clueQuest – Plan52

Summary
Good for first-timers, groups with limited experience, or groups who don’t know one another. Good mix of technology, ingenuity, and codes, although a few too many padlocks.

Review
Before time began, before I knew about this world of escaping, and before our three teams had been conceived, one weekend I had some friends over and thought one of these games might be fun. That was how it came to be that early one Easter Saturday morning, my wife and I were joined by two friends from Ireland to start our escape game careers.

Without much to go on, we chose clueQuest as our preferred venue and plan52 (the red box one) as our game, and despite leaving the house a bit late and planned engineering works on the train, we arrived in good time.

Our host was far chirpier than us and eased us into the game, with a little padlock tutorial to make sure we knew what we were doing with them. With the (pretty honed and impressive) story out of the way, we were in play.

The first few steps were pretty obvious and we thought we were making good progress, but instead we slowed down. We missed a couple of pretty obvious items and needed two or three hints just to get out of the first segment.

Things improved little after that, and while we were good at deconstructing the room (and left a pretty ghastly mess), we could not transform that into progress. There was one real “wow” in this room where it was clear a whole lot of effort had gone into constructing and maintaining a puzzle, but even there we struggled and picked up two codes in the wrong order. Hints and guidance were plentiful when we had solved a puzzle but made a giant hash of entering or using the resulting code, as well as when we were just heading down a blind alley. Technology also played a part. We needed several more hints and there was also one lock that we could not seem to enter the code correctly on, needing help over the radio to sort it.

Outcome
Despite all the bumbling, we had made it somehow to the final puzzle with half of the exit code solved when time ran out. Our host came up and offered us five extra minutes and a pointer on how to finish, and we were at least able to leave by the door of winners, despite not deserving it.

Overall, it was a good first escape experience. The game was polished and of a high standard and not too difficult, and the host clearly wanted us to succeed. The room was a little high on padlocks, but not terribly so, and the backstory was sensible enough.

I put the failure down to our general lack of experience and, to some extent, to apathy and not thinking things through.

In numbers:
Overall: 7/10
Difficulty: 5/10
Theming: 8/10
Host: 7/10
Wow: 5/10

Other details
Accessibility: several steps to and from the entrance of the room. We understand that two other copies of this room, in the basement, are accessible via a stair lift.

Alerts: None.

Capacity: Bookings of 3-5 players are accepted. They will also accept 2 players but charge for 3, and will accept a sixth player by manually paying an extra £20 or so. A team of 2 would have major difficulties with one of the puzzles. A team of 6 would probably still be effective.

Cost: we paid £89 for a team of 4.

Photo: One prop – printed with one copy in the guest book to sign, one in each of the fridge magnets (supplementary purchase) and the remainder to make a multiple of four given as well. Emailed link to photo received automatically a couple of days later.

Website: http://www.cluequest.co.uk

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