31. May, 2016

Dungeon of Doom - Clue HQ Warrington

We had just successfully completed Clue HQ’s Cluetankhamun room and we absolutely loved it! After refuelling in the nearest pub, we came back to play Dungeon of Doom, Clue HQ’s second hardest room:

Your friend has been wrongly accused of murder, and sentenced to death. They are locked in the confines of a medieval dungeon and it’s up to you to break in and save them. Can you free your friend and escape the dungeon together before the guard patrols the area again. You’ve got 60 minutes or you’ll all be sentenced to the same fate.

I was really looking forward to this room the most out of all six rooms on offer by the company due to the great word of mouth and reviews from fellow bloggers and I really could not contain my excitement. This room begins differently as one of our team had to be chosen to be locked up in a cell for the game. David was volunteered and ushered into a different entrance of the room while we excitedly waited for our game to begin.

Being a dungeon, the room was exactly what I imagined to be; old fashioned with candles and antique props. Though at times I did snap out of the era with a couple of more modern props (filing cabinet in a medieval dungeon, really?!) the room on the whole did its job and impressed me. At the start, our prisoner was nowhere to be seen (but in earshot) so we got to work the room. There are a nice combination of slightly physical, audio and logic puzzles to keep even the most experienced team on their toes. Clue HQ love their locks but this was a new extreme to me! There were so many locks to crack, especially when we finally got into the second room where David was locked up. The only word I could use to describe it was stressful. Everyone was frantic; we were searching and finding more and more locks and puzzles to crack to the point where no one knew what everyone else was doing. This has happened in a few complex rooms we have played and usually we work through them and start to enjoy the room as we combat more and more puzzles.

However, this room is by far the most stressful room we have been in and the biggest reason for this was our game host. It wasn’t until this room that I truly realised how effective a game host can be at either enhancing your game or inhibiting it. I really hate to say it was the latter for this room for a couple of reasons. Firstly the decision of which clues to give us was incredibly sporadic and at most times irrelevant. We would all be working on a puzzle and our host would start sending messages about a completely different puzzle. I normally understand this when a game is linear but for this game the puzzles opened one of multiple locks on a cabinet so the order really was not essential. These messages occurred too often in the game and this only made us more stressed out and anxious.

Secondly, not only were we stressed but our prisoner David was also frustrated. He was in his cell for 40 minutes in which he had next to nothing to do. I have complained before about locking people up in rooms never being enjoyable for that particular player but this took it to another extreme. We finally got him out thanks to the help of our game host but then realised it only took three clues to get him out, all three being available within the first five minutes of the game. So why did our game host leave it 40 minutes to help us let him out?! It seemed like a weird choice and for obvious reasons dissatisfied our team.

Finally, we finished the room with 15 minutes to spare. Not because we are a great team but we were simply helped too much in the game. Anytime we got anything wrong we were instantly given the right answer to the point where we just weren’t even bothering to try for ourselves anymore. I partially understand from a game host’s point of view if time was running out you want a group to experience as much of the room as possible by giving obvious nudges. But we had so much time leftover it didn’t make sense why we were being helped so much. Leaving us to it would have made the game significantly better.

I really have to point out that this was just one bad experience and that every other HQ game host (five out of six) has been wihtout a doubt outstanding at their hosting. I think this host was new to it and just learning the ropes. It was such a disappointment for us and it is such a shame because the room itself was brilliant! Great variety of puzzles, some I had not seen before and loved them. Escape room bloggers love this room and I completely agree with them as the room has such great positives (Clue HQ represent it so it never going to be an awful room!). I’m just sad that a bad experience ruined such a great room and could have potentially gone into my top ten rankings. Normally with such a bad review I would say avoid this room at all costs but with this room I’m not going to at all. Try it for yourselves because you definitely will enjoy it if you luck out with a better host!   

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