Excalibur (Breakout Chester)

Game Date: 3rd June 2019
Game Number: 29
Price for Two: £40/£36 Peak/Off Peak*
Website: https://breakoutchester.com/

*Full Disclosure – We were not charged for this game. You can see a full explanation here.

Game Overview
You and your fellow knights have been kidnapped from Camelot and are being held captive in a tower whilst the intruders allege to be you. You’ll need to find a way out of the tower and make your way back to the round table and prove you are the true king by removing the sword from the stone…

Arrival and Introduction
Breakout Chester is found in the centre of town and we made use of the parking at the Market which was very reasonable price considering it was a pretty central location. The reception area is up a flight of stairs and we were warmly greeted by our GM Abbie. We were a little bit early but thankfully there was no one in the room before us so Abbie quickly took us through the normally health and safety brief. Breakout Chester is deceptively big and we went through what seemed like a maze or corridors and then up a long spiral staircase to get to our room. Abbie led us in to the room, mostly to show us the emergency exit buttons (these were painted grey to match the theme) but also to split us up.

Gameplay
This was only the second split start game that I have played and thankfully it fitted well within the theme and so did not seem to have been added just to ramp up the difficulty. You start, as the blurb says, locked away in a tower and the first major obstacle in the game is to escape from your cell(s). There was a good mix of puzzles within this section, leaning more towards physical things that you would actually need to do to escape. I had one small issues with one problem in that it seemed like it was a trial-and-error/skill style puzzle but with a seemingly limited number of goes. I initially dismissed this as it seemed unfair to only provide such a limited set of goes so early in the game and began to look elsewhere for the next steps. Breakout do not give clues before 10mins is up and so we wasted a good chunk of time searching for another puzzle and then as soon as 10mins was up we were told that we were right in the first place and that there was ways around if you ran out of goes. Better signposting as to what we needed to do could have avoided this. Once out of the cell, we accidentally bypassed a puzzle to open the second area.

The second area was dominated by a central object that clearly was going to be the focal point of the next set of puzzles. Excalibur was chained up in the corner and it was well decorated within the theme. This second area was very linear with each puzzle allowing you to progress nearer and nearer to getting the sword from the stone. By naturally focusing on the central item we committed the cardinal sin of not fully exploring this room and so missed one of the puzzles that we needed to complete and needed a couple of hints to get us back on track. We really enjoyed the use of the central object and how one thing can be used in multiple ways to create a number of different puzzles. Most of the puzzles in this room were observation and logic – nothing groundbreaking but certainly enjoyable.

Outcome
We retrieved Excalibur with 12.51 left on the clock. Clues were given by screen in the first room. It was slightly annoying having to move back to the first room every time we knew there was a clue and it also meant that we didn’t know our time remaining from the second room. Abbie took us through the puzzle we managed to by-pass. We had gone about it in a completely different way to what was expected but still inputted the right answer anyway! We had a second game booked for later that afternoon but decided to play straight away so we went back to reception and chatted to Abbie about some of the other games they have whilst our second GM set up our room.

Credit: Breakout Chester

Overall
This was our first trip to Breakout Chester having played a few games at Breakout Manchester which were very padlock heavy and over reliant on clues and puzzles. We were pleasantly surprised by Excalibur- a much more hands on game with good themeing, solid puzzles and well run by our GM. The stark contrast in themeing of the two rooms gave more depth to the game and allowed the focus of the puzzles to evolve as the game did. This was a 4-star room (mainly for the second room I think) but a pair of enthusiasts wont have much trouble. The linear nature of the room means that players in bigger teams may feel superfluous at times. I would stick to just a pair if you can.

Customer Experience – 4 out of 5
Theming – 3.5 out of 5
Gameplay – 3 out of 5
Enjoyment – 3.5 out of 5
Overall – 3.5 out of 5

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