Outside the room
With only a brief break, it was time to take on MoviESCAPE‘s latest game, Sawtopsy. We had a few minutes between the game so we wandered across to the paintball area. It really brought home just how much space there is in this facility. I’m not sure how many games they plan to have long term, but there’s plenty of space for them. Railway arches were popular for escape games for a while, and now they seem to appear in laser quest arenas, but I’d totally overlooked that they’ve popped up in a few mills across the North West (Atherton and Macclesfield that I know of), and on each occasion have ended up expanding significantly. Presumably space is cheap!
Having escaped from Haunted House in well under 30 minutes, we felt pretty confident going into Sawtopsy. Would pride come before a fall?
Inspired by the SAW movie franchise, our SAWtopsy room is not for the faint-hearted. You wake to find yourself in a dirty, dark bathroom with several others. You have one hour to solve the puzzles and work out who is the killer. If you do not succeed, you will be locked in the room…forever.
Inside the room
What do you expect from a game called SAWtopsy? The decor here has to be pretty dilapidated and grim, and it was. I don’t mean that in a negative way – I don’t think you could ever make this room a pleasant place to be in and still capture the horror feel you’re looking for. On top of that, they’ve added in a few additional elements to further amp up the horror theme. While I’m not a horror fan, I could see this adding to the experience if you’re into that genre.
It’s probably worth saying that I almost didn’t visit this game because I was concerned that I would be too put off by the theme. However, while there are certainly grim moments in the room and I wouldn’t want to take children, it’s probably no worse than a 15 horror film. Certainly, there are no jump scares and, unless you’re very squeamish, you’re unlikely to have significant issues.
So, the theming was fine but, if you’re going to have a room that’s genuinely dirty as part of the plot, then you really can’t make it a search-heavy room, and this game was. In order to escape you’ll need to do a ridiculously thorough search. We went to a lot of effort and still failed to find two items, primarily because we found the searching had moved from challenging to unpleasant.
That’s not to say there aren’t puzzles in the room, and they were definitely logical, but there aren’t a huge number and I didn’t find them particularly interesting. In fact, we had one fewer because a previous team had written the combination to one of the locks on the back of a clue. In retrospect, we should have realised that and ignored it, but it’s something that hosts should be looking for when resetting the room. You can’t expect them to check every square inch of wall every time but, with laminated clue cards and a dry wipe marker (and no other writing implements), that’s got to be a significant risk. Also: Players – don’t write on clues, on props or on the set!
Story telling was, once again, the strength in this room. Before you even start, you’re each assigned a part in the game which, while not particularly game-affecting, did give you a reason for being in the room. Once inside, it’s effectively a murder mystery game and, as you move through the experience, you learn more about the various characters you play. On top of that, there’s a second stream of information that expands on why this group of people are in the room and adds a twist to the tale towards the end which wraps up the story nicely.
When they were necessary, clues were given over audio in a voice that was sometimes hard to understand but was on theme. I think I’d have preferred a screen, but this worked well enough.
We escaped in 49:11 with a couple of clues after spending an age searching for the almost-impossible-to-find hiding places.
As a haunt attraction it would probably have rated higher (although I have very little experience of them, so who knows?). As an escape room I thought it was an interesting attempt, but it just didn’t work for me. The story progression was promising but the shortage of puzzles and the unpleasantness of the search left me feeling disappointed by the experience.
Don’t take my word for it
Brit of an Escape Habit visited and had a very different view.
Detailed Room Ratings