Price Range: £25 – £35 Per Person
Duration: 60 Minutes
Pole-Based Fun: 10/10
How often have you headed out to catch a film at your local independent cinema only to find yourself blanketed by a wave of knockout gas the very moment you settle down in the auditorium? I personally am sick and tired of it. But The Killer by Enigma Escape puts a fresh spin on this everyday inconvenience. Instead of waking up, as you usually would, lying on the sticky floor of the cinema as the closing credits roll up the screen, you instead regain consciousness in an ominously murder-y prison cell. Better get escaping.
To be entirely honest, the fact that you are ostensibly kidnapped from a cinema has little to nothing to do with the plot of the room as it unfolds. Rather, as you might have guessed from the name, this is a serial killer themed room. The cinema bit is, as far as I can tell, included just to provide a nice background for the introductory video, and to justify the free popcorn. Which is, to be fair, an excellent reason to do pretty much anything.
This room is easily doable with two people, although there are times when having a few extra pairs of hands will be an advantage. That said if you cram the maximum five people in here I pretty much guarantee someone’s going to get whacked in the face with a pole in the first five minutes. I hope it’s Bob. I hate that guy.
Enigma Escape make a point of mentioning that their games are realistic and logical. Sure thing, I thought, when browsing their website, but I bet you’ll have shoehorned in an unnecessary blacklight segment nonetheless. Not so, as it turns out. By the end of sixty nail-biting minutes you won’t have seen a single prop that’s out of place, nor a single unnecessary puzzle.
As you strive to escape before your captor returns home you might encounter one or two of his grisly leavings. The issue with body part props is, of course, that they’re always going to feel a little fake on close inspection. Enigma Escape has, however, sprung for items that are, suffice to say, appropriately gross. They wouldn’t convince a cinema-going audience, but they certainly do the job in this context.
The background details of this room are also a pleasure to discover. Your soon-to-be-murderer has a face, and a name, and a personality too. It’s almost enough to make you like them. The notes they leave lying around their hideout are charming in their banality. “Get lightbulbs”, reads one memo – although that is just the first and least gruesome item on the to-do list for that day.
The neatest thing about The Killer is that, at all stages of the game, you really do feel like a prisoner trying to escape their cell. The puzzles don’t feel like they’re lying conveniently around waiting to be solved. Instead each one you successfully crack feels like an exciting discovery that you’ve made – a single desperate step closer to being free.
The game commences with a fair amount of pole wrangling rather than a cerebral puzzle. It’s a beauty especially because it feels as though the stakes are quite high. There is, you get the sense, every chance that if you drop the wrong thing in the wrong place you might just scupper any chance you have of getting free… although on reflection you’d have to screw up real bad in order to leave yourself no way out.
There are also one or two puzzles that rely on devices – in this case a laptop and a tablet. These can be tricky, as such complex props pave the way for battery issues and unexpected operating system updates (looking at you Windows 10). However both devices used are robustly configured enough that there shouldn’t be an issue. Plus fumbling around with a tablet really adds to the sense that this is real. That this is happening in the world in which you live, and not some alternate puzzle universe.
There are a couple of excellent jump scares in this room. Even those of a normally steely disposition will probably at least wince. That aside, there aren’t any particular special effects. It’s tense enough without them.
The time you have left is displayed on a standard wall-mounted screen. That’s where hints appear too, supplied whenever the Game Master thinks you’re falling behind. This has the potential to be a little annoying, but the folks at Enigma Escape are attentive and judicious in the help they hand out. Plus the clues, when they come, are of the type that doesn’t entirely give the game away.
The waiting room is basically some chairs in a corridor, and the pre-game room is a little disconcerting in its starkness. That said, there’s everything you might need here, including toilets and cinema-themed refreshments. There are no lockers, but you can stash your stuff in the pre-game room, which isn’t shared with the other game in the venue.
The briefing was solid and short, and included an animated video which basically erred towards the cute rather than the creepy. It was also not terribly clear, and a good intro from the Games Master would have carried the story better. Still, it gives you a chance to sit back and eat some popcorn, so don’t complain.
Successful escapers get a cool little medallion-style thing. And, when it comes to the standard team photo, Enigma Escape are on point with their hashtagging. The venue is located near Caledonian Road and Holloway Road tube stations. As such, pretty much whatever you need is within easy reach, and you can stroll from there to King’s Cross if you don’t mind a bit of a walk.
This room takes a standard trope and plays it out to a high standard. It’s particularly notable for its tense atmosphere, touches of dark humour and commitment to realism. With a slightly different feel from a regular room escape, this is a game that should be suitable for both beginners and more experienced players alike.