They say “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all”. But if that was the case, this wouldn’t be much of a review. The escape game industry is still growing and isn’t anywhere near as popular as it could be, so you have to think about new players – if their first experience is at a terrible escape game, rather than somewhere awesome like Escape Quest Macclesfield or Escapologic Nottingham, they’ll never play again.
Last week, we headed to Escape Stockport to play the Interrogation room. We already had another game booked there for the following week, which we’d arranged with Amy & Ian from Brit of an Escape Habit, as it’s a 4 player only game. Here’s our reviews of both games.
“One night, you and your friends are out having a good time when you realise that one of you is missing… You hear the screech of tires as a van drives away into the distance. They have your friend. You take off in pursuit finding they have driven to a seemingly deserted building.
Upon surveillance you and your friends notice the building is being patrolled by men in black suits. You see a way in and decide to try and rescue your friend. You break in and search the building as quietly and carefully as you can.
You find your friend being held in cell in an interrogation room on suspicion of being a spy and has been named by another prisoner. They are due to be transferred to a different facility for further interrogation in 1 hour.
Will you break them out in time and escape?”
Reading the above plot confuses me, as when in the room there’s a slight Cold War/Russian theme, yet there’s no mention of this. The aim of the game isn’t to escape, but to break out your friend who is chained to a wall. So who is the friend?
Well, in a group of 4 or more, one of the players will find themselves chained to the wall, doing nothing for the whole game (unless they pay an extra £20 for a live actor to take that role). A team of 2 or 3 gets the live actor thrown in for free (although this isn’t mentioned on the website – some warning would be nice!).
Our actor wasn’t really an actor. He didn’t play a role – his job was to stand chained to a wall. Whilst doing this, he sighed constantly throughout the game, and only spoke to tell us not to touch certain things in the room – something our host had already told us.
The room’s theming was minimal, to the point I can remember every single item in the room. The puzzles themselves weren’t too bad – we did enjoy a couple to be fair, and they were all quite logical. One puzzle was a major issue though. Let’s say you had a number of coins on a desk, in a specific order that gave you a code. You go into the room, pick a few of the coins up, move them about – the code has gone. Nobody told you not to touch the coins, and to definitely not move them. If anything, the coins should be glued down. It really takes the fun out of the game when your host has to come in to rearrange the coins. (I say coins – there were no coins in the room, I’m just swapping items to avoid spoilers.)
We worked our way through the game, eventually taking the last lock off our actor’s ankle (getting dangerously close to his bare, scabby foot). We had to ask the actor if we’d completed the game. He didn’t seem sure. Fantastic finale.
Host: I think our host was the owner. There wasn’t much of a briefing, but he was very enthusiastic about his room.
Clue System: If you want a clue, you have to knock on the exit door. The host then comes into the room, gives you the clue, and massively overstays his welcome. He stands, looking over your shoulder, making sure the puzzle he’s given you a clue for actually works. He then does a bit of tidying – moving things out of the way that you no longer need, switching off a TV that you shouldn’t have switched on (why is it plugged in then?).
Success? Yes, we escaped in around 41 minutes and made it into the top five of the leaderboard.
The experience of this room was enough to put us off ever coming back. Anyway, one week later we went along for the second room…
Little Shower of Horrors
“Intense horror escape room: you awake to find yourself in the pitch black chained up. A series of puzzles awaits you and your group, you either all escape or none of you do.”
We teamed up with Amy & Ian from Brit of an Escape Habit for this game, due to the fact you need exactly four players, no more, no less.
The theme of the room is “shower”. This seems to be down to the fact that the building has a shower in a tiny cupboard of a room, and the creator decided it would be a good place for an escape game. There was no furniture in the room – just a shower cubicle in the corner. An actual shower cubicle. With soap tray. And water. And live wires.
The aim of the game wasn’t to get out of the room, but to get all four players unchained. This resulted in two players getting out reasonably early, but the other two remaining chained, doing nothing, for almost the whole game. My entire experience of the room: I spent 50 minutes chained to a radiator, and contributed absolutely nothing to the game. I could have stayed at home, and it wouldn’t have had an impact.
The puzzles weren’t entirely clear or logical, but we worked our way up to the final puzzle. We spent over 20 minutes attempting to open the last lock, and received no clues. This is due to the fact that you don’t actually get clues. After a lot of begging for a clue, we received one for a puzzle we’d already done – this is due to the fact there’s no camera in the room, so the host didn’t have a clue what was going on.
We ran out of time, and our host came in to let us know (there’s no screen inside the room telling you your time, instead your host will shout ‘You’ve got 30 minutes left’ through the door.) We still had no clue what we needed to do to get out, so we asked our host to explain. We were told that we’d been using a red herring for over 15 minutes to try and get out. He then tried to explain what to do with the correct item, and seemed more clueless than us. He admitted it was the first time he’d ever hosted the game, and had never understood the final puzzle.
The room is also described as an “intense horror escape room”. INTENSE. There was no music, sound effects, decoration, live actors – there was not a single thing in there to make this room “intense”. It’s also listed as “strictly adult only”, and again, there’s nothing in there to make it so. The horror went as far as a few fake, severed limbs scattered around the room, and the game host doing an evil laugh through the door. Oh, and there was also a nail sticking out of a wall that tore Amy’s pants – it could have been a lot worse. The real chance of injury (or death – live wires and water, remember!) is the only other contribution to horror.
Host: Our host was Stewart. He was nice enough, but didn’t understand the game.
Clue System: If only.
Success? No. But then, how are you supposed to an escape a room with no clues and a puzzle the game host can’t complete.
Value for Money: This is a section we don’t usually include in a review, but this room needs it. We paid £50 for half of the team to be chained up, not able to contribute to the game, with puzzles that seemingly aren’t completable, and a game host who may as well not have turned up. At the risk of sounding harsh, this room is a disgrace.
You can read Amy’s review of the game here.