Caged Burnley: Asylum, The Presence, & Escape to the Jungle

Well, this is a tough review to write… Caged is a recently opened escape venue based on the top floor of Burnley’s rock-themed bar “Sanctuary”, and has launched with three available games Asylum, The Presence, and Escape to the Jungle.

Despite knowing very little about the company, (they don’t even have a website – probably should have been a warning sign!) we decided to play all three games…

I’d usually review each room separately, but the key points about each are all very similar, so instead I’ll give you a brief overview of the whole experience…

Caged Escape at Burnley

Theming:

The theming in the rooms wasn’t bad at all. The Asylum seemed a little odd, as despite the story being based around your incarceration in an Asylum, the place was covered in fake blood and echoed the very loud sound effects of chainsaws. Probably not quite accurate to the location (how would you smuggle a chainsaw in?), but overall a decent effort. The Presence was set in a child’s bedroom – well furnished and quite creepy, and Escape to the Jungle looked quite good, although it was very dark.

Gameplay:

Now, this is where the review goes very quickly downhill. The gameplay was quite honestly a nightmare, and not in a good “horror room” type way.

Very few puzzles made sense, with the game having absolutely no signposting or logic. You could try to complete something in as many different ways as you could think to try, but you’d still have to call the host in to explain it, and even then the solution is an absolutely bizarre, contrived choice.

But to top it all off, every single room used red herrings, usually a big no-no in escape games. I’m fine with the odd one here and there, but they actively warn you against them in the brief, referring to them as “randoms”. For example, in one room we had a four digit lock, and found a set of four items around the room with numbers on. We set about trying to work out the order they could possibly go in, before just trying them in all possible orders, only to be told after requesting help that they were “randoms”. This moved us onto the correct puzzle, which consisted of six items, only four of which were applicable. How do you eliminate the two? Is it part of the puzzle? No. They were all potentially useable, and you pretty much had to guess which two were “randoms”.

Even when “randoms” didn’t come into some of the puzzles, you still had absolutely no chance of working a lot of the game out, as it was one of the most nonsensical we’ve ever played.

Overall

Overall, these games are some of the worst we’ve played – definitely in my bottom ten. What makes this review difficult to write though are the people. When we’ve played poor games in the past, it’s felt like the staff couldn’t care less, and are one of the contributing factors to the negatives, but you couldn’t be further from the truth here. Our host was an absolutely lovely woman called Gaye, who was so, so welcoming and funny.

Despite that, I have to say to say that sadly, this is one to avoid.

Host: As mentioned above our host was Gaye, who was lovely and did a great job.
Clue System: To get a clue, you had to send a text or call a number from a mobile in the room, which would get the host to come into the room. It’s also worth noting that there were no cameras or microphones in the room, so you had to explain what you was stuck on each time. 
Success?
Yes, we escaped each of the rooms, but I’m unsure of the times. All I know is we had a LOT of clues.

As far as I know, no other bloggers have played here yet, as it’s always interesting to read if our experiences match up, but some enthusiasts we know did play a couple of days after, and did feed back to us a very similar tale. Sadly, not reviewers so I can’t link.

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One comment

  1. Oh dear. I’ve got to say that Jamie hasn’t quite conveyed how bad these rooms are. Our worst room award goes to the shower room at Escape Stockport with their Interrogation room coming a close second. I doubt anything will beat the shower room to that accolade but we had to agree a few days later that actually these rooms could be worse than Interrogation. OK, the theming here is better – Jamie says it wasn’t bad at all. I think that’s debatable. They’ve tried is how I’d describe it but it’s all quite raw. I know not all rooms can have big budgets and not all rooms need to be flash to be impressive but this was clearly done by amateurs. To be fair, Escape to the Jungle was the best themed room and quite a good effort had been made – so long as you ignore the fact that the skeleton (Tom) who is in there, who died of starvation, would maybe have survived if he’d reached for the nearby pineapple and grapefruit. Also, his jacket was the size of a wigwam in comparison to his little body. At least he was nice and snug when he died!

