When Tim and I had the day off in honour of it being one year before we get married, we wondered for a little while what to do. We had dinner booked at Tykes, the restaurant attached to our wedding venue, but we needed something to do during the day.
After a bit of debate, we decided to go for a trip to the National Railway Museum (nothing says true love like trains)… and a visit to an escape room – our first York-based room.
Based on a recommendation, we tried to book Operation Hero at Can You Escape, but when it was fully booked we decided to take a chance on Mindlock – and I’m glad we did!
Mindlock Escape Room
We arrived at the escape room, based a short walk from the city centre opposite Clifford’s Tower, a little early, and headed upstairs to a stylish waiting room. The giant M wall and stack of Viking helmets made it clear that this was where triumphant post-escape photo were taken.
Mindlock have three different rooms currently – Viking Valhalla, Cluedo and V90, with a Harry Potter themed room opening this summer as well. I love the idea of a Cluedo themed room, however it was graded a 3/5 difficulty and we fancied more of a challenge! We found out afterwards that the difficulty ratings are pretty subjective, and lots of people who breeze through V90 struggle with Cluedo – so it’s definitely added to the futures list!
After a few minutes, our game master came in, having put the final touches on our room. We chatted for a few minutes and then he showed us to the room. We received our briefing – short but informative – outside the door, and were encourage to put a lab coat on when we got inside. The door locked behind us… and the timer started!
The potty Professor T has created a deadly virus, V90, and plans to spread it across the world! Our task was to crack the codes, find the antivirus and escape before it’s too late.
Our first impressions entering the room were impressive. Unlike most escape rooms, which baffle you with piles of things to search through, the laboratory is clean, bright and minimalist. However we still managed to miss something on the initial sweep for clues, proving that it’s not the rooms – it’s us that’s bad at looking!
The timer ticked away on a screen that was visible – though not accessible – from the entry (take from that what you will).
The lighting, clean surfaces and few knick knacks meant that it genuinely felt like a real laboratory, and wearing the lab coats definitely added to the vibe. At one point you put on safety gloves, and I think safety goggles would have added to the feel even more so.
The puzzles themselves fit in incredibly well with the theming. You don’t need any scientific knowledge to crack the room, but it helps when you don’t need to constantly refer to in-room references. Tim studied Chemistry at uni, and I studied Maths and Physics, and our scientific background gave us a small advantage, which would have been larger if our knowledge was a little more fresh.
The majority of puzzles were to find a locker key or number lock input – there were a LOT of locks. I often think that rooms that rely on locks can feel a bit repetitive, and while it meant we had to cycle through a lot of different options before finding where the key fit or which lock the number unlocked, the methods by which we got said keys and numbers were pretty unique.
A lot of the puzzles are number based and require more complex maths than is usual in many escape rooms (nothing too crazy though), but it fit in really well with the theming of the room and a calculator was provided if you didn’t want to do a load of sums on paper (which we didn’t for time’s sake!). A lot of the puzzles were also fairly time-consuming, which is super stressful when you’re in the middle of them, but also helps with the pace of the room.
A couple of the puzzles were incredibly innovative, and required serious coordination between Tim and myself. However, generally the puzzles were pretty linear, so I wouldn’t recommend this for more than a group of 2 or 3. A four could do it, but a couple of the group would end up at a loose end here or there.
It’s a fairly low-tech room, which had the advantage that most of the puzzles were fully reliable. A key did stick at one point, but our clue giver was quick to redirect us back to the right lock when he realised there’d been a technical glitch.
We left the room on a high, and spent a lot of time chatting to the gamemaster afterwards. A great room is one where you come out talking about some of the best puzzles in the room, and there were a lot to bring up this time.
A unique an enjoyable room with a lot to go on. We will definitely be returning to Mindlock for another of their games.
Theme: 4/5 | Puzzles: 4/5 | Difficulty: 3.5/5
Clue system: agree signal with game master for clues to appear on screen
Success: yes, 20:38 remaining, which got us onto the leaderboard!