Wolverhampton, Jun 2019
Chase The Escape are an independent company operating out of the same physical location as Clockwork Escapes, filling a space previously occupied by another company, Room Release. This sort of venue sharing seems such a sensible arrangement I’m amazed it’s not common throughout the U.K., but nowhere else seems to do it.
Chase The Escape have deliberately chosen a bright and cheerful style that contrasts with Clockwork. Our host went through a health and safety briefing, then made a very noticeable shift of both pace and accent as she launched into the backstory. The S.T.A.G.G. of the game title is a warehouse of archeological treasures and artefacts, and with its Director under a cloud of suspicion your job is to break in and find a particular artefact, perhaps uncovering any secrets of the Director while you’re there.
We had huge problems with a step very early on, a neat physical task that we just. couldn’t. do. The gamemaster eventually intervened to let us bypass it; apparently we were the first team to have such difficulty with it. I can believe we were unusually incompetent at it, and for any team that struggles less it’ll be a very nice puzzle. The main problem is that it becomes a bottleneck for any teams who can’t quickly solve it, but the gamemaster was quick to address that with us.
Once onto the body of the game, my impression was that it had decent enough puzzles, but rather too many of them based on written paper clues, and typically resulted in a code that needed to be laboriously tried on each of a thicket of padlocks. That might be a little on the harsh side for what’s clearly a game built with care and passion, but a specific couple of those puzzles had small ambiguities that aggravated the problem of having to try solutions on a large number of locks.
Although that left me not so impressed with the game, it contained some notably better moments to enjoy. A co-operative physical manipulation task was particularly nice, as was the simple but effective warehouse decor. For me the highlight was a detail early on that wasn’t even a puzzle, but which had real cinematic panache.
We enjoyed Raid The S.T.A.G.G. without it ever really grabbing us, but, between the Indiana Jones stylings and the enthusiastic gamemaster, I can imagine another group having a blast playing it – preferably a slightly smaller group than our team of four, which spread the content a little thinly across the players.