How to have a fantastic escape room part 3 – Lucardo Manchester

Lucardo main

Lucardo Manchester currently have 5 rooms set in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, which by definition are the closest to where I live. No idea why it took so damn long to play there, especially given the rave reviews from various sources that I trust. We eventually managed to plan out time to play, firstly 2 rooms just before Easter with the usual 3 of us, plus 2 of my poker friends from up north, then went to book 1 just after Easter and ended up booking the other 3.

Visit 1

To get the team into the swing of things, we decided to hit the easiest game that Lucardo have, which is Espionage, and then on recommendations from several sources, the Dream.

Espionage pic

Espionage – The year is 1938, just prior to the outbreak of WWII. You and your team are part of the newly founded British Secret Intelligence Service. The War Office has had a number of classified documents stolen, which are thought to be held in a secret enemy bunker. Intelligence tells us the guards change every hour. Your Mission: crack the bunker security codes and recover the documents before the guards change.

First glance in the room is that the styling is pretty damn perfect, ie the room looks like the game promises. The puzzles and solutions are all very relevant to the room with a nice flow. With a new team, the communication wasn’t quite there as per usual, and the normal puzzle solving didn’t flow as per normal, so we did get stuck a couple of times. The games host ( whose name I don’t have unfortunately), allowed us to struggle without getting too frustrated, and only gave hints towards the solutions, which is perfect for our type of play. Thankfully, we retained enough speed to escape with just under 7 minutes remaining. A good chill and relaxation, and then we were on to the second room…

dream pic

The Dream – Your dreams are always happy and delightful, but tonight something is going wrong. Your wildest dreams of finding the magic numbers are slowly slipping away, through a whirlwind of riddles, puzzles and illusions. Can you solve your way out of this dream before your chances get lost in the subconscious forever? Be aware, things may not be as they appear!

First glance in this room, was wow, this is damn impressive! The room was extremely well laid out, with so much variety. The sheer array of puzzles in the Dream is outstanding. There’s definitely a significant amount of creativeness in the design of the room, which means there’s a fair bit of creative thinking to be done, without specifically being ridiculous or difficult. Even though the 5 of us worked better than we had in Espionage, there’s even now things I know I missed in the room which looked like they were damn good fun ( AND with that it’s a room that’s well worth a repeat visit). We did get stuck on one specific puzzle even with 5 pf us working on it. Standardly, the answer was staring us all in the face!! A cracking room and a good escape with just over 11 minutes remaining!!

Lucardo pic

Visit 2

What ended up being nearly 2 months later, we hit Lucardo again, initially thinking we had only enough free time to play 1 and possibly 2 rooms, we of course found a way to play the other 3. Being me, I managed to book them in completely the wrong order, thankfully the team at Lucardo quickly sorted it out!

gem runner

Gem Runner – The famous 190 carat Saratov diamond from Russia is being deposited at the central bank in Manchester. Lucardo has hacked the security system, buying your team a one hour window to steal the diamond. Can your team pull off Manchester’s biggest ever heist?

Now I’ll be honest. This type of room, with something really specific to do are huge favourites of mine. The set up to the room at first seemed pretty standard, and throughout the game continuously improved. The puzzles are set pretty perfectly, again as you get later into the game they actually become more relevant! A cracking ending and escape with nearly 15 minutes remaining!!

virginia house

Virginia House – A serial killer is on the loose. Every hour, on the hour for the past 24 hours a murder has taken place. The killer has been leaving clues around the murder scenes, sending Scotland Yard around in circles. Your team has been granted access to the murder scene and is tasked with cracking the clues, riddles and puzzles to track down the next location before the murderer strikes again. An innocent life depends on you.

Yet again, the room set up is perfect. The puzzles are exceptional. The way it all works together is outstanding. The difference with this room is that it absolutely requires teamwork and communication, we do this well on occasions, not so much on others. We were hit and miss here, got the right nudges and tweaks when needed, as good game hosts manage, we performed pretty well, and finished with 13 minutes remaining!!

contamination

Contamination – Scientists from around the world have developed a new modified deadly strain of poison: the T-200. It is capable of polluting the nation’s water supply within minutes. Only five vials were created and one has gone missing – we believe Professor Thomson has stolen it and has it hidden somewhere in his lab. Break-in to his lab and find the missing vial before Professor Thomson returns.

