Peak District, Jul 2017
Extremescape is perhaps the most remote escape game I’ve visited, being based on a farm near Disley on the edge of the Peak District, outside Stockport. Arriving by car, you follow a long track between fields to a parking area by the small group of buildings. Incongruously for the inland location, their first game (and the one we tried first) is set on a pirate ship, where you need to find the hidden treasure and get out.
Once inside, the room is decorated with gusto. It’s a large room with a high ceiling, and while there’s a roof where perhaps it ought to be sky and sails, the amount of rigging and ropes and nautical clutter more than convinces.
Pirate Ship is, unusually, a 90 minute game (as is Extremescape’s second game). With a larger-than-usual team of five we actually blitzed through the game at speed, finishing comfortably under an hour. Even so it felt satisfyingly full of content, like we’d had noticeably more for our money than normal, and with a smaller team it’d probably take closer to the full ninety minutes. And since the game price is cheaper than most 60min games in London, it felt exceptionally good value.
Hints are curiously restricted. The briefing tells you that there are two gold coins hidden in the room, and having found a coin you can redeem it in exchange for a hint. We found one coin and used one hint – our search skills let us down again for the second coin, so fortunately we didn’t need another clue! I’m not sure how the operators handle it when teams need lots of clues, though it seems unlikely they’d leave them to struggle after they’d run out of coins to buy hints.
The game includes a bit of light searching and puzzles that ranged between ‘okay’ and ‘excellent’. There are plenty of padlocks and a certain amount of trying codes in multiple places to find where to use them; though also plenty of hidden mechanisms and cool ideas. But it’s the build here that makes this game stand out. Not only does it look great, it makes clever use of audio especially for one dramatic moment in particular. Looking back over my notes the majority of the content was actually fairly abstract in style, and yet my impression of the room was that it was a quite physical game, the sort that’ll particularly appeal to anyone who’d happily play while wearing a pirate’s hat or a parrot on their shoulder.
And when we thought we’d pretty much reached the end of the game, it continued on in unexpected form, leading up to a particularly strong ending. I might quibble over the padlock use and one or two of the puzzles in minor ways, but it’s a superb game, packed with good content with excellent presentation, worth travelling quite some way to play.