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Review: Ultimate Challenge: Boot Camp - Crackit, Bolton

Room Story - from Crackit Bolton

The world needs you! People are relying on your team to save them!

Classified weapons document has been stolen from your military facility. In the wrong hands, it can bring about doomsday. Fortunately, your agency has discovered the secret hideout of the thieves.

You and your team members need to break into the facility and retrieve the information before it is too late. The facility is secured, but there are vulnerabilities. You and your team need to figure those vulnerabilities out and find clues to determine where the document is hidden.

The thieves are smart; they’ve locked the document in a vault. You and your team will need to crack open the vault to retrieve the document. That is the Crunch -- the final challenge! Do you have what it takes to beat the Boot Camp?

Successfully crack five challenges and the world will be a safe place once again.. Can you and your team shoulder this great responsibility and save mankind.



Key Stats

Room NameUltimate Challenge: Boot Camp
VenueCrackit
LocationBolton, UK
Date27/10/2018
Escape TimeN/A
Team Size3
My Recommended Team Size2 - 6

Review

I had some friends coming up for a weekend and having seen a good review for Crackit Bolton on The Logic Escapes Me, I thought it would be a really fun experience to try. Crackit Bolton isn’t an escape room, but it falls in a similar category as the core aim is puzzle solving. It’s more akin to The Crystal Maze than a traditional escape room - they call it the “Ultimate Challenge”. They have three different experiences available, each one with a different theme. Purely based on the times of day available, we chose to play Boot Camp. Although it’s not an escape room, I’ve still used my usual scoring system because... well, because it’s my usual scoring system.

The aim of the game is to score as many points as possible. There are 12 different puzzles that you can choose to play in any order. Completing puzzles wins points. If you complete 5 puzzles, you get the chance to earn more points in the final bonus round - “The Crunch”.

Crackit is based above a car garage on a main road into Bolton town centre. The entrance is tucked away in the corner of the car park. Figuring out the lift was our first challenge. It’s an enclosed rising platform and not like any lift I’ve used before. You had to hold down the button to keep it moving. Nothing like an early puzzle to get your brain working.

When you reach the 1st floor, there’s a large waiting area with a long corridor with three sets of themed double doors for each of the Ultimate Challenges. It really is a large venue. After chatting to the host, obtaining refreshments and receiving our briefing, we headed through the double doors. In front of you is a long corridor with 6 door and window cut outs on each side. You get a minute to roam up and down and select the puzzles you want to play. Once the time’s up, you get 60 minutes to play the puzzles in whatever order you choose.

it's worth noting that the host is with you throughout the game – they introduce the puzzles, operate them in some cases and give you hints. Our host was great fun and didn’t take the games too seriously. And to our amusement, she also wasn’t afraid to make it very clear when we’d done something stupid. We had a good laugh, but I imagine having a host with you throughout the game wouldn’t suit some teams.

We really loved the variety of puzzles on offer: memory, skill based, observational, word and number. It's not intended to be an immersive experience, but the puzzles all looked good with appropriate decoration and content to fit the Boot Camp theme. It was great that you got the opportunity to choose what you wanted to play. We primarily chose physical and skill-based puzzles as these felt the most unique to the venue.

There were a couple of skill-based puzzles I really enjoyed – one because it was really fun and one because it was amusing to watch my friends attempt to work together and do their best impression of a bickering and bitterly unhappy married couple. After a certain threshold of insults had been reached, I stepped in to relieve the tension and imminent threat of physical violence.

One thing I was disappointed in was that the three electrical puzzles we played/attempted to play all had issues. One felt too delicate and parts kept falling off, one was partially working and one wouldn’t work at all. They all had the potential to be really great puzzles, but the build quality let them down. The non-electronic puzzles always felt very robust and well put together though.

In the 60 minutes, we managed to complete 7 out of the 12 puzzles. As we passed the 5 game threshold, we got the chance to earn extra points in The Crunch at the end of the game. It's a really silly, energetic and fun ending to the game that brought out our inner children. It’s a simple concept, but it’s really good fun. I won’t say any more as it’s a nice surprise. We finished the game with 15,000 points.

My only other criticism of the game was the points system. As the sole aim of the game is earning points, I’d expect a really strong points system with leaderboards, a mechanism that shows you accruing points throughout the game and clear guidelines on how you earn points. Instead, the points weren’t really explained much up front and were added up manually by the host at the end of the game. I felt this was a real missed opportunity and would have added a more competitive element to the gameplay.

We really enjoyed our game at Crackit. It was a great team activity and involved lots more working together than a traditional escape room. We loved the concept of choosing your own puzzles and thought that there were some really good fun ones to choose from. There were a few technical issues, but these didn’t overly spoil our game. All in all, I’d recommend Crackit, especially for larger teams looking for something fun but not overly complex.

Ratings


Overall This was a different experience to a standard escape room that we all found really fun. It’s really nicely put together and we loved that you got to choose your puzzles. There were a few technical glitches and I think the scoring system could be improved. 
Difficulty The key aim is to complete 5 out of 12 puzzles which is completely achievable. However, some of the puzzles are more difficult than others. 
Fun It was a really fun experience and great value for money. Working through many different puzzles created some amusing moments and exposed the different deficiencies in our team! 
Puzzles There were an impressive variety of puzzles of many different styles available. There were 12 puzzles in total that you were free to pick from. Having the ability to pick puzzles that appeal to you was really great. 
Immersion This isn’t intended to be an immersive experience. You’re escorted and instructed by a host throughout the game so you don’t get that sense of escapism. However, all the puzzles we played were styled around the “Boot Camp” game we chose with a military theme throughout. 
Surprises The whole experience felt like a surprise to us as we didn’t know what to expect. The Crunch at the end of the game was a really fun surprise... 

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