*Previously Clever Dilemma, now under the Escape Kent umbrella. Follow this link for updated venue website
Present, February 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant
Of the many lauded Kent locations, one that doesn’t seem to get mentioned nearly enough is Clever Dilemma in Faversham. This game is holder of a coveted golden padlock for being highly rated on Escape The Review, and as we thoroughly enjoyed Clever Dilemma’s other offering (Dracula‘s Chambers), we were very excited to be issued with our deputies’ badges to play Murder At The Wild West Quest Saloon.
The plot is pretty much what it says on the tin – a murder mystery set in the classic Old West of cowboys, gunslingers and hard liquor. The set completely does not disappoint, with everything you’d want from the theme and more, short of riding in on an actual horse (the yeehaw type hint notifications are a nice touch). You’ve got almost free run of the saloon, the street, sheriff’s office and jail, and the level of detail is fantastic, such a fun immersion.
A cluedo-esque list of suspects (famous names of the genre) is supplied, to be eliminated one by one – I really loved this angle of the game where you need to keep an eye on the big picture as well as solving the individual puzzles. There is a lot to do as well; for just the two of us we were scurrying about furiously (mind the swinging saloon doors!) and this really added to the tension.
This isn’t a scary game. I was almost expecting a little more violence given the theme. Instead it has a great sense of humour and plenty of smarts without tipping over into parody. Lighting is generally good once you get out of the street, torches are provided, and it would actually be a pretty nice spot to hang out, if only we had time to relax!
Searching seemed to be a big part of the game, although this may only be because we are so bad at it! Exploring every corner of the large set was essential to gather all the information needed for the puzzles, so this is an element where younger players might be very useful; we certainly needed an extra pair of eyes. But this isn’t a simple “hunt the key” type thing – there are proper puzzles here which shouldn’t be underestimated. We tried a couple of times with “well, that might be right” situations, but then realised we were missing an element and the answer was much more elegant and well-thought-out. We maybe felt that there could have been a little more sign-posting here, in terms of how much you needed to search for; as a game with some non-linear elements we possibly didn’t prioritise very well with what we could do and what we still needed to find.
Like Dracula, the game builds to a strong, original and slightly unexpected conclusion. Overall, such an impressive, unique and entertaining game. We enjoyed playing as a rather chaotic two, but I can see that it would be even more fun with an extra body or two. One area might be a little tight for space, but a bit more time to take in the surroundings and the narrative, plus the additional search power, would make up for that. Clever Dilemma really live up to the Kent high standards and then some, and I would love to see any further games they have to offer.
- Storyline: Clever, and different, although looking back there is a bit of a plot hole.
- Theming and Set: Strong theming and excellent set, all the way through.
- Searching: Need to be absolutely switched on with this.
- Puzzles: A great mix, some very unusual and smart ideas here.
- Physicality: We did a lot of rushing around and some dexterity required, but nothing too strenuous. Room is upstairs.
- Scare factor: None, past the mildly adult themes of murder, death penalties and booze.
- Company Age Guidance: “Minimum age is 11 and 11-16 year olds MUST be accompanied by at least one paying adult.”
- Age suitability: Probably not that suitable for young ones, so I’d say guidance is right in terms of playing. There’s plenty of space for babe-in-arms, but not really a toddler-proof environment, so check with the venue.
Also at this venue: Dracula’s Chambers