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50th game milestone: My highlights

I played my first escape room, Contraption, at Escapologic in Nottingham on the 5th November 2016. I got the bug straightaway and wanted to do more and more games. Fast forward 28 months to 17th February 2019, where I reached my 50th game playing the excellent Crux Codicillus at The Escaporium in Halifax.

I've ranked every single one of the games I've played and as I've done more, the task has become more and more difficult comparing very different games with very different strengths and weaknesses. It's also hard because I've enjoyed nearly every game I've played!

So as I've hit my first major milestone, I want to have a look back and talk about some of the rooms I've enjoyed and why. To do that, I've decided to create a number of categories with a "winner" and an "honourable mention". In all honesty, many of these games would quite easily fit in multiple categories, but I've tried to choose the main reason that I rate them so highly.

Best Storyline

Winner: Henry Fortune's House of Illusion - Escape Quest, Macclesfield

Aside from the fantastically realistic reproduction of a theatre they've built, the main reason I love this game is the gripping storyline that develops throughout. It's primarily told through your cleverly orchestrated interactions with the title character - Henry Fortune. It's extremely well done with the story reaching a sinister climax to the end the game in a whirl.

Honourable Mention: The Distillery - Locked In, Edinburgh

The Distillery is a clever whodunnit mystery with lots of humour and a really strong storyline that ends with a dramatic climax.

Most Unique Experience

Winner: Curio - Escapologic, Nottingham

Curio was only the 6th game I played back in early 2017, but it still remains my favourite game. There's a unique element to this game that gives it a completely different dimension. It has a great sense of adventure and exploration that befits Alexander Curio himself.

Honourable Mention: Corruption - Lucardo, Rawtenstall

In this game you play the role of a corrupt police officer. And it has a somewhat different style of play as you work to clear up evidence of your crimes. It has the most surprising start in all the games we've played!

Most Elaborate Theming

Winner: Wrong Turn - Compendium, Bury

Wrong Turn is Compendium's first game and you really wouldn't believe it. As you wander through the door, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you're genuinely in a creepy shack in rural Alabama. The sounds, smells and props create an elaborate and immersive experience.

Honourable Mention: Reactorvate - Escapologic, Leicester.

They've created a game that completely resembles your expectation of what a nuclear power plant would look like, complete with control room and reactor. One of the puzzles involves operating machinery to move nuclear fuel rods! Seriously impressive stuff.

Best Puzzles

Winner: Operation Moonshine - The Escaporium, Halifax

Operation Moonshine is a mainly padlock based game, but it excels in testing you with a wide array of differing puzzles that rely on code breaking, observation, logical rules and a healthy dose of searching to discover the codes you need. Everything is logical, flows perfectly and really suits our style of puzzling.

Honourable Mention: Curious Encounters - Escape Quest, Macclesfield

Curious Encounters is a game packed with a large quantity of varied puzzles that all feel logical, flow extremely well and are satisfying to solve. They also feel well suited to the era the game is set. There are a whole series of really fun puzzles around repairing a time machine!

Most Cinematic Experience

Winner: University of Magic: Dragon's Heart - Lucardo, Rawtenstall

The start of this game immediately immerses you in a magical world. The immersion grows stronger with a series of special effects throughout the game. Although Lucardo have created their own unique wizarding world, any fan of Harry Potter is likely to feel like they're in one of the films they know and love.

Honourable Mention: Heistakes - Escapologic, Nottingham

Heistakes is an elaborately themed bank job with a twisting and turning storyline akin to a Hollywood action film. The game whisks you along for the ride and you can't help but feel like you're part of a major blockbuster.


Scariest, Hardest and the Ones That Got Away

Scariest

Scariest: Edith - Unescapable, Derby


When you walk down a dark corridor in a creepy Victorian dressmaker's workshop and a masked face runs toward you, you feel every ounce of bravery leaving your body and an immediate triggering of the flight reaction. Edith leaves your nerves tattered and your heart racing.

Dishonourable Mention: Butcher - Escapologic, Nottingham

You can't talk about scary games without mentioning the infamous Butcher. You enter his lair with the knowledge he'll return after 40 minutes. Cue 40 minutes of intensely nervous clock watching until the lights go out and he strolls in for his prey...

Hardest

Hardest: Secret Lab - Locked In, Edinburgh

The Secret Lab is a fantastic game jam packed with an array of varied laboratory style puzzles that test all of your mental skills. It's a 4 person minimum game, so playing as a 3 it was a real challenge. We struggled to keep up with the pure volume of puzzles and escaped over the 60 minute mark - however, we were still below the average escape time and it counted as a success!

Also Hard: The 13th Element - Escape Quest. Macclesfield

Similarly to The Secret Lab, The 13th Element is a 4 person minimum game. In this game, you're presented with all the puzzles at the beginning of the game. What makes it difficult is understanding which puzzles you have the information to solve due to the sheer number of them. It's a fun game but it definitely tested our mental strength!

The Ones That Got Away

As much as I'd love to say I have a perfect record, here are the games that beat me and my excuses why!

Loss 1: Bank Job - Escape Reality, Leicester - This still remains the worst game I've played. It had a terrible clue system and we got completely stumped by a nonsensical puzzle.

Loss 2: E.P.I. Centre - Escapologic, Nottingham - I really liked E.P.I Centre, it's a really exciting disaster themed room. However, I played this a 2 when I'd only played 3 games before and it was only my game partners 2nd game. At the beginning of the game you're split up and I struggled to do all the required searching on my own (it's still not my best skill!). This was a really sad one as we got to the exit but didn't have what we needed to unlock it.

Loss 3: Interstellar - Trapped In, Bury - Now I'm going to be honest, this one went down as a loss in the venues eyes - but I don't count it as one. We escaped in 60:15, however, we were let down by some unattentive hosting that at one stage left us waiting for several minutes when we hit the clue request button.

So there are my losses and excuses. I only really feel disappointed at Loss 2 and don't really count Loss 3!

And here's to the next 50....

I hope you enjoyed my highlights post. This year I believe it's going to be a record year of escaping for me. We've already got a 6 game trip to the East Midlands booked in the next few weeks and we're planning a trip further south than we've been before to take on hopefully around 10 rooms. And I'm sure there will be many more than that.

Thanks for reading!

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