The ever-growing list of rooms in Manchester has got even bigger, with worldwide brand Exit The Room opening their first UK centre with three games. We’ve not had much luck trying to play at the new venue – the first time we attempted to book, they were closed because neighbouring construction had caused damage. This time around, we were booked in and ready to play, only to wake up to find the apartment block next door to them was on fire and all over national news! Thankfully, the fire was out quickly, nobody was harmed, and Exit the Room were open in time for us to take on Madness.
“The professor claims to be conducting harmless psychiatric research. However, his goals are still unknown, and no “volunteer” has ever returned. It doesn’t sound too promising. Your mission is to disguise yourselves as volunteers and find out what the professor is working on. Enter the room and the countdown begins. You have 60 minutes to solve the mystery of the lab and prevent the Mad Professor from executing his plans – whatever they may be.”
The game takes place in a long room, well furnished with a lot to look at. Before you can start playing, there are two videos to watch whilst in the room, with the safety/instructional video using the branding of a different company with the slogan “Real American escape rooms”…
After starting in a simple, science lab type room, the game eventually takes you into a darker, grimier space, and the theming clearly steps up a level. The room looked the part, and had some great looking, mysterious props to use for one of the puzzles.
We set about playing the game, which first involved some searching, before getting into the puzzles. There were some good puzzles in here that we enjoyed, but a couple didn’t quite make much sense. A maths puzzle seemed slightly flawed, and although had quite a simple solution, was made unnecessarily overcomplicated. The final puzzle involved identifying and translating a series of symbols, and it’s here where the game crashed to an end for us. We spent the final 20 minutes trying to complete this, but there were too many red herrings, and a ton of ambiguity. You don’t expect a room to be simple – you don’t want answers handed to you on a plate. We’ve played plenty of puzzles designed to be frustrating, and have had mixed success, but there’s a level to it. This puzzle was incompletable in our eyes – too many inaccurate, hand-drawn symbols, quickly leading to the game becoming tiresome rather than fun.
This could be a good game, but it’s definitely let down by the final puzzle. It’s absolutely not Manchester’s worst, but it needs some big improvements to be anywhere near the best.
Host: Our host was Glynn – he was very friendly and listened to our feedback. He did a good job when we needed clues from him.
Clue System: Clues were delivered via walkie talkie, with a limit of five. The time and clue count were kept on a screen.
Success? No, we got through a majority of the game in good time, but failed to escape after spending 20 minutes making barely any progress on the final puzzle.