Outside the room
I couldn’t believe my luck when I asked Mrs Logic how she’d like to spend a spare day and she suggested another escape room. Four in five days might seem excessive, but I’m on holiday, so I offer no excuses. Of course, trying to book an escape room on the day limits your choices, as does going in with just two people, and having booked two Breakout rooms over the weekend, I was keen to avoid a third if at all possible (especially since the available ones seemed to be of maximum difficulty!).
Enter Code to Exit, a relatively recent addition the North West escape room scene. I heard about the site earlier this month through the exitgames blog, but I had little more information on it other than a couple of TripAdvisor ratings (and I never really trust TripAdvisor reviews until they’re well into double figures, especially when the reviewers have only posted one review).
I jumped on to their website and hunted round – more than ten photos of teams and a picture of some shop signage, plus a well made website, gave me the confidence that they’d put some effort into the site, and it was worth gambling my money on the experience. The room was available for a pre-lunch slot – perfect – but on entering my credit card details, I found the system was down and refusing all bookings. No answer the first time on the phone number, but on the second try I got hold of the owner and booked us in. Game on!
The venue is situated on a main road, right next to a retail park, so it’s easy access, plenty of parking and hopefully the garish orange sign will mean plenty of passing motorists will be intrigued enough to go along. Certainly, as you drive past you’re unlikely to miss it…
Once inside, it was a fairly cramped affair with barely enough room for a single team to wait. There are plans to open up two more rooms in the future (one of which I was told would be ready in October), so I’m not sure how that’s going to work if they have fifteen people ready to go, but at the very least I think it means you don’t want to turn up early if at all possible.
The downside of that cramped waiting area is that the briefing takes place in the room itself. Personally I like the timer to start the moment you walk through the door, so that you’ve no time to get your bearings before you start searching.
Blueprint is set in the past inside Edward Teller‘s office. In case you didn’t know and haven’t clicked on the link, Edward Teller was a Hungarian nuclear physicist who emigrated to the States (via various other countries) prior to the Second World War, during which he helped to design the Hydrogen bomb.
I was a little confused during the briefing over exactly what the plot was, but having reread the site, I think I’ve now got it clear. You have access to a time portal that can takes you back to Teller’s office, just before he shares his design for the H-bomb. Your quest is to discover the blueprints, then find the missing parts of the time portal and escape with the blueprint.
To be honest, I think the plot is over complicated. I’d have liked them just to set the escape room in the 1940s. Maybe for some people they’d still need some justification as to why people from the 2010s are suddenly in the past, but for me, I’m happy to just immerse myself in that role. It also feels like the “time portal” bit might be an excuse to make the room an escape room (because the “time portal” is the door out of the room). Again, while I enjoy the final challenge of unlocking the exit door, I don’t think that’s strictly necessary – Lady Chastity’s Reserve did very well without every locking you in.
Inside the room
First impressions count, and this room ties with Escape Studio for the single most impressive prop I’ve seen in a room, so its first impression was great. If you have a spare minute during your escape, perhaps because you’re stuck and want some inspiration, I recommend having a go yourself. Sorry – that’s a bit of a tease, but it should be obvious to what I’m referring when you enter the room.
Ignoring that prop, the room is still beautifully decorated with period furniture (although whether it’s the correct period, I have no idea!) and really gave the impression of an old fashioned office. Admittedly not a scientist’s office, because that would probably have been covered in scattered pieces of paper, but an office nonetheless.
We set to work around the room searching through the plentiful props, opening the cupboards and drawers, discovering the lock types and quickly started producing keys, codes, clues and tools. It won’t spoil the experience to tell you that there’s a writing desk in the room, and it quickly became the collection point for everything we thought might be relevant. Unfortunately it started to look a bit too much like a proper scientist’s desk, so for the first time during an escape room, I actually had to start tidying the room. I guess that brings home that this room isn’t a huge space, so there isn’t the usual dead space to use for collecting used clues or useful pieces of information.
As a “connoisseur” of escape games, I found the content of this room particularly satisfying. Firstly, in sheer numbers, there were plenty of puzzles to solve, which wasn’t as important for us with just two players, but is critical if you’re going to have five. The puzzles themselves were of a wide variety of types, with a nice balance between searching, thinking through problems and physically interacting with the room. The puzzles didn’t have to be solved sequentially, so when we got stuck on one problem, we could easily move on to another and come back to the first later. That meant we got through puzzles without as much frustration, but also meant we had to retain a lot of knowledge in our brain (which almost cost us when we totally forgot about one of the clues we’d found).
The puzzles involved a variety of mechanics, which while the root components were all familiar, were put together in novel ways and well integrated with the room, which really helped to maintain the illusion of being in the 1940s. One area where it was slightly let down was two uses of modern equipment . It only grated with me after the fact, but for others I can see it denting the illusion somewhat.
We escaped with around ten minutes remaining. The owner had said at the beginning that he typically doesn’t give any clues till half way, and we were still working the room well past that point (which probably tells you how much stuff there was to search). We did eventually succumb and ask for three hints, but they were all our own fault rather than the room’s (one poor search, one assumption about how a puzzle would work and another incorrect assumption compounded by forgetting one of the items we’d discovered).
Blueprint is a great escape room for both beginner and experienced players. I’d recommend for 3-5 players if you’re a novice (although only five if you don’t mind being a bit cosy). For more experienced players, I’d say 2-4 was right, with three probably being optimal.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable room. I look forward to going back and playing more of their rooms in the future.
After escaping we headed over to Coco’s Italian Cafe and Restaurant for a celebratory calzone. It’s an excellent restaurant tucked in just off Altrincham’s high street. If you like a healthy dose of garlic then I recommend the tomato pizza bread and the calzone was one of the fullest I’ve ever been served. Don’t go before you play though, or your faculties might be impaired…
Detailed Room Ratings