If you know anything about Curio at all, it’s probably that it has a big, clever secret to it. But the secret isn’t explained beforehand, and we were only told that we were looking for an artefact of some sort.
New friend John, as timid as he is eager, started the search by turning a dial on the wall, just as the room’s trick came into play for the first time, and the look on his face was worth the cost of entry itself. “Abort! Abort!” he yelled, as we all wondered what the hell was happening, and yes – it really does live up to the hype once you realise what’s going on. As the game progressed we realised that rather than being a moment solely there to dazzle, it was a big piece of how the room plays out. And also unrelated to the dial, although when we did need to use that same dial in a puzzle later on, John stayed far, far away from it.
Anyway, after recovering from that initial surprise, John and I decided to focus on what was important and try on the hats scattered around the room. I mean, there was a fez – fez’s are cool! We found several different hats and already Curio was worth the money.
And aside from the hats, the room looks great. Escapologic have run with the idea of the well travelled explorer and his assortment of treasures from around the world, and while the hats aren’t the most subtle nod towards this, as the room opens up you’ll notice some effort has gone towards a little international flavoring. Despite being a potentially generic theme – an explorer’s house, which reminded me more of my dearly departed Gran’s secret cupboard of accumulated “stuff” – the decor really is put together well. Escapologic are famous for the atmosphere of their rooms, and Curio is outstanding, with the added twist to the room not only being a great surprise in itself, but complementing the scenario itself.
Matthew, meanwhile, got to work solving all the puzzles. His skill is in logic puzzles that can be solved step by step, and it turns out that Curio is quite a linear room and the puzzles are mainly solved step by step. With his girlfriend Kathleen unavailable on the day, and therefore no distractions, Matthew was able to fully focus on the puzzles and we finished the room in a recordbreaking 2 minutes.
Just kidding. Curio is the hardest room at Escapologic, with a 10% clear rate, and we needed more than a few hints. But we did make it through, finishing with 6 minutes spare. We wasted time at several points which turned out to be easier than expected – thorough searching is apparently not our strong point – but progress was quick each time we realised what obvious clue we were missing. The puzzles fit the theme perfectly and immersion was only broken with the ending, when we’d won the game and didn’t immediately realise. There are some mild red herrings in that the instructions were to recover anything which looks like an artefact, and John loyally carried one particular item around for the entire game, only realising at the very end that it was set decoration, and entirely useless.
The puzzles are outstandingly well designed, and Curio would hold up well even without that big old secret held within the walls. While difficult, the game is never unfair, and we always understood the solutions. The hints were timed perfectly and are delivered in a way consistent with the theme. We needed the individual skills of each team member to solve everything: everyone shone in at least one puzzle, and nobody was left feeling like they didn’t contribute.
A few criticisms, then. Starting out in the room is a little undirected, which we would later see is a bit of a running theme in Escapologic’s rooms. The ending also wasn’t obvious at first, although Escapologic could resolve this by telling players exactly what the goal is. And finally, the briefing before the game also misled us a little, although this was unintentional on the part of the game master, who was very friendly and definitely made the game more enjoyable for us.
All of those are small issues and do not in any way detract from what is a fantastic room. If you’re in Nottingham and want to solve some puzzles, Curio should be your number one choice of escape room.
One of the best escape rooms in Nottingham, this room is not to be missed.