Cave Escape Nottingham: Carfax

Up next on our Nottingham trip was the exciting sounding Cave Escape. I’ve always found it fascinating, and a bit weird, how Nottingham has so many caves hidden underneath it, with so many normal looking buildings having one attached. We previously visited the ‘City of Caves’ attraction, which bizarrely featured an entrance to a network of caves at the back of a perfectly normal Intu shopping centre unit. So, when we heard someone was opening a game in one of the caves, we couldn’t resist…

“Your eyes begin to focus through the dull light. The croak and groan of the Russian cargo ship, The Demeter, makes you feel uneasy. You sense that a terrible event has occurred – the crew are missing, presumed dead. Only the body of the Captain is later recovered, found horrifically bound to the helm of the vessel. 

You have been called upon by Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the noted Dutch Metaphysician and his former student, Dr. John Seward whom’s patient, the aristocrat – Lucy Westenra, is presenting a series of bizarre symptoms. She seems to be drawn under the power of an unknown force which yolks her strength, day by day. What is causing her decline and could it be in some way connected to the eery appearance of the deserted ship upon Whitby’s shore? Only you can find the truth!”

Carfax at Cave Escape Nottingham

Firstly, the reception area here deserves a mention – it was beautiful! A surprisingly large room filled with so many bizarre items, leaving the place with a strong feeling of an eccentric curiosity shop.

Heading down into the caves, the theming didn’t disappear, if anything, getting better. I never actually looked at what the game was about before playing, just assuming it would be a game set in a cave, but surprisingly, they’ve barely used the cave in the theming, instead building a very high quality set within it. The game started aboard a pirate ship, with some great props, wood walls, and the right sound effects to give it a real, authentic feel.

Later on, the game entered a completely different area, that was almost eerie, mixing the natural cave space with a strong vampire theme. The decoration was very well done, and definitely a highlight.

The puzzle side of the game is where I struggle a little bit. I’ve had over a week to think it over, and it’s still quite hard to sum it up. Without a doubt, there were some clever ideas in here – some brilliant little secrets, and some genius ways of inputting solutions (with the lack of number locks for authenticity – quite right too).

However, at times, it fell a little bit flat for us, with us hovering around not having a clue what to do. In fact, from what I can recall, there were only two things we completed without a clue. This could be down to many reasons – maybe the puzzles in the game were all things we considered our weakness (there was a paticular tedious searching part of the game, and this is something we’re notoriously bad at), but it could also be down to the game design. There was very little signposting in the game, and when there was some, it was very, very subtle, and hidden amongst the pages and pages of information you found, due to the game being quite story heavy.

Overall, this isn’t a bad game, and it would be interesting to see how other experienced players get on. The room looks amazing, and there are some great ideas – there are just a few things that mean it’s not as fun as you’d like it to be. Experienced players, take a team of at least three. Newbies, maybe 4-5 are needed. Cave Escape seems like a great set-up, and with some small tweaks, they’ll have some amazing games – we can’t wait to see their future rooms.

Host: We didn’t catch our host’s name, but she was one of the owners. She was very nice and gave a great brief, and we had a good chat with her afterwards about the escape industry.
Clue System: Clues were delivered by an atmospheric voice over.
Success? We genuinely thought we’d gone over time, but somehow we completed the game in 58:12.

Facilities: A large waiting area, toilets, lockers, and drinks for sale.

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