A while ago I went with a group of friends to a live escape game in Warrington, Clue HQ. The game was fantastic, we all had a great time and loved every second of it. Having had so much fun the first time, we thought we’d try another one, this time in the centre of Manchester, Make a Break.
Live escape games are a simple concept – you get locked in a room and have an hour to get out of the room by using the clues in the room. Sounds easy, right?
First off – finding the venue was tricky.
The building is old, clearly a warehouse that has seen (much) better days. The name of the building is on the side of the building, big letters which is great if you know roughly where you’re going. If you’re looking for a sign for the company then you’re probably not going to find it. There’s a door to the building with a small paper sign on it, with a tiny logo for the company. The sign tells you to ring a number. We rang the number, and then had to wait for the guy to come down and let us in. He then led us up a million stairs* (it may not have been a million exactly, but it sure did feel like it!) to the ‘escape room’. We were warned that the timer had broken, and that we needed to keep track of the hour if we wanted to know how long we had left to escape. We managed to get a timer set up on a phone, but it was a bit of a pain doing this. One of the group was taken away and locked up inside the room – our first task was to get into the room, using the puzzle in the corridor.
This seemed a little odd – there was no explanation as to why we were trying to free the other person in the group and we were in a corridor in a strange warehouse trying to figure out a solution to the puzzle. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it seemed strange to all of us that instead of mounting the clue on the wall of the corridor, we were all having to bend down and sit on the floor to puzzle it out. Still, we carried on, and got inside the room and freed the other group member.
Once we had were in the room, we had to solve the puzzles in order to escape (leaving through the door we’d just come through wasn’t the way to escape apparently). Some of the puzzles were fairly simple, some required some logical thinking and puzzling out. The puzzle that annoyed us the most was a video loop where we had to name films to find a word. Some of the films were well known, but a couple of them weren’t. It seemed unfair to have a puzzle that required film knowledge – after all, not everybody likes/watches films so it’s possible they wouldn’t have been able to solve this ‘puzzle’. The video loop didn’t work, and got stuck and stopped constantly. The guy that had let us in had to come in several times to get it working again – which we thought was a bit shoddy. Why not just burn it t DVD and loop it?
We did manage to escape – with a bit of time to spare. It was a shame that the large timer didn’t work, as there was no sense of urgency. Once we’d escaped, the guy came up, said “well done” and that was that, time to leave.
A major difference between this one and the one we had done previously was the theme. The one we’d done first had been a bunker theme, with a reason for trying to escape within the time limit. There was no theme to this one at all, and with all of the broken/non-working equipment, we felt quite let down. We had high hopes and expectations after the first one, and this was nowhere near the same standard. We’d managed to get a deal so it worked out at £9 per person – and had enough people in the group to split into two lots of 5. £90 is a lot to pay when some of the important clues and the timer don’t work!
To sum up – don’t bother with this one. Make the effort to go to Clue HQ in Warrington. It’s much better value for money with equipment that actually works and a theme.