Present, in June 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant
I suspect that, if you tallied it up, the most recommended game for London on the UK Escape Room Enthusiasts’ Forum would be clueQuest’s Origines, and it wouldn’t even be a close contest. Since the game was launched in 2018 it has taken on a slightly mythical status as a boundary-pushing experience and the culmination of the Agent Q storyline. We needed to see if it could possibly live up to the hype.
This was our third game at clueQuest, after Plan52 and Revenge of the Sheep, and we do like the funky, slightly hipster-ish vibe of their central London headquarters. A short walk from King’s Cross, their lobby was absolutely buzzing on a Wednesday lunchtime with several large groups clearly out to enjoy themselves. Despite the size of the operation – they actually have eleven copies of their four games running – this doesn’t feel like a factory production line and we were well looked after.
We knew a little of what to expect from Origenes from the mission brief – we were to be miniaturized by the Shrink’O’Mat to become mouse-sized within Q’s old operations base (as obviously our hero Agent Q is a mouse) to defeat evil Professor Blacksheep (who is not a mouse). I love the concept and was very intrigued, as this is a very ambitious theme for a game – presumably they weren’t REALLY going to shrink us down…?
This is one of those occasions where it is probably nicer to not know exactly how it is all going to work and to let yourself enjoy the anticipation and the surprise. So, definitely no spoilers here. But I did thoroughly enjoy the execution of the storyline, and it is one of the those rooms where you are continually appreciating how clever it is, as you understand more about your surroundings. There’s a lot of cute, cartoony humour and a lot of fun.
This is a challenge for a team of two. There is an enormous amount to do and at least one major task would be immeasurably easier with a larger team. Maybe not ideal, space-wise, for 5 or 6, so a team of 3 or 4 is optimum. Apparently, as so few teams were escaping in time, clueQuest have reduced the number of tasks from the game’s original incarnation, which does mean there are a couple of dead puzzles but nothing distractingly so – we only realised after we finished that there were some elements in the set we hadn’t used.
The flow is generally good, but despite that I’m not sure we ever really ‘got’ the second half of the game; we spent quite a lot of time in slightly baffled chaos and felt we needed a fair few hints. We much preferred the first (and final) area and although the main part of the game is clever, we didn’t find it as intuitive as some of our favourites. It is a general problem with games carrying so much hype – we wanted to love it more but were a little confused that we didn’t. We ran over time but, as with Revenge of the Sheep, we were given a couple of extra minutes by our lovely GM Varvara to push through, which was greatly appreciated. Origenes, and clueQuest itself, is a terrific experience by any measure, but maybe this one just wasn’t quite on our wavelength. Should have taken the advice of just about everyone, and added another body to our squad.
- Storyline: Fun and different. We maybe should have paid more attention to our mission brief, as we kind of lost the plot in the middle.
- Theming and Set: Very clever and smartly done, with some interesting tech.
- Searching: More observation than searching.
- Puzzles: A real mix of tactile tasks and some spacial reasoning.
- Physicality: A team of two has to put in more effort than a larger team, but not anything strenuous.
- Scare factor: No scares, but some flashing lights and effects.
- Company Age Guidance: Origenes is labelled as “Suitable for children age 14+.”
- Age suitability: Yes, although there are some challenges younger ones might be good at, the difficulty level here is higher than a lot of rooms.
Also at this venue: Plan52 and Revenge of the Sheep