A wet and miserable Sunday in February saw us head to the capital to experience The Drop by Swamp Motel, an immersive escape experience located just opposite Aldate tube station. I knew nothing about this experience and tried to avoid as many reviews as possible as I wanted it to all be a complete surprise. We arrived at the offices at Hopkins Stearne. We checked in with the receptionist and waited for our time slot as we were early. What followed was an hour experience that was probably one of the most unique things i've ever done. We have on purpose waited until now to post this review as we tried to write without spoilers but it just wasn't possible and with the attraction now closed, we feel we can write this review and give it the wording it properly deserves.
The receptionist walked over to our group of four and told us that our meeting was ready and that we should head round to the elevators. We did so, called an elevator and stepped in once it arrived. The lift started moving and it vibrated and shuddered like a real lift. It suddenly stopped and the lights turned red. A creepy figure appeared on the screen and we knew we had to escape. We managed to unlock the briefcase that was in the elevator and found the key fob for the rabbit symbol. Suddenly our experience crashed. The lights came on and the screen in the lift crashed and rebooted and showed us the security camera's. The staff came over the speaker system apologising so much for the crash. They hoped to get it started soon. We chilled in the lift for a good minute as a member of staff was outside the elevator trying to get it to work. We then happened to noticed some masked men on the security camera's. They walked round the corner and immediately shot the guy in the head. I kid you not, it was the most shocking moment I've ever witnessed in an immersive experience as I just did not expect it and genuinely thought the experience had broken down. The shocks weren't over as we watched the masked men make their way to a room and start destroying it, almost as if they were trying to get access to something. The second member of staff started communicating in secret with us over the computer system and with her help we solved a few puzzles to find out who these guys were. This is where the experience took an very interactive turn as we had to visit websites on phone and phone numbers. It was a very clever idea, the only problem I found was that the keyboard for the elevator computer was very small and typing on it was very difficult. We then got distracted by the masked men on the security cameras. There was then an explosion in the room the masked men were working in but something had gone wrong and the leader shot his colleagues in the hallways and he was coming for us. We had to escape the lift. The mood was very tense and it felt real. We managed to escape the elevator via a grate and crawled through the tunnels and found ourselves in the room where the explosion happened.
We wandered through and into the back room. The theming was very realistic and at no point throughout the experience did I not feel immersed in the story. We had to solve some more puzzles to open up the door to our freedom. We managed to solve this quite quickly but in the process we learnt the reason the masked men were there. They were trying to get their hands on a book, that we found in this back room hidden. We had to get it somewhere safe. We unlocked the door and found ourselves in the shop front for a perfume shop Wexlers of London that was run by the owners, Alex and Cara Wexler. The masked man appeared at the main door and tried to get in but it was locked so he took off again. The phone in the shop rung and Alex Wexler told us where to meet him. We grabbed the book and tentatively left the shop. This immersive experience was now happening on the actual streets of London, what!
We walked for five minutes and met Alex outside a pub. He was a lovely guy and was really worried about the trouble that we had been entwined in but I just felt weird about him. It felt odd. The others in the group convinced me to trust him. He wanted to make sure we were safe so he walked us to a hotel. outside he asked if we had the booked and that we should give it to him so he could find somewhere safe for it. I handed the book over and he gave us a hotel key and told us to wait in the room until he came back for us. We entered the hotel and headed for the room. It all felt strange. We entered the room and we greeted by a room that had obviously had the masked man staying in it. The television in the room came on and a news report started about Wexlers of London being broken into. it revealed that Alex and Cara Wexler were identical female twins. The report also revealed that we had been set up with CCTV images of our group in the perfume shop. The news report finished and the screen read "Thank you for playing the Drop. You have 1 minute to leave the room". Our experience had ended.
The Drop was a really awesome immersive experience with some puzzles. It had some fantastic twists that I didn't see coming. Unfortunately its abrupt ending slightly dampened everything that just happened as it just ended. Perhaps they are setting up a sequel, we hope, but the ending let down what was a really enjoyable, if slightly tense experience that I won't forget in a while. We'd like to thank the team at Swamp Motel for a wonderful visit and we look forward to seeing what else you have in store in the future.