In honour of Can You Escape? taking part in Disabled Access Day on March 12th, I thought I’d write my next review for them and include my thoughts on accessibility.
Can You Escape? is already an established escape room company in Scotland as they’ve celebrated their first birthday, already revamped one of their rooms from Operation Bald Eagle to the head to head game Operation Deadlock, and are about to launch a mobile game (as well dropping hints about their forthcoming second venue).
Situated on Holyrood Road, they are literally a stones throw from Dynamic Earth and although there is on onsite/street front carparking, there is a multi story car park a couple of hundred metres up the road.
Back in August 2015 we booked for our first game at Can You Escape? for the Operation Odyssey room. This is described as a 4 out of 5 difficulty room for 2-6 players. The mission is:
As space cadets on the International Space Station you must race against time to ensure you fix the escape pod before it’s too late. Houston received your distress call and has concluded that it was a meteor shower that struck the main ship a short time ago. The escape pod has also been damaged so you must first restore all of the systems before attempting an escape.
Cadets, you need to hurry! The next meteor shower is predicted to strike in an hour so there is no room for error!
The entrance is well signposted, but its not the largest of shopfronts, so you still have to look for it. From an access point of view then this is the first issue, its a standard door with a couple of steps, so will need some negotiating for mobility chairs/walkers.
Once in the entrance of Can You Escape? its rather cosy, there is just enough room for a team to be briefed, space is a premium. The Operation Odyssey room is direct facing the entrance so easy to get to, and the toilets are round the corner (also on the same level) with the other game room downstairs.
We were warmly welcomed by the gamesmaster, who was in full character thoughout and gave us an excellent briefing and then issued us all the first mission….. think up Agent names! Of course we weren’t prepared for this but as its space themed room we went for names of mars space rovers (Curiosity, Opportunity, Beagle, Spirit and Phoenix) ….and yes we quickly Googled them!
The team photo was taken and then we were issued with out equipment, walkie-talkie, note taking equipment and Agent armbands. Then into the game and into the dark!
After negotiating the initial puzzle to get into the control room of the space craft we soon set out the puzzles. Can You Escape? have a modular system for the room where you have distinct min-missions to solve to release the final puzzle. This is perfect for groups and there at least a mission each, and no two missions are the same, there is a wonderful mix of the more physical and more mental and a couple that rely on communication within the team, it ensures that everyone can shine at something.
Communication with the games master is thought the mission control computer, and you type in your questions. The walkie talkie is also there if you’re not near the terminal or just need something explaining. We got a couple of clues, one of which we shouldn’t have needed, but we missed finding an obviously hidden key! Its always the ones in plain sight that we miss…
Then onto the final mission, and I’ve still no idea how we managed to complete the room in 50:55 as we were laughing so much during the final puzzle. Its the most like a game from the Crystal Maze I’ve ever encountered in an escape room and we LOVED it.
We fell out into the reception area laughing and positively bouncing with achievement! We had a ball and made it onto the mission completed wall of fame.
Although I don’t have a favourite room (but that’s another story) this is one of the three rooms I recommend to people who ask me whats a good room to do. The entire escape is well set out, its mini-mission system makes it good for new players to see what goes where and there is two systems of getting hints and help (and the gamesmasters are very good). The puzzles are well themed and the finish of the room and we were immersed in the story quite quickly (to the point of wasting time by trying to fit someone into the space suit before they attempted the final puzzle!)
If you haven’t visited Can You Escape? yet then please add it to your to-do list.
So onto the accessibility bit……
The mission is split into distinct areas, none of which have that much space, and involve some tight bends or low doors and some low puzzle solving, so not easy to negotiate a chair/walker. The main control room has a central table and a computer terminal on one wall, so again space to move isn’t plentiful. We had no problems, but we were a team of 5. Also there is no seating in the room, so ask if you want a chair put in.
There a dark areas and areas with lots of lights, so players with visual issues could benefit from a torch for the early section. For players with hearing issues then the soundtrack is rather loud in places, but that’s a very easy fix.
Having two systems of communication is a huge benefit for accessibility, with vocal and text systems, and having a mix of puzzle types ensures that everyone can solve something and contribute to the success of the mission.
EDITED to add that there are several features that we didn’t notice at the time (or have been installed since August 2015), including ramps for the entrance, and additional doors that can be opened. Can You Escape? have put a huge amount of time and resources into making Operation Odyssey as accessible as possible.
For more information, and to see the room and chat to the staff then please get in touch with Can You Escape? on firstname.lastname@example.org and read their blog at https://canyouescape.co.uk/blog/disabled-access-day-65