The Next Level?
The bomb shelter has only recently been discovered by The Network; the highest order of military intelligence. There’s no official government documentation of the Quartz Machine but rumours describing an artificially intelligent machine, engineered by a German nuclear physicist hellbent on causing world chaos have been leaked.
Having discovered its secret location we now need a brave team to go head to head with Quartz in order to destroy its physical construct and annihilate it from the world, for good.
Can you take on an artificially intelligent bot and win? There’s only one way to find out!
We last played physical games by The Escapement back in February 2019, when we visited them in Margate and played Pirates of Polaris, Egyptian Exodus, and The Pit. Then of course, the Pandemic hit and put a stop to many things, including escape rooms. Fortunately The Escapement released a play at home game (which we loved), called The Network. The Network was our first introduction to this secretive organisation, and the start of some cracking world-building by The Escapement.
Most, if not all, of the games at The Escapement are interconnected through their storylines. Actually, I’m pretty sure they’re all part of the same world as I’m positive that even Egyptian Exodus and Pirate of Polaris have been written in such a way that they don’t feel out of place. If you’re big into story, then you’ll love this world they’ve created and how everything ties together.
I digress. Broadstairs is The Escapement’s newest venue and from speaking with Lewis (one of the owners) it sounds like it was a monumental effort to get it up to Escapement standards. Planning issues, undiscovered WW2 bunkers, they had it all to overcome here! But overcome they did, and what an amazing venue they have created. Surrounded by a car park (very useful in a popular seaside resort), The Escapement building stands out as a shining beacon to weary escape room enthusiasts looking for their next fix.
WunderWaffe Operation Quartz was actually the second game we played in Broadstairs. We had time to kill when we arrived so we managed to cram in their outdoor game, Captcha Code. That game has its own review so I won’t talk about it, other than to say, it’s great – play it. When we arrived to play their physical games we finally got a proper look at this impressive building from the inside, and as expected it had that certain level of quality that we’ve come to expect from The Escapement. Beautifully styled reception, teas, coffee, and soft drinks available, and the highlight…. Mochi, the French bulldog!
We were introduced to our GM, Agent Smith (who reminded me of a young Hugh Laurie) and escorted upstairs to the secondary briefing area specifically for WunderWaffe Operation Quartz. As you’d expect, this briefing room felt like an extension of the room itself and set the scene perfectly for what was to come.
Agent Smith played his role perfectly and delivered a great briefing that somehow managed to ramp up the excitement all the way to 11. With the briefing complete, we were finally, after years of waiting, ready to see what The Escapement have been building.
You can’t write a review about any game by The Escapement without talking about immersion, although really, you don’t need to. It seems like story and immersion is at the heart of any game they design, and this game was no exception. For lack of a better word, this game was
amazing beautiful perfect.
Looking back at this game, now that the adrenaline has worn off, I feel like I can be more level headed about it. The space itself wasn’t huge, but it was used in such a clever way that we didn’t really know where we were going to go next, and we certainly didn’t expect what we found. There is an element of climbing required (not high), and it is upstairs in the venue, so a small level of fitness is required, but if you can push past that, you’ll be well rewarded.
We’ve played games in the past that have had amazing set design, yet the room still feels lacking. I think I’ve finally worked out why. For me, for a room to be standout and special, the audio needs to match the visual – and this room has audio in abundance. Each space felt distinct and had a soundtrack to match. The final area was a full on adrenaline boosting, heart pumping, show stopping, ridiculously fun, bonkers experience. I would play again just for that.
You’ve probably seen teaser photos of this room, even the header photo for this review gives a little insight, but nothing can prepare you for this game. Just play it, play it now. Yes Broadstairs is far away, but this is the type of game/venue that is 100% worth traveling to.
We played this game as a very experienced team of four, as we teamed up with Amy and Ian from Brit of an Escape Habit, but even then we spent the best part of an hour in this game, and the puzzles were suitably challenging and different to keep us on our toes.
People have a love/hate relationship with padlocks (I’m in the love camp), and if any room could get away with padlocks in them, a WW2 themed game probably could. But from what I can remember, there was only one padlock in this entire game, and it felt well placed. Other than that, the puzzles were all very tactile and there was an incredible amount of tech.
WunderWaffe Operation Quartz felt like a game of two halves. The first half was full of puzzling goodness and then the second half evolved into something completely different. Yes, there were puzzles but they took a backseat to everything else, including a new mission that provided a different type of challenge.
The puzzles, as you’d expect, slotted perfectly into the game and the set design around them was of a very high quality. We actually spent a good chunk of this game split up into teams of two to work on things, and this approach suited us well – there’s a reason this game is a four player minimum!
The puzzles mostly fitted into; observation, communication, physical, decoding and following observations. Actually I may put a new category here, not technically a puzzle, but Cardio – cardio helps immensely here – there is plenty of back and forth between the spaces so put your running shoes on.
In the interest of 100% openness and honesty. I can honestly say that had we attempted this game without Ian, we’d have struggled. We were a great puzzling team throughout, but the end is where Ian shone through and he really carried us home. I was beyond useless, but I had fun, so that’s all that matters, right?
Laurie Smith – was he the perfect GM? I think maybe he was. We didn’t see him break character at any point and everything he did had the polished feel of an Army Officer who deals with new recruits on a regular basis. Carlsberg don’t make GM’s, but if they did….
The clue system at The Escapement is an integral part of their experience and as such there are times where you may receive clues without actually realising it. There’s also not just one way of getting help in this game, from what I understand there are at least four different ways you could receive help and each way adds to the experience.
GM’s have a range of options in WunderWaffe Operation Quartz. Enthusiasts (or good players) get the subtle ‘special effects’ type hints, whilst teams that need a little more help can still have it in the form of something a bit more blatant.
One thing that helped Agent Smith stand out among other GMs was not only his thorough briefing, but his thorough de-briefing. Often we’ll complete a game and the GM will say you did great, and that’s it. Agent Smith had been paying close attention as he was able to essentially do a walk-through of the game pointing out who had solved what – impressive.
I don’t recall there being a timer in the room, so I’m going to assume there wasn’t unless someone tells me otherwise. If there was, just ignore it and enjoy your time in the game.
This game was a long time in the making, but I’m pleased to report that the wait was 100% worth it. The Escapement have created a game here that will surely go to the top of people’s ‘Top 10’ lists, we need to rejig ours, as this is firmly up there for sure.
From the moment you step into the building at The Escapement, you can tell that this is not just a normal experience, you’re going to get something special. If you’re familiar with the Top Escape Room Project Enthusiast Choice Awards (TERPECAs), then you’ll know that the UK is often overlooked – this could be the game to change that – it deserves all the plaudits, and more.
Oh and one more thing. The Escapement love to give our little mementos when you complete their games, and I’m pleased to say that tradition continues with this game – and it’s a trinket that is arguably perfect – wear it with pride!
Team Size: 4 people – escaped in 53:55
Address: Unit 2, Retort House, Albion St, Broadstairs CT10 1NE