Believe it or not Escape Rooms have professional reviewers, so far we have had 5 professional reviews, Reallyfun.uk, The Logic Escapes Me, Girl Geek Up North, Escape Game Addicts & Dontjudgemebut, here’s what they had to say about Extremescape:
The Panic Room
Thank you for the pictures! We absolutely loved your room, we both wouldn’t shut up about it hours after.
We both agree, definitely the best room we have played, it met and exceeded all expectations and hit every point we love about escape rooms! So thank you.
We can’t wait to play your next room and will definitely be up again to play as soon as it’s up and running, was also lovely meeting you two. Can clearly see you guys are passionate about it too which is awesome.
Also thanks for giving us a lift to the station, very much appreciated. Best of luck with the build!
Pirate Ship @ Extremescape Disley March 9, 2016 Escape Game Review This review of Pirate Ship is based on a visit in March 2016.
I wasn’t intentionally going for ‘crazy possessed ghost pirate’ but I think I pulled it off pretty well
It’s entirely appropriate (you might think even ‘planned’, but you’d be wrong) that I’m writing this review today, the day after this piece from Room Escape Artist. If you don’t fancy reading it (but you really should) David is suggesting that the best rooms come from small operators that put all their thoughts and efforts into making one or two rooms, rather than some of the big chains and ‘cheap cash ins’ that hastily throw a bit of tat together to get in on the escape room craze (and goes on to say how these people are potentially damaging to the industry). Extremescape is very much in the former category; it’s run by a couple, Graham and Jess, in a barn conversion on a farm in the middle of nowhere. That isn’t the way to get rich (at least not quickly) but it does lend itself to making the game you want to make.
And the game they want to make isn’t going to be bound by normal conventions. Indeed the hosts claimed only to have played a handful of other rooms; they liked the idea enough from that experience to go away and put their own spin on it. So begone the 60 minute time limit, this is a 90 minute game. In fact begone the idea of time limits – if your team is getting a little overwhelmed/tired at any point in the game you can step outside for a break and the game clock will pause! And if you still don’t manage to finish within the 90 minutes you’ll just receive more hints until you do, up to a maximum of three hours! That isn’t the way to get rich either, but it is the way to make sure people have an as enjoyable time as possible, as well as getting their ‘money’s worth’ from a trip to Disley.
It’s also entirely appropriate that I’ve called this review Disleyland (a name I’m sure they only avoided to not get in trouble with Mickey), as the aesthetics and effects you’ll find in this room wouldn’t look out of place in a theme park. I never thought I’d find another game that looked and felt like Time Run but this is comparable, and in some mechanical ways possibly even better. There are a few combination locks but they also prove that there are many other ways to open something or make something happen.
The puzzles are nice and varied both in type and difficulty. We needed all three of our hints (that you have to pay for by finding coins in the room, another novel twist) in order to escape in 75 minutes. That could have been quicker had I not committed the cardinal sin of putting my coat over something important (for shame) but I don’t think it would have made a massive difference. My one critique, and it’s very nitpicky, is that it is a very open design. You can access almost every puzzle in the game as soon as you enter, which can make it a bit confusing over which puzzle you should be working on and whether or not you have all the information you need to answer. But it’s not too difficult to sort out with some perseverance, and believe me when I say it’s worth it.
This is the best looking, nicely finished, mechanically advanced room I’ve played for some time. I’ll happily recommend it to newbies and veterans alike. Set sail for Disley whenever you get chance.
Outside the room
I first came across Extremescape back in August of last year and was immediately surprised by what they were doing. First, they’re in Disley, a village on the edge of the Peak District, not the traditional city/town home of existing escape games. Then they announced that their game was 90 minutes long, rather than the usual 60 and that it was suitable for 2-8 people.
That final bit really worried me – how could you have a room that would be entertaining for the full range? Surely either it would be too difficult for two or too easy for eight? Add to that the fact that it was about an hour away from me, and I’d put it quite a bit down my to do list.
I’m a mug for the personal touch though, so when the owners contacted me via Twitter, I took another look at my plans and saw a way to make it work. I usually avoid spoilers, but I’m allowed this one: I’m very glad I did.
