Shiver me timbers! What a room!
A long time ago on the Carribean seas sailed the Spanish Galleon, Castoria. Captained by Zak Barrow and crewed by a gang of murderers & merciless cutthroats. Plundering ships of all kinds along India’s Malabar coast, Barrow was a Pirate, one of the most infamous Pirates of all time. Barrow’s ship Castoria battled with the India Merchant, a huge treasure ship of 350 tons. In rough seas, the merchant vessel fired but due to a sudden ocean swell, the shot missed its mark.
The pirates threw their grappling hooks, bringing the two ships together. And rapidly boarded the ship, soon Captain Barrow was in the possession of one of the greatest pirate treasures ever.
The ship disappeared in 1722 and was not seen again until now! So me hearties, all hands on deck, find the clues, solve the riddles, find the treasure, Then dare to escape, you have 90 minutes but fail, and remember – dead men tell no tales.
We’d been hearing about Extremescape at Disley for a very long time, it was just a bit far away for us to actually get there. So when we planned our escape room roadtrip, we made sure that Extremescape was a destination, not just a detour. It was day three of our road trip and this also happened to coincide with my birthday, and what better way to celebrate with all three games at Extremescape (followed by four more at Adrenaline, Wigan, but that’s for another review).
Any regular readers of our reviews will know that I love pirate themed rooms. I don’t know why, there’s just something about them that I enjoy. Our first room of the day at Extremescape was The Pirate Ship, which unsurprisingly took place on board a pirate ship. We had been told that this was the first room they produced, and did so back in 2015 so we were expecting it to be a bit run down or dated – how wrong were we?!
Extremescape, unlike many venues, is not located in a city centre, it’s in a lovely rural setting which makes it a bit more challenging to get to, but has plenty of parking if you do make it out there. When we arrived we were greeted by our host and GM for the morning, Graham. After a bit of a chat, which covered the health and safety portion of the games, we climbed the stairs ready to board the pirate ship.
Covid-19 Procedures: Normally there were lockers for personal belongings but these were out of action due to Covid. Plenty of hand sanitiser on site for us to use and track and trace was in place. We wore masks as did all the staff that we encountered and social distancing was followed. We were the only team onsite for our entire visit.
The Pirate Ship was a very impressive room and the design was second to none, and that’s before you take into account how old this game is – incredible. We’ve played a number of pirate rooms and they often have the same design features; flags, wood on walls, wood on floors – yep, all present here. But this was not your typical pirate room, before we even set foot in the room we were impressed.
Our briefing for the room took place in what they called the ‘mood room’. This was a room that did exactly that, it set the mood. The audio briefing took place over a speaker system while we were standing in this room (admiring our surroundings), once the briefing was over, we experienced the first ‘wow’ moment of the game.
First impressions of the game were exactly as we expected, the space was large and the set dressing was spot on, aspects of it reminded me of childhood holidays to sea-side towns visiting antique shops. Once we got over the initial awe, we were hit with a massive sense of overwhelming, there was just so much to take in that it was hard to know where to start. I’m pretty sure the first five minutes of our game time was spent just walking around admiring everything.
Extremescape are blessed that they have so much space at their disposal for creating rooms, and they’ve utilised this space perfectly. The Pirate Ship can easily accommodate larger groups, but it is also manageable for smaller teams (we completed it as a team of two), there should be plenty of puzzles to keep everyone going – and a few surprises too! Oh and as an added bonus, The Pirate Ship is one of those rare 90 minute games.
As you would expect, with this being a pirate themed room, all the puzzles fitted that theme – think parrots, maps, treasure etc. The puzzles were of a good variety so there is sure to be something for everyone in your team; wordplay, observation, pattern recognition, logic, some searching, and some maths.
Out of all the puzzles there was one that we weren’t really a fan of, the maths puzzle. I understand why rooms have these puzzles, but as a team, we don’t really enjoy them. They always feel like a way to slow down teams, and if your maths skills aren’t strong then you’re unlikely to ever solve it without help. Saying that, I left Liz alone with it for a little while and she did solve it, so perseverance is key. The fact that a notepad was provided certainly made this task much easier.
Part of the reason it took us a little while to get going in this room is that it is non-linear, so there was so much we could have tackled right from the off. This non-linear approach is good as it meant that if one puzzle wasn’t clicking, we could move on to another. Larger teams will also be able to ‘divide and conquer’.
If one was looking to find a way to say this room was showing its age, it would be in the number of padlocks that are in the room. Many puzzles resulted in combinations for padlocks, however there was a good use of tech too. I personally don’t mind padlocks so it doesn’t bother me, and if I was told this room was brand new, I would have believed it. But when you compare this to what Extremescape have done with Viking, you can see that this was an earlier game.
This Pirate Ship had a very modern looking screen in the room that was used to both display the timer and also deliver written clues. Additional pre-recorded, in-character clues were also given via the speaker system.
Thanks to Liz’s wizardry with the math’s puzzle, I can’t actually recall if we needed any clues in this room, but as we know how the clue system worked, I assume we must have needed at least one. Oh actually, yes I remember we did need one and once requested it was delivered very quickly – a very attentive GM was watching our progress closely.
It’s very easy to see why Extremescape have the reputation they do. They took a simple theme and made it something special. A great sense of adventure, solid puzzles, and a beautiful build, top marks Extremescape, and thank you!
Team: 2 players – escaped in 46 mins (90 minute room)
Address: Stanley Hall Farm, Stanley Hall Ln, Disley, Stockport SK12 2JX