Escape Room Games, Judging Harshly

Judging Harshly – The Betrayal of Cluetankhamun, Clue HQ Warrington

We thought we’d done all of the rooms at Clue HQ Warrington – but then they opened up a new one, which we went off to play soon after it had opened. I’ve always had a soft spot for Egyptian lore, so was looking forward to playing this one. We ended up splitting into two groups – I was in a group of 4, Emma was in a group of 5.

 

From their website:

Just over a month ago the long lost tomb of Cluetankhamun was unearthed for the first time in over 5 millennia. A team of explorers were sent in to recover the Cluetan Crystal, a jewel believed to possess the power of the Nile. It has been several days since last contact with the exploring party so it’s time to send a new expedition down into the tomb to retrieve the crystal. But watch your step – Who knows what happened to the last exploring party.

 

Our first mission was to find the room – having played all of the other rooms there, this was pretty easy for us. As usual, I won’t give away anything inside the room as I’d hate to spoil it for anyone.

 

The room was really well put together, especially as it’s not an overly large space. All the space was utilised well, and the puzzles were fairly straightforward. My team did struggle with one of the puzzles that wasn’t too difficult as we weren’t thinking very clearly. As it’s set in the Egyptian era, there aren’t any high tech puzzles, which worked in it’s favour in my opinion (if you read these blog posts then you’ll realise I’m not a fan of the easily breakable high tech things – especially DVD players and lasers) Everything in the room worked and worked well. All of the puzzles were good, although none of them stood out on their own.

Betrayal of Cluetankhamun Emma

We did manage to get out, and although Emma’s team beat mine with 15minutes left, we were very proud of our escape with 9minutes left. In our defense, they did have an extra player, and we had 2 rather hungover players – including one that had never done an escape room before! It also didn’t help that we spent a good while hunting down for something to use a code on before we figured out it was probably for the door – we’d had so much fun solving puzzles that we didn’t really want it to end!

Betrayal of Cluetankhamun

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Escape Room Games, International, Judging Harshly, Riga, Uncategorized

Judging Harshly – I Am Medieval, Riga

Our last escape room in Riga was I Am Medieval. We were on an escaper’s high having successfully escaped 3 rooms in Riga, and had high hopes for this one after checking out some reviews. It’s set in a tower in Old Riga and looks quite impressive. We haven’t tried any Medieval themed rooms and were looking forward to trying this one.

 

From the website:

“Ramer Tower Museum” is a quest game that is situated in the unique historic location, inside the city wall and the city wall tower. The quest is truly a gem on the map of riga and is suited for people of all ages. The Quest Keeper invites you to experience the authentic medieval atmosphere, solving and completing all the puzzles and tasks of the tower. The tour is suited for small groups from 2 to 5 people and lasts 60 minutes.

 

I’m usually pretty laid back and easy going and try to see the good side of things, but this room made that very hard to do. In all honesty, it’s tied for the worst room that I’ve ever done (I still can’t decide if this was as bad as Make a Break or if it was worse). We arrived at the door before our host did, and we both got the impression that he didn’t really want to be there. We were given some monk habit-style things to wear and belts to tie them up, which we thought was a nice touch before entering the room.

Being set in a tower, the rooms aren’t overly big and there are a lot of stairs. There was a screen on the first floor where clues would be typed – not useful when you’re stuck on the top floor and need a hint. Speaking of the top floor – I was really glad that we were wearing the habit-type things as it was incredibly dusty. In my mind dust should not be used to “theme” the room, and we both came away wanting showers to clean ourselves of the experience.

It was very different to rooms that we’ve played in the past and neither of us particularly enjoyed it (we both thought about calling it a day and leaving half way through but neither of us said anything out loud so we stuck it out until the end). If you hadn’t played an escape room before then you might enjoy this one, but if you like puzzles that make you think and that make sense, this is definitely one to avoid. I spent quite a bit of time looking for a way to unlock a padlock on a container – only to find out that it was a dummy padlock and that the container was open. Yes, perhaps I should have checked, but I’m used to going into escape rooms and trying to unlock padlocks.

 

In summary? Avoid like the plague of ye olden days. Travel a bit further out of the old town and go to Get Out or further still and try out Mystery House.

