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Review: The Crystal Maze, Manchester

Room Story - from The Crystal Maze

Do you have what it takes to crack The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience? It’s the oh-so-popular 90s TV show brought to genuinely immersive, 3D life. More importantly, it’s a brilliant excuse to run around wildly, shout yourselves hoarse, solve all sorts of problems and challenges and, best of all, celebrate in some wacky satin bomber jackets. All this, with your friends – who could ask for anything more?

Key Stats

Room NameThe Crystal Maze
VenueThe Crystal Maze
LocationManchester, UK
Escape TimeN/A
Team Size7
My Recommended Team Size6 - 8


Okay, so the Crystal Maze isn’t technically an escape room. But, it’s heavily centred on puzzling things, solving things and working together as a team – so there’s enough parallels between the two to justify a review here. I also think that anybody who loves escape rooms, is also likely to love the Crystal Maze.

This could really be one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever written. If you’ve ever seen the TV show and thought I’d love to do that, then in short, this experience is a perfect recreation of the TV show and you should go and play it straightaway. If you’ve never seen the TV show, head over to the Crystal Maze channel on YouTube for full episodes, clips, etc. and you’ll get the idea pretty quickly.

How does it work in the Manchester edition? You spend approx. 1 hour in the maze in teams of up to 8 players (if you have less than 8, others may be added into your game). You play a series of Physical, Mental, Skill or Mystery games across 4 themed zones: Medieval, Industrial, Aztec and Future, led around the maze by a zany host. The aim of each game is to win a crystal, which buys you time in The Crystal Dome at the end of your experience. In the Crystal Dome you gather shiny bits of paper and these get added up to give you your final score.

I played the maze in a team of 7 with some colleagues from work. The experience starts with an introduction to one of your two maze hosts, whose primary job is to follow you around cleaning up after you. You’re given the opportunity to take pictures in the famous Crystal Maze jackets, before heading to a team talk where you discuss tactics, nominate captain (that was me) and sub-captain. Our host at this stage was Christian who did a great job of introducing us to the game.

You then move along to the next introductory area to meet your zany game host. It starts to feel a bit TV gameshow with a few questions where they get to know the team. Our host was Chester. He was great throughout the game, speeding us along and supporting us. He had a really humorous, quick-witted style that added a real dimension of comedy to our game.

Once fully briefed we made our way into the maze. As team captain, it was my job to choose the type of game we were going to play (Physical, Mental, Skill or Mystery) and which of the team was going to play it. One of the downsides is that you don’t actually get to see the available games before you make your decision – I’m sure there’s some games we would have preferred to play over others.

Throughout our time in the maze, there was a real mix of games we played. On the whole, the games were an excellent standard with some really unique experiences I haven’t experienced before. Some were less interesting than others to me, but I guess different things will appeal to different people. There are a lot of games we didn’t get to play, so there’s definitely an incentive to return and play again. As a team, we got to partake in 2 games each (2 members did 3 games).

The 2 games I took on were both physical challenges. One required lots of speed and the other required good balance. Both were really fun and enjoyable. With the pressure of a ticking clock, you find yourself slipping into a state of complete focus! When I wasn’t playing a game, I joined my teammates in shouting useless and repetitive instructions to “help” our colleague currently playing the game. It really is a great team exercise where everybody gets to take part, but you should go in with the expectation that you won’t get much individual game time.

We successfully completed 11/16 games, gaining ourselves 11 crystals to give us a good amount of time in the Crystal Dome. Apparently 5 crystals is the average yield, so we were very pleased with ourselves!

Unlike the TV series, there’s only a single type of shiny paper to gather in this version of the Crystal Dome (it makes it easier for them to weigh!). With a decent amount of seconds on the clock, we flailed around the dome trying to gather as many shiny bits as we could. Believe me, it is a lot harder than it looks. Trying to grab hold of any sizable quantity with the fans whirring is so difficult! We exited the Dome with a score of 132. We were told that 100 is average and 150 is good for teams first time in the maze. Sadly, there are no prizes in this game!

The Crystal Maze is a fantastic experience. When I looked at the price beforehand compared to an escape room, I didn’t think it seemed great value. However, after playing, I think it's actually great value for money when you consider the quality of the experience and the level of staffing and logistics required to carry it off. The Maze is fantastically themed and faithfully recreates the original TV show, complete with a zany host to rush you around. For me, the most satisfying moments in the game were running between the different zones with the theme music following you around in full force! It’s a very different experience to an escape room, but I wholeheartedly recommend it.


Overall A fantastic experience that perfectly clones the TV show. It really does feel like you’re in an episode of The Crystal Maze. 
Difficulty The difficulty really did vary from task to task, but given the tight time limits on each one there wasn’t anything that you could consider really straightforward! 
Fun Running from zone to zone, cheering on your team mates and running around like a headless chicken in your own task – it's such a fun experience. 
Puzzles There were different themes you could choose from – Physical, Mental, Skill or Mystery. We played through such a variety it’s impossible to summarise in a few lines. On a whole, they were excellent. 
Immersion Unlike an escape room, it’s not trying to immerse you in another time and place. It’s instead trying to immerse you in the feeling of being on the TV show. It does that brilliantly. 
Surprises You don’t know what tasks you’re going to get, so everything is a surprise throughout the game.