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!

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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!!