Lab Rat

by Solve and Unlock

You've been given a special chance to visit Ampersand Labs! Explore the new facility and discover the amazing science. Learn about their work in human behaviour and take part in their new study! During the tour you noticed that something was not quite right... suddenly the doors lock and you are trapped!

From the Solve & Unlock website
Lab Rat

Review

We completed Lab Rat successfully with two people in about 55 minutes, though with a number of hints as there were parts that would have taken too long with only the two of us.

Lab Rat was my (lexi's) first escape room experience, a birthday present from my sister. I'd heard about these escape rooms, but hadn't been able to drag anyone along to try them until I got dragged myself. At Solve & Unlock, we were given a run-down of the rules and a small walkie-talkie, and warned ahead of time that the room would be difficult with only two. I assumed it was because there were too many puzzles to solve, but it turned out to be a different matter altogether.

The first room was stark white with a single bed, desk and bookshelf, just what you'd expect from a laboratory setting. Part of me wondered if GLaDOS from Portal was going to start talking over the speakers. The atmosphere was perfect. It took us a while to get going - we fiddled with everything in sight, and were stumped by one part until a voice crackled over our walkie-talkie to let us know we'd missed opening something. Definitely a facepalm moment when we figured it out!

One of the items was a notebook diary, which not only provided clues but also fleshed out the backstory. It was detailed, and had clearly been carefully and lovingly crafted which is a testament to the effort Solve & Unlock puts into their rooms.

Finding our way to the next section was rather exciting, but I won't spoil the surprise. Needless to say, it fit the 'escape the lab' theme perfectly! That said, I was somewhat disappointed by the second section. It felt a lot like busywork for one person, and tedious task-based activities for the others. The tasks did fit the theme and narrative perfectly, but ended up being more frustrating than anything else. And as we had two people, with one person kept busy there was only one other person to do the tasks. In the end, to ensure we made it out on time, we were given some of the codes. It had nothing to do with us being unable to solve the puzzle--we simply couldn't do the particular tasks in time.

The end was particularly nail-biting, with a set amount of time to get out. The atmosphere created increased the tension even more, through smart use of props, lighting and sound. It was very well done and really got us worked up as we scrambled to open the final door.

There weren't too many puzzles, the bulk of the time being spent in the second areas. That said, the puzzles they did have were varied and didn't feel repetitive at all. The last puzzle, especially, worked quite well in bringing everything together.

Overall, a room with a brilliant atmosphere and story, but somewhat lacking in the puzzling aspect.

Hint system

Hints are provided through a walkie-talkie, as many as you want or need. You are constantly monitored so the hints are specifically for you and you'll also be notified if you're on a completely wrong track. The hints gently nudge you in the right direction without giving the solution away.

Difficulty

Average. Puzzles are pretty straightforward and it's obvious which clues link to which puzzles. None are brain-stumpingly hard, so it would be a decent room for beginners.

Skills

A steady hand and some endurance wouldn't hurt

What we liked

Solving the puzzle in the first room and discovering how to get into the second room. It fit the 'escape' theme perfectly!
-lexi

Our recommendation

It's got atmosphere, but your money would be better spent on Solve & Unlock's other rooms

Visited on 21 Dec 2014 by lexi and friend

At a glance

A solid room with some nifty and nail-biting sequences and a great narrative, but let down by a task-based section in the middle that wasn't quite as fun.

Recommended?

Depends

Pros

  • An interesting, logical narrative which reveals what happened in the past and why you have to escape
  • A very tense countdown sequence at the end
  • Solid puzzles - while I didn't get that brilliant 'Ah-hah!' moment, they were still well-crafted and fit the theme perfectly

Cons

  • One section where it was clear what you had to do, but doing it was tedious and somewhat frustrating (and also like busywork for one poor person)
  • Not as many puzzles as other rooms, with the bulk of the time spent in the section above.

You will like this if...

  • You like an interesting and cohesive narrative behind your escape rooms
  • You like the tension of a final countdown to the finish
  • You don't mind task-based puzzles that involve doing instead of thinking
  • You love Portal so much you would do anything to be in an 'escape the lab' setting

You might not like this if...

  • You don't like being pressured to solve a puzzle within a given time limit
  • You don't like task-based puzzles (the section is almost an entire third of the experience)

Recommended number

Three. Any more and it would feel too cramped, but there's one particular section where you will want more than two people.

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