Parapark – 9th Gateway

Game date: 08/05/2017

Where: Leeds

Theme:

“Welcome to the 9th Gateway. Locals and townspeople will tell you to steer clear of this place – that evil seeps from its very walls. Little is known about the incident that took place here decades ago. Whoever you ask will tell you a different story of seances gone wrong, possessed children or ancient evils. The only thing that stays the same in every account is that 9 people entered the basement, and none ever left. Since then, all who enter have been consumed by the same evil and have never been seen again. Even those who approach the door will tell you tales of extradimensional whispers and a bone-chilling sense of being watched. Do you think you have what it takes to enter the portal of the 9th gateway and live to tell the tale? Explore the portal of evil and unravel the riddles of the dark forces keeping you inside. Can you escape before time runs out and the gateway closes forever?”

The room is down in the basement, which adds to the horror theme a bit, it also makes it very cold in there, I would recommend taking a coat in with you if it’s cold outside, I doubt this will be a problem in the summer, however when we played it was FREEZING!

The room was clean, parts of it had a lot of space, and everything was in good condition. However, i’m not too sure what they were going for with the actual theme of the room, it wasnt massively immersive and I was very aware I was in an escape room. I really couldn’t pick out one thing that this room was supposed to be, there was a piano, a mixture of old-fashioned cabinets and chairs, an old tv, old lamps, and for some reason a computer, (which seemed to only be there for the sake of a puzzle) there was a collection of old-fashioned kids toys, and a few demonic looking symbols painted on the walls. I don’t know what this room was trying to be, and it just seemed to me like a random collection of furniture in a room with no real theme, other than ‘horror’.

We were told during the brief that some of the drawers and cabinets contained equipment to run the game, and if we saw a padlock with a skull sticker on it, it meant that it was not part of the game. Whilst this was a good idea and let us know which things not to bother with, it turned out that there was A LOT of these padlocks, so many that we kept forgetting where they were, and would become excited when we discovered another lock, only to find out that it had a sticker on it. It also made it difficult to judge how far in the game you were, as even towards the end of the game it looked like there was still a lot of things to open. I understand that some equipment does have to be in there, but everything was in the cabinets or drawers, and some of it could have been boxed off to avoid some of the padlocks. It took away from the immersion a bit, and we wasted a lot of time returning to things which we thought we needed to unlock, only to realise that they had a yet another sticker on them.

The room is advertised as horror, and we thought we were in for something scary  when we entered one section, it was pitch black, and all we could see in the darkness was a creepy image flickering on a TV screen, and we all hesitated for a few seconds before proceeding. Unfortunately, that’s as scary as it got, because a few seconds later someone found the light switch, and the atmosphere was gone in an instance. It would have been better fitting with the theme if the light levels had been kept low and we had been given torches. I’m not a huge fan of dark rooms, but in some games it’s necessary to create the right atmosphere.

Some of the puzzles did fit well with the theme, or more specifically, with the back story, but some seemed a bit out-of-place considering the story we had been told, such as the generic remote control car puzzle which made no sense being in this old-fashioned room. I’m not too sure what room the photos on the website are taken in, but the majority of them are definitely not the one in Leeds, there were a few we recognised, but most of them we didn’t see, and they are things that would have been practically impossible to miss!

The game:

This is currently the only room at Parapark Leeds, but they were in the process of building a second one. The current room is for 2-6 players, we played it with 6. Normally we don’t like playing in large groups, but I had found a deal on Groupon for 6 players and we thought we may as well take a full team. It didn’t take me long to regret this decision, as one part of the game was quite small, and we spent this portion of it tripping over each other, and in the end some of the group just sat down out the way whilst the rest figured out what to do. There really wasnt enough for 6 people to do, some of the puzzles you could only fit a few people round due to where they were located, and left the rest of the group stood there waiting, and not being able to see anything that was happening. I found myself sat down for a while towards the end of the game, just waiting for a puzzle to be solved so I could join in again.

The flow of the room was OK, mostly linear, and we never really got stuck on anything for too long (other than the issue with the radio I mention below) and we only needed a few clues during the game. There was a mixture of word and observation puzzles, a few that could be very loosely described as practical, a little searching to be done, and a number of generic escape room puzzles. None of the puzzles really made a lasting impression, they were ok, but for me there wasnt a great sense of achievement when solving them, and we had seen pretty much every one of them done before. That being said, some of the group did enjoy the room, so maybe this was down to that fact that there was simply not enough for us all to do, leading to some of us having a very different experience of the room. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy this room much, I found the theming and puzzles really underwhelming, and so far its the only room we have played where so many of us have been sat around for so long, and again, this may have impacted on the experience for me, and afterwards we vowed never to play a room with 6 of us again.  Its worth noting that those in our group who enjoyed the room most, where the ones who had played the least rooms, so this may be a good room for newbies, or more experienced players who enjoy escape room tropes.

Towards the end of the game, we hit a brick wall, we had found a radio, and it was clear that there wasnt much else we could do at the time, so we spent 10 minutes walking round thinking we were doing something wrong, until eventually it just came on all of a sudden. When we asked about this after, our host said that the transmitter had not been working and he had fixed it when he realised. I’m not sure if this meant he wasnt actually watching our game, or if he had just thought it was working and that we couldn’t figure it out (but considering we were walking round the room holding it up and pointing it at things, I think it was fairly obvious it wasnt doing what it was supposed to be) I understand things go wrong sometimes, and it doesn’t bother me too much as generally the host will acknowledge it and apologise, either fixing the problem or giving us back the wasted time, but our host didn’t actually mention it and we had to ask about it.

Host, briefing and clue system:

Clues were delivered to a TV screen in the room, although we only had a few. I don’t know if this is down to our host thinking that we didn’t need the help, or if he wasnt watching us. He did run our game well, and the clues we did get were ones that we really needed, but the length of time it took him to resolve the radio issue got me wondering if he was preoccupied.  I didn’t catch (or can’t remember) our hosts name, but he was polite and friendly, gave us an in-depth briefing, then took us downstairs for the back story, he seemed genuinely excited about the room, and asked us what we thought of it when we got out.

Newbies would probably like this room, it isn’t too difficult, and with the escape room tropes in there, is a good way to acquire some understanding of the more commonly used puzzles. I would recommend 4-6 players, as a few of the puzzles could be a little tricky, but enthusiasts may not enjoy this room as much, again due to the number of generic escape room puzzles in the game, if you have played a lot of games, I would recommend a team of 4 maximum.

Parapark have two huge walls that you can write your names/team names on, which was fun to do afterwards. If you want a photo, I would recommend getting your host to take one on your own phone, as it takes them at least a month to put the photos online (which he offered to do for this reason) I think due to them adding their logos etc to the photo.

Did we escape?

Yes! In 51:22

IMG_9774

Booking and prices:

We booked online, im not sure if you can book over the phone, but i cant see why not, you can pay on your card or with Paypal, and the website actually accepts the Groupon vouchers!

Price:

6 players- £84
5 players- £70
4 players- £60
3 players- £51
2 players- £40

Parapark have a deal on Groupon at the minute, which is £49 for up to 6 players (Monday-Thursday), if you make a Groupon account you get another 15% off your first purchase too, definitely worth doing for this price!

Website:

www.leeds.parapark.co.uk

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