Contamination, in my mind, is the toughest game Lucardo have. There’s so so much to do, there’s nothing specifically too tough or too easy. I did manage to crack one puzzle WAY before it should have been done, which threw the flow of the room off a touch. We’ve probably played 5 or so lab style games now, some look better than others, this one looks decent but plays really well, which matters more. An apparently great escape time with just under 11 minutes remaining!!

lucardo escape 1

Why do Lucardo make it on to this list? Quite simple really. Everything they do is done really well. From the website and the initial booking all the way through the meet and greet, the talk through the game, the decor and feel, the puzzles, the actual game play, the endings to the room, to leaving and the pictures posted to social media. It all works. And long may it continue with their 6th room on the way!!

Advertisements

How to have a fantastic escape room part 2 – Escape Quest in Macclesfield

50 not out

We really did spoil ourselves for the 49th and 50th rooms. After hitting the Lost Tomb at ExtremeEscape for number 49, we decided to go and hit the 13th Element at Escape Quest for number 50, run, of course, by the wonderful Elaine and Mike. All 3 of their other rooms are in my personal top 10, with my personal favourite for nearly 2 years, Curious Encounters ( which at time of writing has just been completely re-done!). We’ve also performed really well, holding the Curious Encounters record for a good few months and the Amazon Escape record for a hell of a long time.

escape quest main

Amy, fellow blogger extraordinaire, posted this on Twitter earlier in the day:

Is actually excited for finally playing my fave ever with . I want a message as soon as you’re out Asa!!

It’s fair to say I went in to Escape Quest ( after a damn good late afternoon lunch), with really high hopes and expectations. It seemed to take an age to start the game, but that’s mainly because we get on so well with Elaine and Mike, sharing a great experience with them and many other escape game players at the Crystal Maze, and I speak to Mike pretty frequently online, mainly to talk about how disappointingly frustrating being an Inter Milan fan is these days. This all added to the tensions and expectations we already had, especially as we were attacking what we were well warned about was a 4 person minimum game with just the 3 of us, because of the difficulty.

13th Element pic

We then had the usual excellent brief to prepare us, with this taken from the website:

The world’s leading scientists are missing! Their unexplained disappearances have remained a mystery until now.

The S.S.B (Special Scientific Branch) work undercover for the government and have been called in to help.

Setting up a covert operation to watch and track a selected number of scientists they have now located an area of suspicious activity, an old mill building on the edge of town where these scientists were seen to go in but never came out.

We sent in a team of our best undercover agents and managed to get a little information about what’s going on inside. It seems that the person responsible for these disappearances is a man known only as Dr Argon.

After taking the scientists prisoner he is forcing them to attempt to harness the power of 12 rare elements, combining these will activate and power the rarest element of all – The 13th Element, this is the element of immortality and its power can only be used by one person.

Your task as agents working for the S.S.B is to enter the building, infiltrate the lab and work together to harness the power of these 12 elements, once the 13th element is activated you need to enter Dr Argon’s office, initiate the self destruct sequence & get out fast.

You will need to work quickly as the extremely high levels of electromagnetic energy inside the building will render our equipment ineffective after 60 minutes and all communications will be lost.  If this happens you’ll be trapped inside and at the mercy of Dr Argon.

argon

It’s fair to say, as with all of the rooms at Escape Quest, they get you into the swing of things and get your brain switched on pretty quickly. The start is in effect a staging area in preparation for the main room, in this case, the Lab. I do remember it taking a while to get in there, as our brains didn’t seem to be working. As with ExtremeEscape, Escape Quest excel at hiding things in plain sight.

Then we got the door open and entered the lab. I really can’t explain just how sensational it is without giving away hints. All the expectations I had going in, considering all the talk and everything in advance, were completely and utterly blown away. The visual aspect to the lab was un-be******** unbelieveable. I know I thought to myself holy **** this is SO good. A couple of minutes seemed to pass, then I looked around, wondered what the hell the other 2 were doing, then realised I needed to get my backside in gear. The best thing I can say about the visuals is this. All the money that was spent on the Escape Game championships by Red Bull, they could have done it significantly better. Added to that, it all worked, all made sense and all were a challenge. There were certainly tougher and simpler puzzles and solutions, nothing outrageously difficult, and every solution required was so well thought out and so so different than maybe expected. The balance between them all was absolutely perfect.

