Blackout Escape Rooms, Milton Keynes – Hostage

Blackout Escape Rooms is an independent escape room company in the Milton Keynes area. When the company first set up we played an Alien Abduction themed room, though I think that must have been about 4 years ago now. Low and behold it was high time we returned to Blackout and we thought we would give their Hostage game a go. We were a group of 7 so we chose Hostage as they have two copies of the room and we could play in two smaller groups head to head.

You wake up confused. You have never been here before. You try to move and notice you are handcuffed. As you take in your surroundings reality dawns on youYou have been taken Hostage!

You have lost track of time and the days roll into one. You hear the door slam and know that this is your only chance! Realising you can only rely on yourself and your friends, you take the opportunity to escape.

The warning is in the opening story, but you do start of this game with one hand cuffed to the walls. So the first task is to get free of the cuffs to then escape your confinement. Kidnapping is a tried and tested escape room theme, this room is a great example of the theme and how it can be done well. You can tell the room is not a high budget shiny franchise, however it is well decorated and clearly very well thought out! You have a TV screen which displays your time left and any clues. Our game master Rachel was great and gave us the option of asking for clues when we wanted them, or her giving us clues as she thought we needed them, we elected to ask when we wanted a clue (with the aim of not asking for any.)

Once the door shuts, time is on and off you go. We found we started strong and it didn’t take us too long before we were free of the handcuffs, there is plenty to do in the room, lots of keys and codes to find, but there are other types of puzzles as well. The room is geared more towards padlocks, but there are lots of different types of padlocks and other elements which adds variety. We completed puzzles in a different order than I think was necessarily intended by the game design, but that is something which I think contributes to a good room, allowing teams to find different paths through and not forcing a linear route through the puzzles. I’m also a fan of rooms which take into consideration large teams and making sure there is enough for large teams to do while making sure that rooms are still possible for smaller teams, it’s a fine balance to strike and I think Hostage has found that balance.

We did have to ask for a clue and we kicked ourselves afterwards when we realised how we were missing the bleeding obvious! The room does incorporate some technological elements which you wouldn’t necessarily expect with a hostage theme, but I very much enjoyed its addition. We flew through the room really well and enjoyed every moment of it, I can certainly see what elements could slow other groups down, and which we were lucky to spot very quickly. The last puzzle in the room is quite fiddly, and takes some patience, trying to rush it too much could slow you down!

For us the sign of a great escape room is that we can’t stop talking about it afterwards, there was a lot of discussion when we got to the restaurant for dinner with the consensus being that we all thought it was one of our favourite games we’ve played to date. Hostage has an escape rate of 25%, and I can see how many groups don’t make it out. It’s a room I think is best suited to experienced players and teams who work very effectively together. I want to give Blackout their due, they have clearly put a lot of thought and effort into their business and I am very excited that we still have some local games to come back and play. If you are around Milton Keynes and want to play a game I would strongly recommend these guys!

Overall I’m giving hostage 4.5/5, I’m not yet sure what will get 5/5, but this game is definitely getting close. My group of 3 escaped in 44 minutes and 6 seconds with a single clue, the group of 4 escaped in around 42 minutes with no clues.

Difficulty 4/5

Atmosphere 4.5/5

Variety 4.5/5

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