escape game

Holy Foul- Up, Blackwing!

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Black.

The game started with complete darkness.

And music…

Edgy, scary music designed to make players nervous…

We entered not knowing what to expect. Sure, we’d played other escape rooms. Ones where you sift through drawers and empty cupboards looking for clues.

But this game was different.

This game was the Breakin’ Blackwing’s Cave room with its superhero theme.

A superhero lair doesn’t have cupboards and drawers to riffle through, so this was going to be a different type of escape room. One that uses high tech gadgets. We’ve played them before too. Some use gadgets to progress the story. Some just add them because they can, without adding anything to the experience. Some gadgets work, some don’t. Some require feats of incredible dexterity.

Starting in darkness, our first task was to find some light, so we began by feeling our way around the walls ….

Good set design, shame about the puzzles.

The set design was good so we were hopeful that the puzzles would be too. Unfortunately that was not the case. 

Our friends had played the Sherlock game as a team of 5 and warned us that, being a linear game, only a limited number players could solve things at a time. There were times when some of them had nothing to do except watch the others.

The Blackwing room is also linear but with only three players, we had more chance of puzzle interaction.

The game is played in darkness so it takes time to find the limited light source and get accustomed to the room. We didn’t find the lighting a problem. However we were frustrated with poor puzzle design, lack of puzzles and poor customer service.

The mission

**NB this review contains spoilers**

During the briefing we learnt that Blackwing was off fighting his arch enemy, while we were needed to defuse bombs inside Blackwings Cave.

Early on there was a major puzzle which we failed. I don’t mean failed to solve. I mean failed, as in the countdown reached zero and the “bomb” exploded. [note 1]

We were left wondering if that was really the end of the whole game. [note 2]

Having paid almost £30 each for an hour of puzzle solving, we expected the game to last longer than 15 minutes. Therefore, we searched for something else to do.

It soon became clear there was nothing else to solve so we used our Walkie-Talkie to ask for a hint. We were told we could continue trying to solve the failed puzzle [note 3] or to ask for a hack to bypass it and move on.

How many teams continue trying to defuse an exploded bomb, I wonder? Was this designed to hold teams up rather than provide enough puzzles?

We were feeling frustrated by this point and elected to take the hack. The hack released a second wave of tech gadget and maths based puzzles. Having maths geniuses on the team (not me) we were able to quickly work our way through the clues until we hit another major problem.

**minor spoilers**

We found a secret “room” – an oppressive blocked corridor where two of the team got locked in. Although we “solved” the escape puzzle numerous times, nothing happened. Finally we asked for another hint, which turned out to be to continue doing exactly what we had been doing!

I was hot, frustrated, and claustrophobic by now. Spitting feathers, I shot back into the Walkie-Talkie “we’ve been doing that but nothing happens”. At this point another Games Master took over our game and told me that nothing was supposed to happen; the puzzle only gave a clue to the person outside the room. [note 4]

Escaping from the sweltering, cramped corridor we found the exit door was now covered with lasers that appeared to serve no useful purpose other than to block the doorway. The clock above the door had also stopped, even though we had more time remaining.

Our original games master arrived and warned that breaking the lasers would incur a time penalty. It wasn’t clear that escaping within the 60 minutes depended on exiting the door without triggering the lasers, so they just looked out of place.[note 5]

By now we were infuriated and frustrated. Escaping in 60 minutes was no longer a goal. We just needed fresh air.

Had we enjoyed it, the GM asked? No we hadn’t.

Complaints

When we left we complained about the puzzle designs and the claustrophobic second room.

[note 1] The games master (GM) said defusing the bomb was a difficult puzzle to solve, especially as you had to connect the wires to defuse the bomb in a certain way. They added that in training it had taken the GM’s 40 minutes to solve that single puzzle.

[note 2] The GM said some teams have given up and walked out when they failed. I’m not surprised, as it appeared to us that the game was over after 15 minutes when the bomb exploded. Having paid almost £30 each, we demanded more for our money and expected to be given more puzzles to solve. (Maybe the other teams were not offered the hack.)

[note 3] The GM said if you wobbled with a connection at any stage you had to start the whole process again. This meant a lot of teams failed and had to keep reattempting it.

Photo

The GM tentatively asked if we still wanted a photo to remember the experience, as she could sense we were very disappointed. I stayed true to the room, but my fellow players pretended they’d played something different. Blocking the memory before we’d even left the building, huh.