Anyway, enough rambling. We managed to absolutely fly through the lab, if one of us struggled, we moved on and swapped. Partial solutions to some were completed by another of us. Again we looked on for an extremely quick time, then, fell apart. We got stuck on one of the final puzzles, no idea how looking back! We did finally manage to plough our way through, and finished with a time of 56:33, which whilst not a record, we were well happy with.

13th element escape pic

As with ExtremeEscape, Escape Quest do things the simple, and in my opinion the right way. They get a concept for a room, they design the room and the puzzles to match the room, and it all works perfectly. Add in the visual aspect that they have provided, and you end with total perfection. As for the number one spot on my rankings ( which do need updating), the 13th Element just sneaks into the top spot, but it’s so so tough to choose between them. They both have cracking puzzles, awesome visuals and perfect set ups, the 13th Element just had that moment which I’d be unlikely to repeat, when I saw the lab for the first time, plus some totally unique and unexpected solutions.

no 1

Elaine and Mike, thank you for putting together such an astonishingly good room, I actually feel privileged for being able to have played it, especially as a 50th room played. I urge people to book and play as you won’t be disappointed!

How to have a fantastic escape room…. Part 1 – ExtremeEscape in Disley

My next few posts are going to be on the above topic. There’s so so many new locations and rooms out there now, and I get kind of worried that there’s going to be a lot of people doing it purely to make money and to take advantage of the current craze. With the Crystal Maze back on TV, there’s going to be an absolute ton of new people looking to play escape rooms, and to me, it’s really really important for the industry that they get a good room, so that the industry not only continues, but thrives. So I’m going to firstly focus on 2 rooms in particular, what they do so well, and why it works. Once I’ve done this, I’ll do the fun one, the what NOT to do!!

Extreme escape logo

Anyway, onwards to the review. We’d decided the 49th and 50th rooms we were playing in advance, so it was a case of getting others done, so we could hit the 2 we really wanted to. The 49th room was to be The Lost Tomb at Extreme Escape in Disley. We’d previously been to Extreme Escape to play the Pirate Ship, which on a personal note, slotted straight in to number 2 on my leaderboard. Jess and Graham who run the games, take a lot of time researching and planning out the rooms, and it showed well in the Pirate Ship. As The Lost Tomb was room number 2, we set off in high hopes and expectations to see how they’d follow up.

We arrived nice and early as usual, enjoyed a good 20 minutes in the sun, before heading in to say hello and to get ready. As with the Pirate Ship, the brief before the game was informative and enjoyable. It’s always a little different, as you get 90 minutes in Disley, and they have used that to enhance the experience.

lost tomb pic

One thing I will say now, is that the temptation would have been to just make the puzzles more difficult so the game lasts longer. Don’t get me wrong, the puzzles are tough, but they are all pretty logical, and nothing that stands out as nigh on impossible. They are also absolutely excellent at hiding clues and solutions in plain sight. Pretty much for every solved puzzle, there was an a-ha moment, and a reaction from the room, saying more than that will give it away. Each and every puzzle solved gives the player a real sense of achievement and development of the story and the game. There were certainly times, when in the room and afterwards, where I thought to myself “how the hell did they manage that?”. It just shows the depths of research and development that Jess and Graham put into their rooms. In addition, there were props in the room, that to this day, I have absolutely no idea how they have managed to get the said prop into the room. The combination of the decor and technology works perfectly!! There’s only one puzzle that’s a bit, shall we say infuriating, but it’s such a simple solution ( and I guess done on purpose), that it’s not an issue whatsoever ( and I bloody liked it as it fits so so well).

gold star

The end game plays out extremely satisfyingly, and we managed to escape with just over 20 minutes remaining. After a lot of debate, The Lost Tomb finally overtakes Escape Quests Curious Encounters as my number 1 room. The top 2 or 3 rooms are a fair bit ahead of others, and they are nigh on impossible to split into an order. However, would it retain that spot when we visit Escape Quest later that same day for the 13th Element?

