Published on December 14th, 2017 | by Dean Love0
Escape Quest, Macclesfield – The 13th Element
Aluminium. It’s what they started making cans of fizzy pop from when I was a kid. Blue Peter told us to buy a magnet, so we could check which of our drinks cans were steel and which we aluminium, so we knew which we could recycle. Aluminium. The 13th element of the periodic table, and a brilliant theme for an escape game.
Or not. The twelve elements we this game revolves around aren’t exactly the elements we know and love from school. In this fictional world we’re instead trying to research them to find a way to destroy the mysterious 13th element and defeat the evil Dr. Argon, because in this world, Argon is not The 18th Element.
That intro might clue you into the fact that this science-themed game uses that theme somewhat liberally, with great license. It’s obvious from the start that it’s never going to actually ask you to consult a periodic table. And that’s fine. It’s also a science-based game that has almost no electronics in the room itself – everything uses clever mechanical processes. This does mean it’s a science room with a lot of padlocks, like all the other Escape Quest games, but the design of this one makes that much less egregious.
The game starts with what’s essentially a warm up. A small set of puzzles, that can be tackled in a a few different ways, to get you access to the main part of the game. It’s a small area, and looks a bit unimpressive, but then it really is just the starter. Opening the door to the central lab kicks the game into high gear and offers a really neat concept: twelve elements; twelve puzzles. Solve them all, get each element and feed them all into a machine to unlock the 13th one. The puzzles are all strong, with some more interesting than others but none being outright bad.
Each puzzle unlocks the cabinet below it, so there’s no worrying about where to enter a given code. The puzzles are a good mix of skill challenges and more cerebral tasks, and while its mostly non-linear, it isn’t entirely free-form. Some puzzles will require things found from solving others. This was frustrating at one point, as we found ourselves stumped towards the end just because we hadn’t partially progressed one of the puzzles. We knew we didn’t have all the pieces, but using the pieces we did have was required to get a clue to obtaining the remaining ones, which didn’t make much sense to us. Maybe most groups just did this as they went along and we’re just slightly obsessive-compulsive.
Some of the puzzles in this room are located quite high up, so the provision of a step in the room for shorter people was a nice touch. Once the elements are assembled (with a puzzle that ties together everything else you’ve learned), there’s a finale that adds an extra bit of time pressure and drama to the ending that is neat.
Ultimately this is a game that just felt really fun. I’ve said this in other reviews, but I do have a certain weakness for the “big room of puzzles” style game, but this one pulls that off while also managing to keep a strong theme and a lot of variety.
Result – we escaped in 46 minutes
Date played: 4 November 2017
Team: Dean, Katherine, Jess
Summary: A terrific non-linear game of pseudo-scientific fun.