 

 

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Escape Room Games, International, Judging Harshly, Riga, Uncategorized

Judging Harshly – Robbery at the Museum, Get Out, Riga

After a recommendation from Mystery House in Riga, we looked up Get Out. They didn’t seem to have many trip advisor reviews but based on how much we enjoyed Mystery House and the fact our host said it was the best game she’d ever played, we thought we would give it a try. We booked, and went along.

Occasionally, the location of an escape room will take us by surprise. This one certainly did. It was in a shopping centre in the middle of the city. Surrounded by clothes shops. To us, it seemed a bit strange, being used to more out of the way locations, old mills, railway arches etc.

We went ahead and booked the Robbery at the Museum room. We’ve done an art gallery theft room before and weren’t carried away with it so were a touch concerned that this one might also not live up to expectations. We were issued with a briefcase full of “useful items” and sent into the room.

From the website:

It was just a game…
We used to play poker with friends. We did great and we were good at it. However, one day some dangerous people beat us. Such people don’t forget stuff like that… Their demand is the diamond from the museum with the best security system in town. And we must carry out the robbery!  The robbery is well-planned to the slightest detail! But we have only 60 minutes…

First impressions of the room? Dark. And noisy. We didn’t have a clue what was going on for a while, and opened up the briefcase to see what we had that might be useful. Luckily there was a torch, and we got going on trying to do the mission.

As usual, I won’t go into any specifics, but it was AMAZING. The range of puzzles was brilliant, including some extremely clever high-tec ones (and everything worked!) and some very simple ones (yep, we struggled with the simple ones but managed the high tec ones just fine) It was the most physically demanding room that we’ve tried, but in a fun way, not moving furniture or picking up heavy objects kind of way. We were told we could have 3 clues and ended up using 2 of them – one of them on something quite simple that we really should have figured out ourselves.

The theming of the robbery was really good – you had to get into the museum that you were robbing, it wasn’t just a case of “you’re outside the door, open it and rob what you’re after before escaping the room”. It was more “you’ve got to get into the museum, avoid the guards, rob what you’re after and then get out” which made it more believable in my opinion.

We managed to escape, I think it was in 53:20. Sadly we didn’t get our photos taken or make a note of our time. There was plenty for the two of us to do and larger groups would be kept busy with all of the puzzles. There was also a potential time penalty in the room, which we managed to avoid and was something I hadn’t come across in escape rooms before. We asked (as we found it easy to avoid the penalty) and apparently it does catch people out who then struggle to complete the escape with the reduced time.

New favourite escape room. Need I say more? If you’ve after an escape room in Riga then this is a definite must. Sadly they just had the one room while we were there but are planning to open up a new room soon.

 

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Escape Room Games, International, Judging Harshly, Riga, Uncategorized

Judging Harshly – Dr Zink, Mystery House, Riga

After finishing Mission: Riga at Mystery House, we had a little bit of a break while our host Gundega reset the room. We had both enjoyed the first room and were glad we’d booked the second room to do straight after. In all honesty, we loved the sound of the Dr Zink and would have played it first but the difficulty rating put us off a little bit so we went for the easier room first.

 

From the website:

This will be a journey into the world of numbers, formulas, and chemical elements. Are you ready to retrace knowledge obtained back in school? You have been trapped in the laboratory of dark minded scientist Dr. Zink. He is planning to blow up the whole world. The stakes are high, and you do not have much time left. Will you be able to find clues, solve formulas, and deactivate the bomb before it’s too late? Time is ticking…

 

Again, the room was really well thought out with some fantastic puzzles. We were warned that there would be a new type of lock in the room that we hadn’t come across in Mission:Riga which did confuse us a little bit (luckily I’d seen one before but my partner hadn’t). There were fewer high-tec puzzles in this room, but the ones in the room definitely required more thought. They weren’t kidding about the world of numbers and formulas!

Although the room was rated more difficult than Mission: Riga, we escaped this one quicker in 54:10 (after defusing the bomb of course – in fact I was so engrossed in defusing the bomb I completely forgot about opening the door!). Perhaps it’s because we both like the science-y stuff and find it interesting (we studied Chemistry and Engineering) or perhaps it’s because they try to persuade people to try Mission: Riga. Either way, we both really enjoyed it, and had a great chat with our game host Gundega afterwards while waiting for the taxi back to the city centre. We asked if she had any recommendations for escape rooms in Riga, and looked up the one she suggested – more on that soon.