Why is it so good? Quite simply, Jess and Graham had a concept for a room. The decor is basically perfect for that room. What they do so well is implement puzzles and solutions that fit absolutely perfectly into the room. There’s not many rooms where you get visible reactions to completing puzzles, and that’s what puts ExtremeEscape right at the top of my list. For that, and for the superb service, the wonderful talk through of the puzzles and the time that we have spent at Disley, the EscapeGameAddicts thank you both Jess and Graham. I think you can tell from the photos at the end how much fun we had!!

Code 2 exit Altrincham – All 3 rooms

Reviews are from the last few weeks, we all played Forger and Dark Ages, with Adam and ER playing Blueprint this time…

code 2 exit 1

Code to Exit – The Blueprint

code 2 exit 4

Recently, we found some spare time on their hands and spotted that Code to Exit, in Altrincham, had a slot open for their 1st room, so went down to take on The Blueprint (Edward Teller’s Room). On arrival, the venue was easy to find as it is situated on the main road through Altrincham town centre.  There is lots of parking to be found at the rear where there is a large retail park with a Pizza Hut among other shops. It’s a 2 minute walk back to the front where you can’t miss the bright orange sign showing where the building is.

We were met by Zoltan, who is one of the nicer hosts we’ve met. He and his business partner Andras own, run and build all the games here (more on that later), and they clearly love what they do, not just the hosting side of things but they have a genuine love for the building of puzzles, coming up with their own unique ones, and just for the Escape Game industry as a whole.

The venue is small, with most briefings taking place within the rooms itself for ease. Again, Zoltan and Andras have done very well to maximise the space they have, and have come up with some unique ways to ensure that they can produce a good room in such small areas.

So, onto the game itself, The Blueprint (Edward Teller’s Room). The story, taken from the Code to Exit website, was as follows: “This room will present you with an exciting quest. The goal is to travel back in time to the 1950s. There, you must search and acquire the blueprints of the hydrogen bomb and then return them to the future via the time gate. In order to achieve this goal you have to find the lost parts of the time machine, install them and repair it.”

Zoltan gave us the briefing within the room and after he was done, we were off, once he’d started the clock, that is!

The room was definitely in keeping with the time period that the story related to, with a lot of the desks, chairs and props all appropriately aged, no IKEA furniture here! There is one thing that leaps out at you as soon as you walk in, where you find yourself wondering what that is for. Play it! Not only is it fun to play with, it’s used in the most unique way possible, and we found ourselves smiling when the secret it held was revealed.

The game wasn’t too linear, although there were spots it had to be, but it had a natural flow and you should always feel that you know where you are when you’re playing. This is one of those games as well where the storyline meshes very well with the puzzles, so the scientist among us (Ellen Rose!) found that she loved how it worked. It’s not the hardest room that Code to Exit have, but we would recommend that you take no more than four players – mostly because it’ll be a bit cramped otherwise!

Now, a slight confession. Asa and Adam played this quite some time ago, when Code to Exit only had one room. As we are so far behind on our reviews, Adam and Ellen Rose have been revisiting rooms that Ellen Rose hasn’t played and Adam can’t remember (after 55 rooms, a lot of them merge together – A), so they went to (re)play this room last month.

 

Time 29.49 New Record! Without help! Congratulations!code 2 exit record

Another record for us (well, Ellen Rose, she did most of the work), and hopefully one that will not be beaten!  Code to Exit are well worth a visit, and good value too, which can be found at http://www.codetoexit.com or on Groupon, where they sometimes have deals for The Blueprint.

 

Code to Exit – The Forger

code 2 exit 5

After the brilliant day that was ExtremEscape and Escape Quest, the Escape Game Addicts found themselves with the bug to play again and with one of us having had a transfer in work to Altrincham, it was easy to book Code to Exit for an early evening trip so off we went! We booked in to play both of their remaining rooms, and started with The Forger.

“In the studio of the century’s best forger, you will find plenty of famous paintings. But only one of them is an original! This painting is not only very expensive but is also your only way out; it is the key and the single code to exit this room. You have 60 minutes to find the original and escape from the room!”

