Unit 6a, First floor, Lymelight Boulevard, 98-104 High Street, ST5 1PT
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Break Free Escape in Stoke are notorious for sub par games, inadequate puzzles, total disregard for appearance and quite frankly a low level of customer service.
When it was finally announced that their (in my opinion) most horrendous room "Spy Mission" was to be scrapped and a new room put in its place, I was overjoyed. A brand new room, new puzzles, new concept and most importantly, scenery and props that weren't held together with sellotape and signs saying "Broken do not touch". How sadly disappointed we were. I will try and break this review down to be as objective as possible.
First of all, let me start by warning everyone that this is an almost identical replica of "Alcatraz" at Escape Reality. A different company's game has been used with no warnings on their website to say this is a replica. Maybe the owners of Escape Reality have now taken over at Break Free, but you an imagine the disappointment in rocking up and seeing the exact setup as a room we had completed only a week previously. There are some minor changes and a few differences in some puzzles, however for the majority, we knew exactly what we had to do and where we had to go.
PUZZLES - 3/5
Now, as I played this room in Manchester, i remember enjoying the puzzles, the concept and the layout. It's hard to have that same feeling of wonder when you know how to solve them. As an objective view, the puzzles are ok and far from taxing. The average player should be able to solve these with ease. We even managed to skip one puzzle due to the way it had been setup
THEMING - 2/5
Without giving away spoilers, I'm sure you can imagine that an "escape the prison" type scenario has more than one room. Well the first of such was very much on point. A sense of isolation in a grotty prison cell. But that's where it ends. Once you inevitably move from the starting area, you're found in a room that resembles a secret agents lair... Oh yes, it happens to be the second room of SPY MISSION. So much so that they have have even left some of the props from spy mission in place. At no point after room 1 do you feel you're inside a prison and the effort that has gone into the start of the game seems to have been forgotten.
DETAILS - 3/5
With a brand new room, you expect a good level of detail and everything to be in good working order. Sadly, Break Free Escape have carried on their usual theme of sub par rooms with an attitude of "meh oh well". The entrance into one of the rooms was faulty where the lock had not been screwed into place correctly, the whiteboard pen issued to you was dried up and unusable and a series of "targets" were out of position making one puzzle almost impossible to complete. The finale to the room was different to the original at Escape Reality, and was a finale that i actually enjoyed. That being said, you are only supplied with 2 pieces of equipment meaning that groups larger than 2 will have people starting around for quite a lengthy period of time unable to complete anything.
We were very disheartened to be faced with a cloned room, one of which was faulty, not down to the puzzles, but the equipment provided to advance. As a room, its not too bad. I wouldn't recommend doing this room in a group or more than 3. If you are fairly new to escape rooms, then this wouldn't be too bad of a room, however if you have completed 5 or more rooms, then give it a miss.
In terms of difficulty, I would rate this a 3 out 5 star game