Mystery House has definitely made it into our top 5 escape room locations. I always think that having a welcoming and friendly host makes a huge difference. Hopefully we’ll be able to go back and try our hand at any new games they have in the future!

Mystery House Riga

 

 

 

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Escape Room Games, International, Passing Judgement, Riga

Judging Harshly – Mission: Riga, Mystery House, Riga

Welcome to my first international escape room review! I went to Riga with my partner and while we were looking for this to do before we went we came across several escape rooms. We checked out Tripadvisor and the top escape room caught our eye – Mystery House. I emailed to check if there was a problem with us attempting to do the room in English (I kept thinking back to escape rooms we’ve done in the UK, most of which had puzzles with English instructions) and quickly got a reply to say that they can do the room in English, Latvian or Russian. There was an offer on, if you booked 2 rooms they would arrange collection.drop off from the city centre. This seemed like a good plan, especially as it’s a bit out of the city centre, so we went ahead and booked the 2 harder rooms, Mission:Riga and Dr Zinc.

 

From the website:

You are a team of the best agents of your country, and are visiting Riga on a mission. Return home is possible only with secret document #2291, stolen from double agent`s apartment. No doubt, this is the most secure apartment in whole country. If all this isn’t enough, you have only 60 minutes to get the job done. It is time to start the Mission:Riga. Collect the target and leave unseen before agent returns. Be ready to solve puzzles, look for clues left behind…, and do it fast. Be aware – he has played this game for a while… Remember, only as a team can you accomplish this mission

We were picked up by a particularly grumpy taxi driver, and dropped off at Mystery House where we met our game operator, Gundega. She was lovely and bubbly and it was nice to meet her in person after speaking to her via email before our trip. We were offered bottled water and sweets before being set lose in the Mission: Riga room, where there was more water and sweets in case we wanted them during the hour.

The room was lovely and clean, with music coming from a radio in one of the corners of the room. The room certainly kept us busy, with plenty to do with several red herrings. We only had one small issue with the equipment – a key got stuck. It wasn’t the first time this had happened but it doesn’t happen on a regular basis. It’s not often that a game operator has to come into the room to fix something, and when they do it can spoil the atmosphere of the room, but Gundega did it in a really nice way that didn’t detract from the experience at all. We all had a laugh about it and she left and we carried on.

The theming was done well, and Gundega kept an eye on us throughout, keeping in touch with a walkie talkie. I’m not usually a big fan of the walkie talkies, but in this room it worked really well – and I particularly liked that we had to find it in the room to use it, and that when she wanted to get in touch with us she called us “agents”. It’s a small thing, but I think it added to the experience.

The puzzles in this room were superb and some were quite unusual. We managed to get out, but there wasn’t much time left on the clock – we escaped in 58:11. It was the first game my partner and I have played as just a two and we worked well together (and were still talking to each other at the end of the game which I wasn’t sure would be the case!)

 

Although Doctor Zinc is rated as a harder room, the escape rate for this room is lower, probably because they encourage people to try this room before attempting the harder one. It was a really good room, and I can imagine it keeping all the members of a larger group occupied.

Mystery House Riga

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Escape Room Games, Judging Harshly, Manchester

Judging Harshly – Madchester, Breakout Manchester

We ended up doing a couple of rooms last bank holiday at quite short notice – and in two different locations. I went and did Madchester at Breakout Manchester, while Emma went attempted escaping from the Secret Lab at Escape Room Manchester, which I’m sure she’ll blog about soon.

 

We’ve done a Breakout room in the past, Classified, where we raced against each other (they had two identical rooms) which we weren’t overly keen on – the room felt very functional, with few distractions and a lot of the equipment didn’t work which was a shame. Had we done the rooms earlier it might have been different, but as they were due to shut the week after we left (the lease was up) I think they didn’t see the point in replacing the equipment.

 

Anyway, the Classified rooms have gone now, and we went to try Madchester, Breakout’s hardest room. We were greeted and taken into the room, which I found a bit strange. I prefer being briefed outside the room, so that the escape starts once you’re inside. All of us were in the room looking around for clues before the intro started.

 

From their website:

Zack is a passionate collector of anything Manchester related. As a group of thieves, you wondered in his bedroom and find yourselves trapped. You have 60 minutes to steal Zack’s valuable collectables and escape before he comes back.

