CQ oriGENES has almost everything I look for in an escape room
Professor BlackSheep seeks to recreate the original genetical experiment that turned him into a sheep. He has launched a cyber attack on our old mainframe in the hope of extracting secret data, along with the genetical research he’s missing.
In order to stop the Professor from breaching our firewall, you and your team will have to access Mr Q’s old base. The only way in, however, is to shrink down to the size of a mouse with the help of the Shrink’o’Mat.
Word of caution, agents: the technology you’ll be exposed to is…a bit unstable and still experimental. You’ll have only 60 minutes to counteract the cyber attack and secure the mainframe before the Shrink’o’Mat’s effect wears off and things get messy.
On a Monday night, after work, our usual team decided to give the latest game at clueQuest a go. Most of us had done Operation Blacksheep, and another had done Revenge of the Sheep, so we were pretty confident that this would be good, but this completely exceeded expectations. Upon arrival, the venue was the quietest it probably ever is, and we were led into a deserted waiting area. On our previous visit, it was much busier, but perhaps that’s one of the perks of enjoying a Monday night escape room. We were warmly greeted, as usual, despite being very early. Credit to clueQuest, we were asked if we would prefer Plan52, since that was ready, and we could go straight in, but we had our hearts set on CQ oriGENES and were prepared to wait for our allotted time slot. It was definitely worth the wait.
CQ oriGENES has almost everything I look for in an escape room: beautiful set design, clever puzzles, enough narrative to drive the game forward, and just a bit of humour. It can be tough to impress one of our usual team members, and even he said, “This is a 5-star Room.” We use bulbs, but I have to concur.
Let me say I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzles in the room. At times they left us scratching our heads, thinking “Where do we go next?” but with a little bit more exploration, often a solution became apparent. clueQuest have done away with padlocks (for the most part; you’ll see what I mean if you play) and instead have opted to use technology. However, you will still find the traditional type of puzzles that result in a four digit code that must be inputted somewhere, often in completely unique and ingenious ways. Puzzles were well thought out, and logical. We did ask for one clue, but this was needed as we hadn’t properly utilised one piece to input a code and thought we were on the wrong track and feeling a bit lost. Once we used the correct method, it worked perfectly.
One particular aspect of the game may leave some of your team feeling a bit left out toward the end. It was enjoyable, but I happened to take a step back for this particular puzzle, as it really only required 2-3 people. That being said the time I spent observing my surroundings earlier in the game meant that I was still able to contribute.
clueQuest have really upped their game with room design for OriGENES. Having been impressed with the set in Operation Blacksheep, I was expecting this room to be designed in a similar fashion. It wasn’t; it was so much more than that. The Shrink’o’Mat, had the feel of a spaceship, and was incredibly futuristic, but where the design really excelled, was inside Mr Q’s old base, Once shirinking was complete. As you would expect, elements are larger than life, and the attention to detail paid here is simply incredible. I won’t give anything away, but there were some really ingenious, and amusing pieces, with hints of nostalgia, and nothing superfluous to the mission. As I explored, the room felt almost reminiscent of one of my all time favourite games, LabRat, so that in itself should be testament to its design.
My only criticism on this point, would be that the ending of the game felt a little anticlimactic. The game started so strong, and the puzzles leading you to the final portion of the mission were delightful, so that once the final puzzle was complete, and it was time to make your escape, the ending just felt a bit flat. Even a bit of triumphant music once you were normal size again would have helped to solve this issue. As it was, we were left going, “Oh, we’re done?”
As with other clueQuest games, your GM(or agent on the outside) is connected to you with a walkie talkie and is able to help, should you need it. Apart from asking for one clue due to our own ineptitude, we were unfortunate in that our room had a few technical glitches. Luckily, our GM was paying attention, and was able to swiftly tell us we were on the right track, and that it was an issue with the system, not with what we were doing, and correcting these issues was handled smoothly.
We happened to play this as a team of four, and escaped in 47.30, with one clue. The room is designed for six, but I think for experienced teams, going much larger than four would leave a few people feeling left out at points.
Team: 4 players (escaped in 47:30 with one clue)
Address: 169-171 Caledonian Rd, London N1 0SL