In an unplanned coincidence, this review also covers my fifth trip to a venue, this time across town at Escape Room Manchester. And again it will be, for now, my final visit having played all of their rooms. This time it was the mysterious Room 13:
On the way home from a vacation with your family, your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere with no reception to call for help. Seeking shelter from the dark of night, you decide to check yourself and your family in to one of the rural hotels nearby. The elderly caretaker of the run-down hotel informs you that there are no other hotels within walking distance. After checking into one of the rooms, you find a series of rather supernatural things occurring within the room and you have been locked in from the outside. Complete the puzzles within the haunted room to figure out a way to escape within sixty minutes or suffer the wrath of the spirits you have angered.
Let me just read that again, “find a series of supernatural things occurring within the room and you have been locked in from the outside”. Now, it may just be me, but from that I would expect to be starting off locked in a spooky hotel room. SPOILERS: You don’t. I appreciate that the room description on the website is perhaps more about encouraging people to book than directly leading you into the story but for obsessives like me it should be possible to do both. It’s where the immersion starts! Anyway, mini-rant over.
This room actually starts in a very unusual way. You’re in a lift which doesn’t appear to have anything special about it. In fact, it has almost nothing about it. The fact we almost peeled a carpet tile off the floor highlights how confused we were. The moral of this particular story is no to “think you’ve tried something” and actually make sure you have. A few moments later we were on to the next part of the game, which was much more interesting.
The next bit is very good, and among the more immersive experiences I’ve had (but could have been even better had the briefing not pre-empted it. Sorry, I’ll stop), especially when you consider the theme of the setting. A great combination of technology and special effects plunges you into the story, and could be quite scary for some.
The drawback is the difficulty of the puzzles. We were told that we were the first team ever to get one bit without a hint, but I’m not really sure how as we passed it almost instantly. The most difficult bit for us was taking longer than we should have on a scavenger task because we didn’t want to make a mess! We still escaped in a record-breaking 42 minutes, which is not long enough for a 5/5 difficulty.
Room 13 is a great symbol for Escape Room Manchester, for which my view hasn’t really changed since my first visit. Go there for the lovely staff and warm welcome. Go there for the cool reception area and bar. Go there for beautifully finished rooms and great technology/effects. Just don’t go there expecting a tough challenge (apart from The Secret Lab, which is great).