The 90s is having a bit of a moment right now, and quite rightly so. I proudly grew up in an era that gave us The Crystal Maze, Knightmare, Fun House, Gladiators and so much more. I’d waste away my weekends playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Alex the Kidd and Streets of Rage while listening to the Spice Girls on repeat.
In the current decade, most of my free time (pre-pandemic) seems to be spent playing escape rooms, mini-golf, arcades, retro bowling, visiting theatres, museums and other twee yet magical activities with my extended family. Being the nostalgic soul that I am, Castle Crusaders caught my attention with its sexy 90s gaming graphics and theatrical medieval vibe.
It’s essentially an interactive online escape room, with a live host and featuring 16 challenges dotted around a virtual castle. When I won a giveaway recently for a game at Jacobe Castle, the timing couldn’t have been better; I am so over that ‘random quiz and banana bread’ phase. I was an introvert before lockdown and am practically feral now, so I like the idea of finding new ways to interact without having to step out of the living room, even once restrictions are fully lifted.
One Friday night a few weeks ago, I followed the free Zoom link I’d been sent when I booked the game and waited, along with the other seven members of my team, who were based across two households. After a quick introduction from our host, Jackson, we were told what to expect. We picked a team name and I was nominated as Team Captain.
With this title came great responsibility as I was asked to choose which player would take on each challenge as we moved through the game. Ever the diplomat, I kept it fair and ensured that we all got to play two games. Based on either the Ability, Brain, Secret or Active categories, some games were solo ones while others were more of a group activity.
After each win, we were given a single letter to make up a final passcode, which would allow us to escape the castle. We laughed and shouted and concentrated and jumped on one leg (literally in some games). I think in the end, we managed to get all but two letters, which Jackson kindly gave us a second chance to win back at the end and ultimately, left us victorious.
I really liked the concept of having a live host on board. As well as adding to the overall game show vibe, they helped to keep up team momentum, provided direction – and the occasional clue – and stopped us from spiralling into utter chaos, which is what usually happens with the homemade Zoom quizzes. They were quick-witted and good-humoured, helping to make the sillier tasks feel a little less embarrassing!
Our game lasted for about 70 mins in total and is definitely something we’ll be booking again, as they now have two different games to choose from. Prices range from about £9 pp, depending on what date you’d like and how many people are in your team. You can have 4 to 8 players and it’s suitable for most ages (I’d say from maybe 12 upwards but am not sure of the official guidance there). You can find out more about Castle Crusaders here on their website, including booking and prices.