Puzzle Room, Blackwater
Gee Witchalls seeks the solution and meets creator Jason Welsh
The past few years have seen a surge in the popularity of Escape Rooms or Puzzle Rooms, a kind of real life brain teaser challenge that sees teams compete against the clock to solve problems and escape from a room/building or achieve another mission.
I went to check out the newest arrival to Cornwall, The Puzzle Room in Blackwater, nr Truro.
I took a team of 6 (the maximum allowed) to tackle the mission, set in an old mine, with no real expectations having never been to anything like this before. We had a real mix of people with different skills, not all pub quiz or logic puzzle types (in case you’re thinking that these things only appeal to such a demographic) and let me say right now – It was the best fun we’d all had for donkey’s years.
If you don’t read any further all you need to know is that you should definitely go. Scroll down for the link and book yourself in, with a discount code exclusive to Cornish Stuff readers – don’t hesitate!
The Puzzle Room was created by Jason Welsh, and I had a chat to him about the project and his background:
CS: Tell me a bit more about yourself!
I’m Jason. I’ve worked in and around the games industry on and off since 2013. I was a Games Guru at the UK’s first board game cafe, Thirsty Meeples (www.thirstymeeples.co.uk) in Oxford, where I taught hundreds of board game titles to tens of thousands of customers over the space of one and a half years. That job gave me a huge amount of exposure to the puzzles that board games present, how people approach the games, and what people enjoy about ‘figuring out’ a game – all essential knowledge for designing puzzles of my own!
Why did you decide to set up the puzzle room – is this something that’s a big thing in Cornwall right now?
I started planning Puzzle Room while i was still living in Oxford, and looking to make a move back to Cornwall. Escape Rooms are becoming very popular across the UK, and at the time there were none in Cornwall. I wasn’t the only one to have that idea, with 3 other Escape Room companies popping up between me signing a lease, and opening the doors!
What was the inspiration for the mine theme, just Cornwall’s industrial past or something else?
The theme for the Mine room was chosen for two reasons. The Cornish mining heritage is a very good fit, and the room lends itself to physical/mechanical puzzles – we wanted our first room to be free of modern technology to limit delays with untested ideas. Now we are open, we can afford to take more time designing puzzles that take advantage of Raspberry Pi controllers, RFID interfaces and other fun things!
What do you hope people get out of the experience?
We get two types of groups – Families spanning 2 or 3 generations looking for a challenge they can take on together, and groups of young professionals looking for something new and fun to do. Both get a sense of group achievement from completing the challenge, with individuals having a chance to shine at one of the varied puzzle types.
Do you have plans to expand in the future and add more rooms?
Our second room, the Submarine, is in development now, and we’re hoping to get that room open by Christmas. You can follow us on Facebook for updates on the Submarine – https://www.facebook.com/puzzleroomcornwall/
It has to be said that Jason has done an impressive job – he’s definitely hit his objectives and the experience is a delight.
The puzzles range across different types so there’s something for everyone, the team work element is great fun and having six people running about in what is quite a small space, desperately trying to work out clues and generally getting a bit over-excited made for quite an unexpected adrenaline rush as we watched the clock tick (we may have had a few slightly competitive people on the team, naming no names…).
The joy at completing the mission was boundless, I honestly think it’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. And I mean fun in a proper childlike, getting stuck into something and having a great laugh doing it sort of way!
In case I haven’t hammered the point home quite enough yet – put this at the top of your list. Go with your partner, your friends, your kids, colleagues, anyone – just go! I promise you won’t regret it. Personally I’m bouncing with excitement about the new room so I can go back and do it again, and if you don’t come out of The Puzzle Room feeling like a child at Christmas then you’re probably Scrooge anyway. Bah humbug.
For more info you can visit the Facebbok page above, or the website here: http://puzzleroomcornwall.co.uk/
And as an added bonus you can get a 15% discount (valid until 31st Jan) by using the code CORNISHSTUFF – don’t say we never treat you!