You are a bunch of cops working on an operation to bust a notorious criminal gang known for car theft, robbery, kidnap and murder. Police headquarters have been tipped off about a hideout and will conduct a raid in 60 minutes’ time. The only problem? You’ve been corrupted and are working with the gang. You’ll need to sabotage the hideout, dispose of incriminating evidence and plant clues to lead your colleagues in another direction. Can you stay one step ahead of the law and escape without a prison sentence?
Whenever we see anyone seeking a recommendation for games in the Manchester area, Lucardo is the company that is mentioned time, and time again (and for good reason). In 2019 we visited the company’s Manchester branch, and loved every minute of Espionage, UoM: Entrance Exam, The Prison, and Virginia House. Ever since our last visit, we have been trying to find an appropriate time to complete the set with a trip to their second venue in Rawtenstall. This opportunity finally presented itself on Day Five of our rather Epic Escape Room Roadtrip.
Day Five of the trip was to be rather epic in itself as we ended up playing eight games in total. Lucardo Rawtenstall was to be the first stop of the day, and after parking the car and a brief stroll around the picturesque town, we made our way back to Lucardo to begin our adventures, where we were warmly greeted by Simon, one of the owners, and our host/GM for the day.
The reception area was bright and airy, with comfortable seating, and even drinks for sale if you’re feeling thirsty. After a temperature check and a brief chat with Simon, however, it was time to get down to business, with a handy health and safety video briefing, updated to reflect the additional measures for ensuring safety during the current public health crisis. Thus, fully briefed on the standard escape room things, it was time to make our way up the stairs to the MOT testing centre and learn the rest of our mission.
Covid-19 Procedures: Of all the companies we visited in the time just after the beginning of the relaxation of lockdown (May/June 2021), Lucardo were the company that impressed us the most with their precautions: NHS Track and Trace, compulsory mask-wearing and temperature checks, hand sanitiser throughout the venue with mandatory hand sanitisation points mid-game, thorough and enhanced cleaning procedures, staggered games. In other words, they are truly doing everything they can to keep the public safe and remain open.
Corruption is a slightly different concept from other escape rooms in some ways, as your primary task is to collect the incriminating evidence and replace it with “clean” evidence. Fortunately, it’s easy to tell the difference if you get yourself mixed up. Of course, once you’ve completed your main task, you still have to escape with the evidence in tow.
We stepped through the door into the MOT testing centre, and as a mysterious phone started to ring it was clear that we were in for something special. Corruption gave a wonderful sense of exploration, with plenty of twists and turns, and benefitted from an ambient soundtrack that kept the tension high. The set was beautifully done, but it was the little touches like these that set the tone and made the game more immersive. This feeling of immersion continued, with other little touches, and as we reached the climactic finish, it felt as though we were in a race against time, despite having nearly 30 minutes remaining on the clock.
The story of Corruption is tied closely to Safehouse, with interconnected components, which makes these games ideal to play back to back for any enthusiasts out there that, like us, find that playing just one game is never enough.
Some of the incriminating articles we needed to replace were hidden in plain sight, but others were locked away behind some rather clever puzzles. The tasks are varied, with some requiring more dexterity and physical manipulation (but never force, of course), and others rely on your ability to use your brain. As one might expect from any crafty criminal organisation, many of these things were secured with a variety of padlocks, but thanks to the setting, these never once felt out of place.
The game had plenty of puzzles to play around with, and while parts of the game were quite linear, as we progressed the game opened up with parallel puzzle paths. Gord and I often found ourselves investigating different things, but even when there were multiple things to work on, there were some tasks that were handled best with teamwork and communication. Alongside these, there were plenty of logic problems, a bit of searching, pattern recognition, puzzles to test our observation, and many more to be had. The signposting throughout the game was brilliantly, but subtly, done, giving us plenty of satisfying “Ah-ha!” moments as we solved our way through the game.
Corruption had a small screen in place which displayed the time remaining but could also deliver clues when required. We managed to complete the game without clues but found that the signposting throughout the game was sufficient enough that the only time we were close to asking for a clue was when we failed to search a space thoroughly enough. (Obviously, that won’t be true for everyone, but this game just clicked with us.)
Although Simon didn’t need to chime in with help, he was clearly paying very close attention to our progress, as the immersive moments that helped progress the narrative came through at exactly the right time, so I have no doubt that and clues would have been just as perfectly timed.
Lucardo have hit it out of the park once again. Corruption was full of fantastic puzzles, immersive touches, and all surrounded by a fantastic set. Prison in Manchester used to be my favourite Lucardo game, but this one may have surpassed it.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 30 minutes
Website: 33 – 35 Kay Street, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, BB4 7LS