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!

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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!!

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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).

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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 🙂

First ever plug!! -Clockwork Dog presents

As it’s a pop up game in London, I don’t mind doing this one. I won’t be able to play it, and I get nothing for it, but I don’t mind sticking it up. ( That, and I’m a tad busy at the moment to write reviews).

Clockwork Dog presents Langstroth’s Last Riddle

A pop-up adventure game at The Bee’s Sneeze

 

Langstroth’s Last Riddle is a captivating hour long live ‘escape room’ style adventure game for groups of 2-5 players. A pop-up experience and will be running for just three weeks.

 

Step into the world of Alfred Langstroth, an eccentric collector of rare antiques and historical artefacts. After his recent passing, all of the items in his shop will be bequeathed to relatives or are to be sold, all except one very exceptional item… an object, legend has it, of awesome power.

 

Contenders will need to use logic, lateral thinking and have their wits about them in order to solve the riddle he has left within his old antiques shop: The Bee’s Sneeze. Amongst his collection, he has left clues and connived devious puzzles which will eventually lead to the artefact’s location, so you need to look closely, leave no stone unturned and be quick about it – Langstroth specified contenders may only have an hour to complete the challenge.

 

If you have enjoyed other such mysteries such like HintHunt, ClueQuest, Escape Plan and Time Run, then this is the game for you. But you must be fast – this game is for a limited time only running from 23rd May to the 12th June.

 

This is brought to you by Clockwork Dog, a new company specialising in creating pop-up adventure game experiences across the capital.

Tickets/Prices

£20 – £26 pp

Tickets can be booked at http://clockwork.dog/

Dates/Times

Runs from May 23rd to June 12th.

Weekdays – 7pm – 1030pm (2 slots)

Weekends – 10am – 1130pm (7 slots)

Location

The Bee’s Sneeze

12 Green Lanes, London N16 9NB

https://goo.gl/maps/BuuPXvbRhBP2

About Clockwork Dog

Clockwork Dog are a brand new company specialising in short-term ‘Escape Room’ style games based in site-specific locations: existing spaces already full of character and atmosphere.

Inspired by the location, they formulate an immersive adventure game to be played by small groups of two to five. Plunged into another world, participants will need to work as a team to solve a number of riddles and puzzles before the time runs out.


Clockwork Dog was founded by Tom Dixon & Alex Hylands-White:

Tom has designed and built a number of ER style games for corporate events, which have been extremely popular. He is a passionate puzzle solver and creator, and a huge fan of experiential and immersive theatre. He is excited to bring the two together to create the next generation of ER adventures.


Alex is a writer and director working in music video, short film and advertising. Using his knowledge of storytelling on screen, he is now applying it to immersive ER experiences. His film portfolio can be seen here. http://wearehalcyon.co.uk/

Bad Clown, Halloween, over midnight

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Well, as soon as this game appeared, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that the addicts would be playing this specific game, 90 minutes long, especially when coupled with live actors! ( N.B. Bad Clown is now called Mr. Chuckles FunHouse – Bad Clown, and they have a non – live actor, less scary game, at 60 minutes long called Mr Chuckles FunHouse).

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From the website:

Would you like to play a game?

Mr Chuckles has got one that he’s made especially for you! It’s no ordinary game, Mr Chuckles doesn’t like ordinary games, his are designed to trick, torment and terrify you.

Once you enter his horrific fun house you’ll be at his mercy and only the bravest contestants will survive.

You have 90 minutes to open the exit door and leave after collecting as many golden tickets as you can find or win.  There are also other bonus items you can exchange for tickets at the end of your game to help you secure a place on the leader board.

Not only will you need to be brave, you’ll need to be lucky too, as you’re invited to play Mr Chuckles games of chance.  When you solve the final puzzle will you escape with your lives or stay longer to find more golden tickets?  Is that a gamble you’re willing to take?

For those unlucky enough to be trapped as the final seconds tick by, Mr Chuckles has one last surprise up his sleeve.  He needs to clear the fun house ready for his next players and the fastest way to do it is to flush the place out with an acid shower.

Death comes quickly to those that are left behind!

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The one other bit that appealed to me specifically…

  • Darkness, enclosed spaces, live actors & panic inducing scenarios are all part of this game.

So not only do we get to play a late night escape game, but with the fun noted above, this was going to be amazing.

However, I’m not going to comment on the escape itself. The live acting was damn impressive, each room was spot on, the risk/rewards for the golden tickets was done very well, and the variety of the games superb. What sets this room apart, for me, is twofold. The introduction, which I imagined was going to be good ( going off the previous 2 rooms), was absolutely exceptional ( no spoilers though so tough!!). Secondly, and this nearly made me forget the introduction, was that it was just bloody good fun. A lot of the time we seemed to spend was not escaping, but enjoying ourselves, and I’m going to assume that this is a huge part of the game itself.

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As for the result, we escaped with 60 golden tickets, as unfortunately, the games of chance did not fall our way ( and tbh, we missed a fair amount as well!)

A huge congratulations to Elaine, Mike and the team for yet again surpassing expectations and going above and beyond at every step of the journey.

Cluefinders – Remy’s room

Slight change to the order of the room reviews now as I’m working my way down the room ranking order that I put up a couple of weeks ago. ( should make it easier to do these).

We visited ClueFinders back in May 2015 ( I am so far behind!!), and the review is obviously from then..

Clue-Finders

 

We really didn’t know what to expect from ClueFinders, as we’d not heard anything about it before we went, apart from that we knew it was on an industrial estate, and the game was for anywhere between 3 and 10 players!! We arrived, as usual, way way too early to find the place empty… before long we were comfortably in and having a chat with one of the owners of Clue Finders. We tend not to say in advance how many games we’ve played, but sat through an informative and lively briefing. From the website:

Hey Ace! It’s the 1940’s and Top British Spy, Remy Blumenfield has disappeared under suspicious circumstances, and that’s bad news. The Cops are a pack of Whistl’n Dixie’s & the trails gone cold. Now some high class Dames offering you serious megabucks to find him before some wise guys do – or he’s done for. Can you wrack your brains and track him down in time?!

There is no physical restrictions within this game. The room itself is wide and there is plenty of space, an opportunity to sit down, and no strobe lighting or distressing sound effects. There will be music playing throughout the game, but at your request the game can be played without audio, if needs be.

At this point we found out that as soon as there are more than 6 players, the teams split in 2 identical games, with a surprise at the end…..

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Anyway, the game itself. There are a variety of environments to the rooms, all of which work, all of which have puzzles related to them, all leading to the end of the game. It flows exceptionally well from room to room, and it all builds up to tracking down Remy. There’s a good mixture of puzzles, as well as hidden objects, and one pretty damn good red herring ( which doesn’t detract from the game). We flew through the game and managed to smash the previous record, with approx 10 mins remaining, as well with 0 clues!!

They have a very good “after” escape room experience, somewhere to sit and chill for a few minutes, as well as the standard photo, it was rapidly printed and put into a scrapbook as seen below…

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which is a very nice touch! You can see from the comments throughout the book that they really do know what they are doing at Cluefinders! It’s highly recommended and jumps in at no 2 in my ranking list!