Entering via an optometrist shopfront into a world of espionage, Sherlock: The Game is Now has clearly invested thought, time and expertise into this new London escape room offering.
There’s a new case and Sherlock is in Sweden so Mycroft Holmes enlisted us. Big shoes to fill but with our game master’s help, we felt confident and up to the task.
With excellent sets and an enjoyable spy mission; seeing familiar faces the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott tip Time Run over to what you could call expert escape room makers with marketing prowess.
The escape room is brilliant – and having a fully functioning themed bar to enjoy a cocktail and debrief after is also brilliant – but there was something missing for me.
Not escaping definitely proved an irritant. Not having a sense of how long was left on the clock made pacing a challenge, and it was a surprise to find ourselves ousted in the final room just as we started solving puzzles when it seemed as though we progressed reasonably swiftly throughout. The final room proved challenging from a maths perspective and some tasks requiring significant memorisation ability. The variation as a final hurdle was a fun spanner in the works, but incredibly overwhelming, and – for our team – insurmountable. With more people we would have definitely progressed quicker, and on this rare occasion I’d recommend 6 players rather than 4.
It’s important however to emphasise the high level of detail in the set and game design. This is easily one of the most professional escape rooms in London, and highly recommended.
The final point worth mentioning – although it’s something that caught my particular attention because of mine and my team’s background as actors – is that it was fantastic to see the effort by the game’s design to involve theatricality however it was not executed with the panache I’d expect for the extra price tag. Hiring actors to take on personas and introduce players to the world is engaging and encouraged, but ours took a considerate amount of time making small talk and seemed overly eager to please when we came to play a game, not make friends. The extra 30 minute introduction seemed laborious and could easily be done in 10.
Most disappointing of all is the poor acting performance by the stars of the game – Cumberbatch and Freeman. Hiring them was no doubt expensive (as was licensing) but neither seemed to put any effort into their performance, reading straight off auto-cue as if they picked up the script for the first time on the day of filming.
Sherlock: The Game is Now makes for an excellent night out for a wide audience – escape room fiends, hard-core Sherlock fans, and the average Londoner looking for a fun time with friends. Where I think the business can make the most money is via big groups. With 4 identical rooms, a large corporate company, family or friendship group could battle each other simultaneously and meet in the bar at the end to commiserate, celebrate and enjoy a fantastic team-building shared experience.
The Game is Now is a flat fee of £54 per person with teams of 4 to 6. The Mind Palace – a speakeasy bar – greets you at the end of the game, and the bar is now open to the public exclusively from Thursday to Sunday with a reservation.
Room design: 9/10
Game design: 8/10
Creativity of puzzles: 9/10
Story integration: 9/10
Difficulty level: hard
For more information or to book, visit: www.thegameisnow.com. Time Run is at a secret location in Shepherd’s Bush.
London Escape Room Guide team members: Maryann, Molly, Maurice, Jon.