Reviewed by Melanie Allen
Darkstar is a very popular laser tag venue based in the town centre of St Helens, Merseyside and mainly attracts visitors from the North West of England. It has a floor space of over 13,000 square metres over 3 levels. Myself, my husband and 2 children (boy aged 9 and girl aged 11) visited on a busy Saturday afternoon in July. I have been before to drop off my son for a party a few times, but I have never ventured inside so wasn’t sure what to expect. There is a free car park next to it which was almost full at that time, but further parking is available in the public car park behind the police station which is situated next door.
The interior is very space age, with shiny flooring, stylish black tables and red chairs. There are a few arcade games and there is a licenced bar and a pizza restaurant so ideal for families who fancy drinks and a meal out, with the added bonus of a game or two of laser tag. We had previously booked the family package (2 games of laser tag each, pizzas and soft drinks) and we were greeted by Lynn, the owner who gave us our tickets and asked for our choice of pizza toppings and drinks. There were plenty of staff on duty which was reassuring. Me and my husband chose Cajun Chicken and Spicy Beef with Pepsi Max and for the children we chose pepperoni and chicken with a mixed slush (the meat toppings are halal). We ordered the pizzas to be ready for after our first game.
I have played laser tag before but many years ago. Our first game was at 3pm and we entered the arena for the safety briefing. On our tickets we had a number and this number was the station where we picked up our body pack from. Up to 40 players at a time can compete which makes this an ideal corporate event venue as well as children’s party place. Anyone aged 7 and over can play. Each game lasts for 15 minutes, 20 including the safety talk so the arena runs 3 games an hour. Our first game was an individual game so we could shoot anyone. We put our body packs on and entered the arena. The levels are split by ramps and there is no running rule, which was good as I had ballet style pumps on and I would have slipped quite easily. You have to press both triggers for the gun to fire an infra-red light beam at the opposition and there are nodes on the wall to gain extra points (be aware they can also tag you!). The room is in darkness but lit up with various fluorescent lighting signs. You can see your score and your rank on your gun whilst playing and if you got shot, your pack is disabled for 6 seconds to allow you to escape.
Being a competitive family, we had a great time. 15 minutes was plenty of time and we were all sweating from our activities. As we came of the arena, as promised our drinks and pizzas were waiting for us.
The pizzas were (continuing the space theme) out of this world. All the food served here is freshly made on the premises, you cannot buy these pizzas anywhere else. Their bases are light, crispy and authentically Italian and were the nicest pizzas I have ever tasted. The toppings were plentiful and they were also extremely filling (I only managed 2 slices but my husband managed 6). The kid’s slushes were a mixture of flavours and melted quite quickly. They have an extensive menu with starters, pizzas and pastas and ice cream which could quite easily rival a certain ‘express’ pizza restaurant. They are very reasonably priced too. We were absolutely stuffed after eating 2 pizzas between the 4 of us.
We then managed another laser tag game an hour after our original one. This time there was a much larger group so we were split into 3 teams, Blue, Green and Red, and went about the arena shooting any colour which wasn’t ours. This time we could work as a team so I felt this was much more fun than the individual game. My husband was very proud to have beaten all the kids and fellow adults to be ranked first in the game.
At Darkstar they run weekly theme nights, special events for seasonal holidays and even have daily, monthly and 3 monthly passes. I was told by the owner that they have regular customers who travel 2-3 hours, stay for the entire day and then drive home – dedication or what?! They also run host children’s parties and corporate team building events – there really is something for everyone here.
All the relevant information is on their website, the only thing I would say to improve on the website is to promote their restaurant a bit more and offer an online menu as I feel they are underselling it. If people saw the menu beforehand, it may encourage more customers.
A fantastic few hours spent in a lovely family friendly environment – I have never had so much fun with a gun!
Laser Tag prices start from £4 to £12 per person. Meal Deal packages from £9 to £45 per person.
For more information visit www.darkstarlaser.com or call 01744 733378 for bookings.
Darkstar, The Arena, Central Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1TZ | 01744 733378