Going For Gold – The Lost Tomb @ Extremescape, Disley (near Stockport)

This review of The Lost Tomb is based on a visit from December 2016.

Lost Tomb photo

Somehow this photo perfectly sums up our day

Do you remember on The Crystal Maze, how the team were initially ‘outside’ the maze and had to complete a brief task to get to the game proper? That’s a rhetorical question; of course you do. A number of sites, including Extremescape, have done something like it before, with a kind of ‘airlock’ separating the real world from the game world, where you watch/listen to your briefing while the excitement builds. The Lost Tomb takes this a stage further by asking you to actually solve a puzzle to gain entry. And it’s executed absolutely beautifully. Expectations could not have been higher as we entered the room itself:

Your team of adventurers & archaeologists, enter an abandoned gold mine in the heart of the Mexican mountains, your mission is to find the hidden gold.

Legend says that the holder of the hidden gold of El Narangel will find the Lost Tomb.

The miners left subtle clues & hints, if you use all your skills you may find the hidden gold and ultimately the Lost Tomb but be careful, they the miners won’t give up their gold easily.

After such a grand opening the next question is whether the room could live up to it. Luckily it could. The luxurious decoration that you find in The Pirate Ship, and precious few other games across the country, was back as we journeyed underground. There was a nice variety of items and spaces to explore, with a clear view of what was needed eventually, but a nice ambiguity of how we were going to get there.

Once again the mechanical aspects of the room were out of this world. This is not just find a number and open a padlock (although, yes, there a few padlocks); this is work out what you’re supposed to do, do it, and then see what happens. This makes the experience feel very tactile, even though there isn’t much physicality to it.

Playing with so many delights begins to skew your expectations. There were a couple of puzzles we really struggled with. After the game the owners said they were surprised we found those bits hard as they considered them the most simple. And that is why we struggled; most of the room is so clever that when you encounter something ‘normal’ you think there must be more to it. But that’s certainly not a criticism; you need to have a few quieter bits in the game for you to feel the full benefit of the highs. And there are even ways of making those lulls surprising.

We escaped after 75 enjoyable minutes, where we explored, puzzled and laughed in almost equal measure. For me this is another game that goes beyond being ‘a good escape room’ and moves into being ‘a great experience’. Everyone should find their way to play this game as soon as possible.

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