Outside the room
Is it just me or are there not enough escape rooms in London? Well, OK, maybe it is just me, but with only three rooms unplayed in the capital, it was time to start casting my net wider. The obvious choice was North West England, where I grew up and which seems to have a thriving escape game community across the M62 corridor. As luck would have it my parents still live in Warrington, so they’re perfectly placed for sorties into Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington itself, or even, if the pickings run dry, Blackpool or Macclesfield.
To make matters interesting, I’d opted for a pretty minimal team of just me and Mrs Logic, which would definitely make things a bit more challenging as I’d never tried a room with fewer than three people. After asking for advice from QMSM and Escape game addicts (thanks!) I chose to visit two Breakout rooms, with Breakout Liverpool‘s Classified up first, ranked as 4/5 in the difficulty stakes.
Breakout Liverpool is housed right in the heart of the city, surrounded by beautiful old buildings, a nice change from many of the London escape rooms I’ve visited. We headed down from the street into the basement premises and were ushered into the waiting area, a fairly bare, but spacious room, where we waited for our host to appear.
You’re a secret agent in training, and taking your final exam. You’re about to be locked in a room and have an hour to get out. In order to do so, you’ll need to retrieve eight codes that are hidden around the room. Get those and you’ll be able to get out the door and pass the exam.
I love this setup because it basically allows anything to be valid. I’m often left thinking that puzzles are contrived given the backstory, but that just couldn’t happen here – if the room designer thought it was reasonable then so could the examiners.
Inside the room
The first thing that struck me when I went into this room was the sheer number of padlocks. I didn’t count them exactly, but I’m guessing there were between 15 and 20 visible from the moment you arrived. Even with key, letters, 3 digit and 4 digit code padlocks that was a lot of time spent putting codes into the wrong places. I was expecting this to be a bit of a downer, but in the end it didn’t bother me much. On reflection, I suspect that was because there were only two of us, so whenever we got a code we checked it on the available locks immediately and quickly found where it fitted with minimal shouting across the room. If you’re averse to plugging in codes to several different padlocks, then you have been warned!
We got straight down to business, circling the room looking at everything we could. Ten minutes later though, I really felt like we hadn’t made much progress at all. There were so many things to check, and while we’d found some clues, we’d only managed to unlock one or two padlocks. I was starting to get worried, but then, things started clicking and padlocks started tumbling to the ground.
Of course, there were a lot of padlocks to get through, so there were still plenty of places where we struggled. Where that happened, It was almost entirely in the same way that I’m always let down – a desire not to break the room or mess things up. That’s not to say what we had to do was unreasonable – just that I really need to learn that we’re far too careful in escape rooms and remember that we’ll be nowhere near the worst visitors that they usually experience. At least until we start getting warned by our hosts :-).
In terms of sheer numbers of puzzles, this ranks right up there at the top of escape rooms that I’ve visited – we were kept busy throughout. Granted, there were only two of us, but even if there had been a full complement of five, there would have been enough to go around. Of course, while quantity helps, quality is the thing we really care about in escape rooms. On that measure, Breakout did reasonably well. The puzzles were varied with a good chunk of searching (as befits a secret agent room), deduction and several technology based puzzles, which always helps. There were some refreshingly different puzzles in there too – probably four or five puzzles that had genuinely different mechanisms or solutions from other escape rooms I’ve visited. It wasn’t all perfect though – one particular tech based puzzle was a bit ropey, and we wasted time because it was hard to use, without that adding to the game play. All in all though, definitely above average on the puzzle front.
The clues were graded well – with the first we got being obscure and subsequent iterations becoming progressively clearer. The delivery was through the TV screen which, having sat through plenty of painful walkie talkie conversations, was definitely a relief.
I knew going into this that there was a huge risk we’d fail. With a 100% success rate in my previous 19 outings, I was building up for a bigger and bigger fall and really wasn’t looking forward to it. Taking just two players into the room was never going to be easy, even if they offered the odd clue or four.
I’d like to tell you that we battled the odds and emerged victorious, but sadly it wasn’t to be, and for the first time I got my full hour’s entertainment. When the timer hit one minute to go, we were within touching distance of escaping, and I still thought we’d make it, but sadly we just couldn’t get that eighth, and final, code to escape the room.
Classified is a very solid escape room, that I’d recommend to players with some experience, particularly those who aren’t too worried about how immersive their challenges are. While the initial plethora of padlocks might be offputting, if you look past that you’ll find it a good experience, with some interesting challenges that stretch you in a variety of directions. Nothing made me go “Wow”, but virtually all the puzzles had a satisfying solution. I’ll definitely be coming back!
It was a nice day and we didn’t know Liverpool well, so we wandered around for half an hour looking at restaurants. After striking down a host of places, we chanced upon Hanover Street Social, which turned out to be a very good choice indeed – an excellent three course lunch menu in a nice setting with fantastic service. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Don’t take my word for it…
Other reviews for this room – let me know if you know of others:
- Technically for the Manchester version: http://girlgeekupnorth.co.uk/breakout-manchester-review-classified/
Detailed Room Ratings