London, Puzzlehunt

Puzzlehunt – Dreamcatcher

From https://dreamcatcherpuzzle.xyz/

The machine thinks. We trained it using huge volumes of data, taken from scans of normal brain activity. But it’s too predictable, too rational; it lacks imagination, capriciousness, soul. For that we need data from a different, much more subtle source.

Team – Ster, Ni, Simon, Ellie

(Reviewed by Ster)

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Puzzlehunt

Full disclosure – We were given 4 complimentary tickets to play this game, though we’ve tried not to let this influence our opinion of the experience. 

As the game was a weekend long pop-up style event, we met our host at Torriano Meeting House in Kentish Town, which had some decoration, but the theme was mainly carried by our in-character host who greeted us enthusiastically and set up the story of the suspicious death of a professor running the AI dream experiment in which we were signed up be participants. After about a 15 minute introduction, we were given our first clues and sent on our way.

Dreamcatcher

The puzzle was a treasure hunt style game, facilitated by a variety of QR codes and a unique website log-in where we could enter our team’s answers as we progressed. There were 10 main puzzles, each located on the streets around Kentish town and marked by a laminated dreamcatcher logo, some on lampposts, some in shop windows and others attached to fences.

The variety of different puzzles in this game was great! The first puzzle that we encountered was a number puzzle that created a scannable QR code. It wasn’t overly difficult, more like a pen and paper version of minesweeper, but I did really enjoy that the solution created a QR code that we then used to progress the game. There was also a bit of VR, some word puzzles, a bit of chess knowledge and a little rope weaving quiz puzzle which was our favourite of the day.

It’s worth noting that the pre-game information warned of around 2 miles of walking but we logged over 5 miles across 2 hours! There was a lot of back and forth, we’d walk a mile in one direction and then have to walk all the way back for the next puzzle, which may just have been down to the random order in which we did things, but covering the same ground repeatedly did start to become a little irritating by the last few puzzles. We did appreciate the chance to refill water bottles after the fifth puzzle when we met another in-character host who set up the next section of the story, and also the fact that one puzzle was in an ice cream shop so we could stop and cool off for a few minutes as it was a very hot day!

Ellie – A fun but different adventure and a great way of exploring parts of London. Interesting puzzles which were be a little tricky at times.

Ni – A good variety of puzzles and a creative way of including the area we were walking through. I did enjoy the game but I do think the 2 mile route was a little optimistic! The unexpected extra miles and also going back over the same ground a number of times, did make the experience drag towards the end.

Score

Overall, we really enjoyed this experience! The variety of puzzles was great and the theme was well set-up by our enthusiastic hosts. A couple of the puzzles seemed overly long and we found ourselves doing a lot of unnecessary walking around, but I’d definitely be interested to see what this team come up with next as we did have a lot of fun.

Pre-game atmosphere

3/5

Difficulty

2.5/5

Variety of puzzles

4/5

Originality of puzzles

4/5

Overall

3/5

 

 

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Home escapes

Puzzle Card

From https://www.puzzlecard.co.uk/

Bored of typical greetings cards?  Puzzle Card adds a puzzle or gaming element to greetings cards to make a memorable gift for friends or relatives.  Check out the Escape the Room card which requires players to solve a series of clues in order to escape!

Team – Ster, Ni, Simon

(Reviewed by Ster)

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Puzzle Card

Full disclosure – We were given 2 complimentary cards to try out, though we’ve tried not to let this influence our opinion of the experience.

Our first impressions of Puzzle Card were that they have managed to fit a lot of information in a pretty small space! The front covers of the cards are mainly decorative (presumably so that there isn’t too much given away before starting!), with the majority of the game being contained on the inner two pages. Both have a small box on the back page underneath the puzzle information to write a greeting; Escape the Room being specifically a birthday card while Murder Mystery is completely blank for your own message.

Murder Mystery

We started with Murder Mystery, during which we were given the task of solving a murder that had taken place on a train. We were presented with a list of suspects and a variety of details about them, the victim and the murder itself. The card is brilliantly designed, with plenty of pictures and a lot of information including notes from the detective, an eyewitness report and profiles of the suspects.

