The newest offering is a big-budget immersive experience from the creators of the BBC's hit Sherlock series. The Game is Now escape room channels Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's slick contemporary version of Arthur Conan Doyle's detective series. With the help of Gatiss and Moffat's story-telling, sets crafted by the Sherlock series production company and expertise from escape room veterans Time Run, the experience is impressively authentic and puzzling.
Set in multiple rooms across a large, labyrinthine space in Shepherd's Bush, this escape room experience feels bigger-budget than most (and inevitably is costs more, too). But the narrative and challenges reflect the high quality props and spaces, resulting in a memorable 100-minute adventure.
After booking a slot for a teams of four to six people, you are summoned to an eye check at Doyle's Opticians. The shopfront, tucked away in a small shopping centre, is decked out with spectacles and slyly funny marketing posters. The delightful attention to detail shapes the whole experience, from your first encounter with the 'optician' to your eventual escape.
Of course there's more to the experience than optical assessment... The eye examination quickly becomes a briefing for new recruits to the Network of spies run by government bigwig and brother of Sherlock, Mycroft Holmes. Health and safety comes courtesy of sidekick Dr John Watson, with actor Martin Freeman on video link.
Next stop is Sherlock's sitting room in 221b Baker Street. Decorated with the same props and furniture used on set for the Sherlock series, it is an intricate recreation. The detective himself, voiced by a droll Benedict Cumberbatch, interrupts with a video call. Then his brother Mycroft delivers a more formal video message setting out your mission.
But there's a villain out there with other plans (and wonderfully expressive video rants by actor Andrew Scott). Without giving the game away, you'll find yourselves scraping together postmortem evidence in a morgue, lording over global politics from a high-tech government office, and racing to save the whole world from an evil plot.
The puzzles are tantalizingly tricky, and you'll be glad of occasional text hints ('maybe try that number combination one more time', 'have you tried turning off the lights', etc). By the final few minutes adrenaline is high as you grapple to pull together the final clues needed to escape.
Those that succeed will find a Conan Doyle themed bar. We can only assume that any team who fails will be left to Moriarty.
|What||The Game is Now: Sherlock Escape Room, London review|
|Where||Doyle's Opticians, W12 Shopping Centre, Shepherd's Bush, W12 8PP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Wood Lane (underground)|
28 Jan 19 – 31 May 19, Tuesday to Sunday, slots from 10am to 10pm
|Price||£54 per person|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|