I’d recommend a satnav to get here, but as you get to the last couple of turns, there are signs that guide you to the final destination – and what a destination. A quiet farm, set on the side of a hill, just next to the Golf Club, with plenty of parking; you’re already enjoying the experience by the time you’ve arrived at the front door. It’s run by a lovely couple, Graham and Jess, who are friendly from the moment you arrive, welcoming you to their game.
This game opens with a bang. Aside from rooms where an actor gives the introduction, this is the best I’ve seen. You’re ushered into a separate area, the hosts retreat and the story setting begins…
A long time ago the pirate Zak Barrow captured a ship full of treasure. It disappeared and hasn’t been seen again since. Now’s your chance. You’ve got 90 minutes to find the treasure and make your escape.
Inside the room
As soon as the intro was over, we entered the room and were blown away. I was immediately torn between diving into the game and marvelling at the set design, a feeling that continued throughout – I lost count of the number of times I said “wow”. Most games throw in a handful of props to get across the essence of what the room’s about, but this was more like a film or theme park set. The whole thing was so beautifully crafted, that I’m still thinking about it a couple of days later.
We couldn’t marvel at the set forever though – we had some escaping to do! – so we jumped in and started looking at the puzzles and searching the room. This isn’t a racing game where you’re dashing round the room from code to code to code. It’s a thinking game, where discussing with your team mates is probably the best way to make progress.
The arrangement of the puzzles within the room was particularly nice – when you’ve got up to eight people playing, you want to spread them out, and Extremescape most definitely does that. The highlight of the puzzles for me however was the mechanics: yes, there were combinations and keys in this room, but lots of the puzzles involved much more interesting mechanisms. In some puzzles, this meant physically interacting with the room, while in others the room changed as a result of your success. “Wow” moments abounded.
One thing that surprised me was that there was relatively little searching, which was probably a good thing for us, because we failed pretty miserably at what searching there was. It’s not that they’d hidden things in obscure places, just that we were pretty incompetent. Experience helps with many things when escaping rooms, but it makes you a lazy searcher!
The clue system was particularly novel, in that they had two different mechanisms for giving out clues. It felt like they let you get on with the room, offering small nudges when you needed them, but you could specifically ask for clues if you wanted.
Many rooms I’ve played feel fragile and have tattered scraps of paper to give you clues, but that wasn’t the case here. I’ve always said that the tactile nature of this real life form of gaming is important, and there’s something disappointing when the room and props are rickety. There was a feeling of quality and solidity about everything in this game.
We escaped the room with less than ten minutes remaining and having had a few clues along the way. I don’t think we covered ourselves in glory, but if there was a room worth spending the extra time in – this was it!
It’s clear that the owners want you to escape – the ninety minutes doesn’t appear to be a hard deadline judging by some of the escape times. They’re rightfully proud of their room and want you to experience the whole of it, so I suspect that players get the gentle help they need.
From the moment you arrive, to the moment you say goodbye, this is a fabulous experience. It has everything you want in an escape room – great customer service, a good intro, good puzzles, great mechanics and an absolutely amazing set. I didn’t think I’d ever mention another escape room in the same breath as Time Run, but this is right up there with a game created by theatre/film professionals that costs twice as much to play and lasts only 60 minutes.
I grew up in the North West, and I’ve always felt like I’d betrayed my roots by favouring London escape rooms. Extremescape has ended that – this is the room the North West deserves.
Extremescape is slightly unique, in that it can cater from between 2-8 players and is also a 90 minute game. Their first room is called the Pirate Ship,
So we headed off to find the place. Met up with the others at Disley train station, and it was only a couple of minutes drive from there, located, handily, next door to Disley Golf Club. They have started putting some very obvious signs up to help find it even easier! We arrived at what was clearly a farmhouse, extremely early in absolutely awful conditions (the start of the winter storms), and we were quickly taken inside to a very warm and dry meeting area, and met the 2 who run the game, Jess and Graham. Both are highly enthusiastic and are clearly serious about what they do. On arrival, there are lockers/a cloakroom available, free soft drinks and uniquely, even during the game, access to these drinks and a toilet without receiving any penalties!
After the usual health and safety briefing, we were then given a “game” briefing, before the door automatically opened! Another unique part to the game. Instantly on entering the room, you can see that they’ve clearly given the style and theme of the room lots of thought, and even though there are the usual screens to receive hints, you have to find gold coins and feed them to a parrot in order to gain them. This is where Jess and Graham have thought about things, and do not put the same amount of coins in every time ( ie a team of 2 would probably get more than a team of 8). There’s also a talking parrot who can, at any time, give additional hints.
