From 'Crystal Maze' and 'Fort Boyard' to, err, 'Jungle Run', many of TV's 'greatest' shows involve solving perplexing clues to get yourself out of a locked room. And, while we can all shout that TV contestants are bloody idiots when they fail to solve a simple anagram, it turns out that actually puzzling your way out of a locked room is waaaay harder than it looks.
Time Out Manchester headed to 'live escape room game' The Breakout on Brazennose Street last week, brimming with overconfidence. Choosing 'Madchester' - the hardest of the four rooms - our attempt to complete the challenge was pretty much an epic fail. (Although, in our defence, the room only has a five percent success rate (and we were hungover).
We had 60 minutes to find 25 clues and break the code for the exit door. We spent the first ten wandering around the room with literally no idea where to start (blame the hangover). SPOILER ALERT: clues were eventually found on the walls, in padlocked bags, a safe and many other places we're not going to tell you about because we'd rather you didn't do better than us.
There's a countdown clock on the wall, a 'Mission Impossible' style soundtrack and a puzzle master giving you clues via a TV screen. The room's theme is Manchester's most famous exports (from LS Lowry to Stone Roses and from Coronation Street to The Warehouse Project), so the tense movie music is replaced by classic Manc tunes when you press a 'panic button' in the centre of the puzzle-zone.
If you're feeling more 'Spooks' than I <3 MANCHESTER then try one of the other rooms which have 'stop the virus spreading', 'solve the murder mystery' and 'sabotage the missile attack' themes. But, FYI, those rooms are much easier (50 percent success rate) so even if you do break out, you haven't beaten us. Got it?
Book a Breakout here. Prices vary from £13 to £18 per person.