Being a 90s kid, I remember growing up listening to the Spice Girls on my Walkman, rushing home from school to feed my Tamagotchi, and waiting for my older siblings to take their turns on the Sega Megadrive so I could play Super Mario.
Now, The Losers Club has harnessed that nostalgia and transformed it into Congleton’s first ever escape room, which sounded like the ultimate way to celebrate turning 25 last month.
The Cheshire geek retreat first opened in summer 2022, opposite the town’s vegan eatery Wild and Wild on Bridge Street. The retail shop is a hive for pop culture and retro games, selling a range of Funko Pops and officially licensed merchandise from the likes of Marvel, Pokemon, Harry Potter and more.
Within just two months of opening, The Losers Club announced the next phase of their venture – level two, if you will – with their first escape room: Nostalgia.
We booked online for December 22, and managed to use a discount code to get 20 per cent off the total, paying just £16 per person instead of £20. It’s a competitive price in comparison to other escape rooms in the area, and the offer made it even more affordable. It’s well worth checking their recent Facebook posts for codes and deals before you book.
On arrival, we were greeted by owner Matthew Oliver-Eaton, who left his career in care and hospitality to follow his dream and do something that he loved. The Stephen King fan got the name for the store from the book IT, explaining: “The group of outcast kids are persecuted for being a bit nerdy or quirky decide to own their status and refer to themselves as The Losers Club, and we share the same message. The best thing about being a loser is that you have nothing to lose.”
My chosen teammates for the escape room were both my parents and fiance, and the one thing we all had in common was that none of us had ever completed an escape room previously. As complete novices, Matt was absolutely brilliant at talking us through the theme of the room, the rules and the task at hand. Armed with Matt’s colourful backpack, we were locked into a very 90s bedroom with means to find his stolen retro collectables, and find the culprits responsible.
Due to the nature of the escape room, I’m very keen not to give too much away or reveal any spoilers, so I’ll tread carefully in my review and haven’t shared any photos of the room – only the shop.
In one hour, our team of four – said to be the ideal team size – were challenged with solving a number of clues, riddles and puzzles in order to unlock and recover 10 well-known 80s and 90s toys and safely store them in Matt’s rucksack. Some of these included my own beloved childhood toys, including Cabbage Patch kids, My Little Pony and Power Rangers, which had fond memories flooding back from my younger years.
We would also need to unmask the thieves, and also bring these to Matt when we made it out of the room. The aim is to retrieve as many of the collectables as possible, as well as the culprits, and be out of the door within the hour, earning points for both the number of collectables, and time bonuses – however, losing points for any additional items in the bag that weren’t on the list.
As soon as we entered the room, we scouted around for the first potential clue, but it was Jake that discovered the first problem that needed to be solved. We methodically made our way through a number of breadcrumbs which allowed us to unlock padlocks, crack codes and access new information to progress further.
The room has been rated a 4/5 in difficulty, and for absolute beginners, we were pretty proud of our efforts. Matt was on hand via a walkie-talkie to provide hints and tips, but these came at the expense of our pride and dignity on many occasions, so often we put our heads together to try and solve it unaided.
We were warned in advance that the room does involve an element of crawling, so I’m glad I wore some stretchy trousers. This added a new dimension to the escape room, and very much required us to work as a unit to tackle the varied and engaging puzzles. I felt like I was on an episode of Crystal Maze at one point, actually.
With less than five minutes left on the clock, we had located nine of the collectables and found the culprits, and although we did spend some time looking for that 10th item, we decided to leave the room without it. We did, however, still make it onto the leaderboard, having beaten the previous team’s time with the same number of memorabilia.
After we hit the stopwatch, Matt revealed where we would have found that final clue, but all of us had completely missed it, never even giving it a second thought.
In all, we loved the theme of the room and the narrative behind it. The room itself has been intelligently constructed and is well thought out, and we thought the puzzles were just the right amount of difficulty. As far as team building goes, this was a really fun family experience, and I only called Jake an idiot once, so I’d call that a huge success.
If you think you could find all of Matt’s missing collectables and end the mystery, book Nostalgia at The Losers Club and see if you can escape with your friends and family.