[First published on Quays News.]
FIVE of the Quays News team were invited to play the interactive puzzle-solving game. Entertainment reporter Rae Coppola was one to take on the ‘Contamination’ room, which is dubbed the hardest in Europe…
Lucardo began in August 2016, but officially opened with a ‘soft launch’ several months later, as directors Adam Conroy and Ian Pownall tweaked the rooms and tested them religiously before allowing the public to play.
Based in Ancoats, the escape game business allows teams of 2-5 people to enter one of five themed rooms to search for clues, solve puzzle and find keys. All participants have 60 minutes to complete the game and escape out of the room.*
It sounds simple enough, but do not let that fool you. The 60 minutes will feel like the quickest hour of your life, and your minds will be challenged in ways you did not think possible.
Adam, one of the directors at Lucardo, briefed the Quays News team thoroughly about the rules and talked through the variety of different locks they would be faced with inside. This meant that we completely understood what to expect, were given the chance to ask questions, and were able to see the colleague’s passion for the business first hand.
Myself and the team were then dramatically immersed with the story of the ‘Contamination’ room, whereby we were profiled as scientists who had been drafted in to find a missing vial of T-200, a deadly strain of poison that threatens the lives of every Mancunian, which was thought to have been stolen by Professor Thomson. We were tasked with breaking into his lab, and retrieving it, before he returned.
Although the live action escape room door may have closed behind us, we were not alone in the room.
Adam acted as the game master, watching our every move in a Big Brother style live stream and skillfully offering cryptic clues when he noticed our struggles. For instance, at one point, when we were beginning to lose faith, we were told, “Right numbers, wrong order,” and soon managed to get the real code through trial and error.
When a team gets the right combination but puts it in every lock but the one they need … pic.twitter.com/oEktGcVCId
— Lucardo Manchester (@LucardoER) January 10, 2017
The room was extremely well presented, and it was obvious that the directors had paid excellent attention to detail during its construction. The clean, sterile environment was fitting for a laboratory. Also, the music in the background intensified as the clock counted down, and had a really eerie sense to it that got the adrenaline pumping.
There was a variety of different puzzles inside, which encouraged strategic thinking, logic and sometimes, lucky guesses.
We were given a clipboard, some paper and a pencil, as well as a calculator to note down codes and work out the testing sums, which was a nice touch and meant that participants would not be hindered based on their ability.
The Quays News team managed to escape in the last few seconds, thanks to Adam’s help, but firmly agree that it could potentially be the hardest in Europe, as it was a very close call.
Once we had finished the game, the games master collected us and reflected on how we did, displaying just as much excitement as we did. It seemed like nothing was too much trouble for the friendly and extremely patient colleagues, who went above and beyond to make sure we enjoyed the experience.
Adam then gave the group some signs to write our own messages on and took a snap with the Lucardo feature wall in the background (see cover image).
When I asked about the choice of name, Adam explained: “We thought of it one day and just really liked it. I suppose it does sound Italian, which is funny because we researched and there’s a castle in Italy called Lucardo. The dream would be to set up a room inside it.”
Perhaps one day, the dream will become a reality, as the independent business have showcased the talent and customer service skills to make it big in the industry.
*Each game slot costs between £13 and £20 per person, depending on how many individuals will be playing, and can be booked via the website.