Our Nottingham binge trip ended with a return to one of our favourite places, Escapologic, for what would be our first time ever playing the same game three times. Howitz was the first ever game we played here, back in early 2017, and after not even making it past the halfway point due to the sheer terror of the room, we returned several months later for a second attempt so we could experience the game in full. Although we still didn’t escape, we noticed there’d been a lot of puzzle changes made to the game. Anyway, we’d since heard that since our second attempt, the game had been completely ripped out and recreated, so we went along to try the latest version of Howitz.
“A tragic loss. A happy family destroyed. A desperate man, irresistibly drawn to dark forces. As the door slams shut behind you, you’re trapped in the world of Eli Howitz, an enigmatic figure whose gut-wrenching story pervades every millimetre of the room.
Just what happened in Eli’s toy shop? You’ve heard the rumours. You know the horror stories off by heart. But how much truth is there in the police report? Can there really be ritualistic carvings on the walls? They say there were glowing symbols, and toys that whirred, clicked, and span on their own…
Our resident genius created Howitz after too little sleep and too many disturbing movies! There are scenes of a nature that might upset in here. Of all the escape rooms in Nottingham, this is the one that could cause sleepless nights. If that kind of thing messes with your head, we recommend leaving the door locked on this one.
With the clock inexorably marking off the seconds and minutes of your nightmare, you only have limited time to find out what really happened in Eli’s shop. Hunt for clues. Track down the horrifying puzzles that will bring you one step closer to freedom. And get the hell out of there, before the room claims you as its own.
There aren’t any escape rooms in Nottingham that are as intense as this! At the very heart of Howitz lies a truth too terrible to imagine. Dare you uncover it? Enter Eli’s world, and discover the man behind the myth. But don’t tarry too long, or you could become just another plaything for the black magic that holds this room in its grip…”
That’s the game story taken from the website, but it’s not the updated version you receive in your briefing. You can tell the difference quite easily, because there’s not one mention of the word “clown” in the one above…
Firstly, the game set that Howitz takes place in has always been one of my favourites. Despite some alterations, everything I loved about it was still present. The old game started in a little kitchen area, before taking you through to a stock room, and then the abandoned shop itself. The new one is pretty similar, and although the stockroom area now feels a little bit more “escape roomey”, that main shop area is still a dishevelled beauty of a creation. So much has gone into this to give you a genuine impression of a shop that has lain untouched for decades, with every single prop looking long abandoned, and at the same time altered for the horror theme.
One of my biggest criticisms of this game previously was the puzzles. You used to start the game just searching for several pieces of something, hidden amongst the ton of props, while there also used to be a bit of a tedious maze, and in the second version of the game, a bloody irritating buzzwire. Now, this is all gone, and the room now seems to have more of a flow, taking you from puzzle to puzzle. The gameplay has hugely stepped up in the new version, with some brilliant ideas that really suit the period and theme. A TV put to brilliant use, and Punch & Judy like you’ve never seen before are amongst the highlights.
It’s worth mentioning that this is definitely a horror room, and if you really don’t like jump scares, it’s probably one to avoid. It’s not the scariest game I’ve played (that accolade remains with Edith at Unescapable Derby for now), but it’s definitely the one with the most innovative scares. There are so many genius mechanisms and props in this room all used to give you a fright, and despite the fact I hate scary games, I could really appreciate this.
Overall, the new version of this game is a huge improvement on a game I already loved. The gameplay is so much better than previously, and for those wondering if it’s different enough to play again – it is basically a brand new game with the same name. I’d recommend 2-3 players, and with there being some tight spaces and small rooms with not much to split up on, no more than four at most.
Host: We didn’t catch our host’s name, but he delivered a good brief, telling us the detailed backstory and building up tension.
Clue System: Clues were delivered via a ouija board, still one of my favourite clue systems.
Success? Yes, although we didn’t get told our time. We’re just happy to have finally escaped it though after two failed visits!