Friday 29 September marked the long-awaited prospect of being locked in at Parapark Leeds. My first experience with lock-in games goes all the way back to the start of the year, when the Creme Egg Lodge was parked on Briggate raising money for The Prince’s Trust. For £5 or so, you got to play the game AND got you got a drink, snack and creme egg at the end of it, so I was pretty much immediately sold. On the other hand, everyone else was quite the hardened professional, and had actually completed lock-in games similar to Parapark.
We mentally prepared ourselves for what lied ahead with a conveniently placed lunch at Pizza Fella (which actually happens to be next door to Parapark). Least if anything gruesome was to happen, we’d be well fed.
If you don’t know the logistics of a lock-in game, the aim is simple: you are locked in to a room, and have an hour to escape. They are of varying difficulties (there was a world of difference between the Creme Egg Lodge and Parapark, let me tell you that much) and, as the name suggests, if you fail to escape within the hour you are locked-in, and your pride will definitely take a hit.
Parapark has two games available for you to play: Studio Nr 113 (which features the suspicious death of an old lady) and 9th Gateway (which featured demonic children). After brief debate in the office, we decided to risk being locked in with whatever entity killed the old lady, because nobody has time for demonic children.
The main thing that impressed me about Studio Nr 113 was that it was very clever. This in turn made it very entertaining to play. I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, but escaping revolved around finding five large washers (the use of which didn’t become apparent until the end) and, probably most importantly, the code for the door to escape.
In addition to this, it was hard, but not difficult. I think the best way to summarise it is fun hard, in the grand scheme of things. It was incredibly well thought out. It wasn’t until we had escaped (spoiler) that we realised just how much of the game had been put there to distract us from the task at hand. From there, it dawned on us how much time had been wasted by us chasing false leads that had no overall impact on the outcome of the game.
Despite all these positives, there are some small details that I think would benefit the game. However, these things don’t impair the game whilst you’re playing, it’s more something you realise afterwards.
The main downside to the game is the lack of plot. I would have liked it more if there had been some context to what we were doing. I might just be clutching at straws, but I do think it would have been more enjoyable if we’d have known why we were trying to escape.
You are drawn into the game, I think, because of the poor old lady who dies. You’re then told before you go into the room that if you don’t escape you will meet the same fate. Despite this, you’re never given any indication as to what killed her and I think that being given that little bit of information would really help the game.
Following on from this, I think I would have appreciated a few more jump scares. I went in expecting it to be scarier than it was, and because of this acted like a massive wuss the entire time we were there. I was expecting flickering lights, weird corpses and maybe a bit of knocking on the wall. Then again, this might all be a bit gimmicky, and actually take away the value and charm of the game.
All of this aside, Parapark is a thoroughly enjoyable game. It was challenging and definitely encouraged us to work as a team. It’s also probably best suited for a team of 4 (like Team TYPE) because there was enough room in the rooms to stop us all feeling claustrophobic within each other’s company.
I also really liked the fact that the staff were there to help us if needed- but you weren’t spoon-fed the answers, which kept the game fun and engaging.
In the end though, we escaped! Not only did we escape, we escaped with five whole minutes to spare.