clueQuest is one of the oldest providers in London. They released four escape rooms and apparently upped their game significantly with each following one. The latest one is cQ Origenes, which is apparently the best escape game in London (rated #125 and #87 in TERPECA 2020 and 2019) not being far behind the best TERPECA rated UK game – Loot the Lanes. All of their rooms follow one prevailing theme, where cartoon mice and sheep are the main characters. A rather cryptic name is actually a wordplay connecting words “origins” (as story-wise this game is a prequel to the previous ones) and “genes”. By the way, on one of the main photos used for advertising this room you can see weirdly familiar faces…
The story behind cQ Origenes is that we become secret agents that need to stop evil Professor Blacksheep and need to enter its secret lab. However, in order to do this we need to be shrunk to the size of a mouse with the help of Shrink’o’Mat, which is the room where we begin our adventure. As you can imagine, that’s a creative idea that allows for quite an original set design and interesting props. Since we are entering the secret lab and using some mysterious Shrink’o’Mat, you can rightfully expect this is a hi-tech room with sci-fi-ish vibe, but if you are not a fan of such themes I wouldn’t treat it as a disadvantage, because it doesn’t have that much of a spaceship feel you could expect it to. I would like to stress how well thought out this room was. Everything in it made sense. There is a clear story and a goal that you progress to. Apparently this room was advertised as padlock-free. Whether that is true or not, I would leave it to your personal judgement, but whatever conclusion you will end up with, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. There is a number of digit codes, but they are usually fun to input using some fancy mechanisms. Puzzles in this game are especially fun. There is a wide variety of them. There are some traditional ones, more challenging ones that require decent amount of creativity from just one person, ones that immediately engage the whole team to work together when their time has come and ones where you need to empirically learn to interact with the environment. Even traditional searching aspect was made very consciously into a fun element well connected with a story.
However I would not say that this was an epic adventure on a breath-taking set that you would probably hope to get in top tier games. The area was not particularly big and the interior was not as impressive as in quite a number of games I’ve visited and there wasn’t that big feeling of an exploration (as e.g. in Going Underground that I like to compare everything to). Even though the game had quite an original theme I would say that it didn’t break typical conventions of how escape rooms work which often allows to elevate the gameplay to the next level. Because of that it won’t be one of my absolutely favourite games ever. However, having said that, with respect to such constraints, I don’t think you can get much better than this game, it is surely a creation of a genius. Amazingly well thought out, every little detail here has its purpose. Puzzles are a very strong aspect of this game and you will have loads of fun while solving them. Even after visiting 250 rooms there were still many ideas that I’ve found original and puzzles which made us proud after solving them. By the way, less than a week ago I visited Loot the Lanes, which I already mentioned before and I could literally copy and paste this whole paragraph to the hypothetical review of Loot the Lanes too. Even though these two rooms look very different, I think that they share many generic properties such as not being epic adventures, but being very well thought out with extraordinarily fun puzzles. As the result I would rate them similarly around my personal TOP20 mark and I would say they are rated rather fairly in TERPECA. This is definitely a must play if you are in London.
Regarding difficulty, I think it is on the harder side, but not very hard. I visited it with three friends whose experience was 10-20 rooms. Everybody managed to significantly contribute and we managed to escape without any hints just in time (57 minutes).
And for the first time in my life, we even got our photo printed and nicely put in a cQ themed cardboard frame (it was mentioned it was an award for escaping without any hints, but you can purchase it for 7 pounds too). However, unfortunately in the result of a random draw it did not end up in my collection.
Whole venue operates 11 units (games here have multiple copies), so it is not surprising it may feel crowdy, however despite that we were treated really well. Our Game Master (Miquel) was very friendly and was happy to fulfill my usual request of going through all the puzzles from beginning to end after the end of our game, which understandably takes some time.