 

The room was bigger than I expected, and decorated well, reminding me slightly of my room while at Manchester University (although the Madchester room was much, much cleaner. And bigger. Without any damp) The props were good, and everything that should work did work. There were 3 of us in the team and we were all kept pretty occupied for the duration of the game. We managed to escape with just 1:12 left on the clock, having been distracted by something silly for far too long. We were just happy to escape, as one of our friends had done the room with his 4 workmates and not managed to get out. Not that we’re competitive or anything…

 

Breakout Mcr Madchester

 

I’d definitely recommend the room if you’re up for a challenge – we thought it was pretty well done and will probably try the other Breakout rooms soon.

 

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Escape Room Games, Judging Harshly, Uncategorized

Judging Harshly – Dungeon of Doom, Clue HQ Warrington

Another review for a Clue HQ Warrington escacpe room – this time for the Dungeon of Doom.

 

Time for us to do the last room that we hadn’t done at Clue HQ Warrington – until they open up the new one later this month that is!

From the Clue HQ website:

Your friend has been wrongly accused of murder, and sentenced to death. They are locked in the confines of a medieval dungeon and it’s up to you to break in and save them. Can you free your friend and escape the dungeon together before the guard patrols the area again. You’ve got 60 minutes or you’ll all be sentenced to the same fate.

One person is blindfolded and taken to a jail cell, and the other members of the group are trying to free them. We used an app to decide who would be the “murderer”, which ended up being me. As I was blindfolded and led away, I did wonder if the rest of the group would try to save me, or if they would just leave me to rot in my jail cell and go home!

Thankfully they decided to stay and help. As usual, I won’t give too much away, but it was slightly infuriating being able to hear the rest of the group discussing what they were doing but being unable to see or help them in any way. There was one point in the game when I wondered if I’d be stuck there for the whole 60minutes!

The puzzles were good, a nice variety. To keep with the dungeon theme, nothing was overly high tech, which I prefer. It means that less can go wrong, and they have to think a bit more about the puzzles. There was one particular puzzle that we argued over a little bit, but managed to solve it in the end.

 

Dungeon of Doom escape

I have to say, escaping this room felt very anti-climatic. Several of us were trying to solve a puzzle when a message appeared on the screen to say we were free, which confused us all. Turns out that one of the team had accidentally opened the lock we were trying to get the combination for and had solved the final puzzle! We were close to the end anyway, but that did make our escape much quicker. I think we would have perhaps only been another 5 minutes at most.

So, in summary – a good game, some quite good puzzles but nothing that stood out in particular. Slightly let down by flukey lock and accidental early escape. I’d still recommend it.

 

 

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Judging Harshly – The Vault, Clue HQ Warrington

Another escape room review! This time The Vault room at Clue HQ Warrington. The location of this company is really handy, as it’s just around the corner from Warrington Central train station, and there’s parking nearby. We went on a Sunday and had no problem parking, though I’m not sure if that’s the case midweek.

Most escape rooms require no prior information. Everything you need to escape the room is inside the room. The Vault is a little bit different, as you are not only trying to escape, you’re trying to escape with as many casino chips as possible.

From the Clue HQ website:

You and your friends recently visited a casino owned by The National Bank of Money. Accusations have been made that their machines are fixed to give the house a higher advantage. They stole your money, and you’re going to get it back!

All of the casino’s chips are stored in the vault at The National Bank of Money. Your heist appears to be going smoothly until the security system comes back on! You’ve got 60 minutes to grab as much cash (in casino chips) as you can and escape!

To escape with all of the jackpot, you need to check out the website and do a bit of research before turning up. Everyone on our team checked out the website, and we managed to gleam some useful information.

The room was set up really well, and there were plenty of puzzles to keep us busy, including a few red herrings and a couple of well placed puns in the room that made us giggle. Overall, a pretty good room in my opinion. Everything seemed to work, which is always a plus!

 

But did we escape? We sure did! But sadly not with the jackpot. We had a quick look at the leaderboard before we left, and at the time of going, only one team had managed to get the jackpot. We all really enjoyed the room and it was fun trying to collect the chips.

 

Vault escape room

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Escape Room Games, Manchester, Passing Judgement

Breakout Manchester – Classified

Time for another escape room review, which again will be kept a little bit vague as I don’t want to spoil it for others by being too specific!

