Getting to the Heart of the Matter…

Since I heard that  Escape Rooms Scotland were branching out to the east coast I’ve been waiting for months for the new Escape Rooms Scotland – Dundee to open, so as soon as the opening date was announced I bagged the first game of the opening weekend for both the rooms at Dundee, Black Pearl and CARA.

You can tell how keen we were to visit, we’d driven up from West Lothian and our third team member had traveled over from Ayrshire.

The Venue

The new venue is at Balgray Works on Balgray Place, which is tucked up a side street just to the south of the Kingsway ring road in Dundee, but putting DD3 8SH in the satnav took me straight to it and there is a lovely big sign to point you to the front door. There was plenty on on-street parking out front when we arrived too.

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Inside and up a few steps and you’re into the reception area, which is a bright and spacious area with plenty of seating and a warm welcome from the staff.

Once the team was assembled (we were just a team of three today) and we had a welcome chat with the staff (who are very friendly and chatty) we were briefed with the Escape Rooms Scotland briefing video that explains the safety aspects of the room. If you haven’t watched this briefing at one of their rooms before then click on the link below to watch it’s a great intro to the room and much more user-friendly than being given text to read.

The Room

Then it was onto the briefing, we were to enter the Black Pearl and find Davy Jones’s locker and retrieve his heart…. and we were taken back down the corridor to a wooden door and then into the room.

Now I could wax lyrical about the attention to detail in this room, but I’m terrified of accidentally giving you spoilers. This is a room you really want to do with no prior knowledge at all, its one of those rooms with those “aahh!” moments in and someone had tipped me off to what they are then I think I’d have made them walk the plank for ruining the surprise. But we are the second team to play this room so we were safe from spoilers.

The decor is very, well, piratey, right down to the hats for you to wear as you solve the puzzles (and also wear in the photo later too) and the puzzles are nicely themed to be nautical/piratey. We soon found the first puzzle and got cracking.

As there is no electronic timer in the room, you get a room appropriate time-piece, it does feel like you’re using far more time than you actually are (well it did for me) but that just added to the room as it focused you more on the puzzles and less on the clock watching.

A couple of puzzles stumped us, and we got a clue, mainly to point us in the right direction as we’d missed spotting the vital bit of information, but we progressed well until we got to one of those “aahh!” moments and then all sense of urgency went out of the window while we marveled at what had just happened, before we dived back into the task at hand.

The heart of the matter was soon in hand, and we rushed for the exit door without a backwards glance at the timepiece, and almost fell onto the gamesmaster who got three voices shouting “what was our time?”.  Despite convincing myself that we must have been in there well over the hour we actually escaped in 56:10 and I was very pleased with that as we were only a team of 3 and we didn’t rush as we all wanted to see and solve each puzzle and challenge.

Then we even got to pose for the victory photo with Captain Jack himself!

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The only issues we had during the room were with reading some of the numbers on the lock in the darker corners, and some of the locks were rather stiff to move. Not huge issues on a new room as the locks will be a lot easier to move by now and Escape Rooms Scotland had already ordered some additional lights for the players.

Summary

So to summarise, the Black Pearl room is one that I’d recommend to new players (as well as the more addicted, like me) as the room is a semi-linear design with a variety of puzzles which range from observational, physical, logical and even a little maths too. There is something there for every team member to use their talents enough to do to keep a team of 6 busy. The gamesmasters are very good at helping without giving you the answer outright and even ask you if you’d like clues before you start.

From a room design and immersion point of view alone then The Black Pearl is in my personal top three must do rooms, as you really do forget you’re in Dundee. The look, feel and sound of the room are done to a standard that Richard O’Brien would be happy with.

I will save the CARA review for another day, but if you’re even in Dundee then please seek out  Escape Rooms Scotland – Dundee at Balgray mill, you wont be disappointed.