This puzzle was a case of eliminating each suspect until only one remained and it was great fun to debate the potential guilt of each person and cross them off the list one at a time until we had found the guilty party. Each elimination had its own degree of difficulty, we noticed one immediately, worked the second one out after a bit of thought and then had to review all the information again to separate the final two. All in all I think it took us about 10 minutes from opening the card to checking our answer on the Puzzle Card website, which is definitely longer than I’ve ever spent looking at a greetings card before! I particularly enjoyed the way that all three of us could get stuck in, the answers weren’t immediately obvious which gave us time to talk over the information and pass the card around so that everyone could have a closer look at the pictures before we agreed on an answer. Overall, it was a fun little puzzle that we all enjoyed!

Escape the Room

The other card that we tried was Escape the Room, a card with a slightly more sinister theme – we had been kidnapped on our birthday and needed to work out how to escape! This puzzle didn’t have the same degree of difficulty as Murder Mystery but it still took a few minutes to work out. The puzzles in this card were also more visual than the first, which meant bit of passing around and peering over each other’s shoulders as we examined our ‘surroundings’.

This card took slightly less time than Murder Mystery but still contained an impressive 6 individual puzzles requiring a total of 8 answers all together! I’m really impressed by how many elements these cards contain, it’s not just a simple riddle, there are different elements that need to be brought together in order to gain the full solution.

We looked at the clue page for this card and to be honest, that’s where we felt the system fell down a bit. They aren’t really clues, they’re answers, and we were a little disappointed that we weren’t shown hints before the actual solutions. We had a look at the clues page for Murder Mystery and they were a little more cryptic, so hopefully this is something that is being improved upon in the newer cards. That being said, we still enjoyed the puzzle! It just felt a little easy after the first card.

Score

The Puzzle Cards were good fun to figure out and we all enjoyed the variety of different challenges that they have managed to fit into such a small puzzle. Given that they aren’t much more expensive than a regular greetings card, I would definitely recommend giving them a go and I’m really looking forward to seeing what puzzles they come up with next, especially as their newest card was our favourite and the most challenging, it definitely promises more good things to come!

Re-useable – Yes

Quality of the clue system – 2/5

Overall – A great idea and a really impressive amount of puzzles and information included in such a small space. Definitely looking forward to trying all the new designs that these guys come up with!

 

 

 

London, Secret Studio

Escape In Time – Secret Studio

From https://www.escapeintime.co.uk/secretstudiolondon/

Beneath the dark streets of London Town lies an old film studio, lost in time, waiting for you to release its secrets.

Once locked inside Secret Studio you’ll have just 60 minutes to solve its fiendish puzzles and escape. Stay calm, keep your wits about you and you might just escape the cutting room floor!

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Team 1 – Simon, Stu, Jenny, Jackie

Played – 18/8/2017

Team 2 – Ster, Ni, Tim, Dave

Played – 16/6/2018

(Reviewed by Ster)

Escape in time

Escape in Time has a large entrance area with plenty of seating and our host was friendly and welcoming and also assured us that it wouldn’t be too terrifying, as I’m really not a fan of being scared! The company do offer a joker card that allows your team to avoid the scary bits in some way, we didn’t use it so I’m not sure exactly what it changes, but if you scare easily it might be something to consider – the room does contain a few jumps!

The Room

This room was brilliantly themed and decorated and the story was really well done, progressing as we played to a fantastic conclusion. The production value here is very high and a creepy atmosphere was created from the offset, something which only increased as the game went on.

The puzzles were interesting and suitably challenging with some great uses of technology as well and we found a lot to keep us busy, particularly in the first stage of the experience. The puzzle that I think we spent the most time on was a puzzle that really shouldn’t have taken very long at all and, though we were growing a little frustrated with it by the end, that was completely down to user error as we’d actually found the solution in another part of the room and failed to realise what it referred to!

The atmosphere definitely deepened as we played and there was one section of the room where the others were playing as a 3 as I was stood with my back to the wall, waiting for a terrifying jump that never actually came! The others had fun laughing at me but I think it was definitely a sign of a brilliantly executed story that I was genuinely scared.

I really enjoyed the penultimate section of the room, the puzzle led us to a great reveal which had us enthusiastically blundering our way straight into a big surprise which no one saw coming, another example of the fantastic storytelling in this escape. The final twist of this room is just fantastic, enough to make anyone jump and I’m sure that the hosts have a great time watching groups play through, though in our game Dave calmly breezed through the moment without so much as a whimper!