When I heard that there was an escape room called Breakout in Manchester which had 2 identical rooms that could be played at the same time I knew that we had to play them. I’m not saying that we’re a competitive group, but when the first question when doing the escape rooms is “did you make it and what time did you get out” before someone says hello to you… well, there may be a slightly competitive element.

There were 9 of us doing the rooms, so we split into a 4 and a 5, with Emma and I on different teams. We were all briefed together by Daniel, who was friendly and funny, putting us at ease. The theme of the room, Classified, is that it is the final exam of a secret agent. My group went upstairs while Emma’s went downstairs. Due to how the unit is, we could hear what they were shouting and vice versa. It was really difficult remembering not to shout when you solved some of the puzzles! Daniel told us at the start that as it was a bit of a competition if they gave one team a clue, the other team would automatically get a clue which I thought was really good and would keep the playing field level.

The room itself was quite bare, with almost everything in the room having a purpose. This meant that some of the time one or two of us were standing around waiting/doing nothing as there wasn’t anything to do (near the end for example) Compared to other games we have played where there are extra objects in the room that aren’t part of the game and are there to throw you off, this made the game feel quite linear. The bare room may have been a reflection on the theme of the game, as it was supposed to be an exam. The time went quickly, as usual during these rooms, although it did drag a bit near the end when a piece of equipment wasn’t working the way it should have done for us!

So, to sum up – much better than Make a Break in Manchester, but not as good as Escape Quest in Macclesfield or Clue HQ in Warrington! I believe that the lease for the Classified units is up soon, but the premise of being able to compete against friends is a good one that I hope is done well in the future. Breakout Manchester also have several other rooms with different themes, and hopefully we’ll be trying out some of those soon.

Just to be clear – if we’d had a vital piece of equipment working properly, then we would definitely have made it out first. As it was, our team of 4 (with one new player) were very close behind the team of 5 (who have all played 2 games previously!) so we feel the victory would have been ours had things been fair!

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Escape Room Games, Judging Harshly

Judging Harshly – Extremescape, Disley. Pirate Ship

It’s been a while since our last post, sadly life has gotten in the way! But we’re back with a vengeance with lots of things to catch up on, such as a few escape room reviews!

 

When I heard about Extremescape, I was really excited. A 90 minute pirate ship themed escape room? Amazing. I had heard good things, but wanted to check it out myself. A free evening came up, and 5 of us went off to Disley.

 

The first thing that you notice about Extremescape is the location. It was dark when we went and I’d read that it was a barn on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Not quite true, and there were signs showing the way – best thing to do is head towards the golf course and look for the signs. I imagine it’s a bit easier in daylight, but all 3 cars in our group made it there without any difficulty. There’s plenty of parking space on site, which was really handy.

 

We entered the building, not really knowing what to expect. We were warmly welcomed by Jess and Graham before putting belongings in lockers, then it was onto the main event. We were told a little bit about the room and told the top 3 escape times.

 

Our first impressions of the room were fantastic – before we even got into it properly! The attention to detail is superb and it creates a great atmosphere as soon as you start. As usual, I won’t give away any of the puzzles, but I will say that the room is very well thought out, the variety of puzzles is really good and some of them are quite challenging. The system that Extremescape uses for giving clues is really good, and although we did give in and ask for a clue at one point, we were so close that they almost refused to help us!

 

One thing that was slightly different compared to other escape rooms that we’ve done is that you were allowed to leave the room during the time limit, if you wanted to get a drink or go to the loo. I don’t think any of our group did, but it was nice to have the option if we wanted to.

 

But did we get out?

Extremescape1

Extremescape2

 

Yeah we did! And with a pretty quick time which (currently) has us at the top of their leaderboard. The fancy dress box was a great touch at the end and they also gave us a copy of the above photos which is a really nice keepsake.

 

After the game, we chatted with Jess and Graham, who are really passionate about their room and what they do, and it really does make a difference. Compared to some rooms that we’ve done where they want you out of the way as soon as possible so they can get the next group in it was really nice. They asked us how they’d stacked up against other escape rooms that we’d done, and were really impressed with our escape time. We mentioned that we were going out for food afterwards, and they suggested some local options and even booked a table for us!

 

Overall opinion – Fantastic! Great value for money, well thought out puzzles and theme with some surprises. We’ll definitely be going back to try their new room (Lost tomb) when it’s ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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