Jail Break (Clue Cracker – Tunbridge Wells)

Game Date: 26th September 2019
Game Number: 37
Price for Two: £50
Website: https://www.cluecrackergames.co.uk

Game Overview
We are throwing you in jail. You have committed a heinous crime and your punishment is life without parole. You will be imprisoned at Standfast Jail, Tunbridge Wells. 30 years ago, ex-prisoner Joseph Wendle attempted to escape Standfast Jail. Over the five years he was held there, he created an elaborate escape plan which, on July 23rd 1989, he executed right up until the final stage when he was caught red handed attempting to steal the Warden’s keys. Unfortunately, prisoner Wendle was transferred to a high security unit in Dover, but fortunately for you he has left a trail of intricate clues and codes to help lead you to freedom.

Arrival and Introduction
Clue Cracker can be found in a somewhat unusual location – in the rear garden of a bar and restaurant in Tunbridge Wells. There is a useful little car park just opposite the venue on John Street that was very reasonably priced at 40p for two hours. As the bar was not open when we arrived, Becky met us at the door at took us through to the actual game. It was a pity that we could not stay after our game and have a drink or some food as it looked very tasty – a great venue for a post break out drink. The area set aside for the game is on the small side – but with it currently being only one team at a time, thats no issue and there is plenty of space in the bar to sit if you arrive a little early. Becky gave us an the standard safety brief outside of the room before we were offered some costumes to help with the immersion once in the game – we off course said yes! Once inside the room, we were instructed to watch the game brief on a screen and our time would begin when in finishes. Usually, I am not a fan of briefings being given from within a room, but in this case it actually works within the theme and wider story.

Gameplay
The room we began in was superbly well themed with all the paraphernalia you would expect from a jail cell and enough grime and dirt on the walls to make you feel glad for the overalls that we were wearing! Having listened to our briefing from Joe Wendle, we began working through the puzzles. Games in this room felt very much more at home at the traditional end of spectrum but when they are done as well as they are here is certainly not a bad thing. There was plenty of searching and observation to begin with and we uncovered plenty of information that we would use more later in the game – thankfully there was enough subtle signposting present that we could be fairly confident when we were on the right track with puzzles and information and not getting ahead ourselves.

Jail Break really came into its own as you move from the cell through the rest of the game with each area having its own distinct feel and puzzles that fitted incredibly well within the area. Throughout the game, the flow of puzzles was outstanding with clear objectives in each area and a great sense of discovery as you made your way through the game, with most types of puzzles ticked off at some point – observation, logical, physical, sound and more. One multi-level puzzle in that later parts of the game was a really clever way of elevating what was at its heart just a code lock but was a real joy to complete. I wont go into any more detail about the game itself because there is no need to talk about the gameplay or themeing in any real detail because it was just so well done and the more I write the less you would get to experience yourself.

As you would possibly expect from a jail break game, there is some crawling involved so I would avoid wearing your finest gear!

Outcome
We really felt like we had clicked with this game and in the end we managed to secure our freedom with 18:23 left on the clock. At the time of playing that put us second on the leaderboard (if there was an official one that is) and the fastest pair to ever play the game. During the game we needed three hints which we all delivered via Joe Wendle on the screen. It was great to see that the Clue Cracker team had even made the clue system as immersive as possible. After the game, Becky showed us a bit more behind the scenes of the game and we were impressed with the level of detail and effort that had gone into every step of the process. It is clear that guys at Clue Cracker are brimming with passion for escape rooms.

Credit: Clue Cracker

Overall
A true joy of a game to play and run by real enthusiasts. We truly lost ourselves in the game for the time that we were locked away and began to really get invested in our escape plan. The variety and strength of the puzzles was a real highlight for us with little celebratory moments littered throughout the game as we completed each puzzle. We felt that everything in the room just clicked together which is very impressive from a team opening just their first permanent game and we will certainly be back as soon as the team can build another game. The south of England is already rife with top quality escape rooms and Jail Break absolutely deserves a place on this list. There is a lot to get done in this room so only go in a pair if you are confident in your own skills! Some areas don’t lend themselves to larger teams so I wouldn’t go any larger than 4. I really cannot recommend this room any higher.

Customer Experience: 5 out of 5
Theming: 5 out of 5
Gameplay: 5 out of 5
Enjoyment: 5 out of 5

Overall: 5 out of 5

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