Image Credit: BBC/Escape Hunt (Fair Use)
Image Description: A Dalek Awakens Promo
By John Salway
Name: A Dalek Awakens
Type: Escape Room
Price: £25-30 per person, 2-6 players
Current TLV investment: £44.99
Hello, and welcome back to Tides of Time’s ongoing reviews of Time Lord Victorious. Having started with A Hollow Planet, which gets into Time Lord Victorious on a technicality, we now start with the real thing. Over to John…
In my introduction to these reviews, I questioned whether plans for a Time Lord Victorious tie-in escape room would really reach fruition. Though this interactive component to the saga had been promised for a while, surely it just wouldn’t make business sense to open a new themed escape room during the current COVID pandemic? Well, it turns out I’ve been played for a fool, as the official Time Lord Victorious “content roadmap” revealed that the escape room in question was actually A Dalek Awakens! It had already been open at various Escape Hunt venues since March, weeks before the Time Lord Victorious concept was even unveiled in April. Talk about a stealth release!
Following on from A Hollow Planet, we once again see the Thirteenth Doctor in Time Lord Victorious! She doesn’t do very much, except for giving you some initial exposition (and a fez!), but it’s always a delight to hear Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor, so you won’t hear me complaining. So far, at least on Thirteenth Doctor content, we’re doing better than last time.
This escape room takes you onboard the Starship Future, whose core systems have been taken over by an infiltrating Dalek, which is in the process of recharging its systems. Your task is to create alternative provisions for the ship’s life support systems, so the central core can be overloaded and destroyed, taking the Dalek with it. At various points, the metallic meanie will start to awaken from his power-draining power nap, and you must take care not to get spotted and exterminated! The biggest pull of this escape room is definitely the full-size Dalek, which will delight fans of all ages. While understandably kept back from the play area to prevent damage, his figure dominates the room, and he lights up and moves his head accurately as he bellows. This aspect is certainly an improvement on Escape Hunt’s earlier Doctor Who escape room, Worlds Collide, where the Cybermen don’t actually feature in person, but on a screen disguised as a time rift.
One of the joys of a great escape room is exploring the setting, looking through the various props and bits of set dressing to find what’s relevant, and what’s a red herring. Even artefacts that are unrelated to any of the puzzles inside can help to create the story that you’ve stepped into. The previous escape room achieved this really well, initially taking place in a private office full of files, books, and knick-knacks, that then further opened up to reveal exciting secrets. By comparison, the spaceship interior setting of A Dalek Awakens Is fairly bland. It’s mostly a large empty room, with all the puzzles located in specific panels in the walls, so there’s absolutely no sense of the area as a realistic, lived-in space. It also means that none of that red herring filtering process is needed, for absolutely everything you find is essential at some point. A couple of the puzzles themselves were also slightly frustrating; one seemed a lot more difficult for smaller groups (for context, I was in a pair taking on the room), and another featured some quite involved inputs with no feedback on whether you were having any effect until the process was complete. While I still enjoyed my time in this escape room, on the whole I would have to recommend Worlds Collide as a much better all-round experience.
During my visit, I was delighted to see that COVID safety procedures were particularly rigorous, with start times staggered to prevent player groups from meeting in the lobby, and all players required to sanitise upon entry. Masks were required, and gloves were provided; both needing to be worn for the entire duration of the visit.
So how does A Dalek Awakens tie into the Time Lord Victorious story as a whole? Well, as the first official piece I’ve experienced to date (even if it should be second), I can’t be certain, but my strong hunch is “barely at all”. There’s absolutely no sense that the titular Dalek has, or even needs, a backstory. He’s just doing what a Dalek does. The Doctor also treats the whole adventure like business as usual. I suppose it’s possible that the Starship Future will make a repeat appearance, but even that seems like a stretch. I look forward to being proven wrong by future releases, which following my prediction accuracy so far, will likely reveal that this escape room was actually the pivotal moment that changed the saga forever! Or maybe not.