Name: Unknown. Mission: Escape. Your plan: That’s Classified.
One of the problems with the popularity of escape rooms in Wales is that, sometimes, you have a sizable group of people wanting to play.
You could do two separate rooms, but talking about them afterwards would be awkward for fear of spoilers.
This is where Breakout Cardiff’s Classified comes in. You split into two teams – blue and green – and you’re presented with two identical rooms.
You’re all secret agents and this is your final exam. The team that escapes quickest is the victor.
It sounds good on paper. But was it any good to play?
Classified: Theme and immersion
The two rooms of Classified – blue and green – are duplicates of one another. This lets teams go head-to-head with the exact same puzzles and avoids the danger of player saturation.
With windows that back onto Cardiff’s Brewery Quarter, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re in an upstairs room above a couple of pubs and restaurants. Breakout Cardiff plays to this and integrates this into their room design.
Does it look like a staff room? Make it a staff room in a nuclear silo! Does it look like an office? Make an office for a secret agent training facility!
The decoration throughout is good and functional. There’s nothing there that shouldn’t be there, and there are little touches of flavour to enhance the experience. That being said, the decoration of the room could be improved a little in order to give a greater sense of immersion (I found the same true for Cursed Carnival). It’s good, but it could be awesome.
Classified: The puzzles
You crafty buggers.
Classified themes itself around a secret agent’s final exam, and so all of their skills must be tested.
This means you get a wealth of puzzle varieties to test your observation, spatial awareness, maths skills and common sense.
That last one proved quite difficult. We’d been struggling with a puzzle for a few minutes (and the clues offered only confused us more). Then one of us realised that there was something wildly out of place in the room that we accepted as the norm.
This room isn’t difficult in the traditional sense, but it does rely on you not taking things for granted. For example, I spent a good few minutes knocking the wall in the hope of activating a secret door, but didn’t think of looking under chairs and tables for stuck-on clues.
For the vast majority of the room, there was something for everyone to do. Only towards the last puzzle or so was there one of us without anything to do. For that reason I’d say four people is the optimum number of players here.
The sequence of puzzles followed a very logical progression that didn’t feel too linear. We managed to fluke the answer to one lock without having completed one of the puzzles prior to it – going off-piste is just our style.
Hints are only displayed when the game masters think you need them. The rule here is “if you hear nothing, you’re doing well”.
We ended up getting a few hints, and our game masters were quick on the draw to guide us in the right direction without hand-holding.
Breakout Cardiff’s hint system is the standard text-on-a-monitor setup. This worked in its favour with the secret agent theme.
A cracking all-rounder
We escapes Classified with eight minutes to spare – a full five minutes ahead of our opponents.
Everyone had a blast with these rooms, and our game masters informed us that we were probably the most vocal team they’d seen. To be fair, we cheered for every lock that opened and every clue that we found!
If you have a large group, I thoroughly recommend Classified. The ability to split into two groups and tackle the same room is a unique feature to Cardiff’s escape scene, and the room itself ticks all the boxes.
While it’s not the most immersive or narrative-driven escape room I’ve played, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Breakout prove themselves to be consistently good in all of their rooms – no small feat for a large franchise.
Classified is suitable for teams between two and 10 people. Bookings start from £12 per person. You can get more info over at Breakout Cardiff.