Simon – I thoroughly enjoyed this game! It was really immersive, with great use of equipment that really fitted the theme well, however we did have issues with one of these pieces, which meant we needed outside intervention in order to be able to proceed. This was a bit of a shame, but we used the equipment correctly, so our enjoyment wasn’t hampered in any way. The team have gone to great lengths to build a creepy atmosphere, and this was evident throughout the game, which definitely made us feel on edge, but I felt that they straddled the boundary between creepy and scary well. A fantastic game, which I’d highly recommend.

2017 Secret Studio - 18th Aug

Team 1

2018 Secret Studio

Team 2 escape time – 43:31

Score

The quality of this room is brilliant, with fantastic a fantastic design and a story that ran throughout our escape. It contains some jumps, but we all left smiling albeit with slightly elevated heart rates. The puzzles had a good degree of challenge but the main appeal here is the theme and the story, which made it stand out quite a way from the average run of the mill escape.

Difficulty

3.5/5

Overall

4.5/5

Brighton

Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures

From https://www.phileasfoggsworldofadventures.co.uk/

You may have heard of Phileas Fogg, the legendary Victorian explorer and inventor. An eccentric chap to say the least, having dismissed his former valet for bringing him shaving water at 84 °F instead of 86 °F. He has made an extraordinary bet of half his personal fortune of £20,000 (worth over £2,000,000.00 in today’s money) that he can travel around the world in 80 days (stemming from an article in The Daily Telegraph stating this journey is now possible in that timeframe). But there’s a complication, the bank of England has been broken into and Detective Fix of Scotland Yard is convinced Fogg is his man and is in hot pursuit.

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Team- Ster, Emma, Cat, Emma

Played – 3/1/19

(Reviewed by Ster)

Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures

This experience is unbelievably well themed and the premises is massive, allowing for a real sense of travelling a long way as we passed from room to room. After playing, we had free run of the snooker and games rooms and stayed for a drink in the bar. It’s definitely a place that’s well equipped for parties and groups, with a large tea room available as well!

We were welcomed initially by an in-character host and the experience started with having photos taken in front of a green screen, which yielded great results and we had an opportunity to buy copies at the end of our play.

One thing that I would advise checking before playing is accessibility. I’m sure there are provisions in place, but there are a couple of physical elements to this game that some might find challenging, so definitely ask ahead!

The Room

This isn’t a traditional escape room, it’s got a heavy story element and each area has one large puzzle to solve rather than lots of little puzzles, so we were met by a live actor who led us through the experience with a great deal of enthusiasm. There were several locations that we visited and each involved a group challenge with the possibility of finding an artefact if successful, as proof of our travels around the world.

We started in ‘Venice’ and were very impressed with the set design and decoration, something that was of an incredibly high standard throughout the experience, across all 10 puzzle rooms, each decorated with a different country in mind. We played as a 4, so we were joined by a team of 8 who we didn’t know but we had great fun playing together as we progressed through the rooms.

Each country had a different type of puzzle; some were search and find, others involved a bit of team organisation and a couple were pretty active. Overall, there was a great variation with the difficulty, in part dictated by the amount of time our host gave us to complete each challenge. Not that any of the puzzles were overly difficult, it’s an experience that caters towards families as well as groups of adults, but almost every puzzle felt as if we had only just manged to solve it in time. Our host did a great job of creating an exciting atmosphere and it was impossible not to get drawn in to the mild sense of panic, especially when he told us that he was only giving us 2 minutes to solve a puzzle that we knew should take longer!

There were a few story interludes in between puzzle solving, Detective Fix of Scotland Yard was hot on our heels as we moved from place to place and our host carried the story brilliantly. We eventually ended up presenting the artefacts that we had discovered to the Queen, providing another excellent photo opportunity and bringing the story to a fantastic conclusion.

While every part of the experience offered an enjoyable challenge, there were a few rooms that really stood out from the pack. The oriental room seemed massive and involved lots of running around, it was hard to believe that all 12 of us were actually in there while we were working, I’m sure that there were some people I didn’t see in here at all! The saloon themed room also offered a tricky puzzle that required great team coordination and communication, which was good fun even with people we didn’t know as it was towards the end of the experience so we’d had time to get to know each other and could work well together by then. The big stand out though, was the Artic room. I think I’d do the entire experience again just for this one puzzle – it was so much fun! A great room to end on as well as it wasn’t the kind of puzzle that created a stressful atmosphere, just lots of laughter!

