CLUEHQ SWINDON – The Betrayal of Cluetankhamun

Since moving to London it’s become a little difficult to do rooms with my regular team, particular as we’ve already crossed off most of the ‘local’ rooms back in South Wales. This means we’ve started branching out a little more, and this particular day we decided to meet halfway (roughly) in Swindon. Unfortunately, the rooms we had wanted to do were fully booked, so we decided to make our first foray into the ClueHQ franchise.

The Set

As the name suggests, this was an Egyptian tomb raider room. The room was pretty well done – lots of (artificial) nooks and crannies and high quality props. Pretty much everything fit well with the theme – boxes weren’t just boxes, but carved wooden chests. Sand wasn’t overused, but instead subtle and for a reason (because what Pharaoh would want his tomb full of sand anyway?).

The only part of the set design I didn’t like was (unfortunately) the final puzzle – which was a keypad next to the door. Input the code and you escape, unfortunately breaking the theme that had been so beautifully worked throughout.

The game

This was apparently their hardest game in this location, and there was certainly a lot going on. It was very padlock heavy, but as a fan of padlocks I didn’t mind too much. The game flowed really well, despite there lots going on, bar a little while at the start and towards the end. The majority of puzzles were logical to complete and easy to understand what was required, although working out where to put the codes weren’t always obvious. When you’ve got a few different codes at once, this can be confusing!

There was a large quantity of puzzles, but a great variety too. No two puzzles were the same, with varying mechanics and schools of thought throughout (i.e. a mix of lateral and logical thinking). We did this as a team of four, and found ourselves naturally splitting into pairs at various points. Pair work is an essential feature of this room, but didn’t feel forced or restraining. I always enjoy multi-linear rooms, so I really loved this. Only the final puzzle brought everything back together – until that point, we were all engaged in multiple paths.

The hints were delivered via a monitor, which also delivered the initial backstory. This is my favourite hint system, but I disliked how reliant the game was on this screen. The initial backstory was great, but it was used a few more times throughout – disrupting the flow of the game.

Another reason I loved (yes, loved) this room was that it is one of the most unique Egyptian rooms I’ve played. Rather than relying on lots of sand on mechanical puzzles, the room instead themed itself using beautiful imagery and more tactile, mental puzzles. This was definitely a different take on the Egyptian theme, but excellently done.

Outside the room

The most obvious thing to discuss first is the fact that this room is actually situated within a Laser Quest (in the same building, rather than inside the maze)! This means there are a lot of children around, and it doesn’t appear the most salubrious. However, this also means there are plenty of places to sit, refreshments to be had and even additional entertainment on hand! This is also in an area that boasts a cinema, bowling lanes and a few other food outlets – fun for a whole day!

My first impression of the staff weren’t the best, I admit. We were stood around for over 20 minutes – in the end receiving the briefing after the point we were to start. This is as we were waiting for all the groups for the slot to arrive, at which point we received a video briefing. I disliked this, but understand it is the nature of franchise rooms sometimes. When we did receive a briefing, I found it hard to hear what the GM was saying, stood only a few feet away, and he wasn’t particularly energetic. However, I think he was likely quite nervous, as when he began addressing us as an individual group he was clearly on a script, not really interacting too much as we tried to make jokes.

After completing the room, we found ourselves alone in a corridor, and decided we probably should find out way to back to the briefing area, where we were greeted by a different GM. This GM (James) was obviously more confident, and we were able to have more discussion with him.

Accessibility

The location and room were entirely flat (with disabled parking out front). That being said, there wasn’t much space within the room (and a narrow corridor to get there), so I probably wouldn’t recommend this for wheelchair users. Within the room, there was nothing about head hight, but there was a puzzle which requires someone to crawl into a small space.

The room was fairly dim, but not requiring a torch. That being said, a torch is provided (there is a fair amount of reading required), and there are a number of puzzles which utilise colour. There are also some flashing lights (which we weren’t warned about).

There is a soundtrack to the room, which could get a little loud at points. However, it wasn’t overly obtrusive. As previously mentioned, there is a small crawl space in the room, requiring one team member to enter. The room itself isn’t particularly big in general, so I would avoid this if you have an issue with small spaces.

Was it worth the money?

We paid £20pp for a team of 4. I enjoyed this very much, and would say it was certainly worth the money.

TL;DR

Pros; Hints, set, uniqueness

Cons; Immersion, briefing, videos

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