Blackbeard’s Treasure (Escape Hunt Manchester)

Game Date: 2nd August 2019
Game Number: 31
Price for Two: £50
Website: https://escapehunt.com/uk/manchester/

Game Overview
Step onto a pirate galleon in the middle of a battle for control of the High Seas. Your captain, the terrifying Blackbeard, has just been killed and his ship is shot to pieces and sinking fast. With no chance of victory, you and your scurvy shipmates decide to jump ship – after helping yourself to the contents of Blackbeard’s legendary treasure chest. You’ve broken into his cabin to grab all you can, but now the door has jammed shut and you’ve just 60 minutes to escape; any longer and you’ll drown – if the sharks don’t get you first.

Arrival and Introduction
Once again we parked in the pay and display car par on Dutton Street which is about 10-15mins walk from Escape Hunt but is only £4.00 all day and the cheapest that we have found in the locality. We were welcomed by our previous GM from our last visit who remembered us – always a good sign! Being a little early we were showed to some seats and largely left to our own devices whilst our GM made sure the room was ready. Cat took us through the standard briefing and we signed the obligatory waivers (its our fifth time signing them and they don’t get any more exciting!). Another team were starting at the same time from the room next door to ours so we waited until they had gone in before moving to our room. We thought this a little strange to have two rooms starting at the same time from next to each other. Whilst this was not a major issue, it is the sort of thing that separate good companies from great companies.

Gameplay
Themeing was solid in the opening room, with a couple of obvious puzzles catching our eye and decoration that fitted mostly within the pirate theme. Our experience with previous Escape Hunt games taught us that searching was key at the beginning but also that there was little in the way of red herrings with the decoration. This turned out to be true with almost everything that looked like it could be a clue or puzzle being used at some point during the game. For once we actually found everything that there was to find during our initial searching and began with the obvious task of making our way into the next room. Our first stumbling block came when we were faced with a puzzle with an ambiguous answer. We knew exactly what was the puzzle was asking for but there was a number of different possible answers. After a certain amount of trail and error we asked for a clue which led us to the right answer. We thought we had already entered this before which further confused us.

In the second room we were faced with one of the toughest puzzles we had ever faced. An aural puzzle that required a huge amount of skill to complete and to be honest we only completed because Becki, my partner, had a keen musical ear. It was made more frustrating as the linear nature of the room meant I was largely superfluous during the 10 or so minutes it took to complete the puzzle. Another puzzle in this room had us stumped for longer than it needed and we took a further two clues to finally work it out. It was a clever idea but it needed a bit of signposting to stop it feeling like luck. I suspect we had a reset error in this room but this only seemed to bypass one puzzle.

We eventually managed to get ourselves into the the treasure room and open the chest but not before we were faced with another puzzle that could have really benefited from more signposting. We just could not make the leap, logically, from the information that we were given to what the answer was. Another thing that we had learnt from playing the previous Escape Hunt games is that there is always an action within the room to officially “end” the game and this was no exception. Whilst there did not seem to be any link to the story line, I like the fact that there isn’t an out of place key pad by the door.

Outcome
We retrieved the treasure with just over 16 minutes left on the clock. We asked for a number of clues during the game when we were either stuck or needed pointing in the right direction. In this room you ask for clues by ringing a ships bell. This is one of the first games where we have asked for clues rather than being given them and I definitely prefer having them delivered before we start getting frustrated.

Overall
This was by far our least favourite of the Escape Hunt rooms that we had tried and we came out of it feeling somewhat unimpressed. The room, I believe, is one of Escape Hunt’s oldest ones and you can certainly tell this from the quality of puzzles and flow of the game. It was one of those games where we felt like we didnt gel with the room. On another day we may have entered the right answer first try but this game seemed to be the opposite – better signposting would have certainly helped with this and would have avoided the feeling of trial and error that we felt on a number of puzzles. It is linear at times so avoid going for too many people. Two is fine for those who have played a couple of games. My tip – don’t be afraid to ask for clues if you are getting frustrated as it is an easy room to get frustrated with.

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

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