By Snow & Saol
Sherlocked, in Amsterdam, is one of the most famous escape companies in the country. During our 3 days of non-escape tourism, we took care to locate its entrance, aware that when we will play it we will be quite short in time (having optimized the trips to the absolute maximum).
We are going to play their 2 rooms in a row and I confess that after the stunning failure of 10 doors we were looking forward to it.
So we arrive at the location 15 minutes before, as requested, in front of the door and ring the bell.
Well, we're going to make it short, much shorter than we had to wait for: a young blond man, with no smile, ends up opening the door after 20 minutes... Realizing that he had no intention of apologizing for the delay, I threw him a line: "We had to be here 15 minutes before, right?" "Yes" "and we didn't get the wrong door, did we?" "No"... oooookkkkk!
Well, let's not let this ruin the adventure for us, we can't wait! The young man invites us to leave our things in a room provided for this purpose and accompanies us on benches in front of the room.
Let's take two seconds to talk about this place. Sherlocked has taken up residence in the "beurs van Berlage". This building, built by Henrik Berlage between 1898 and 1903, housed the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Today, there is a conference centre, a chocolate shop, cafés, an exhibition space, bike rental and more. It is definitely worthwhile to walk around this building, because each facade represents a different building. It is located on Damrak, a huge avenue that forms an axis from the central station to the heart of the old city. You will find many attractions there and we enjoyed a nice little coffee at the cut throat Barber and café: a place that makes barber and café bar in one, really nice and yes, the name is interesting. But hey, let's go back to: The architect.
During construction work in these areas, an unknown space was discovered: a space that is not on any blueprint. However, those who hired us want to know more about this place and the reasons for its existence. The GM shows us where he will be waiting for us and invites us to enter the mysterious room. First of all, we are impressed by the size of the room, which is quite empty in the end. The location was chosen very well: this historic building with exposed stones has something mysterious about it and the atmosphere is highlighted by the antique furniture and the lighting.
There is some scavenging at the beginning and puzzles are quite different. We ended up finding the space too large and empty and the little dark furniture we found there gave the place a rather cold look. Puzzles require observation, orientation in space, but we will also need to communicate, to know how to make decisions and, ultimately, puzzles are quite different from each other.
The puzzles are quite cerebral and not always obvious, but of high quality and quite original.
One of them really worried us, because it's really not our strong suit... at the end of a long journey of hard work, we finally succeed in solving the mystery of this place, in a moment of climax, because the surprise is quite big and all on a more stressful musical background. We even receive a nice little gift that we will cherish.
When our GM joins us, we ask him what was the use of a key that we still had in our hands, but that had not been used. He tells us what furniture it is used for, but we opened it without it. We wanted to understand (the nasty flaw of any escape enthusiast).
And now he tells us that he doesn't have time to explain because he's in a hurry.... Yes, I see you're smiling because you anticipated my response more than exasperated... After letting us wait 20 minutes, a brief quick debrief, no smile.... "But it took us 45 minutes, so we have 15 minutes left of our time so show us how we could open the cabinet without this key!". Well my tone didn't really leave him much choice so he accompanied us and quickly told us from the door that we used another key that shouldn't have worked... well so that's it!
Going back to the locker room, the lack of kindness of the GM has erased all the good things we have experienced in the room, but that's not all, let me tell you the rest, because there is more.
When Saol takes his jacket from the coat rack, he drags a coffee cup that has been placed on a rim under his jacket. The coffee remaining in the cup spills on his pants. He picks up the cup as best he can. The GM, not even disturbed, says "Goodbye". Our eyes turn incredulous towards him. He had seen it well, but it didn't seem to bother him. When we tell him about the coffee, he says, "Well, he can go and clean it up in the bathroom, you know where it is, no?" and so he turns and leaves.
You know what made us even more angry, though? An hours and a half later, when we came back to play The Vault he had put the cup back with the remaining coffee in the exact same place!
I don't know how to emphasize the importance of the GM and customer service in an escape. I myself worked for 10 years in customer contact and we were constantly told: "There is no second chance for a first impression". In our opinion, an average room can leave us with an excellent memory thanks to a nice GM and an excellent room can have a bitter taste if the GM is unpleasant. For me and other players, if the service to the player is not good, there is no need to go any further and create a good room. The player must feel good, safe, respected, appreciated and not as just another number, or as easy money.
The Architect is a good room with some interesting riddles, especially in a great place, but it will not leave us with an unforgettable memory.