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.
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 – 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…
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!!
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 – 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 – 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 – 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!!
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!!