30/09/2017 – The MacGuffin Project

Back in 1865 the great MacGuffin circus was the talk of the town. It’s owner decided that he would step out of the spotlight and let his son take his place; however, much to his father’s dismay and disgust, the son had no interest in running the circus, favouring inventing. Sure enough, the son created this incredible machine that monitored the entire circus: the machine became too powerful and overthrew its creator and completely destroyed the whole circus, leaving it to rot. 150 years later and intrepid adventurers are given the opportunity to step inside the abandoned circus to figure out what went wrong…

 

From the moment you step inside The MacGuffin Project’s building, you are transported into their world: pipes and lights in cages line the wall, bunting hangs from the box office facade, jaunty seaside songs waft through the air, and the face of The MacGuffin Project all welcomes you not only inside the retail unit, but also their world – it’s very easy to forget that you’re in Bournemouth and not in this steampunk universe.

Once we had signed our lives away and stored our belongings we knocked on the entrance door, which swung open as an assistant threw himself out of, making us all jump, before welcoming inside. We watched a short video in the style you’d expect to see in early era of videography – sepia tones, warbled sounds, that sort of thing, before the video went wrong. The assistant excused himself and in his absence, the video continued though this was even more themed to the 1800s – muted sound, sepia tone, glitches from where the reel had burned and warped itself from heat, the whole lot.

Another door swings open, making us all jump once again, and we’re taken through to the room where The MacGuffin Project was created. We were told where to start, and the countdown began: 58.5 minutes later, we pulled the final lever: we succeeded in our mission!

Whilst this escape room isn’t inherently designed to be scary, there are definitely some jumpy bits throughout that caught us off-guard, and the whole atmosphere and story that developed throughout the show was definitely creepy: from skeletons of animals through to scribbles hidden throughout, through to the audio and lighting, it was incredibly easy to find yourself lost inside this universe for the time you’re in that room. The theming doesn’t falter at any point either – the artefacts found inside all have reason to be in there.

The detail I love about the puzzles is that it’s not all combination locks: without trying to give too much away, it’s almost like taking part in The Crystal Maze but all the mental and physical skill challenges are all rolled into this one room and you’ve got an hour to figure everything out. Cryptic, I know, but I really don’t want to detract from how clever the room is, especially as the puzzles all flow into one another and you’re constantly re-using

The little piece of detail that I really loved (that most escape rooms don’t do) is that small puzzles build up to a big puzzle, which then feeds into another puzzle somewhere else in the room which really added to the flow as everything fell into place. My favourite detail, and this is just me being a great big geek, is that the entire room runs itself: all the puzzles you solve are all monitored by a computer that lets you know when you’ve done something right and triggers the next part of the game, which is really incredible and honestly mind-boggling when it comes to some of the puzzles being solved!

If you’re ever in Bournemouth, or you want to try an escape room that blends puzzles and immersive storytelling into one, get yourself to The MacGuffin Project!

 

30/09/2017 – The MacGuffin Project

22/10/2016 – Alice Through the Graveyard

Presented by Howick House of Terror, this haunt will blow you away. Seriously.

Invited by the people that run Home Haunt UK, we were given a quick walk through and “behind the scenes” tour of what will be an incredible home haunt once it’s finished.

Built around and inside the creators home, this haunt is completely made up of animatronics that were designed and created in-house, which is absolutely insane and blew my mind when we found out! One press of a button bought every scene to life, using smoke, lighting effects and all sorts of surprising animations!

Not only do they have animatronic scenes, they also have a pitch black maze that’ll be loaded with props and effects by the time the haunt was open – we visited at about 5pm and there were corridors that were close to being pitch black already, so that’s going to be absolutely incredible when that’s finished (and don’t worry, there’s an escape route for those that don’t want to enter as well).

Soon enough, you get to a very famous scene from Alice in Wonderland, with it’s own disturbed twist. I can’t rave and rant about how incredible this scene is purely because there’s so much going on all at the same time, and describing it wouldn’t be doing it any justice (the same could be said for the rest of the haunt too, actually).

This is honestly an amazing feat the creators have done, and honestly puts some of the bigger attractions I’ve recently reviewed to shame. If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth visiting over the Halloween weekend – I’m just sad I won’t be able to experience the finished product!

Please note: this haunt is free of charge to enter; however, any and all donations go straight to Cancer Research UK – a worthy cause in my opinion!

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22/10/2016 – Alice Through the Graveyard