Update: Unfortunately Puzzlair in Yeovil is no longer operating, but check out Puzzlair Bristol
Looking for something fun and challenging to put your mind to, as we head into 2019? Do you, your friends or family fancy saving the world, right in the heart of Yeovil? ;) Well, that’s not as impossible as it might sound... and as we’re always up for something a little different, we decided the world might need us so we went along to PuzzLair in Yeovil recently, to see what it was all about - and to discover whether we'd love it!
We had no real idea what to expect, as we walked through the doors to play a live 4D Escape Room adventure there. The Escape Room craze - getting ‘locked in’ a room and playing a series of games and challenges to escape in 60 minutes - had passed us by a little bit to be honest. So, when we went along as a wide-eyed group of four first-timers, we were excited to have a bash at whatever was in store! In my mind, I imagined something ‘Crystal Maze’ like, but the reality was far more fun.
We started off with a simple little puzzle in the reception area, to get us all in the swing of things. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, was to break into a locked cupboard, by working out the answers to various clues that gave us the code for a padlock. Once unlocked, it led to a huge stash of chocolate! Now you’re talking ;)
Due to our lack of Escape Room experience (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it!) it took us a little while to work out what to do... and we realised pretty quickly that we’d have to get used to solving lots of different types of cool puzzles, if we were going smash our proper 60 minute challenge!
As we unwrapped our newly-won sweets, read the rules and advice and climbed the stairs to our Escape Room adventure, the excitement and tension rose like a wave of adrenalin! What would be inside the room? Would we be able to make our escape in 60 minutes? What were we letting ourselves in for?
Well, without giving the game away too much, our mission 'The Cold War Catch' was to save America from a Russian missile that was going to go off in 60 minutes, if our group of four musketeers didn’t stop it! So yes - we were basically saving the world from the moment we stepped into our escape room, or we'd be responsible for the outbreak for World War III. No pressure then ;).
We began to work out how to do it by following the clues inside the room... including codes on the wall, mysteries in the wardrobe and and a series of unique puzzles in secret spaces, as we raced against the countdown clock!
I'd better let you in on a secret... we were a bit slow off the mark and it’s just as well the world wasn’t really depending on us ;) That said, what’s brilliant about the escape room is that as well as being challenging, fun and brilliantly designed so you get totally lost in the moment, you’re also never just left to get on with it if you are struggling. There’s a TV screen in the room and the awesome PuzzLair team watch how you’re getting on, so if you’re stuck and need a few extra clues, or a guiding nudge in the right direction, they make sure you get it (and thank bleep for that!! :)).
If you don't need clues, you won't get them and very recently, a family escaped one of the challenges without any hints at all - the ever first group to do that in Yeovil and with 21 mins to spare. Respect! :)
Anyway, with some very helpful on screen tips at just the right moment, it wasn't total failure for us. We did manage to disarm the missile (yay!) but we didn't escape the room in time (I know!!). What we did do though was laugh, get our little grey cells working and also fall for the escape room idea. To forget reality for an hour, grab a bunch of mates or family of all ages and compete together to save the day is something we'd definitely do again - especially now we've had a practice! ;)
As well as The Cold War Catch, PuzzLair has another escape room 'The Lost Artworks' at their base in Yeovil. There's a new mystery room coming soon too and as General Manager and Designer of the escapes, Gabor Nemeti, told us:
"What we want to do is make it as much fun as we can for everyone, whether it's your first time or whether you've experienced many adventures, so the rooms are designed to be challenging - but we're also here to help. That way, everyone can enjoy the thrill of the game".
What we also love about PuzzLair is that when you're out, you can write on the wall of the reception area as a testament to how you got on in the Escape Room. There are all sorts of messages of self congratulation, admissions of failure (like ours)...
... reminders of parties, birthdays and someone even popped the question in one of the escape rooms, with a clue leading to a 'will you marry me' message and some champagne, of course!
All in all, if you're looking for a unique way to challenge yourself and have some fun, PuzzLair definitely provides that and we absolutely loved our time in another world where we got to play secret agents and (almost) save the day! ;)
Our review in three words: