Outside the room
I’d heard good things about ClueFinders from a few different people, so I was keen to try it out. With a minimum booking of three players, it had taken me a while to get along, but I finally managed to round up a team and head on over. The venue is located a little outside the city centre which, as a bonus, meant free parking right outside the game (although it’s also very walkable from the centre if that’s where you’re coming from). We were greeted by Michael, an incredibly bubbly and enthusiastic game host who led us up to a nice waiting area for the briefing. This was a masterclass in how to look after a team – he made the introduction fun and made sure that our first-time player was at ease and that we were all set to enter the game.
Hey Ace! It’s the 1940’s and Top British Spy, Remy Blumenfield has disappeared under suspicious circumstances, and that’s bad news. The Cops are a pack of Whistl’n Dixie’s & the trails gone cold. Now some high class dame’s offering you serious megabucks to find him before some wise guys do – or he’s done for. Can you wrack your brains and track him down in time?!
Inside the room
We hadn’t even set foot inside the room when we get our first clue. I have a soft spot for games that do something before you enter the room – Escape Plan’s journal being one of my favourites. Before entering the room, ClueFinders give you a briefcase and tell you that your first task will be to unlock the case. To be honest, there was just something about carrying the suitcase into the room, but it was also a great way of showing new players how the game works. Here’s a lock, find a code for it.
And that really is how a lot of this game works; search the room to find a “hidden” number or a key and then match it to the right padlock, but there are certainly some mental puzzles to be solved along the way and even one physical one which never ceases to be fun even if I’ve seen it a few times now. That “flow” gave the game a bit of a frantic feel, where we were constantly moving forward, and helped to prevent us ever feeling too frustrated. On one occasion it did lead to the slightly disappointing situation where all one key did was unlock another box containing a key, but I was cheered up by singing Really Fun‘s “key for a key” ditty in my head (to the tune of Blankety Blank). Maybe I’m being a diva, but I feel a bit cheated when I just convert one key to another.
In terms of decor, I have to say that I was a little disappointed as I walked through the door. It wasn’t that it was badly done, in fact it was nicely put together. It’s just that I’d heard good things about the game and this was “just another detective office”. As the game progressed, though, I was impressed by the set, which became delightfully zany – it will definitely be one that sticks in my mind. For a well furnished game, I was pleased that we didn’t have any problems with red herrings. It seemed reasonably obvious what was pure decoration and what was clue-related.
Throughout the game, Michael was watching over us, giving us hints via walkie-talkie that were just enough of a push without spelling things out. It was clear he was watching us fairly carefully because, when we did get clues, he knew exactly what help we needed. I have to admit that we were utterly confused by one of his clues, though, which made us feel like we’d missed a piece of information. It turned out that in our initial search of the room we’d dropped a key which had managed to land exactly under where we’d left our bags. He’d seen us search the relevant item and so assumed we’d found the key and opened the box containing the clue. It’s not the first time we’ve been bitten by taking bags into the room. Or even the second. Some day we’ll learn!
We got out with 14 minutes remaining having taken two clues. The host didn’t count the clue we were given because of the key we managed to lose…
Another good game! If you’re an achievement junkie, then the constant progress in this room is going to delight. Puzzle fans will probably be a little less excited – there are one or two things in this, but nothing to really get your teeth into. There’s a decent amount of searching but it’s definitely not tough searching – you’ll need to decide whether that’s a positive or negative. For me, the game was lots of fun – a good level of searching, a pretty set, rapid progress from puzzle to puzzle and some nice details here and there which I can’t tell you about but which left me with fond memories.
As a side note – the two-team version is innovative. I’d love to see a 6+ player game in progress. If you look on the website at large team results, you’ll see that they have separate clue numbers but a joint escape time. Read into that what you will…
Detailed Room Ratings