Quite samey, this dark room depended a lot on searching for items. Not enough torches provided. Puzzles quite pedestrian. And did we say dark?
This was the second room Team Judge played on the same day. Dropping from a difficulty rating of 5 to 4, we expected a bit of a step down in difficulty. In practice, it was similarly challenging but in a different way.
Our host Alice was very pleasant and practiced and she explained the room’s procedure in very brief for us. The room’s back story is the slightly hackneyed “you wake up in ____ with no real clue of why you’re here and you’d better get out in an hour”, and that was good for what it was. Alice was also obliging in turning down the background sound for a team member with a hearing issue.
The first thing we needed to contend with was that it was was really very dark indeed. There was a red overhead light. We had a single torch to use and were encouraged to use our phones’ lights for additional illumination. But there was a catch. There was also a UV torch to be found in the room, and it would be difficult to spot the UV clues when using normal light as well.
A lot of the game was spent searching through random “body parts” and other detritus for certain things that we needed. This was quite time-consuming, bordering on boring. There was one clever two-part puzzle that led us to a lock code. There was also a bit of physical exercise in the form of “bodies” which we needed to lug around a bit. And the final puzzle was mathematical/equations, which I always appreciate. But punching in the final code and opening the door felt more like relief than success.
On reflection, this just wasn’t difficult enough and the main thing that used up time was playing scavenger hunt in a dark room, which wasn’t really for me.
The hint system was a bit simple: we were instructed to switch on a light switch if we needed a hint, which would light up a light in reception and trigger the game master to come along and help us. I’m not sure I like this as a concept, as it destroys suspension of disbelief, but it was moot as we didn’t use it. They did not mention how many hints we were allowed.
This was really very easy, excepting all the faffing and searching in the dark for needles in haystacks. We got out with 23 minutes to spare, and did not need any hints. Had we found the required items faster, which would realistically have been a matter of luck, I expect 20-25 minutes would have been achievable.
Accessibility: Fully wheelchair accessible throughout.
Alerts: Very dark throughout. One torch provided, which wasn’t enough. We were encouraged to use our mobile phone lights for additional illumination. Physical requirements: lifting up to 8kg (a hoist is provided). Clues using UV light.
Cost: We paid £80 for a group of 5, which was a special offer as we booked 4 rooms (2 in each of 2 slots) in one go.
Capacity: each of the 5 differently-themed rooms takes between 2 and 6 players.
Getting there: Short walk from Manchester Victoria (National Rail and Metrolink tram).
Photo: On a branded background. Top teams have their photos printed and stuck on a league table in the bar. Players also hold small boards with relevant messages depending on whether they won (“winner”, “#amazing” and so on) or lost (“fail”, “so close”).
The venue has an onsite fully licensed bar and players are welcome to stay for drinks afterwards (or indeed arrive early). Card payments are accepted but they do not hold a cash float so need exact change if paying cash.