Review: Sherlock – The Game is Now Escape Room
We take to London’s underground labyrinth of tunnels and follow a path of cryptic clues as part of the ultimate Sherlock Holmes themed escape room
With the last of the acclaimed BBC Sherlock series aired back in 2017, fans of the modern day detective series, about a razor sharp intelligent detective and his lovable companion, were left with a gaping void in their lives, one that has been filled by The Game is Now. With the capital home to many an escape room, it’s easy to dismiss this as another money-making ploy, but with the backing of the TV series’ actors and penned by the official writers of the series, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, this escape room captures the essence of the show and can be found in every prop and behind every corner.
The televised series exploded onto the scene back in 2010, captivating the hearts of a nation with Benedict Cumberbatch’s superb portrayal of a neurotic genius and his companion, John Watson, played by Martin Freeman. On the back of the series’ success, The Game is Now sees the reopening of 221B Baker Street for a mission that propels you into the criminal underworld of the capital.
After carefully assembling a team of my brightest pals for the occasion, we turn up to Doyle’s Opticians in an unassuming shopping centre in the heart of Shepherd’s Bush. On arrival, Doyle’s – an affectionate allude to the author of the books – is in fact a completely nondescript shop selling glasses and complete with an optician actor tapping away at his desk, awaiting our arrival. Unlike other escape rooms, the immersive nature is immediately clear and all-encompassing, with the entire faux shop front an impressive set, and my friends and I cast as actors.
As per instruction, we buzz ourselves into Doyle’s and explain to the optician that we were there for a ‘routine inspection’, to which he reveals his true identity and discloses that Doyle’s is in fact a cover up for a spy training agency, and we are hopeful recruits. We’re ushered into another room and given a practice session to test our instincts for crime solving and shown a video with John Watson (Martin Freeman), explaining the nature of our task. We leave the first room and wind our way through the dark corridors to another room, leaving the streets of Shepherd’s Bush far behind and catapulted to Baker Street, opening a door into an exact replica of Sherlock’s iconic living room, complete with the kitsch wallpaper, his trusted violin, and dated décor that was picked out by the show’s set designer. We have a snoop around the room before the lights begin to tremor and evil Moriarty (Andrew Scott) appears on the television, revealing his evil plans. Commitment from the cast is a testament to this escape room’s credibility and with such names giving their blessing, you’re further inclined to take the experience seriously.
The fireplace moves to reveal a secret corridor, leading us into a morgue where Molly Hooper and Sherlock are working together to deduce what happened to a body. We are left in a seemingly blank room, and it’s up to us to assess the surroundings and use the props to garner information that will get us through to the next room. Like Sherlock, we must deduct from what is laid out in front of us, and when we fail to pick up on clues that the great mastermind would have no problem in spotting, he sends us messages over the monitor that help chivvy us along. After a period of pressing buttons, flicking switches, typing in codes, we are eventually presented with the opening of another door leading us into a spy bunker with impressive lighting and a 007 feel. The time is running out and we struggle here, eventually piecing the puzzle together and leaving us with little time for the final room, where stress levels are paramount. After a nerve-wracking 20 minutes, the buzzer goes and it dawns on us that we’ve failed the mission. We are greeted at the end by our disappointed spy trainer who talks us through our mistakes and where we went wrong. Finally a final door creaks open behind us and we are led into Sherlock’s Mind Palace – an aptly named pub where delicious cocktails are named after Conan Doyle’s stories and characters.
The Game is Now is fabulously themed, with each and every room perfectly curated like you’re on the set of a play. The experience is seamless and the beautiful pub at the end tops it all off, giving this escape room the edge over others dotted across London. Whether you’re a fan of the violin-playing, pipe-smoking detective, or just there for the appetising cocktails, you cannot fail to be impressed by the acute attention to detail that makes this a wholly immersive experience.
Get tickets for The Game is Now by visiting their website at www.thegameisnow.com