Published on December 11th, 2017 | by Dean Love1
Escape Quest, Macclesfield – Mr Chuckles Funhouse
Mr Chuckles Funhouse is a game with storied and perhaps even notorious history. The game was original known as Bad Clown, and was a horror experience as much as an escape game, featuring a real life actor playing the titular Bad Clown. That version of the game closed down after it became apparent that people were so freaked out by it that more than half the teams quit during the intro!
Mr Chuckles Funhouse takes the basics of that game and re-works it into a new experience where the most horrific thing you’ll see is the lack of apostrophes in the room’s name. And it’s kinda weird. I mean it’s good, but it did feel a little off, and much of that would seem to be down to its history.
First thing worth noting: this isn’t a “toned down” version of Bad Clown. It’s not the scary game with the scares dialed down and the actor taken out. Rather, it’s a completely neutered version of the game, with all the scary elements entirely excised. And you’re told that in the briefing outside: the game has no scares. But then you enter the game and there’s a lengthy audio intro from the clown himself where he explains how evil he is and the nasty games he’s going to play with you… but you know full-well he isn’t. He’s not even there. At various points the game also employs darkness to try and make it creepier, but without the threat that there might be a jump scare coming it up, it’s not really creepy in the slightest. It all just sits a bit oddly. It’s not bad, it’s just a shame they didn’t make it a “mild” horror game instead of gutting it completely.
But what is there, is really good. The puzzles here are terrific, inventive, and actually match the theme. The idea is that this evil clown is setting you these puzzles and riddles, and as such, many of them are “tricks” that require lateral thinking, or going outside of what you seem to have been instructed to do: after all, Mr Chuckles isn’t going to help you, is he? There’s a good variety of things on offer, with both word-based riddles, tests of skill and the more traditional mental puzzles. Plus there’s a few extra bits and pieces you don’t even need to do but can play with if you like.
The finale to this game is really strong, involving something that will outright delight you if you’re of the right mindset. It’s also here that the twist in the game may or may not pay off: it’s possible for one player to find a way to escape early, but on their own, if they’re willing to abandon their teammates. It’s a nice little twist, though in reality it’s only really going to come into play if you’re short on time towards the end. We still had a good ten minutes left so there was no reason for any of us to rush out and abandon the rest of our team.
So yeah, it’s a weird one. The game that exists in this space right now is really, really good. But it’s not entirely divorced of its history, you can still feel a bit of a disconnect between the theme and layout of the game, and the non-existent scare factor. At one point in the game you walk down a quite lengthy dark corridor. It serves literally no purpose in the game. At one point, it presumably existed to increase tension, or it had a scary clown at the end of it. Here, it does nothing. But at either end of that corridor? An awesome game.
Result – we escaped in 50 minutes
Date played: 4 November 2017
Team: Dean, Katherine, Jess
Summary: A great game that hasn't quite shed the skin of its previous incarnation.