Reviewing a new room is fun enough, but visiting a new site is better, and a new operator better still. And I got do that twice this last weekend! But first things first.
As mentioned by ExitGames, Escaping is exploding in Liverpool at the moment. Not long ago Clue HQ Warrington was their nearest site. Soon (maybe even now? It’s difficult to keep up) there’ll be four within the city limits. As two members of The Animals live there it was only a matter of time and availability before we would visit. And for no reason in particular we decided to start with Tick Tock Unlock, which opened in February.
Tick Tock Unlock has existed for a while in Leeds (Trip Advisor reviews suggest since May 2014) and the Liverpool site is their first step at franchising. Both sites operate just one room (and it’s the same at both sites) with a second coming soon in Leeds which will be later brought to Liverpool as well. Unusually you’re given no brief or information in advance, other than the name Blueprint (which I even thought could be a working title).
The location they’ve gone for isn’t exactly in the city centre. It’s in a railway arch to the north of the city, “near CostCo” as described by the Liverpool residents. To be honest it’s not somewhere I’d choose to spend much time. It’s a 10 minute walk from the nearest train station but I’d recommend driving. There’s a sign on the road directing you into the car park, but the building’s frontage has nothing but a small door. I’m not sure if this was deliberate or not, but added to the feeling of uncertainty.
We knocked nervously on the door and were welcomed inside but asked to be quiet so they don’t hear you. The room was dimly lit and our greeter buzzed about feverishly while waiting for the rest of our group to arrive. When they did we were told to wait here and someone would speak to us soon as he disappeared. It was all very mysterious and exciting. And then… the lights went on, our game host came out to meet and brief us, and we were back in reality. The theme of the game was something to do with a professor having made some discoveries that somebody wanted to suppress, which tied in with the great intro, but this was so mundane in comparison I struggled to take it in. So full marks for the initial effort but I’m sure they could do something to transfer the mystery directly into the game.
One part of the briefing I do remember was to hunt around the room as clues could be anywhere. Pretty standard advice, of course, but for us proved somewhat of a distraction as we found and solved pretty much everything in the room, apart from what we were supposed to do first. As a result we never really got into the story of the room, which was a shame.
We escaped with 09:57 remaining, with just a couple of nudges from our host. We possibly would have broken the record of 12:00 had we not spent a very annoying couple of minutes waiting for a safe to reset after trying the wrong code too many times, but we only have ourselves to blame for that. There were some original puzzles, including one requiring logical reasoning that you don’t often find, alongside some more familiar fare. The decor of the room was reasonable, but without a clear theme to match it would be pretty hard to get it wrong.
I really, really liked the fully in character start to proceedings. And I don’t have any massive complaints about the room that followed, it was fun enough. But it was all just a bit after the Lord Mayor’s show. This room will appeal to newer players though may be a little bland for the seasoned escaper. But I think Tick Tock Unlock have got more to offer and I’ll be excited to see their next offering.