IMG_9051

We left feeling very angry that we’d wasted our time and wasted our money.

 

 

Other Online Reviews

I hadn’t spotted the online reviews until after we’d played the game. Although we had the worst time ever, the others didn’t find the room too bad. Here are their thoughts, which include some of the points we raised about the room. I have no idea if they paid full price, like our team did. All I can say is we did not find it enjoyable, and certainly did not find it value for money.

Escape the review

“It’s a pretty linear game. We played with four people, and I’d suggest three as the best number. Two of the larger sequences of the game are limited in how many people can get involved with them at once, so larger groups may find players standing around in these sections…..The number of puzzles in the room is a little on the sparse side.”

Two Bears Life

[note 4]”………..we had issues with the actual game design and flow. Sadly, we also struggled with their clue system, that hardly helped us when we got stuck.”

[note 5] “The puzzles in the room are mostly high-tech with some cool twists. Another warning for the end though: the game is NOT over once the timer stops. We failed to realize that and got all our leftover time deducted, because we thought it was already finished……The last game-element in the Blackwing room was such a frustrating ending to the game that we were fairly stomped afterwards……..”

The Logic Escapes Me

[note 5] “…with a final puzzle sequence that incorporated two unusual techniques to make the game stand out – one of which happens after your clock has stopped. Given that, in every other room I’ve ever played, that meant the game was over, it left us a little confused at a time when the endorphin rush should have just kicked in. “

Den Of Geek 

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Demented dolls and a scheming ventriloquist dummy….. 

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One of our friends invited us to take part in Handmade Mysteries latest escape room.

We were told to meet at The Depot and await instructions. At the appointed moment, Wynne, our wooden, toy soldier guide arrived to take us to Poppa Plock’s wonky workshop.

First impressions on entering the toy factory was that it was very creepy.  Twisted toys and demented dolls littered the room and there was a freaky ventriloquist dummy giving instructions.

Our team were under pressure in a race against the clock to complete Plock’s finest creation.

Did we succeed in building “Roy”? Did we discover why the toy maker mysteriously disappeared? Did we share some bizarre moments? (Those who have played the game know what I’m talking about!)

Well, I’m pleased to say we completed the build within time. However, the photographic evidence suggested we may have overrun slightly.

Clever and Wise Team Photo
Clever and Wise Team Photo

 

 

Escape from Reality in Cardiff

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On Saturday 6th August 2016 Escape Reality opened in Cardiff.

This escape game experience offers 6 different themed rooms. Teams of 2-6 players have 60 minutes to escape by working together to solve various puzzles. How hard are the challenges? Well the venue rates the games difficulty between 3★ and 5★. 

  • Jungala   Difficulty: ★ ★ ★
  • Enigmista  Difficulty: ★ ★ ★ ★ 
  • The Heist  Difficulty: ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Misery  Difficulty: ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Fibonacci  Difficulty: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Alcatraz   Difficulty: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

All escape rooms have their own unique touches. One thing Escape Reality has that we had not used in other escape rooms was an ipad to give clues and hints. Did it work? Well, not really. We found that when we used it to give us a clue, it told us something we had already solved but didn’t give a clue to finding the next puzzle. This may be to do with the numbering system.

A big plus point is that the venue has a large waiting area. This is great if you are booking more than one room or are meeting your group at the venue. Much better than hanging around on a street corner as one venue made us do (but that’s another story!) The waiting  area can be used before and after your game…..just don’t spoil things for players waiting to go into a game when you discuss how you got out!

“The dice have been rolled”

We played the Jungala  game in September.

The plot revolves around you and your team finding an old board game in the attic. You’ve just rolled the dice and been engulfed by a vortex. You find yourselves transported into an alternative realm. Scary.

Returning to reality you try to leave the room and discover …..da,da,da……the door has been locked….

Yes, You are Trapped In A Room and need to find a way to Escape.

All you can do is complete the game “or be trapped inside the other realm for eternity.” You have sixty minutes to complete the game and the clock is ticking……

 

Did we escape ? Yes we managed to get out in time, with the help of the games master. A fun afternoon adventure.
Team Invitation To Events played Escape Reality and managed to escape.
Team Invitation To Events played Escape Reality and managed to escape.