Tab Tries: Cambridge Escape Rooms
We got locked into several locked rooms for an hour and had to solve a series of weirdly difficult challenges to get out.
Stage one of the night was escaping Cambridge. Basically to somewhere near Homerton. This involved taking a taxi.
We felt rich.
We promptly arrived at the designated mystery location – a business park, with a deliberately unassuming masking-tape based sign advertising that we were in the right place. This cunning ploy worked, and we were immediately transported into the world of The Game.
The Game, of course, being a world in which little Brent Chadwick “having grown up in the shadow of his mother” had retreated into a Christian fundamentalist cult and a hidden room full of traps and riddles. To get out, we had “to find the urn of his mother’s ashes”.
We literally don’t know why. It was the stated goal. And it was the key to our salvation. Our salvation being a four number code to get out of a locked door.
If this isn’t making sense, don’t worry. It didn’t to us. We’re still confused. But the principle – beyond the dodgy backstory – is excellent. Go into several locked rooms for an hour and solve a series of weirdly difficult (for us) challenges to get out.
The game had only been running for three days – but a crack team of Cambridge students, we were told, had already managed to get out within 27 minutes. (Presumably mathmos with six starred firsts between them. And life skills. If it’s anything else our prides will never recover.)
At this point, our hubris got the better of us and we resolved not only to beat the average but to refuse the lifeline of a little walkie talkie that literally every single team prior to us had accepted. (You use this walkie talkie for clues if you get stuck.)
Faithful to The Tab’s motto of “dumb, stupid and repetitious”, we headed in sans help. At this point, we should clarify that we’re not really allowed to say what happened inside the rooms, because of spoilers, so 90% of this is fictionalised. Take it as you will.
We entered a dungeon and found a copy of Shakespeare. Literally, the entire collected works in a gold-plated edition. Meanwhile, we were assaulted by strobe lights – seriously, don’t go if you have epilepsy – and the incessant ticking of a grandfather clock, imported from Hungary. Buried on page 364, we found a riddle.
We spent 27 minutes – the time it took one team to get out of the entire thing – thinking about this, before we were literally forced to take the Pity Walkie Talkie. (Throughout the whole process, if you’re wondering, you get spied upon.)
At this point, we were given a clue to the following stage. Entering the next chamber, we were greeted with a Tab journalist’s worst nightmare: physical labour, not just any kind, but labour hidden in the middle of a maze. After unstacking a small pyramid, we uncovered the rapidly decaying corpse of a sloth, at the sight of which one of our team collapsed. She’s still there, and has become a part of the attraction.
Finally, after 60 minutes of our friendships being tested (and forged?), we realised we’d failed. Don’t be like us. Accept the Walkie Talkie when they first offer it. Still, to preserve the sanctity, we were given an extension so that we could finish the game.
We did eventually make it out, after an hour and sixteen minutes, having learned a lot about ourselves.
Yes, we did have to pay a bribe to avoid the standard penalty of signing away the kidneys of our second born children. But it was worth it.
To reiterate, this account of Cambridge Escape Rooms is (mostly) fictional, but you should go, mainly to compensate our inability to handle leaving rooms, and restore the reputation of Cambridge students in the eyes of the owners.