One thing that was very clear as we played is that this is easily an experience that can be played again. The puzzles involved physically doing things, be that searching for something or moving puzzle pieces around, so having completed them before wouldn’t necessarily give you an advantage when tackling them with different people. We were also told that no other team had yet managed to recover all of the artefacts, so I’m sure that some teams find it a lot more challenging that we did, it all depends on the group dynamic.

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Artefacts recovered – 100%

Score

This experience was fantastic! The set design was incredible and the acting, particularly of our host Kofi, was brilliant. The puzzles weren’t all that that high in difficulty, but that isn’t the point of this experience, it’s the atmosphere and story that really make it stand out. That isn’t to say that the puzzles don’t provide any challenge, just don’t expect any traditional escape room brain burning moments to get stuck on, it’s a fast paced game that will take the allotted amount of time regardless of how well you solve the puzzles. The only disappointment was the price of the pictures at the end, we had to settle for a team selfie in the foyer instead of an official photo!

Difficulty

2/5

Overall

4.5/5

 

 

London, Time Run

Time Run – The Game is Now

From https://www.thegameisnow.com/

Don your deerstalker and dive into an all-new mystery brought to you by series creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, in collaboration with Time Run, renowned escape room pioneers.

Enter into the world of Sherlock with immersive sets and environments from the show, as you work together as a team to solve mysteries and puzzles before time runs out.

 Play the detective in this brand new Sherlock case featuring original content from the stars of the show including Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and more.

Team- Ster, Ni, Simon, Stu, Ros

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Played – 13/1/19

(Reviewed by Ster)

Time Run

As we’ve come to expect from Time Run, the set up for this game was incredible! The opticians that we started in genuinely looked like a real shop and as we had our initial briefing we could see people outside peering in at the glasses on display. Our game hosts were also great, in character and entertaining as they took us through our briefings. The attention to detail and design of this place was absolutely brilliant, including a fantastically decorated bar at the end where we sat and had a drink after finishing.

The Room

The briefing process of this room is part of the game, so we were first led through a maze of black corridors for our initial ‘eye assessment’ which included a test of our skills as a team. This process was a little long, but it was also enjoyable and I’m sure will satisfy fans of the show with its content. The general set-up of the story was amazing and while we were all a little impatient to get started, it was brilliantly done and the hosts were fantastic.

Once we got into the room proper, the story fell down a bit and to be honest, I left without a clear idea of what the events in the story were. We were searching but we never really seemed to find what we were looking for, despite our mission being deemed as a success. I think it might have made a bit more sense if our debrief had also been conducted by the in-character Stamfords that we had been met with at the beginning to tie up the story, but instead we just walked out and were given our score card, which was a little disappointing given how impressive the briefings had been at the start.

The first set of puzzles, while not overly challenging, were still enjoyable to complete and this was definitely my favourite part of the game. I liked the story element and the way that the puzzles linked together. It was definitely the part of the room that delivered the most authentic ‘stepping into the shoes of the legendary detective’ that was promised. It was a fun combination of observations and deductions that took a bit of thought to complete, though our hosts seemed overly keen to get involved here, offering hints and tips when we didn’t need them and occasionally actually interrupting us as we were solving a puzzle, which we were a little frustrated by.

The second and third section of the game, felt a little bit style over substance. The whole place was fantastically decorated and the attention to detail was incredible, but we found the puzzles themselves a bit lacking. Because of the linear design of the game, we found ourselves standing around watching one member of the team complete a challenge which, while great fun for the team member involved, left the rest of us feeling slightly bored.

At one part, the most obvious task to complete in the room turned out to be the very last part required. This wouldn’t have been an issue if it hadn’t involved direct involvement from out host, but it led us to believe that no-one was watching our game at all as they were very confused when we contacted them and thought that we had solved several puzzles that we hadn’t even found yet!

This final part of the mission was less linear than the previous sections so we were at least all involved, but we ended up getting stuck on one puzzle which led to a great deal of frustration because we were told that our solution looked correct but we weren’t solving it. The clue system here was severely let down by the fact that our hosts clearly didn’t have a good view of the puzzle we were working on and so had no way of knowing what was wrong with our solution.

