When Rach and I go out, we like to do some things a bit out of the ordinary which has at times ended up with us doing some pretty fun and pretty random things as diverse as going to a Darts event where we met Eric Bristow, to sitting at ringside at a WWE wrestling event and getting on camera high-fiving. So when I heard about a new trend in Escape Rooms, I knew we had to give it a go.
For those of you who haven’t heard of escape rooms the basic premise is you get locked in a room and have an hour to escape. You may have to solve puzzles or riddles and find clues in order to find your way out of the room. There are a variety of companies that run them, but from checking on a few of the review sites the top rated company in Manchester seemed to be Breakout Manchester. They currently offer 4 rooms as below, with their descriptions
John Monroe’s Detective Office – Difficulty 3/5 – “John Monroe was a famous detective. Sadly he was murdered in his office and you are being framed as his killer. You are on the run and have gained access to his office, the crime scene, for one hour. Can you save yourself by finding out who killed him, why someone killed him and how they killed him?”
Virus – Difficulty 4/5 – “Can you slow down the outbreak and find the cure? You only have 60 minutes to do so or the fate of mankind may be in jeopardy. Virus was our 2nd room to open in Breakout Manchester. It has some great, unique and ingenious puzzles that makes the room very special indeed.”
Madchester – Difficulty 5/5 – “Manchester is famous for many things: football, relentless rain, musicians and bands such as the Smiths, Stone Roses and Oasis, Coronation Street, incredible night clubs such as the Hacienda, The Warehouse Project and Sankeys and artists such as LS Lowry. What would you do if you were stuck in a time warp of Manchester? You are about to find out. Madchester is our hardest escape room game.”
Sabotage – Difficulty 4/5 – “Can you go deep behind enemy territory and stop a missile strike which endangers the safety of the entire world? There is 60 minutes before launch, you need to break into the control centre and stop the launch or the consequence will be catastrophic.”
Now I love quizzes and puzzles, so with Mum and my step dad visiting from Wales we thought it was a perfect chance to try one of these rooms out. I’d already offended my mum a few months back when she heard me talking about escape rooms to my Aunty and suggesting that her and my Uncle should visit Manchester to give them a try and my Mum asked why I hadn’t asked her to come. So to make it up to her I booked us in for the John Monroe room, and pretty much avoided any reviews or stories about it, as I didn’t want to spoil anything.
From reading reviews of some of the other escape room companies it sounds like they can be hard to find, or you can even turn up and just find a post it with a number to call to let them know you’re there, but Breakout are in their own building in the centre of town just off Albert Square. Clearly signposted and easy to find. We went in and there were a few people milling back and forth who were all really friendly and trying to put us at ease . At this point I was a little nervous, not only about the room but also because I was worried I’d end up arguing with Rach, my mum and step dad over some of the puzzles. I even tweeted as much to them
After a short wait Simon came out and gave us a little back story. We’d been framed as John Monroes killer, but we had managed to evade capture and get to his office. We had an hour till the Police were due to return to the office, and in that time we needed to find evidence of who the real killer is. Theres a TV in the room that counts down from 60 minutes to show how long we had left, and if at any point we get really stuck Simon would flash up a text clue on the screen. He asked for the most responsible person (obviously Rach) and gave her a padlocked box with a combination lock and put us in the room.
This is where the fun began. I wasnt sure what to expect going in, whether it would be logic problems , general knowledge needed, or just plain riddles. As it was it was a mix of things. Early on we missed a major clue and instead focused on a variety of other things till we got stuck because of missing the big clue, at which point Simon had to flash up a clue on the screen which made me feel so daft because I’d practically been looking straight at it. There was also one part where we did everything right, but the tools didn’t quite work right, and Simon had to flash up the answer on the screen so we knew what to do.
As you can imagine there’s plenty of ways you can go off base, there are things around that may or may not relate to what you want to do or what your aim is: my step dad spent a good 4 minutes staring at something that he was convinced was a clue that was nothing to do with anything, and my mum was questioning certain stuff when we got out and was gutted to learn she wasted time on it.
But with 10 minutes left on the clock….
It was great fun. We needed a few clues along the way, but Simons said that we didn’t have many more clues than most people have. It was a cracking experience and we absolutely loved it. I’ve already emailed with my family back in Wales and they want to come up to visit and give it a try, but to be honest we enjoyed it so much that by the time they come up we could have already tried all the other rooms.
- Great Location
- Friendly Staff – both before and after
- Clues for help came at the right times
- Nice mix of puzzles in the rooms
- Choice of 4 rooms – more than any of the escape room companies I’ve looked up
- One of the puzzles didn’t quite work – and we also had trouble getting out of the door at the end (but that could have been us rather than the room!)
Overall it was an awesome day and I hope to give another of their rooms a try soon!