We Escaped In
54 Minutes (No Hints)
You wake up confused. You have never been here before. You try to move and notice you are handcuffed. As you take in your surroundings, reality dawns on you…
You have been taken Hostage!
You have lost track of time and the days roll into one. You hear the door slam and know that this is your only chance! Realising you can only rely on yourself and your friends, you take the opportunity to escape…
The Lakes Estate in MK might not seem like the most likely place to find one of the better local escape rooms, but don’t let the location put you off. We paid these guys a visit back in summer 2019 and were pleasantly surprised with what we experienced. Its a tidy little operation here which may not look like much from the outside, however inside is very well maintained and there are more rooms here than you might expect.
On this particular visit we were playing Hostage which, as you’ll probably be able to guess sees you take on the role of someone who has been kidnapped and taken prisoner. We thought that the prison element of this room was executed extremely well. First off, on entering the room we are physically hand cuffed to each other for the start of the game. We are then locked in and the game begins. Now we really do feel like prisoners! The room is furnished well with a single bed and a couple of pieces of furniture scattered around the room. It all looks to be pretty uniform however and not like these items have been randomly collected and thrown together. We normally like furnished rooms with loads of items to explore, but in this scenario that wouldn’t feel right. Equally however, the room isn’t basic to the point that it feels empty. Compared to other rooms we have played with similar story lines in the UK, these guys have executed the “cell” much better.
As the game progresses, we did feel as though the theme strayed a little. Some of the authentic touches achieved in the core room are lost and it feels like the theme has been sacrificed a little to support some of the more technical puzzles and there isn’t a huge amount of relevance to the story.
Puzzles & Challenges
As we mentioned previously, this room starts with each of the players handcuffed together. There were 4 of us playing on this visit and being chained together in a circle made for some interesting manoeuvring around the room. Naturally the first challenge is to find the key to release you from each other. Thankfully this doesn’t involve too much movement but enough to make the first five minutes hilarious. Ever tried crouching down to look under a bed while three other people pull you in different directions? Us neither until this room.
Successfully freed of our restraints, we turned out attention to the longer term goal of getting out of our prison. The first half of the room leans towards more traditional style padlock tasks which collectively provide clues and items needed to advance onto the next puzzle. One of the final tasks in the first half of the game, was slightly (very slightly) more physical than the others up to this point and provided a good five minutes of laughs and frustration. Up to this point, we were questioning why the room had such a low escape rate as the games, whilst fun, were using pretty tried and tested tasks.
We quite quickly discovered the second half of the game is likely to be the reason as the game takes a turn towards technology. Some rooms state they are high tech by including an electric magnet, but these guys have actually incorporated a really specific piece of kit that we needed to use to escape. As with immersion though, it doesn’t really feel too relevant to the scenario and despite being cool, we think this whole part of the game could be adapted slightly to tie back to the scenario a little better. It was nice however, the see a unique challenge. We were only the second team to escape this room with no clues!
When we play these games it is always refreshing to be hosted by a games master who enjoys playing these games and so it was nice to spend some time ahead of going into the room talking generally about escape games and our experiences before moving onto the brief. The story behind hostage is actually quite simple and there isn’t a massive backstory to talk through so this doesn’t take too much time but a quick recap is given nonetheless.
Thankfully, we were then asked if we wanted to accept clues freely or for them only to be handed out if we asked for them. As fans of the games, we decided to ask for clues if we needed them and this worked out in our favour as we escape with no clues granted. Had we requested clues, these would have been delivered via a screen in the room. We like this approach as it is visible for all players to see during the game.
Value for Money
If there are more than 2 players, then £20 per person is a very fair price for an escape game in Milton Keynes. We played as a group of four so were able to make the most of this price. Locally, we often play as a team of 2 and here that would increase the price to £30 per person. At that price Blackout go from competitively priced to one of the pricier games for a smaller team.
We might have liked to have seen the theme maintained a little more relevance to the story in the second half of Hostage, but overall this is a fantastic escape room and we had a great time playing. We’re pretty sure people who haven’t played many rooms would be wowed by what these guys have achieved, but even enthusiasts will be able to appreciate the quality of the overall game here. We were chuffed to leave this room as the second team to escape with no clues but definitely felt challenged. (Nate marks this one down as he hit his head in one of the darker parts of the room which all joking aside should probably have been padded).