Solve the Riddle of the Robert Boyle Escape Room
The Robert Boyle Escape Room is based on the story of the seventeenth century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist and inventor, Robert Boyle who was born in Lismore Castle in 1627. Boyle’s contribution to science was so enormous that he became known as one of the ‘Fathers of Chemistry. Boyle, along with his contemporaries, such as Isaac Newton, Antoine and Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier, John Dalton and Galileo Galilei, laid the foundations of modern science as we know it today.
Lismore Heritage Centre contracted our Abarta Heritage team to develop a meaningful but fun way for visitors to immerse themselves in the incredible story of Robert Boyle. Rather than a traditional static exhibition, we created a memorable way for friends and families to connect. A hands-on fun way to explore the story and learn about this titan of science.
The Robert Boyle Escape Room is decorated in the style of a seventeenth century study, complete with a gentleman’s desk, library, experiments table and contemporary music, that helps to immerse participants in the atmosphere of the period. Many of the puzzles relate to scientific principles with players being encouraged to examine, weigh and work with numbers. The room interprets Robert Boyle’s story in a creative and exciting way and encourages players to work as a team, using logic, creativity, strategy and communication skills.
How Does it Work?
Groups of up to six people have one hour in which to find a series of hidden clues, solve mental and physical puzzles, and ultimately find Boyle’s ‘Secret Alchemy Box’ in which they’ll find the exit code for the door. Groups are monitored by a staff member through a 360 degree camera in the room and they may ask the staff member for up to six hints if they are having difficulty moving through the game.
The first step in approaching the design of the room, was for the team to thoroughly research Robert Boyle’s story. We wanted to understand the man, his work and the wider historical context in which he lived. We began by investigating Boyle’s privileged upbringing in Lismore Castle as part of the wealthy, ruling class. We then explored his hugely diversified scientific interests, the fascinating experiments he undertook and came to understand the hugely important impact of Boyle’s work.
The team then began to develop a back story to the game which was related to Boyle’s work but which also employs the use of an additional fictional character for dramatic effect. The team then decorated the room in the interior style of the seventeenth century landed-class, sourcing period furniture, colours, fabrics and wall furnishings.
Many of the puzzles that the team developed are related to the scientific experiments and equipment that Boyle himself would have used. However all of the puzzles are designed to be accessible to people of all ages and educational backgrounds and require the use of skills such as logic, creative thinking and team work. The team also undertook the construction of all puzzle-related props and graphic design, ensuring a seamless integration between the puzzles and the space.
In order to ensure that the staff understood the game fully and felt confident in running and resetting it, we undertook a training day as part of the handover process. Staff were familiarised with the game’s backstory, the way in which the puzzles interact with each other and how the room is reset after each game. We also produced a handover document which includes the script which is read to players to introduce at the beginning of the game. A full list and photographic map of clue, key and puzzle locations for resetting the game was also provided for staff.
The room was then tested by invited local groups in order to assess the degree to which players found the game enjoyable, challenging and most importantly, solvable. We were very pleased with the positive response of players and found that groups were finishing the game within the desired time frame.
The Robert Boyle Escape Room has been enjoying a steady visitor rate since it opened in January 2019. The marketing team at Lismore Heritage Centre maintain an engaged Facebook page for the room and have produced flyers and posters for distribution in the local area. Additionally, the centre has partnered with local businesses such as restaurants and B&Bs to offer attractive evening and weekend entertainment packages. The centre also produces themed merchandise which can be bought by players afterward the game.
Local stakeholders, including business owners, community groups, public figures and tourism professionals were invited to participate in the official launch of the room in July 2019 to coincide with the launch of an updated exhibition space in the centre.
“We have had a fantastic response to the escape room that Abarta Heritage designed for us, we would absolutely recommend them.”