    The thing that makes these rooms worse than Interrogation at Stockport is the sheer lunacy of the very minimal number of puzzles in each room. Escape to the Jungle has 3, yes just 3, puzzles to get through and a search. One puzzle I would love to describe in detail, you wouldn’t believe the stupidity to it. It involves a map and some anagrams of countries and seas – sounds ok so far – but oh my god – the answer? 😀 😀 😀

    However, back to our first room there, Asylum – This had the most amount of red herrings, or randoms as they’re known there, something that became such an issue we now use the word regularly! A four digit lock and you’ve found 4 items with a number each on them – easy right? No! 😀 We must have called for clues so many times that poor Gaye will have worn her shoes down! Why? Because the host has to come into the room when you need a clue – generally a big no no in escape rooms. However, Gaye was so lovely and funny that we really didn’t mind. She complained a few times that she couldn’t hear us talking (from the other side of the thin wall) so didn’t know where we were up to. To be honest, that’s because most of the time we were either stood in silence clueless or bent over double laughing! No cameras or mics in the room so they don’t know where you’re up to but Gaye would see what was in our hand and would know instantly what help to give you – sometimes she was overly helpful but she was so lovely doing it you just couldn’t say anything! When she saw me with the 4 numbered items in my hands she instantly told me to put them down, “they’re randoms, leave them alone”, but the actual puzzle to work out the 4 digits for the lock was just as random, if not more so! We “accidently” turned off the sound of the screaming woman and the chainsaw (?) as it was deafening, so we worked in silence. That meant that when we grabbed the old style Nokia to text for a clue we could hear the text being received at the desk. The mobile phone still had all the texts in the inbox from the mobile network thanking them for topping up with credit. 😀 There was an item of equipment in this room that you felt sure was to be used somehow….as there was so little else in there to use…but no.. it was of no use and thinking about it, why would it even be in there anyway, it didn’t fit. I know the other enthusiasts team who played the room after we did spent a lot of time on this too. The puzzles had no signposting. You had no idea what to do with absolutely anything you found. Just guess. And guess. And guess. Call for a clue. Then guess again.

    The “strongest” room, and I use that word loosely, was The Presence. This was more like your typical escape room, it even had a “secret” door, something the others didn’t (one room, one door). I’ve not given the “secret” door away in here as it so blindingly obvious as soon as you walk in that it is there, although be warned, you still have to break that usual escape room rule of not moving any heavy items to get to it! The first puzzle in here had us stumped. Even after a clue. The fellow enthusiasts later said the same. Again, the puzzles just made no sense whatsoever! One puzzle led you to having to find something you needed – something that is locked up, so actually, you’re looking for a key, which you could have just found and bypassed the other puzzle completely. (When I say puzzle, it’s normally just a sheet of paper with printed type on). There was another standout absolute nonsense puzzle in here involving a UV torch and a picture – I could tell you the answer you get from it and you’d still have no clue!

    In fairness, we had a laugh doing these rooms, but it was at their expense because they were so bad. 😦 Gaye though was lovely and I’d consider going back just to see her and to laugh at what else they’ve come up with. But in all honesty, sadly I’ve got to say, avoid this place. Even if you’d played these rooms 4 or 5 years ago you’d have been disappointed and with the way escape rooms have moved on now, you’d be hard pushed to find anything here that will keep you interested.

    Escape time:

    The Asylum – we were cutting it close here, but because it was just so random in every way! We escaped with less than 2 minutes to spare.

    The Presence – did a little better here and had about 7 minutes remaining.

    Escape to the Jungle – smashed it – all 3 puzzles of it – and did it with 20 mins to spare :-/

    Not great times considering how little there is to do – but because absolutely nothing makes sense you’ll find yourselves wasting a lot of time trying everything possible or standing around dumbfounded – or continuously searching because you think you must certainly have missed something!

    Like

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