As with most of the newer rooms we’ve played, the puzzles and clues are relevant to the storyline, but the addition here, the gadgets in this particular room are exceptional, and fit perfectly. When you use one of these gadgets, you feel it adds to the experience and the room, and that you’ve actually achieved something when you use it!
The room is also designed not to be linear, so there’s always something to actually do when you get stuck, and believe me, you will! You’ll need your thinking hats!! Ellen Rose definitely helped see the bigger picture where myself and Adam got completely stuck, and solved some damn hard puzzles by herself.
The way the game progresses onwards to the latter stages is as well thought out as we’ve seen, I just hope that people make it to that part as it’s so much fun!!
We did manage to successfully escape, not in a particularly great time, but an escape is an escape. Within a couple of minutes of the standard photo, we received a printed version, which is a very nice touch!
You can really tell Jess and Graham have put time, effort and money into the room, and they have taken that forward with their enthusiasm which adds into the experience. I will just say this, just go. It’s damn good fun, a good escape room experience and with their plans for their next room well on the way, a great place to visit!
Extremescape – Pirate Ship Review
Last night we visited the newly opened Extremescape in Disley. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Manchester, and looked to be out in the sticks, which is a bit unusual for an escape game, as most tend to appear in or around major cities.
When we arrived, we seemed to be coming up to a farm house, and if it hadn’t been for the signs, we may have thought we were in the wrong place! Compared to the usual setups we see, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but when we entered the converted barn, we were very pleasantly surprised.
Immediately we could see the effort that had been put into theming the entire experience, event the ‘holding cell’ where players wait was a fully kitted out jail cell. They had also taken the time to add in those lovely little extras, such as lockers for personal possessions, and complimentary water bottles to take into the room with you. Everything about Extremescape screamed high quality to us, which immediately put it on a par with two of our other favourite venues, Lockin Escape and Escape Room Manchester.
Extremescape is a small family run business, but sometimes these are the best ones. You can really see the passion and dedication behind what people do, and it’s always nice to feel like the game controllers really care about the games they produce, and you can see that here.
After having the rules explained, rather than jumping straight into the room, we instead entered a pre-game room. Again, this small room was excellently decorated, and we waited here for a few minutes, while we listened to the story of Zak Barrow with a backdrop of epic Pirate music to get us in the mood. Once the story was complete, the door to our escape room mysteriously opens…..
Once in the room, the level of effort and detail that has gone into Pirate Ship is truly amazing. Each prop is well made and looks amazing, and the set itself really pulls you into feeling like you’re on a galleon looking for hidden treasure. The music plays throughout the game which is a great touch, and every time we solved a clue, and appropriate sound effect went off. At some points, we were even taunted by the parrot and voices of the dead pirates!
The technology and engineering behind some of the puzzles was also some of the best we’ve seen, and despite our experience with escape games and puzzles, Extremescape even managed to pull out some tricks that we weren’t expecting.
Slightly unusual is that you have the option of leaving the room to get a drink or use the loo if you want to, and then you can just head back in. Whilst we didn’t take advantage of this, I quite like being given the option, especially as it’s a longer game than usually. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable during a game, so having the option to pop out if you need to, can be quite comforting. Also, because it’s self managed, you can do so discretely, and not interrupt the game for other players. If you don’t like the fact that you can do this, you can just decide as a team to ignore the option.
The rooms at Extremescape don’t seem to have a difficulty rating system in place yet, but I do thank that Pirate Ship included some of the more difficult puzzles we’ve come across, possibly putting it on par with Lockin Escape’s Treasure Hunt room. In fact, their room reminded me a lot of our trip to Lockin, in terms of puzzle and set design, yet everything here seems to be on a grander scale.
We escaped in a respectable 76 minutes, and I have to say that Pirate Ship manages to keep the suspense going all the way until the end. You also get a team picture to take home, which is a great souvenir.
The business has potential to expand, with the second room, Lost Tomb, already underway, and if the first room was just to test the waters, we can’t wait to see what they come up with for the second one!
Don’t be put off by the remote location of this new escape game company, their Pirate Ship room is well worth the effort, and judging by the reactions of the team, this room is definitely a contender for our best one yet!