The room was a similar size as The Blueprint (maybe slightly bigger) so when we walked in, we already knew two things. One, look EVERYWHERE and two, expect something unique. We got both! Unlike The Blueprint, though, this room was pretty much non-linear, and the three of us were often able to work on our own doing a puzzle before moving onto the next. The room does come together at the end, and you are able to easily work out where exactly you are within the game and how more there is to do.

Again, the props fit the storyline very well, as we’ve come to expect from Code to Exit, and speaking to Andras afterwards it was clear that all of the puzzles had been designed in-house, with Adam finding himself wondering how they came up with some of the puzzles! Escaped with a time of 42:02.

This room seemed easier to us than The Blueprint but we think this is because the game is a lot different than most other games we’ve played so far. Either way, it’s definitely a game we would recommend to all comers, although again you won’t need any more than 4 players because it will get a bit cramped!

forger pic

 

Code to Exit – The Dark Ages

code 2 exit 2

After a bit of a rest and a discussion on the merits of taking bookings from stag do’s (we hope that room has aired out okay!) we regrouped once more for the second room of the day, and the final room for us at Code to Exit, The Dark Ages.

“This game takes you back to the time of the Legend of Camelot. By revealing the secrets of the castle, you will be able to rescue the mystical Excalibur. Once you have the mythical sword you are only a step away from acquiring the Holy Grail. You need team work, skills and excellent powers of observation to complete the mission in time..”

For this room, you receive your briefing in the main waiting room before being led down to the basement, down a flight of stairs, where you begin. This room is the only room at Code to Exit where you need to gain access to the main room, and once that was quickly done, we were in and our jaws dropped. It was like we’d gone back to the Dark Ages, or the Aztec zone in the Crystal Maze!

This room is dominated by three big puzzles at first sight, all of which are quite physical. You will need patience for these, which one of us did not, sadly! However, there’s a lot more to the room than just the three puzzles, and some of the technology used in this room is amazing (plus the way its hidden is even better), one thing you have to do in particular will blow your mind.

Again, this room is very non-linear, which is needed due to the amount of work that has to be done. Some puzzles are best to work as a team, some are better to leave to one person to focus on. One of the puzzles took Ellen Rose a good 10-15 minutes, and the feeling of elation when she finally completed it summed up the room. You’ll get frustrated, you’ll want to kick things…but at the end you’ll come out with a beaming smile on your face, and that’s what we did, with a time of 54:11. 

dark ages pic

This was a room we thought we weren’t going to get out of, but in the end we did and you’ll feel the same. Out of the three rooms Code to Exit have, this is probably the best, but all of us could make a case for all three. Either way, Code to Exit are here to stay and anyone who hasn’t, should go down to Altrincham and give them a shot. They’re cheaper for small groups, plus they have Groupon’s and they have a pair of very enthusiastic owners who clearly love the business, all ingredients for a successful escape room.

 

 

The Crystal Maze – Manchester – a preview

crystal maze pic

Way back on the night of February 2nd, a message popped up on my Twitter feed, and intrigued, had a look to see what it said… A PM from Escape Quest’s Mike, unusual and yet not so, we do chat occasionally about football, escape rooms et al, yet this one was slightly different. I got as far as reading would you like to play a preview of the Crystal Maze with us, the answer naturally being hell yes!! After a few minutes of hyperventilating with excitement, as the Crystal Maze was one of the few non sport TV shows I watched as a kid, I looked at the rest of the team. As well as Mike and Elaine, Mike’s brother Phil, Amy and Ian from Brit of an Escape Habit fame, and 2 people I didn’t know, Sera and Sharon. I soon found out that these 2 had taken the escape game scene by storm, and were well into the 200+ games played ( and on the way to play in the Red Bull Championships the following day). Not a bad team if I say so myself!! I’ve played over 50 escape games, and as such, was the least experienced member of the team!!

botanist pic

Over the course of 6 weeks, the excitement grew, and we decided to meet up in advance for food and to meet as a team, where we ended up at the very good the Botanist on Deansgate, where we spent a good 90 minutes turning up at random and eating not a lot.. I think we were all hungry but not wanting to eat too much for what was to come!!