We took the puzzle apart and re-did it about 15 times, reaching the same solution on every attempt, and when we asked for help our host just told us how the puzzle worked a couple of times, something that we already knew, and then didn’t engage with us again in any way. I don’t know exactly how long we stood in that corner, but it felt like well over 10 minutes and actually got to the point where we asked to leave the room and still got no response.

Even without the mess of that puzzle, the game ended in a confusing and underwhelming fashion, with no conclusion to the story that had been so well crafted at the beginning. To be fair to the duty manager in charge that day, he did come out personally to speak to us before we were given our scorecard and apologised for us being held in one part of the game for a few minutes, something which had confused us a great deal at the time! He also assured us that the puzzle we had struggled with was being tested.

He returned after we were taken through our scorecard to explain that they had tested the puzzle and we actually managed to work out where we had gone wrong which, while I appreciated, left me feeling that they really should have been able to point us in the right direction while we were actually playing!

Simon – I was very excited by this game, I loved The Lance of Longinus and The Celestial Chain (although I think I was the only member of our team who did for this latter one), so it was inevitable that the production values of this game were going to be fantastic, and they didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, the game itself failed to live up to expectations, being very linear and involving puzzles that could only be solved by one or two people. At various points, one member of our team solved a puzzle without any input from the others, or ended up standing around doing nothing.

Ultimately, because of the puzzles, this was a mediocre game where the production values far outstripped the gameplay and the story (which I agree with Ster, was very difficult to follow). I would only recommend this to die-hard Sherlock fans.

Ni – I agree with the others, brilliant start, it does feel like you’ve walked onto the Sherlock set! Great in-character hosts and a good set-up for the story, but that then petered out to a hard to follow story and underwhelming puzzles.

2019 Sherlock 13th Ja

Escape time – 60+ minutes

Score

Our expectations for this game were pretty high considering that we all still count Celestial Chain as one of our all time favourites and the beginning of this escape was absolutely fantastic – the production value is incredible. However, the over attentiveness followed by the inattentiveness of our hosts was incredibly frustrating and there just didn’t seem to be enough for us to do. I’m sure will appeal to fans of the franchise who aren’t necessarily fans of escape rooms, but we left feeling a quite underwhelmed.

Difficulty

3/5

Overall

3/5

 

 

Essex, Room Lockdown

Room Lockdown – Prison Break

From https://www.roomlockdown.com/

You and your team have been locked up in Redwood prison for a crime you did not commit! A corrupt facility where many have been wrongly accused and executed! You and your team have a mission:

  • Escape from your cells.
  • Find a way into the power station.
  • Disable the security system and power supply to distract the guards.

You have 1 hour before they are made aware. Escape or face execution… your choice!

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Team- Ster, Ni, Simon, Stu

Played – 6/1/19

(Reviewed by Ster)

Room Lockdown

This was our final room on our 3 escape visit to Room Lockdown and our host for this game was absolutely superb (though I can’t remember her name!). After playing, we also had a great chat about which of their upcoming rooms they thought we’d enjoy, so we’re definitely planning a follow up visit to check out the more difficult rooms that they’ve got in the works.

The Room

This room begins with the team being split up into two cells and definitely requires some good communication between the groups to unlock the doors! While there were a couple of moments of one pair waiting around because the next puzzle was in the other cell, we had great fun busting out of our confinement.

Once out of the cells, there was quite a lot to explore and a few different types of puzzles to get stuck into. There was a bit of searching and finding and also a puzzle that required two people to complete which, from the wear on the components, looks as if it’s been redesigned a few times before the current configuration.

The decoration and theming of this room was definitely the best out of the 3 rooms that we played, the first two sections in particular. I really liked that there wasn’t really anything in this room that would seem out of place in a prison, they’ve obviously put a lot of thought into the theming of their puzzles to keep the components authentic to the theme, which is a nice touch.

The final part of this room was a lot of searching and observation which was a little repetitive and we actually ended up solving it using process of elimination after completely failing to find one clue. I wouldn’t necessary say that this is a negative aspect of the game as we were becoming a little frustrated with being unable to find the missing piece of information and potentially would have spent the remaining 20 minutes just running down the clock and staring blankly at each other otherwise!

