The Emporium of Magic (Breakout Manchester)

Game Date: 22nd November 2019
Game Number: 42
Price for Two: £42/£38 Peak/Off Peak
Website: https://breakoutmanchester.com/

Game Overview
The Emporium of Magic is home to the weird and wonderful – full of rare spells, potions and magical artefacts. There are rumours that the alchemist who owns it has been brewing a potion which will give the user unlimited magical powers and the ability to see the unseen. You have entered The Emporium after hours to seek out the recipe and the ingredients. As you break in, you trigger a spell which traps you inside. With the potion brewed, escape will be within your grasp. Without it, you will be bound to The Emporium for all eternity.

Arrival and Introduction
This was our first visit to Breakout’s newest venue on Church Street and what a step up from their High Street site it was! A much newer, cleaner and welcoming venue with a wide open waiting room, free drinking water and the usual puzzle paraphernalia around on the tables. There was a nice hubbub around the reception area as the company were relaunching their VR games after a venue switch and everyone was welcoming as you would expect from an established company such as Breakout. As is standard for us we were very early for our game so it took a while for our GM to finish setting our room up etc before she introduced herself and gave us the run down. We were thrown a little bit off during the game brief as it seemed different to the one that is online (and above) and although this did not particularly affect our performance in the game, we did discuss it at length afterwards and decide it did detract from the overall game.

Gameplay
The opening room was small and clearly designed as a warm up to to what is to come later in the game – thankfully we progressed very quickly through here but I can definitely see experienced teams overthinking the start and getting frustrated. We have played a few magic themed rooms now and so we had pretty high expectations when it came to themeing and unfortunately we were let down a bit by what we found. It was a large space with just enough magical things to make it not feel empty but more could have certainly been done to increase the immersion. Puzzles well varied within the room with plenty of observation, logic and searching – nothing really stood out as being groundbreaking but there was enough of a mix to make it enjoyable. There is a warning on the website that the puzzles were similar to Breakout Chester’s Dark Magic room and we found this to be true with a couple of puzzles being almost exactly the same. Alas we made the mistake of trying to hard to recreate Dark Magic and not treating this room as distinct. This wasted us time as some puzzles were similar but required a different way of solving. Overall, we felt the puzzles lacked that mythical concept of flow but were for the most part enjoyable to complete.

Outcome
We completed our task with 16.30 left on the clock. Clues came from a screen withing the room and we required a couple of nudges in the right direction and 2 clues when we were completed stumped – out fault for over thinking the game. Christine, who ran our game, was friendly, the nudges and hints came before we got frustrated and stayed and chatted for a good while after the game and gave us some good recommendations of other Breakout games to try based on which types of games we most enjoy.

Credit: Breakout Manchester

Overall
For those that have only played for a games I could see this being very popular but for enthusiasts who may have played many or those that have played Manchester’s other magic offerings then it does fall a little short. There seems to be some confusion between what the story is online, the story given in the brief and what the game itself is set up to deliver which is confusing for teams if you are using the story to help focus your progress through the game. Personally, I think Breakout have tried to bring over Dark Magic and make it different enough to market it as a separate game, I would have kept it the same because I think that Dark Magic is a better game. There is a lot of similarity between the both rooms theme and look and this I think is where the most confusion comes.

If you can only play one magic game then I would certainly go for a certain well known one in a the Northern Quarter, that being said, there is no real reason why you should not play this game. Our GM has probably raised the score up a notch so thanks to Christine for being so friendly. The first room will feel tight with teams bigger than a 3 so make sure you get through into the much larger space quickly. Pairs or three is my recommendation, especially if you have played games before.

Customer Experience: 4 out of 5
Theming: 3.5 out of 5
Gameplay: 2.5 out of 5 (Mostly for the confusion between story lines)
Enjoyment: 3.5 out of 5

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

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