A nice stroll along a now raining Deansgate and before long, we approached the Crystal Maze!! As this was a preview, I had in my head that this wasn’t going to be anywhere near the finished article, so I was telling myself not to be disappointed in any way. In truth, I was pretty much blown away from start to finish. From being greeted at the front gates to the end, every member of staff we talked to were extremely welcoming and positive, interested in us and going out of their way to ensure we had a good time. There were smooth handovers ensuring we got to the right place at the right time, and after the waiver sign offs, we were putting on the magical bomber jackets ( just for photos), and getting ready for the final health and safety talk, and most importantly of all, our team name…. which ended up being S2BritofanEscapeQuestAddict(+Phil&Ian) – seriously, don’t ask!! Lockers were provided for anything you bring with you, as obviously, no cameras etc are allowed inside! We also had to choose our captain and vice captain, and we basically made Elaine and Mike perform this duty 😉

crystal maze preview pic
Just had to choose this one, sorry Elaine!

I knew we were in the final briefing area, as they had a 2 sided mirror, seats for us all to sit, and a screen showing off clips of the TV show, and then BANG out of nowhere, our game host arrived, known as a “MAZE MASTER”, who stays with you on your trip through the game. We had the wonderfully named Billy Brooklyn, who as the name suggests, played an old school New Yorker, and he was basically perfect, the accent was amazing, he played his character to perfection and was precisely the right amount of insanity and madness that one remembers from the TV show.

crystal maze map pic

Then, after the whole of us cracking up laughing with just how good Billy was, we were off into the game!! We hit 4 zones in order, Medieval, Industrial, Aztec and Futuristic. Out of the 4, Aztec hit me hardest with how faithfully it had been replicated, as well as the actual entrance to it. Medieval was also very well replicated, Industrial had probably the most impressive game mechanics, and Futuristic was definitely that, although perhaps necessarily different to the TV show.

crystal dome pic

We played approx 18 rooms in all, and managed to get 12 crystals. I was fortunate to get 2 rooms I was extremely comfortable with, the first being an extremely famous puzzle in a film ( no mentions obviously), the second, a maths based one which is my strength. Therefore 2 crystals 🙂 For each zone, we had approx 15-20 mins and then we were into the famous Crystal Dome!! Our hard work and teamwork paid off, where we ended up with a smashing score of 280 tickets collected, which in the previews, was joint 3rd ( only 5 behind the joint 1st)… we did also more or less break the scoring screen with our ridiculously long team name!! After the game, there’s an opportunity to buy merchandise   (which on my NEXT visit will be explored when I have more time).

crystal maze leaderboard pic

Were there any negatives? Naturally, as one would expect in a preview. The final game we played in Futuristic didn’t work, there was very little music playing ( ie the theme tune, until the very end), the first transitions were just going upstairs ( could be themed maybe?), and the game re-setters ( which with the timescales they have need to be about we know will be time pressured) needed to be a little less obvious and continue adding to the experience ( some were a little grumpy).

All in all, considering it was a preview, it was simply fabulous. Naturally, you don’t see all the games in one visit, and with differing maze masters,  there’s a damn good replayability factor! I, for one, will definitely be back!!

Prices are £45pp off peak and £55pp peak.

A massive thanks to Elaine and Mike for asking me to join them, the members of the team as we all got along well and had a great laugh, and for the Crystal Maze people, especially our Maze Master for providing an epic experience.

 

A totally different review from usual

As it’s not about an escape game!!

Way back at the start of this blog, one of my mentions is that I’m a HUUUUUGGGEEEE Man City fan, but due to work and spending my cash on many other things, I don’t tend to be able to go more than a couple of times a season, and since I’ve never seen City lose since moving to the Etihad, I should really go more often!

city-stadium

At approx 4pm I saw the following…

We have a table for four in Legends for tonight’s game. All you have to do is Follow and RT! Winners picked at 5pm!

Thought what the hell…. and….

Congratulations your day has just got a little bit better!

