Present, in September 2021, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant
clueQuest has a towering reputation as one of the essential venues in London, with four must-play rooms including cQ Origenes, the room in London top rated by TERPECA in 2019 and 2020. General feedback suggests you need a strong team to tackle Origenes, and as this trip to the capital was just me and Aunty Ant we decided to play safe with this venue’s first room, Plan52. At London prices this still felt a bit of a risk – if we could only afford one room it should be Origenes, right? – but at the same time we wanted to suss out the company to see if it was worth paying for a larger team to return. We played their Alpha Brain System print-and-play game during lockdown, so were curious to experience their work IRL.
The income from London prices seems to be well spent – the clueQuest venue is a class act from the moment of stepping through the door. An easy walk from King’s Cross (just across the road from another Escape Room, Omescape) the industrial door hides a beautifully designed lobby, full of the clueQuest signature cartoon mouse and sheep characters, superspy Agent Q and villain Professor Blacksheep. Our host and GM, Josiah, was lovely, enthusiastic and balanced the tricky job of the traditional meet/greet/safety talk with delivering the room brief in character. We didn’t need him much in the game itself, but in all respects he was an example of a perfect GM, making us feel like the smartest people in the room, even when we had just done something stupid!
The plot of the game is maybe a little fuzzy now – there was a lot going on – but involved identifying a double agent and defusing a bomb. It is a fairly simple office set, on some levels, but very appealingly decorated in character, and with some fun hidden depths.
Common phrases in some of Plan52‘s earlier player reviews are “padlock-heavy”, “traditional with lots of locks”, “over reliance on padlocks and keys”. Josiah was telling us that they had completed a significant revamp, replacing some of those traditional padlocks with more up-to-date and appropriate “spy-tech”. A few of these tech items were new to us, and quite a cool variation on the more usual progress elements, even if a proportion of them did still involve three or four digit codes. While not propelling the room into “third/fourth/fifth generation Escape Room” territory, it certainly didn’t feel tired or out-dated and I’d suggest those earlier criticisms could be safely discounted.
Another traditional element, searching, is still present and correct, and provided us with most of our (hilarious) sticky moments here, unable to see what was literally under our noses. As such, I think young people (and newbies) would certainly be able to get involved in this room, and we did miss the presence of Teenage Avenger, who would have been a great help with several aspects! We managed as a two, but less experienced players would definitely benefit from more bodies.
The humour in the game is great, and for such a prominent company we were thrilled at how characterful the game was. It doesn’t have the “wow” factor of some other rooms and we burned through the puzzles themselves fairly easily – not necessarily a bad thing as it showed they were solid and logical. We did have a huge amount of fun, and felt, with a time of 56 minutes, as if we had got our money’s worth. Should we have just jumped straight in with one of their more advanced games? Maybe. But this is a fun and gentle introduction to the world of Agent Q that left us keen to return.
clueQuest have very kindly offered you lovely readers a discount code, valid until 31st October 2021. Use GATAPAE@cQ for 10% off.*
- Storyline: I’m not entirely sure we knew what we were doing until the end, and then it kind of made sense.
- Theming and Set: Fairly simple, but classy, with some nice flourishes.
- Searching: More than we reckoned on!
- Puzzles: Nice, classic.
- Physicality: None, although I did seem to sit on the floor a lot.
- Scare factor: Very light on jeopardy, even their warning of “unless you are afraid of yellow mice or super-villain sheep” doesn’t really apply here.
- Company Age Guidance: “clueQuest is a fun escape game for all ages, although children under the age of 9 might find it challenging and confusing.”
- Age suitability: Yeah, pretty much that.
*This is not a paid promotion, and Granny & The Anthropomorphic Panda Avengers do not benefit from this code, as it is not part of clueQuest’s referral programme. All our reviews reflect solely our opinions and are not influenced by input or incentives from venues.