Macclesfield, Jul 2017
The second game we played at Escape Quest was 13th Element, billed as their hardest game. The plot is a fairly standard one about a mad scientist and a chemical macguffin that must be destroyed before it is used.
My first impression of the room was that it also looked fairly standard – surprisingly plain, particularly given the gloriously over the top room that we’d just come from. Fortunately that impression is misleading. I’ll avoid details for spoiler reasons, but 13th Element is remarkably artistic. It’s a high concept game with a central task involving retrieving each of twelve elements via twelve separate puzzles. Each of these twelve is distinct and beautifully realised.
The sequence is somewhat non-linear, with additional information unlocked as you progress. Part of the challenge is working out which elements can be solved immediately and which need to wait for a relevant clue to become available.
After a couple of hundred escape games, it’s vanishingly rare to come across any puzzles that are completely original, and the ones in this room contained plenty of familiar elements. They’re also very padlock based. Nonetheless, they came across as a particularly high quality set of puzzles. Firstly, the variety is top-notch, with a catalogue of different puzzle styles. Secondly, the design is completely solid, with zero ambiguity. And above all the presentation is outstanding, with beautiful aesthetics and a couple of original twists in the implementation.
The game’s conclusion has a tough act to follow, but is well executed and ensures an exciting finish.