as some other companies in the same area, but it is the most enjoyable experience I’ve had.
Pros – Customer service, puzzles
Cons – Set design was pretty simple
Virus Tinkerers can be booked at Exitus Escape Rooms here