Yes, I’m still catching up. This review is from August 2015.
I get to use this intro a lot but it’s all true. This review has been a long time coming, as was our visit to Escape Quest. So long in fact that their third room was nearing completion while we still hadn’t played their first. But that would have to wait (until later that evening) as we were about to play Amazon Escape:
You and your team of intrepid explorers have entered the Amazon rainforest in search of unchartered areas of land. Inadvertently you have crossed into territory occupied by the Keeyhidi tribe, you are immediately captured and thrown into the cage you now find yourselves in.
The Keeyhidi tribe are some of the last remaining cannibals left in the world today. So far they have made no attempt to harm anyone, feeding you all generously at every opportunity. However, the large cooking pot they have just hoisted over the fire is making you feel uneasy to say the least.
They have never left you unattended until now, but luck is on your side today. The tribe have a very special celebration planned when one of their men will marry a girl from the neighbouring Yohfindy tribe, giving you and your team an opportunity to escape.
The ceremony starts with a visit to the Yohfindy village to collect the girl. It’s a 30 minute walk away, so I’d estimate that you have an hour to make your escape.
CAN YOU ESCAPE?
Escape Quest opened in Macclesfield in November 2015. If you’re not familiar with the North West of England (no, we’re nowhere near London) that statement may seem very matter-of-fact to you, but it’s anything but. At that point in time there were only 25 escape game facilities in the UK, most of them in London. The conventional wisdom was that escape games would only work in or near big cities. Macclesfield, with an estimated population of 50,000 and being approximately near nowhere, failed to meet either of those criteria.
Understanding this gives you a little insight into understanding Escape Quest. The owners, Mike and Elaine, don’t appear to have aspirations of building a business empire. They just want to run their own facility and make it as good as they can.
In keeping with those modest aspirations, the outside of Escape Quest isn’t the most picturesque. It isn’t in Macclesfield town centre (assuming it has one). It’s on a fairly quiet street in a building that was once a mill, simply adorned with a massive sign to let you know you’re in the right place. One of the advantages of being out of town is that you can park up right outside the door (but if you’re not driving I can highly recommend both The Wharf and The Silk Trader, a little up or down the road, for a pint of cask ale) and walk in.
Inside you’ll be met by Elaine or Mike; they run nearly all of the games themselves. We sat down and chatted about all things escaping. It was great to meet some fellow enthusiasts and compare stories of the rooms we’d played. It was almost a shame to have to break to play the game. But break we did so on to the game briefing. As an experienced escaper I often phase out at this point but this was more interesting than most, including a decision you have to make that will affect your game. That’s one way to get my attention!
With the decision made we entered the room, and instantly I fell in love. Even though technically we were in the Amazon, this was very much the Aztec zone of The Crystal Maze, right down to the sand on the floor (don’t wear your best shoes). Excepting the seemingly infinite production values of Time Run, this was the best decorated room I’ve played.
The room has an above average number of wordy puzzles, many of them right at the start. I can see this perhaps not being everyone’s cup of tea but is right up my alley. So as the rest of the team went about their usual scavenging I was already opening locks. With this we set a very fast pace but the puzzles didn’t seem easy; each solve was very satisfying. As the room progressed the challenges diversified to a good mix of mental and physical. We’d requested no clues but had to take two in the end; one because we missed something obvious, another because a puzzle wasn’t quite working as we thought it should. But that certainly didn’t spoil our experience.
We escaped with a near-record of 49:59, but apparently with far fewer clues than anyone else. I think that’s the way to play this room for experienced escapers otherwise you could find it a touch on the easy side. But with that in mind I recommend an expedition to both Macclesfield and the Amazon.