Date completed: October 2016 (2 players). Failed… We were so close!
Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 8.5; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 8.5.
- 2-6 players
- 1 team member not colour blind
- Fluent English
We were recently invited by Mark, the owner and gamemaster of Social Escape, to test out their hard level escape room in the Baker Street Mystery. After we warmed up our brains by playing Paris Escape, we took on the role of detectives who had one hour to solve a murder mystery and dismantle the notorious Baker Street Five – a high profile gang that has been terrorizing Victorian London. This room had a constant pace, witty riddles and clever puzzles which defeated us. But we were so close!
The moment we stepped into the room, I could tell the Baker Street Mystery was going to be tough. At least 12-13 potential puzzles were immediately visible, and that didn’t even include the hidden items which had yet to be revealed!
The chase for the criminals from the Baker Street Five began with a case file and set us upon a series of puzzles involving a multitude of different skills: search, observation, logic deduction, creative thinking, math, observation, some mechanical aptitude and a fondness for language and linguistics. Even some basic cryptography is required – or do you think villains will leave messages in plain sight?
With such a plethora of varied puzzles, well-coordinated groups which have different types of thinkers should have a greater chance for success in solving the Baker Street Mystery. Due to the amount of challenges presented in the room, we would recommend teams of 4 or more, although it is not impossible to complete this game with only two players – just extremely hard. Although I’m sure Mr. Holmes would say it’s elementary, my dear Watson… 😀
The London theme is strong and references to Sherlock Holmes are plenty. Although no external knowledge is required, those who are familiar with the English capital may find some tasks easier. The soundtrack was also good, mixing Victorian era street sounds and tiny bits from Sherlock-related movie soundtracks. In a nutshell, Baker Street Mystery is a great low-tech, classic escape room.
The flow of the game was very fast-paced and at times felt relentless, especially for two players. There was a good alternation of mental puzzles with playful ones, keeping both of us focused during the whole game without being stressed. One of the more handy puzzles, which required search and experimentation, was just brilliant. It was simple, ingenious, layered, colourful and fun – perfect to give you that “aha” moment, or a nice “lol”. We had both! After the game, we suggested a few tweaks to Mark, only to make the flow slightly smoother and less linear for larger teams. He said that he’ll be making some changes so future experiences may vary.
Tip for those looking to try this room: Keep track of the puzzles you solve as all elements of the investigation will contribute to finding the culprit of the murder. As this room engages in so many different types of intelligence, do not feel embarrassed in asking for hints if you feel stuck. There is plenty to do. As indicated in Social Escape’s Facebook page, not many teams finished this room with more than a few minutes to spare (if not just a few seconds) in the first month of operation.
We requested two hints to deal with some cryptic riddles. As English is not my native language, it took me longer to visualize some of the answers, but boy, I loved it when I got them. Those puzzles were cleverly developed and well delivered. It was beautiful.
Speaking of “beautiful”, Social Escape set an extremely high standard for decoration and atmosphere in the Baker Street Mystery. According to Mark, the inspiration for the room was the office of the Great Detective from the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London. Well, I’ve actually visited the museum a few years ago and when you compare the photos above, Mark did a great job in recreating the style of the original. You will find many props that remind you of the famous tenant of 221B Baker Street, and the escape room is actually more spacious than the museum office!
We finished Baker Street Mystery in 66 minutes and, at the end, got our performance graphic. Social Escape records the time taken for your team to solve every puzzle, so by the end of the game, you receive a graphic with your results in each activity, compared with the average and fastest times from other teams. We were doing so well, but took too long to solve the last puzzles by the Baker Street Five Gang! Do not let them escape again and go try this room! We highly recommend it.
In Social Escape Rooms, we also played the lighthearted Paris Escape.
Out of the room
Service: There are lockers for player’s belongings, water and toilets. The reception area is also very spacious and can probably cater for large corporate events.
Mark, the owner and our gamemaster in Social Escape, was super friendly and really enthusiastic about his job. He really made an effort to accommodate us in his schedule, as we were coming from another city, and had a nice chat about the industry and nerd stuff in general.
Communication: You just talk to the walls and the gamemaster speaks back to you. The sound is very clear and hints are unlimited. We only suggested lowering the volume of the soundtrack a little bit, as some parts would mix with his voice. Mark did a great job following our game thoroughly.
Surroundings: Social Escape is in Alexandria and there is plenty of free parking near the venue. There are also many pubs and Mark can recommend the best places to eat. We really enjoyed Lord Raglan Pub just around the corner, that had awesome $10 cheeseburgers on Sunday!
Other versions of this room – designed by puzzle creator Andrew Parr – are also available in Narrow Escape (Ontario, Canada) and Expedition Escape (Pennsylvania, USA), however we don`t know how similar or different they are.