No, that's not a pic of the Muddy office, rather a spanking new escape room in Oxford. I sent Muddy's resident young guns Nancy and Sophie down to give it a whirl. But did they ever come back?
Escape rooms are a big trend right now – you might have heard Greg James try to break out of one live on his Radio 1 breakfast show recently – so it seemed a good time to try out Escape Hunt on Westgate Oxford’s rooftop. Here there are five rooms, each with a different theme – Wild West, Blackbeard’s Treasure, The Fourth Samurai, Alice in Puzzleland and Worlds Collide. We signed up for the latter, a brand new Doctor Who themed partnership with the BBC, the most expensive (at from £30 per person, the others are £20).
I’ve done a couple of escape rooms before (basically you have 6o minutes to find clues in order to – yep, you’ve guessed it – escape from a locked room) and let me tell you Westgate’s offering is no lo-fi, small budget production. They’ve really gone to town – it’s more film set than grubby room.
We rolled up on a Thursday night, which was surprisingly buzzy with an extremely enthusiastic group dressed up as cowboys sipping beers from the mini fridge and playing Jenga in the waiting area ahead of their Wild West experience. You definitely have to book the rooms here – you’re unlikely to be able to get one as a walk in. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to guzzle down a pint and were soon off to save the world from impending Cyberman doom, only after signing our lives away to promise no spoilers. So I’ll be very careful what I say…
World’s Collide is definitely one for die-hard Doctor Who fans so take anyone you know who speaks Gallifreyan (no, me neither). There’s loads of hidden Easter Eggs (nerdy inside-joke references to the show), special effects and quirks inside the room and the current doc, Jodie Whittaker, is present in the form of a voiceover.
You don’t need to be a superfan to enjoy the room though, or to complete it; we managed with six minutes to spare, with a little (okay a lot) of help. All the props were brilliant – these are sonic screwdrivers, above.
It’s certainly a high octane way to spend an hour – an ideal option for teenage birthday parties, office team-building, hen-and-stag nights, or just a night out with friends. Tempted to give it a go? Read our tips below before you book.
MUDDY’S ESCAPE HUNT SURVIVAL GUIDE
Worlds Collide is Escape Hunt’s hardest room and there’s loads to do so divide and conquer! We were a team of four but six is probably the optimum number – we could’ve used an extra brain or two.
Kids are key
If you can take a child along, it’s definitely a good idea. Apparently because they’re more imaginative than us adults (*humph*), so they can be speedier sleuths.
Ask for clues
It’s not cheating, technically. In Worlds Collide someone will assist you over the intercom, while other rooms have bells to ring for help.
Look out for red herrings
Not everything that looks useful is useful, and not everything that looks useless is useless.
Don’t take everything literally
We had an hilarious moment when we got something very wrong – we’re not thick, honest, apparently everyone falls for it. I can’t say anymore or the Daleks will come after us. Good luck!
Words: Nancy Serle