What’s in a name? – Curious Encounters @ Escape Quest Macclesfield

Unsurprisingly, this review is also based on a visit from August 2015

Curious Encounters

Clearly I was entertained

Even though this review comes nearly a month since my last one, the events concerned took place straight after. We dusted (or should that be ‘sanded’?) ourselves down from Amazon Escape and braced ourselves for The Curiosity Shoppe Mr. Copplestone’s Curious Encounters, Escape Quest‘s original game:

Have you always wondered what it was like to live in the past? Would you like to see with your own eyes?  Here is your chance.

‘The Professor’ has invented the worlds first time machine. Powered with six rare ‘time echo’ crystals, the machine is able to transport between 3-6 people to any time and place in history.

The first journey available will be to Victorian England in 1873, where you will arrive at Mr Copplestone’s curiosity shoppe.  Solve the puzzles, mysteries and clues in this emporium of wonder to find your way back to the present day.

The travelling vortex created by the ‘time echo’ crystals will stay open for one hour, during which time ‘The Professor’ will stay in contact with you.  Before the 60 minutes is up you must find all six time-echo crystals and re-enter the vortex to return to the present, or face being trapped in the past forever.

Where before I was reminded of the The Crystal Maze, this set-up made me think of the T-Bag shows I enjoyed as a child (showing my age again). Apart from I remember the shows making some sense, whereas ‘you’re going back in time to see if you can find a way back to the present’ was a somewhat perplexing mission.

But I’ll forgive the strangeness of the brief for the originality of the room introduction. I won’t give too much away but the journey from reception to the game room was more fun than most. Even though it doesn’t make a massive difference to the experience overall, I appreciate the effort of trying to make even the most mundane parts interesting.

Inside the room we arrived outside! Outside the Curiosity Shoppe that is, in a Victorian Street/garden. What a great idea! Again, the overall experience doesn’t change that much, you’re still very much inside a room, but originality always plays well with me, so more points here. There were several puzzles to solve before, unsurprisingly this time, you make your way inside the shop(pe).

At this point you become aware of why Escape Quest are keen to promote the Curiosity Shoppe angle. It feels just like being in some kind of quiet, quaint, antique-style(?) shop where you’re not sure exactly what you’ll find. It’s also a great way to bring together and explain an eclectic mix of objects without it being dismissable as ‘cheap tat’. Further into the shop you encounter even more ‘curiosities’ that differentiate this from simply being an escape game with a Victorian theme.

So, it looks beautiful, but what about the puzzles? Perhaps led by the theme and styling of the rooms it’s very different from Amazon Escape. There’s quite a lot of searching to do which caught us out a few times. But there are things to work out as well, which were pretty tough. On a couple of occasions we solved things other than the way it was originally intended because the logic hadn’t really clicked.

We escaped in another near-record 46 minutes. Even though the time was faster this was definitely the tougher room, and we needed several hints to keep us moving.

Overall I think this is another very good room. There was some debate between the team later over which was better (I voted for Amazon Escape) but I don’t think you’d be disappointed by either. Don’t remain curious much longer, get down to Macclesfield and give both rooms a try.

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