A treasure well worth exploring...

As Summer finally seems poised to raise its fleeting, elusive head, blessing us with that rare, British treasure - a sunny May Bank Holiday (!) - the first thought of many will likely not be to lock themselves away in a dark room for an hour in an attempt to escape via a series of riddles, puzzles and physical-lite challenges.

And yet, those whose first port of call is nabbing a makeshift Barbecue in Tescos and donning that pair of tropical shorts that have should long found their way to the nearest charity shop will be missing out on one of the most intriguing, unique and challenging hours of entertainment available in Brum this Summer.

We’re no stranger to Clue HQ, one of several success stories in the recent boom of live entertainment ‘escape rooms’. It’s an industry that has filtered over from success Stateside, and seems to show no signs of abating here in the UK. And whilst the second City has a growing staple of choices for escape enthusiasts, Clue HQ is by some measure the most polished and enjoyable.

Their latest adventure, The Betrayal of Cluetankhamun, adopts, unsurprisingly, an Ancient Egyptian angle, as you enter the tomb of the titular Pharaoh in the hopes of discovering what happened to the team who came before you (no prizes for guessing that it wasn’t a pleasant outcome), whilst also keeping an eye out for a certain treasure or two…

Clue HQ have always excelled in their theming; previous offerings reviewed such as Captain Riddle’s Forgotten Fortune went full throttle with its sea-faring, pirate aesthetic, and the same can be said of the techy nightmare of Hellevator or the authentic claustrophobia and prison confines of Cell Block C. Cluetankhamun is no exception here, with some fantastic design and attention to detail. Full-sized Sarcophagi, tapestries adorned with hieroglyphics and all other manner of touches once again immerse visitors in a fully realised experience. And whilst it may not be the most expansive of games (that honour still goes to Captain Riddle’s), it does contain some surprises and curveballs when it comes to your playing space.

In terms of challenge, there is once again a brilliantly judged combination of physical and mental puzzles to wrap your heads (or hands!) around. Think of it akin to a self-contained Crystal Maze, and you won’t be far wrong. With an hour on the ticking clock, you must work with your team (and co-operation and good communication is a must) to crack codes, solve visual puzzles and all other assortment of conundrums and challenges that we shan’t spoil with specificity here. Your game’s host will be there to relay hints via the same screen which displays the countdown timer, but note they aren’t obliged to give you help, even if you ask for it.

With our full team of 6 players, Cluetankhamun was amongst the easier of escape rooms we have attempted, but the Clue HQ website concedes this with only half of the difficult rating of its most challenging experiences. That being said, alongside Captain Riddle’s, it is easily the most fun we have had in such a game - at one point, our team were evenly split between attempting to crack a visual puzzle using an Egyptian map and diary entries, following rope to uncover a vital 4-digit code, and physically assembling a challenge which made clever use of light and shadow.

With its more moderate difficulty, fantastic theming and brilliant variety to its puzzles and challenges, Cluetankhamun is in some ways the perfect recommendation for corporate or event outings; it isn’t too taxing, but is a whole lot of fun. And for the more ardent, experience escape room enthusiasts out there, simply ask your host to not help you too much and there’s still plenty of challenge and moments where you will be quite literally chasing the wrong end of the stick. Or bandage.

For the quality of experience they offer, Clue HQ’s pricing structure is already great value. Get yourself a full team of 6, or take advantage of the many return offers Clue HQ sends through its email newsletters or loyalty scheme, and you get even more code-breaking bang for your buck. 

And whilst The Betrayal of Cluetankhamun may not be their most difficult or challenging hour, it is easily one of the most varied, fun and consistently themed, and one struggles to think of a better recommendation for those who want a varied, challenging hour of live entertainment without confusing themselves into an early tomb of their own.

Tickets and information for THE BETRAYAL OF CLUETANKHAMUN and other escape games at CLUE HQ Birmingham can be found on the official website cluehq.co.uk/birmingham, or by calling direct on 0333 335 0030.

And check out the trailer for THE BETRAYAL OF CLUETANKHAMUN below: