Entertainment

10 things we learnt playing London’s new Crystal Maze experience

Posted by
Joe Ellison
Published

Back in the nineties a person knew where they stood.

Michael Keaton was the only Batman Gotham deserved, light-up trainers were the discerning footwear of choice and - of course - the best thing on the telly was The Crystal Maze.

Well now it’s back, not on TV but as an immersive experience in London's Angel from 15 March, inviting nostalgia-happy fans to live out their fantasies inside a specially designed 30,000 square-ft space complete with large air-blasted crystal dome (the second most famous dome on the show after host Richard O’Brien’s). Doors open 15 March and you can book tickets here.

But how good exactly is it? What can you expect? And, most importantly, is it worth forking out for the £50 ticket?

We ran the gauntlet to find out.

  • 10 things we learnt playing London's new Crystal Maze experience

    The maze itself is stunning

    Save for the ones designed to keep those crystals in hard to reach spots, no corners have been cut and no expense spared for this experience, which raised almost £1m via crowdfunding. As with the original show, there are four zones for you to scuttle between - Aztec, Industrial, Future, Medieval - and each one is more faithfully made than the rest. 

    Mercifully, there aren't any small boats you have to board any more, but there is still a journey between the zones – and don’t worry, you won’t be needing your Oyster card.

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    Attire is smart causal...to a point

    Gone are those tattered jumpsuits - which, let’s be honest, looked a bit dated even back in the nineties - and now it's 'hello' fluorescent bomber jackets to give you an early era Take That sort of look (fittingly we had orange.)

    Jeans and trainers are fine, but if ultra-skinny jeans threaten to render you as inflexible as a frozen Wham Bar then we suggest wearing something more comfortable. Being nimble is key.

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    You WILL look stupid as people did on telly

    Prepare to feel a pang of guilt for all those times you rollicked contestants when they fumbled knee deep in water all those years ago (good news for aquaphobia sufferers: you won’t get wet this time as the water challenges have gone). Going into a room with no idea what awaits you and having to quickly work out what the hell to do while surrounded by shouting can be a fairly daunting experience. Can't see things in front of your own face? Forget to pick up the damn crystal at the end? Believe us, the pressure is real.

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    Getting locked in a room isn't too bad nowadays

    If you are reprimanded, the good news is you won't be stuck in an enclosed space for hours staring at a (hopefully) fake skeleton, but rather taken to a sort of prison cell and left to solve a riddle. Should you fail to answer it (chances are you will), it’ll cost your team one crystal to bust you out. Unless you don't like them...

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    Don’t always listen to what your teammates say

    Granted, sticking their heads through numerous windows might offer them a fuller perspective, but if too many people bark different instructions at you then it can actually prove detrimental for you figuring the challenge out. Play what you see, keep active, and don’t filter in what your teammates are saying unless you’re utterly stumped.

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    The 'mystery' tasks will probably remain a mystery

    Skill. Mental. Physical. Mystery. No matter which one you pick you are often guaranteed an inventive and devilishly difficult experience - even after they’ve been explained to you. Though no more so than the mystery challenges, which we’re still trying to figure out if we’re honest.

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    The Maze Masters will put you in the mood

    Already thinking you’re a bit cool for it all? That no amount of nostalgia will have you running frantically around sets? Think again. Full of the lingo and regularly in contact with “Mumsy, upstairs”, two minutes with one of these highly engaging Maze Masters and you’ll be breathlessly trying to keep up with them for the rest of the allotted hour.

    Another clever aspect sure to get you feeling all nostalgic is the famous theme tune, occasionally blasting out as you peg it from one set to the next.

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    But get them on side

    You'll want to get your Maze Master on-side - be it through friendship, or just pity. They know how the games work and can often be relied on for a clue or two - and then to take the piss out of you when you still don't get it. Team ShortList had the pleasure of a moustachioed Evil Space Pirate, who turned out to be delightful.

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    Your friends will display skills neither you nor they knew they had

    Whether you're with a group of mates, colleagues or family members already well versed at screaming at one another, there's bound to be some surprises; the guy who always spills his pint in the pub might well turn out to go all Entrapment and become a laser-dodging hero. Which might come in handy for the big finale...

    Remember seeing people deftly grabbing handfuls out of the air? The 'money' now is smaller and lighter, so getting hold of any of it is really quite difficult. Ignore the smiles, it was all business.

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    When it's all over, you can get a well-earned drink

    Handily, there's a well-placed canteen for when your tasks have been completed and the winners have been decided, meaning you can sit back and watch live footage of other contestants across the course via TV screens with a cold beverage in your hand. We knew there must have been a reason why Richard O'Brien was so chipper all the time.

    Also, look out for the treasure chests in the maze - players can redeem the tokens in the chests for a glass of friexnent at the bar at the end of the game.

    Well worth the admission, you’ve got to beat our total score of 164. We also got 9 crystals (well above average) so good luck with that, Maze Monkeys.