At the weekend, we made a trip to The Escapologist’s recently opened new branch in Castleford. We’d never made it to their original location in Selby, which quite uniquely has it’s own restaurant, but we decided to give the new location a try.
First things first, it’s located at the Xscape section, which is absolutely huge! If you don’t fancy an escape game, there’s about 15 restuarants, wall climbing, skiing, indoor skydiving and more in there. We managed to locate The Escapologist’s unit toward the back, and headed into our first game, Secret Service: Winter Fall.
Secret Service: Winter Fall
“Can you stop the bomb before it goes off?!?! Will you be the ultimate Bomb Squad?
60 mintues to break free!”
This room looks absolutely lovely. It’s merged the spy theme nicely with the Winter touch, with the environment definitely screaming “Secret Agent’s Alpine lodge”. It was very well furnished, with some nice props, and great decor.
The game play wasn’t bad either, with a mix of your traditional puzzles, and a few unique touches. In fact, there was one thing in here which we’d never seen before, but it’s quite tricky, and it would be interesting to see if anyone has actually managed to do it! With clearer instructions, it might have been doable, but thankfully they were prepared for failure, and had a work-around ready.
There was one puzzle in here that I’m still not entirely sure about. As far as I know, we had the method worked out, but whether there was something we were missing, or there were red herrings, it just didn’t work out. If it wasn’t for a couple of digits to the code being given to us by the host, we’d never have progressed! We moved on to that puzzle to another, and after 10 minutes of saying it didn’t make sense, we’ll hold our hands up and admit we had a major thick moment…
Overall, this isn’t a bad game to play. It’s very nicely themed, and the gameplay wasn’t bad at all.
Host: Quite a few different members of staff seemed to be hosting this game, but overall, we got well timed clues that made sense.
Clue System: Clues were delivered via a screen.
Success? We got out, but went over by a minute.
After this, we headed across the hallway, directly into our next room, Frozen in Time…
Frozen in Time
“Can you help stop the freeze? 60 minutes to complete your challange!”
Again, the theming here is of high quality. The first part of the game takes place in a bright white ice room that almost had a magical feel to it, thanks to the numerous, lit-up items in there. As you progress further, the theme develops into more of a prehistoric jungle area, with again, great theming and props giving it an immersive feel.
Sadly, that’s where my praise ends for this game. The whole experience felt like a bit of a disaster, as after the first couple of minutes, the clue screen switched itself off (it was on a power saving timer), and we spent a long time gesturing to the camera and shouting about it. After nearly five minutes, it took one of us leaving the game to find a member of staff to get it back on again.
The gameplay wasn’t bad, with some decent puzzles, but the clues we received are what caused some problems. Several times, we received clues that assumed we’d found things we hadn’t, while other times, they were telling us to do something we’d already done. It got to the point that I’d had enough, and just sat down, dejected, waiting for time to run out.
Eventually, we managed to guess a few numbers to progress further, and finally, we were back on track. A plus point is that the mechanism that ends the game is great, perfectly in theme and something unique we’ve not seen before.
Overall, this game could be a lot better, but we hit too many flaws along the way to enjoy it, including a UV puzzle with a very unclear symbol, and a host throwing us off. If you’re in the area and fancy an escape, the spy game isn’t bad, but we’d recommend avoiding this one.
Host: We didn’t catch our hosts named, but the poor clue giving is detailed above. We did discuss this with her further after the game, and she heavily defended it, saying it’s not always clear on camera what’s going on. This isn’t a problem that tends to happen elsewhere, and even if it does, you get one incorrect clue before getting back on track, but here, we spent around 20 minutes getting absolutely nothing useful, or relevant from the host.
Clue System: Clues were delivered via a screen (when it’s switched on).
Success? Yes, I’m not sure of the time, but I’d estimate around five minutes remaining.
Facilities: There’s no waiting area here, which is a bit of a loss. Instead, there’s a reception desk right in the entrance, on which there’s a customer facing screen showing the games currently taking place. There’s plenty on the doorstep though, with a ton of activities and restaurants in the same venue.