“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” The trouble emerges when you have more to eliminate than an hour will accommodate.
Location: Mainz, Germany
Date played: October 15, 2015
Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-6
Price: 33-20 € per ticket depending on team size
Theme and Story
It’s supposed to be as if Sherlock Holmes and Watson have disappeared while solving a mystery and the building is surrounded by the not-so-good guys. Only by escaping do you find them and freedom.
The set perfectly embodies the period that one would expect for from a Sherlock Holmes story. A few items feel slightly out of place, but mostly The Sherlock room looks the part.
The plot threads are loose and fraying all over the place. Completing the game doesn’t bring much clarity.
The story didn’t unfold throughout the game. Instead, we uncovered events that had previously taken place. Neither the story nor our detective mission came across clearly through the puzzles in the room.
The room relied heavily on written clues. Perhaps the story would have unfolded more clearly through the clues if we had played the game in German. We needed to find and solve these written riddles/ clues to progress through the game.
We were the first team to play in English. Our game master substituted English versions of every written clue. Except for the confusion of the words “shelf” and “drawer” in a specific clue, language did not impede our experience.
This reliance on written language is a particular style that some players will favor more than others. Personally, I like the room to speak for itself, rather than direct me on pieces of paper. This is especially true when the clues don’t reveal a story arc.
Combination disks spun the reverse direction. Locks turned the reverse direction. And, most importantly, the door opened in. Americans, take note. Everything is backwards… It’s like we were in another country.
The game had a lot of puzzles, and with them, a lot of key and combination locks. The game master knew this and warned us to move quickly. The quantity of game elements (combined with the shelf/drawer mishap) bested us by a few minutes.
There was so much to accomplish in one hour that fewer than 5% of teams escape this game.
Puzzle Clarity and Hinting
There was no screen or visible timer in this room. However, the game master could see and hear us, and spoke to us through a speaker. He gave us hints as he saw fit when the game stalled. He expected to speak to us throughout the game. Actually, he felt like the third team member.
This game would benefit from dropping its reliance on both extensive written puzzles/ clues as well as its participatory game master (as much as we liked him).
The first half of the Sherlock game included deliberately tedious puzzles. We ended up conversing with the game master as we plodded through this section of the game solving puzzles that had vague or subjective solutions.
In the second half, the puzzle intrigue and intensity picked up.
I’m of two minds when it comes to the use of UV or black lights in Sherlock.
On one hand, there was a ton of stuff to find using a single UV flashlight… That became even more difficult because the flashlight was small, and kept flickering. For the amount of fluorescent clues in this room, the flashlight felt laughably small and under powered.
On the other hand, this room had the two most creative and fun applications of fluorescent paint that we’ve ever encountered. In those two instances, the black light made us feel like it revealed another layer of reality. That’s how fluorescents should feel.
The Sherlock Room, along with The Vault, is one of Exit Experience’s first creations. On our way out, our game master (also the owner/ designer) showed us a few props he is developing for a Wonka themed room… They look great. He is passionate about his craft, eager to learn, and clearly improving with each iteration.
Should I play Exit Experience’s Sherlock?
At this stage, it probably isn’t worth a trip to Mainz specifically to play Sherlock, especially since the game is located a cab ride away from the city center.
However, if you find yourself in the area, this is a solid game.
The setting was well-crafted and it included some exceptionally clever puzzles, as well as unique variations on some more common game elements. For this reason, experienced players will enjoy the challenge.
The Sherlock Room would be a hard game for first time players because of the volume of game elements, but it would be a fun introduction to this genre of play.
We expect that the next creations from this company will be even more worth the cab ride.
Book your hour with Exit Experience’s Sherlock Room and tell them the Room Escape Artist sent you.