If you’re looking for entertainment in Manchester that’s a little bit different and lots of fun, look no further than Breakout.
Escape rooms challenge you to solve puzzles, riddles and clues against the clock with one main goal – securing your exit from a locked room. Sound like something from the Crystal Maze? You’re not far wrong.
When I received the invite to have a go at Breakout in Manchester I have to confess that I was a little nervous. I’m not good with confined spaces and I had no idea whether I’d be able to concentrate on solving puzzles knowing that the door was locked. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The rooms all have panic buttons, fire exits, and they are sufficiently spacious that you aren’t really aware of your surroundings, just the challenges in front of you.
That was the other concern; would the puzzles be really complicated and how hard would it be to put in a decent showing? When we arrived, the Mensa books and Rubik’s Cubes with extra squares on the table in the entrance made me question my decision to choose the hardest room.
A choice of games
There are 6 different rooms to choose from at the Brazenose Street venue and 4 more on High Street, so there is bound to be a scenario that takes your fancy. Each room has a different theme and a storyline. I opted for the Manchester themed, Madchester Room, thinking it would be most relevant to my blog.
The premise was that myself and my 4 friends were a group of thieves who had broken in to Zack’s bedroom and accidentally got ourselves trapped. We had 60 minutes to sort through his collection of Manchester memorabilia and escape without him catching us. The game details specify, and I can now personally vouch for the fact, that you don’t need to have any knowledge about Manchester to be able to take part in the game. There are however, lots of Manchester references in the room so there’s no danger of you forgetting where you are.
How we got on
Left to our own devices we had to use the items in the rooms to crack the code for the exit door. The game required us to use problem solving skills, common sense, logic and, at times, our ability to see what was right in front of us. Most importantly it was accessible and everyone could participate regardless of their different strengths. You definitely don’t need to be any sort of whizz kid to contribute and have a good time.
As the time ticked down we were given clues to help us solve some of the more difficult puzzles. Your activity in the room is monitored by a member of staff who decides which problems to help you out with and communicates hints via the timer screen on the wall. They can also hear your discussions, so it pays to be thankful when you get a good tip!
Unfortunately we didn’t manage to break out of the room which, you can see from the photo, we were all disappointed by. When we’d finished we were shown how to complete the tasks we missed. There were a few that we were tantalisingly close to working out, and one or two that we would never have solved – but that’s the beauty of the room, a different group with a different perspective would probably have answered the questions we struggled with in no time and had to spend more time on others.
If the heading made you think I was going to give you any clues then think again! My top tip would be to build your team from people with as varied a skill set as possible.
It’s amazing how quickly an hour can pass when you’re consumed by problem solving. It’s not a cheap activity but it is lots of fun and I would highly recommend it. And, from the point of view of things to do in Manchester, it’s indoors so you don’t need to worry about the rain!
Town Hall: 14a Brazennose Street, Manchester, M2 6LW
High Street: 36 High Street, Manchester. M4 1QB
Tel: 0161 839 8012
I received an invite to play Breakout Manchester so that I could review it for my blog. As always, all views and opinions are my own – and, despite how much I’d love to tell you differently, our inability to escape was real!