A well-designed, traditional escape experience with great a-ha moments
Date played: 19 May 2021
Team: Jamie & Mim
Time to escape: 42:04
When Mim and I arrived in Cardiff for our anniversary escape extravaganza, we hit a slight snag. Our morning room – The Cardiff Castle – needed some last minute repairs due to an overzealous player the night before, so our game needed to be delayed.
As we wandered around Cardiff, we realised we had time for another room instead. Why not play Finding Sherlock? Mim hadn’t played it before, and it had been five years since I had last played it. Was it as good as I remembered?
This is the private office of the world famous Sherlock Holmes.
He’s gone missing during an investigation and you must solve the clues that he’s left for his trusted friend Dr Watson. Can you complete the trail of clues and make it out in time? He’s counting on you.
Our most traditional style of Escape Rooms and most popular game,
Finding Sherlock is a classic analogue style which involves limited technology and gadgets but still with plenty of surprises.
Theme / immersion
The aesthetics of the room are very Sherlock, and that ambience hits you from the moment you set foot in the room. Great set design is part of Escape Rooms Cardiff’s charm, and Finding Sherlock is no exception.
From the amber-tinted windows to give the illusion of the gas lamps of Victorian London, to the paintings of Queen Victoria on the wall, the room looks pretty authentic. There’s even a couple of subtle nods to the BBC series that don’t detract from the overall atmosphere.
Although the room itself has had a bit of a makeover recently, some elements were showing their age (an armchair was looking a bit worn out, one or two fiddly bits in the room weren’t fully secured when we used them).
Of course there was a deerstalker in there. Anyone who’s played with me knows I’m not adverse to a bit of dress up in an escape room – in fact I’m usually the first one to make a beeline for the costume. Sadly my head was just too big, so it had to remain on the desk.
There’s a very cool Moment at the midpoint of the game that is both in keeping with the theme and is pure escape room joy. It’s quintessential adventure movie stuff, and even though I knew it was coming, it was still incredibly satisfying.
Puzzle quality / diversity
What would you expect in a Sherlock-themed room? Deduction and lateral thinking were strong puzzle elements in this game. There’s also a good mix of path finding, deciphering, dexterity and a tiny bit of maths.
We overcomplicated the final puzzle way too much. As I recall, I did the exact same thing the last time I played it! If we’d had kept things simpler we might have been out of the room at the 30-minute mark.
Barring a few elements, this room is light on the tech, opting to go for traditional combination locks to gate most of its puzzles. I’ve no preference in terms of the level of tech, and I found the more analogue nature of these fit better with the theme.
We missed one element of the searching puzzle and brute forced the last part of one of the locks. Thinking back, I think we did exactly the same thing the first time I played that room, and I imagine it’s something many players would do too.
A bit of advice for players – keep an eye on the door when you get the final answer. We almost missed it – there’s a little audio cue to let you know you’ve won but it can be easily missed in the frenzy of the endgame.
Grey was our host and they were friendly and attentive – we needed a hint at one point which they promptly gave via the timer screen. It was also really good of them to let us play at such short notice. We basically rocked up to the venue and said “We’re here, any chance we can play Sherlock?” and they got the room ready for us. Thanks Grey!
Covid precautions were in place and we were masked up for the duration of the game, both in the communal rooms and the game itself. We were allowed to demask for our team photo. We felt completely safe throughout the whole game.
The photo arrived within minutes of us leaving the building, which had the room name and our escape time on it.
Finding Sherlock is a fun, traditional escape room that’ll prove to be a decent challenge for most groups. There’s a decent amount of space and enough to do for a good group of 4-5 players. If you’re a fan of good set design and those cinematic reveal Moments, I’d highly recommend giving Finding Sherlock a go.