The phenomenon of the “escape room”, where willing participants get locked in a puzzle-filled room and have to figure out the way to freedom, has grown in popularity over the past few years. “Cryptology”, based on Eldon Street, is Barnsley’s first example of this cutting-edge pastime. One overcast October afternoon, Jo from The Arrow and myself took on the challenge.
Greeted by the friendly Simon, operator of the business, he proceeded to give us the safety briefing, some quick do’s and don’t’s, and did a great job of making us feel welcome.
In we went! We were in one of the available scenarios, the “S.S. Cypher”, a sunken WW2 submarine, downed in the middle of a hunt for a German U-Boat. As the sound of creaking hulls, undersea creatures and ominous klaxons surrounded us, we began to hunt for clues to the mystery. The scenario was brilliantly realised, recreating the dingy, enclosed vibe of a creaky old sub as we huddled under the sparse lighting to read codes and open locks.
It’s important to emphasise that this is all very safe. You are monitored by cameras at all times in case of any problems, and the way into the scenario is always unlocked in case the need to suddenly leave arises. There is another exit, and figuring the way through that is your goal.
To go into more detail would risk spoiling the puzzles, but some real lateral thinking, and an eye for detail are required to succeed. This is not an easy series of puzzles, and your sight, hearing and grey matter will be fully tested. Jo and I were occasionally stumped, but Simon was there over a telephone with a patient nudge in the right direction.
This was an immensely fun and novel experience. Thanks to Simon for his professionalism, friendliness and a great afternoon. Figuring things out for ourselves and the sense of adventure was terrific, and has given me the bug for more of these kind of experiences.
One of those, I’m sure, will involve a return visit to Cryptology.
BY ANDY RILEY