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…

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Code to Exit – The Blueprint

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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

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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

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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. 

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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

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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!!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

Clue HQ Blackpool – Detonation and Quarantined =exhausted delirium!

We are going back a while with this review, but knowing Clue HQ, the games won’t have changed and therefore be completely relevant.

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Back on the 9th August 2015, Julie was due to run a 10k in Blackpool. As I had the weekend off work after playing cricket on the Saturday, it was therefore always going to end up with a visit to Clue HQ Blackpool, being then the only rooms available in the area, Detonation and Quarantined.

Rather than watch a small portion of the 10k ( as it was NOT a warm day), Adam and myself hit the arcades for an hour, we had a pub lunch, and the set about wasting the time we had remaining until our game in Stanley Park, Julie asleep in the car, Adam and myself a quick game of golf ( well, just the putting greens)… as we’re wandering through the park, I get a call, it’s Clue HQ wondering where we were…. oops I had the time for the second game rather than the first… so obviously we were rapidly on the way after that call ( rather luckily Blackpool was rammed causing traffic jams and that Clue HQ for a change were not fully booked, meaning we could still play).

clue-hq-1

We arrived in pretty much record time, at the very well located Whyndyke Farm( basically the M55 junction for Blackpool), and within a couple of minutes, were ready to play Detonation. The blurb for Detonation is as follows:

You and the rest of your detective team have been on the case of Danny Badd. Badd has been wanted for 7 years and is a known criminal all over Europe. He’s wanted by many different countries for various crimes. After 1 year of gathering information, 24 hour surveillance, and even capturing Badd’s brother, you’ve finally got the best lead that any intelligence unit has ever received with regards to his location. You’re going in, but not without a plan. Badd is notorious for blowing up anyone who attempts to track him down. Watch your step.

As usual, Detonation immediately looks the part, and you’re straight into the action. The puzzles are relevant to the game, and 2 or 3 of them are second level thinking, as in the puzzles or solutions are so so different to usual that you really have to think outside the box, with the last 2 or 3 puzzles exceptional. We were inside the last minute when we escaped to keep the record going! A short rest and 10 minutes outside to enjoy the sun, and were back in playing Quarantined… from the blurb

quarantined-2

With the growing threat of a radiation leak due to the increase in nuclear power, the government seek a solution to radiation poisoning within humans. Deep within a high security facility, a group of scientists work to develop a vaccine to ensure immunity, but to run tests they need subjects. You regain consciousness to find yourself quarantined within the facility. You don’t know who got you here or how you got here but you know you need to escape before everything gets incinerated, including you!

As it is made clear on the website, the team are initially blindfolded and split up. To regroup as a team took us much longer than it should have, thanks to being left in the dark for way way too long.With 20 mins to go, we had not a hope in hell of getting out                   ( according to the game host and his messages to the owner of Clue HQ to find out how we were doing), however, as so often happens with us, we click and absolutely fly through the rest of the game, and somehow, we get out with a couple of minutes to go.

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Both rooms were excellent, with Detonation the slightly better of the 2, thanks to the unique puzzles and solutions. I can’t speak for the other 2, but I know for myself that as both games entered the last 5 minutes, the games slightly changed their appearance, and as they did, I could feel my heart rate climbing and thumping, which shows the quality of the games! A big thanks to the team at Clue HQ Blackpool for their help, and their patience in the lateness of this review!!

Cluefinders – the Tomb

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Yes we’re back!  The cricket season is over, I’m finally able to get out of bed without dying and I’ve a free day to do some writing. I’m going to start with the most recent of our visits, and move backwards, as the more recent ones, are obviously more relevant! We will still catch up with the missing reviews however.

changes

As mentioned before, there have been team changes. Leese no longer plays them, and unfortunately, Julie and Adam are no longer together ( which makes things a tad awkward seeing as they both love these games), the last time we played as a team was Breakout Manchester – Facility ( a review yet to do), since then, it has been myself, Adam and Ellen Rose.

cluefinders-logo

Now, when we’d played Clue Finders – Remy’s Room, we had one of our better performances, getting out in a then record time with 0 clues, which for the size of the game, was bloody impressive. As we do, this was our second room of a day, so we were well warmed up.

The blurb for The Tomb is as follows:

Avid explorer and archaeologist Ernest Peter Sanderson has made the discovery of his life – uncovering no less than 3 tombs, each full of enough treasure to make him rich beyond measure. But before he reaps his reward he discovers a map containing the location of a secret fourth tomb that was thought to only exist in myths, containing a treasure so precious it has never been seen by any living human. Ernest drops everything to hunt down this fourth tomb and bring this treasure home. Unfortunately this was the last anyone ever heard from him. This was 50 years ago. Now the map has come into your possession – can you track down the tomb, complete Ernest’s life work and take the treasure for your own?

tomb

Our newest game unfortunately, will not be suitable for all guests. There is an element of dark confined spaces within this room, and may involve crawling so we do not recommend this to pregnant women, people who suffer from claustrophobia or anyone over the height of 6 foot (although if you don’t mind a tight squeeze than be our guest!).

 We do like a challenge, so the thoughts of crawling + dark confined spaces meant we were well up for this 🙂
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The initial thoughts of the room, were, well laid out,  a lot smaller than any of the rooms in Remy, and the exit is errrr…..where? Well, you’ll figure it out, especially if you bother to read the briefing! As with Remy, the room is set out like you’d be in a tomb, so the props, sounds, puzzles and light levels are all relevant, and as well as having specific puzzles that need solving to move on, there’s also a theme and things that are needed continuously throughout the game, which allows the game to flow well, as well as give the team a source of achievement and things to look for. On a couple of occasions, we did get stuck, although this was mainly due to not looking hard enough! From memory, I don’t think we actually got stuck solving a puzzle, more finding the solutions to them, and finding the next puzzle.
The finish tied the whole room together in a very pleasing way, and we managed to escape in more or less bang on 50 minutes, having had 5 clues.
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We stayed for quite a time after, having a great chat with our game host, so much so I almost missed my train home. Another excellent room by ClueFinders, not as big as Remy’s room, but definitely a tough one. Well worth a visit 🙂

The reviews return

After a long period away, the reviews will be starting back next week.

We’ve had changes to the team due to changes in personal circumstances, and I’ve also got a new job role at work, meaning I’m now ridiculously busy, rather than just very busy.

We’re in the double digits in terms of rooms to review, but we will catch up with them. We’re just going through the rooms we need to do, sort out the order we’ll review them, then get to it.

With cricket season nearly over, we’ll be looking to play again, and have already had a couple of nice offers from Trapped in ( Bury), Exit Strategy ( Liverpool) and know I have a fair bit of credit to use at Escape Quest ( Macclesfield) for their next room, 13th Element.

When the reviews are done, the list will be updated yet again 🙂