So totally not expecting that! Left as soon as I could to get to the ground asap, as well as trying as quickly as I could to get friends to come, unfortunately, at short notice, I couldn’t manage to grab anyone available 😦 I also got stuck in some horrendous traffic into Manchester, therefore only managed to get in the ground, thoroughly shattered, for half 7. Was very quickly seated with Nicola, the winner of the 2 seat table @Only1NicolaMCFC, and she very quickly wolfing down what looked an awesome main course, I just had a quick coke to try and recover from the ridiculous speed walk from Manchester!

img_0646

On to the game, seats obviously fantastic and a cracking view, dodgy start to the game, was always confident though, as KdB looked on fire, and he helped orchestrate more or less all the attacks. Managed to get a decent video of the penalty ( which won’t upload), half time was so so different, going back inside to sit down with a pre-ordered drink at the table. Stunning service. Nicola helped herself to a couple of desserts as I just chilled. Second half, barring the early scare, was pretty straightforward and a comfortable win.

Unfortunately, as I was up this morning at 5:30am, I couldn’t stick around afterwards. I had a bloody good time, and really really REALLY want to experience it all again. Just a couple of regrets, the short notice ( even though completely understandable), the damn traffic and missing most of the hospitality + legends. 40th next year so I think that’s what I’ll be doing!!

A massive thanks to all those involved at Cityzens and Man City for providing such an awesome experience!!

Manchester and Warrington – 2 locations, both inescapably Clue HQ

clue-hq-sign

So the addicts finally managed to put some games in. Hampered by money, time and injury, we finally got back into the swing of things with 2 visits to Clue HQ, firstly to hit Manchester and Cell Block C.

cell-block-c

The brief: You’ve been framed for a crime you didn’t commit, and you’re about to be sentenced to a lifetime in prison. You know that notorious criminal Danny Badd is responsible but with only 60 minutes before you face the barrister, you don’t have the resources to prove your innocence. Can you escape top security CELL BLOCK C and buy yourself some time or will you be locked away forever?

It’s one of those lovely rooms where you are blindfolded before entry, which for some reason throws you off. As usual with Clue HQ, the decoration and theme of the room is spot on, the puzzles are relevant and in typical fashion, tough yet easy, difficult to see but oh so obvious. The puzzles were also varied and used technology in a fantastic way. There was one puzzle, however, even with 2 ridiculously good maths people in the room, couldn’t solve. We did basically have to brute force it, and that didn’t even work, took a massive hint to help solve it. One of the early puzzles we managed to solve in completely the wrong way (completely outside the box thinking), and with that and the maths puzzle, with 15 minutes left we didn’t have a prayer of escaping, however, as usual we pulled together and got out with 2 minutes remaining.

cell-block-c-escape-pic

All in all, Cell Block C is an excellent addition to the Clue HQ rooms ( barring that one annoying as hell puzzle)

sacrifice

When I got home from Cell Block C, I noticed that Amy, from the excellent BritofanEH twitter page and fellow escape game reviewer, had booked to play Sacrifice at Warrington with her other half  the week after. Sacrifice is meant to be played as team vs team, so a couple of messages and a few phone calls, and the battle was arranged!

sacrifice-door

The brief: You wake up, blindfolded and disorientated, with no recollection of how you came to be here. You quickly learn that in order to escape you must compete for your life. Every human must face this test at some point in their lifetime, to seek out the survivors and eliminate the unworthy. In this race against time and your friends, will you be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for your own survival? You have one hour to prove yourself; it’s them… or you.

So it was Team Red (them) vs Team Blue (us). There’s several interesting aspects to the game, obviously being a race where you can lose even if you can manage to escape within the 60 minutes being one of them. The rest, unfortunately, would give away a lot about the room, so keeping quiet. The rooms are obviously pretty much identical and you kind of know how far you are from escaping the room as part of the game. If both teams get stuck, you can receive a neutral clue, and you can request up to 3 personal clues as well. We know that at about half way we were just ahead, however Amy and Ian managed to steam ahead in the second half to beat us ( would have been about 5 minutes behind I believe). We were hampered, completely our own fault by the way, by, ahem, not turning the light on….. as well as just completely missing locks that we had the solutions for!! All in all, a well designed game that sets the battle between teams pretty much perfectly!!

sacrifice-loss