Present, in February 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant
It is now nearly a year since we played Temple Quest as part of our Kent tour. Why I have waited so long to review it? Usually it is the bad games that I put off doing, as I hate being mean. But with Temple Quest I have the opposite problem – I’ve put it off in an effort not to sound like a gushing, starstruck fangirl. Spoiler alert: I’ve going to fail at that.
I love a good temple game, and Clue Cracker’s offering is one of the temple-iest around. Think of every kind of cool and thrilling element from the cultural reference points of the genre – Indiana Jones, Crystal Maze’s Aztec Zone, Tomb Raider – distilled into one hour and you’ll be getting close. Anyone with the urge to express their inner adventure hero, this is the game for you.
Clue Cracker is a split location venue, but they are basically across the road from each other. We’d played Diamond Dogs, based behind The Shuffle House restaurant (thoroughly recommended) before being escorted over the way to face Temple Quest. Clue Cracker’s background is in film and theatrical sets and this shows, as they have pulled out all the stops to create an incredibly ambitious and immersive space. Like a true explorer, be prepared to get a little mucky and sandy, possibility even a little bruised and battered too, as you scramble and climb around.
This is a very physical game, both in terms of navigating the area and in completing the tasks. We succeeded, despite only having two fully working feet between the pair of us, but do be aware that it isn’t suitable for everyone with mobility issues – there may be workarounds, but they would majorly break the immersion. There is some degree of dim lighting (you are, after all, in an ancient temple) but extra light is provided on request and it isn’t there to make the game scary. Worth mentioning though that the team does have to split at one point, so be wise when escaping with kids – they need to be confidently independent, or be able to stick in pairs. Some areas might not be suitable for claustrophobes, and it must get a bit of a squish in places with a team of 6, although overall the space is generous. Pro-tip: make time to choose a comfortable helmet before you go in, it does make a difference.
Your mission is to retrieve an artefact, the Golden Monkey, to appease Nigel the Monkey God. And so, obviously, you are aided not by a GM but by Boris the talking monkey, keeping a beady eye on you from the corner of the room. We LOVED Boris. Apparently, this element isn’t to everyone’s taste, but our advice is to embrace the monkey and fully invest in the relationship. My tendency to anthropomorphize anyway made this very easy, and huge amounts of fun. I can see him being very popular with younger players, especially when some of the witticisms are directed at their parents… Incredible to kudos to Boris’s handler Kerry.
We escaped with three seconds to spare, and this is without doubt one of the very best game experiences we have had. I would only step back from saying it is perhaps the best Escape Room we’ve played on one count – it isn’t actually very in-depth when it comes to mental puzzles. It is not quite a typical Escape Room challenge with regards to that intellectual aspect, so I can understand why some puzzle people prefer Diamond Dogs, with its greater proliferation of a-ha moments. But, to my surprise, that’s not me – the level of adventure, thrill, immersion and humour Clue Cracker has created here is nothing short of legendary.
- Storyline: A real sense of narrative in the quest, although we maybe got lost in the last few minutes of chaos.
- Theming and Set: Astonishingly good, incredible detail and engineering.
- Searching: More observation and exploration than searching.
- Puzzles: A strong emphasis on physical, skill type tasks, requiring good team work and communication.
- Physicality: Oh boy, yes.
- Scare factor: There is some mild jeopardy, mostly undercut with humour. Just judge the split areas well with kids.
- Company Age Guidance: “suitable for ages 9 and up, but please note: children age 12 and under will need to be accompanied by an adult in the room”.
- Age suitability: Tweens and teens would adore this room. Younger ones would need good support, and unaccompanied teens would maybe need a bit of experience, although I imagine Boris would be an amazing helper with rookie groups.