A really fun debut game
Mount Clifton Manor is a shadow of its former splendour. The ancestral home of the Clifton family is falling into ruin after years of neglect following the disappearance of Lord Frederick Clifton. The Manor has been subject to many reports of ghostly sightings over the years with nobody identifying the cause behind the phenomenon. Keen to put the matter to rest once and for all Lady Clifton has hired you as the leading paranormal investigators to come in and find the cause behind the disruption. Assemble your team and get ready to discover the secrets and mysteries lurking in Mount Clifton Manor.
We’re always looking for new games in our local area, although living in the Southwest, our local area extends to destinations over an hour away – like Exeter. But, when a new escape room company opens up, and we have a weekend free, it seems like the perfect opportunity to just hop on a train and check them out.
Prodigy Escapes haven’t been open long, but they already have two games open, and a third in the works. The venue is located on the outskirts of town, but it’s an easy walk from the station, or they have parking on site. When we arrived, we were warmly greeted at the door by Dan and Lisa, the owners of Prodigy, and our GMs for the day.
Often when companies are new, they focus on their games first, and reception is a bit of an afterthought, but at Prodigy, they’ve managed to do both. Reception was clean, spacious, and comfortable to sit in while we had a chat with Dan and Lisa. But it wasn’t long before we were presented with a little test puzzle, and then sent off on Mission ImPAWsible.
Shortly after though, we were back out. And after a lovely break for a cup of coffee, and another chat, it was time to take on Prodigy Escapes’ first game: The Haunting of Mount Clifton Manor. This time, Dan led us down the hallway, to the door of Mount Clifton Manor.
Prodigy Escapes’ venue has a very corporate office block feel to it…until you step through the entrance to this game. The Prodigy Team got their start in set design from haunted houses, and it shows. I suppose it’s only fitting that we were there as paranormal investigators
Once through the door, we found ourselves transported from generic office corridor to Victorian-esque haunted Manor House. Of course, Lighting and sound design played a major role in creating the right atmosphere, but there were plenty of more practical visual effects and set design elements that helped to transform the space.
Prodigy Escape’s have focussed a large part of their energies on storytelling within their game, and every little thing seemed to have a purpose and an explanation, even if it wasn’t revealed to us. For instance, we found a large case that would contain all of our ghost hunting equipment, but even its presence was explained away with the narrative.
As with most story driven games, Mount Clifton Manor progressed in a relatively linear manner, but even so, Gord and I often split to investigate different things, coming back together at crucial points. As we progressed, the story grew, revealing secret after secret, building to an eventual climax and dramatic finale, complete with a credit roll once we finally laid the spirits to rest.
Now, I feel it’s worth mentioning that despite the dark theming, lighting was never a problem. It helped that our handy ghost hunting kit had enough torches for everyone, but additionally, the ambient light was bright enough that we didn’t even really need them. As an additional touch, if you have particularly poor low light vision, you can even request brighter light (and even fewer jump scares) , etc. at the booking stage, and the team at Prodigy will accommodate this. The game is also very accessible for those with mobility challenges, and would even accommodate a wheelchair user (or we’re pretty sure it would, maybe check with the venue first).
Puzzles in Mount Clifton Manor were fair, balanced, and, above all fun. While there were a number of padlocks, there were plenty of other secrets to reveal, both mystical and mechanical. The puzzles were a nice blend of mental and tactile challenges, and each task and puzzle fit well within the theme. Subtle signposting throughout the game allowed whatever we encountered to feel intuitive.
I’ll be honest, difficulty is subjective, but we were absolutely flying through Mount Clifton Manor, thanks to the logical nature of the puzzles, right up until we hit a wall. Well, not really a wall. More like a puzzle requiring a bit of physical manipulation that can’t be bypassed. This would have easily eaten up the over thirty minutes we had remaining when we hit it, were it not for some excellent games mastering with the perfectly timed nudge. Instead, it left me kicking myself, because I very nearly had figured it out.
Once inside Mount Clifton Manor, whenever we needed assistance, we were able to place a call to the Groundskeeper of the Manor on the intercom; after all, he was more familiar with the house, and might be able to help us when we get into trouble. In practice, this system is no different to handing us a couple of walk-in-talkies, but working it into the story makes all the difference, helping to keep things just that much more immersive.
Dan returned as our GM/Groundskeeper, and after GMing for us in Mission ImPAWsible, he had a good idea of how we operate. We only needed to phone once, but once the Groundkeeper gave us a ring to ask if we wanted help or to persevere, so it was clear he knew exactly what we were up to, and was able to swiftly point us back in the right direction. Automated time reminders and a cleverly disguised timer screen meant we always knew just how long we had remaining.
Thanks to the excellent puzzle flow and creepy ambiance, I thoroughly enjoyed The Haunting of Mount Clifton Manor, but what makes it even more impressive is that it is the company’s first game. I’m looking forward to seeing what Prodigy Escapes do next (particularly as it’s rumoured to be my favourite theme.)
Team: 2 players – escaped in 24:14
Address: 26b Clifton Hill, Exeter, Devon, EX1 2DJ