We Escaped In
52 Minutes 13 Seconds
3rd on Leaderboard !!
They sell the most delicious ice cream in all of England, but underneath its quaint and cheerful exterior is a sinister operation that needs to be stopped.
The Works in High Wycombe is a decent dessert joint just off of the main highstreet and boasts an impressive range of waffles, ice creams and crepes. What better place to find an Ice Cream themed escape room? When we arrived at the venue it didn’t strike us as the typical escape room and there was something a bit strange about briefly walking into the kitchen area to get to the staircase that led us to the Mi8 room. However, given that the brief mentions a covert ice cream operation I guess this kind of makes a lot of sense! That being said, we were curious about exactly what we would find upstairs! As it happens we found ourselves in a small control room where we were given a brief introduction before being locked into our dairy prison.
The room itself has nods to a genuine ice cream parlour, but it felt more like we were in a nursery play shop than a real dessert parlour. Somewhat surprising given there is a real dessert shop just downstairs. There are definite nods to the theme such as menu boards, a til and sweet displays, but there are not quite enough of these for it to look like a proper dessert joint. The few that there are seem a bit childish such as the play til. That being said, with the theme being about ice cream spies, how serious is this room meant to be? It might be that this is exactly what the team here were going for with this part of the game!
There is a secondary space within the room, which we were informed was part of the game before we played. This is the shady headquarters of the organisation in the brief and looks the part generally. Its high tech and sophisticated which was quite a contrast to the happy, childlike colourful room we had just broken out of. For all its high tech elements though, it was basics that let this part of the game down. Parts of the room were not screwed down so came loose (an essential item in the second room and also a plasma ball), exposing wires and there were a few other things we spotted that appeared either broken or rushed. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed pretty quickly though.
Puzzles & Challenges
The aim of the game here is to uncover the DAIRY organisations nuclear banana split recipe so it can be exposed to the world and their plans halted. Exciting (if not hungry) work! Step one, was getting into the parlour in the first place which would involve breaking the code to a lock on the wrought iron gate staring you in the face as soon as you enter! Doing so is relatively easy even for beginners by solving a traditional style puzzle.
Successfully inside we turned our attention to the usual scouting out of the room to uncover what challenges lie instore and the clues we would need to crack them. We found ourselves presented with a linear and relatively traditional set of puzzles that relied fairly heavily on padlocks and hidden codes. We were able to work through these pretty quickly to begin with and in typical linear escape room fashion, we ended up on a bit of a roll uncovering clues and then progressing to the next lock. There was nothing too challenging up to this point. A few red herrings might throw players off every now and then but overall these are pretty tried and tested challenges. That’s not to say they weren’t good though, who doesn’t love a classic puzzle?
As we outlined with immersion, half way through the game the theme takes a sudden dive towards the high tech and this is true of the puzzles too. Inside the secret spy room, there are electrical items, screens, wires and all manner of techy style props and puzzles to solve. There are some padlocks too, thrown in for good measure but the majority of what takes place in this room was much more modern and non-traditional. Its loosely in keeping with the ice cream theme at times but the challenges do deviate a little at this point. We had to use circuits, screens and other electrical devices in this part of the game, one of which we hadn’t seen used in an escape room before!
The trouble with electronic escape rooms is that things can go wrong if the electrical fail. Unfortunately we did have a few instances during this game where that was the case. An electric door failed to open. This meant we spent a good ten minutes trying to rub the access key against every surface in the room only to find out the first thing we tried was correct, just broken. The door caused us problems further into the game when it locked behind us trapping all four of us in the small spy room. On both instances the game master came in to open it and let us out. Other items were running low on battery so intermittently powering off, while another item was not correctly fixed down. Individually not huge problems but collectively in one game a little frustrating.
We escaped this room with the 3rd fastest time! Our second entry onto a leaderboard!
Our welcome at the Works was alright, not amazing. We were left waiting outside the venue for a while before being let in. The waitress who eventually let us in appeared surprised we were there to play a game! We were asked to wait in the restaurant until the previous group finished before being escorted through the kitchen and up the stairs to our room. Our games master didn’t offer us too much of a brief, there was no recap of the story or anything like that and we were very quickly locked in the room, this suits us fine but others might want a bit more build up!
Clues here are delivered via a screen in the entrance area of the game and were delivered if we triggered them by spinning around on the spot a few times to signal to the games master that we were stuck. Again quite a nice touch as it prevents clues being thrown at you when you don’t need them. We had a couple instances where we did trigger clues which were delivered promptly. They were a little vague, even for escape room standards though and sometimes required a bit of followup to provide us with new information.
Our games master had to interrupt the room twice, once to let us in and once to let us out of the secret spy room. We couldn’t help but feel that she should have interrupted sooner after seeing us struggle for as long as we did. We then were stuck in the room with the door locked behind us a little longer than we would have liked after waving at the camera! Generally though, pretty responsive as appreciate these things are probably not the norm!
Our room finished up with a nice bowl of icecream handed to us which is enough to make us like almost anyone!
Value for Money
At £16 this is probably the cheapest escape room we have ever played as a team of four, even more reasonable given that these guys have the only escape room in town! Playing as a team of two will set you back £20 which is what we would normally expect to pay per person in a larger team. Very reasonable for the quality of the room.
MI8 is a fun room. If you accept that the room isn’t too serious and the theme is a bit jokey then you can appreciate that there are a decent mix of challenges in a (generally) well presented format that gradually increases in difficulty as you progress through the game. If you wanted a serious room with top notch theming and complete attention to detail, this isn’t going to be the room for you. Having read the brief before visiting, we kind of knew what we were in for and appreciated the more tongue in cheek nature of the brief and theme. It isn’t going to be remembered as one of the great rooms we have played, but we would definitely recommend playing this game if you are swinging by Bucks!