Outside the room
Why do we play escape rooms? Obviously because they’re fun, because they’re a metaphorical escape from reality and because they’re a challenge. But why do we choose specific escape rooms? Perhaps the theme appeals, a friend recommended one or we really want to play and it’s the only one in town. When I’m off travelling, I mainly rely on recommendations and reviews from the likes of Really Fun, Escape Obsessed, Brit of an Escape Addict and Escape Game Addicts. Sometimes, though, an escape room slips through the cracks and that’s what seems to have happened here. The Live Escape in Huddersfield has been open for 18 months but, to my knowledge, not a single escape room blogger had gone to visit so, when someone pointed that out to me and I saw that it was so close to where I was staying, I decided that it was time to put that right.
After parking, we headed indoors, where we were greeted by an incredibly enthusiastic owner. I’ve met a lot of hosts/games masters/ owners/staff over the years but, other than the out-and-out actors, I don’t think any have reached the energy and enthusiasm levels that I encountered here. In fact, pretty much everything outside the room was good – from the easy access to the site, the warm welcome, clean toilets and a nice waiting area. If I had one criticism, it was that we were asked to read the intro. It didn’t massively detract from the game but I much prefer for the scene to be set for you rather than via reading. All in all, we were feeling pretty positive about the place by the time we were shown into the room.
You and your cell mate have been locked up in a maximum security prison for a crime you didn’t commit. You have both been planning your escape for some time. After an attack from rival inmates you have been put in solitary confinement for a week. When you return you find your cell mate has already escaped.
Inside the room
Almost in unison, as we walked through the door, we said “Cool!”. The interior of this room really looks the part. They’ve picked a wonderful venue with an arched roof and stone walls that really help to make you feel like you’re in a prison cell. They seem to have gone one step further with everything than similar experiences and, as a bonus, we weren’t wearing handcuffs! There’s a bunk bed for the prisoners, jumpsuits laid out and even a stainless steel toilet and washbasin.
Admiration over, it was down to business. It rapidly became clear that this is a very searchy room. Virtually every clue we had in this room was related to not searching thoroughly enough. I don’t think there are any unfair hiding places but there are a lot, and you need to find them all to progress. For me, it was a bit too much but, if your team likes searching (Escape Obsessed, I’m looking at you!), then you’ll be in your element.
On the flip side, that abundance of searching meant it was a bit short of puzzles. There were the usual array of finding numbers hidden in the room and rearranging them according to some rule, but very little in terms of harder logic to struggle over. If you’ve got all the clues, I don’t think you’ll ever be flummoxed by what you need to do next. That’s great for beginners, but I’d love there to be a little more to get my teeth into.
Not only was there plenty of searching to do, but there were also plenty of red herrings. Several items we found *might* have been clues, and we spent time trying to decode them before we realised at the end of the game that they were irrelevant. If I were the owners, I’d clear out as much irrelevance as possible – I don’t think it adds to the game and it is more likely to frustrate and confuse. This game doesn’t need the red herrings to be enjoyable.
Throughout all this, our host was giving us clues to help us along. They were well paced and subtle – the perfect balance between spoon-feeding you and leaving you cast adrift. Clues were delivered via a TV screen which wasn’t always easy to see – a little bit of a pain for a team of two, but not a big deal.
There were a couple of final puzzles to work out that added a good finale to the room. I think it’s important that there’s something slightly meatier to finish with and, while the puzzles weren’t perfect, we managed to solve them both without too much trouble and were soon on our way.
We escaped with a minute or two remaining and probably about five clues.
The Escape Live is a hidden gem. It’s got the bedrock of a great escape room in an enthusiastic host, great facilities and an eye-catching room. If you like your games to be search-heavy, then it’s a no-brainer – head over there. If you’re more into the puzzle side of rooms, then I wouldn’t stop off. First timers, as the TripAdvisor ratings suggest, will have a great time.
Detailed Room Ratings