Simon – I always quite like games where our team are split into different groups at the beginnings, and this was no exception. Admittedly, there were moments during the split where we felt a little bored, and I’m sure the other team felt a similar frustration. The rest of the game flowed quite smoothly and was enjoyable and it felt like we all had something to do most of the time.

2019 prison break 6th Jan

Escape time – 41 mins

Score

This room was really good fun and definitely our favourite out of the 3 that we played. The split at the beginning worked really well and there was lots to get stuck into once we were out of the cells. We particularly enjoyed the difficultly level of this room after achieving pretty fast times in the other escapes here and we’re looking forward to visiting again to play a room with a similar level of challenge.

Difficulty

3.5/5

Overall

4/5

 

 

Essex, Room Lockdown

Room Lockdown – Santa’s Sleigh is Stuck!

From https://www.roomlockdown.com/

It’s Christmas time and Santa has loaded all the presents on his sleigh ready to deliver these gifts to all the boys and girls around the world, but there is a problem, Santa’s sleigh is stuck! If he doesn’t release his sleigh soon Christmas will be a disaster and no gifts will be delivered, can you and your team save Christmas?

You and your team have a mission – Enter the barn, find a way to release Santa’s sleigh and make Christmas magical again. You have 1 hour before it’s too late!

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Team- Ster, Ni, Simon, Stu

Played – 6/1/19

(Reviewed by Ster)

Room Lockdown

This was our second game at Room Lockdown on this visit and they very kindly got us in early as we’d escaped the first room with quite a bit of time to spare. This was a temporary room for the Christmas period so it isn’t available to play anymore, though it’s possible that Room Lockdown will open a Christmas room again at the right time of year!

The Room

The first part of this room had lots to do so we split up and explored, which is definitely our favourite approach as a team. There was a variety of fun puzzles and some riddle type clues inside the game to help us on our way. I really enjoyed the number of different things to do in here and we were all happy with the increase in difficulty from Alien Abduction, which we had just played.

The entrance to Santa’s ‘barn’ was really good fun and we had a great time discovering how to enter. More than once, the solution to a puzzle caused a hatch to open suppling more challenges to get stuck into and there was a good mix of different puzzle types that kept the game interesting. The puzzles in the first section all linked together nicely for us to gain access to the barn, requiring some good team communication to get everything together, which was a nice way to regroup after the divide and conquer method that we had employed at the beginning.

The barn was the area where we got a little stuck, mainly due to our terrible observational skills meaning that we counted something incorrectly multiple times! There was a really great puzzle in there involving a stack of presents that had an interesting use of technology which we were all impressed with and I really enjoyed the exit of the room!

Simon – I do quite like a Christmas themed room. Unfortunately, they’re often done in a rush, which makes sense, and this one was no exception. Having said that, there was a good variety of puzzles and a great use of physical space. There was good use of technology, including something that we’d never seen before, which is always a bonus.

Overall, this was an enjoyable game and we all felt involved. The theming was done well and the game felt complete, although there was a clear sense of being done ‘on a budget’, which is understandable.

Ni – I thought this games was really enjoyable, lots to do both individually and also many opportunities to regroup and solve something together – just lots of fun!

2019 Santa 6th Jan

Escape time – 36:03

Score

This room was a good bit of festive fun. There was a nice variety of puzzles and challenges and also a good variation of working independently and as a team, which is something that we always enjoy. This company was also one of the only places in the area offering a seasonal room which was something we were all keen to have a go at to get into the Christmas escaping spirit!

Difficulty

2.5/5

Overall

3/5

 

Essex, Room Lockdown

Room Lockdown – Alien Abduction

From https://www.roomlockdown.com/

3:33AM: You get woken up by a tapping on the window. You go to investigate to find an owl looking at you. This continues for many nights until finally you are awoken to a bright shining light. You wake up to find yourself tied up in a human pod and from what it seems you have been involved in an experiment of some sort!

You and your team have a mission:

  • Escape from your pod.
  • Make your way to the bridge.
  • Try to navigate the UFO back to earth before the aliens are made aware

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Team- Ster, Ni, Simon, Stu

Played – 6/1/19

(Reviewed by Ster)

Room Lockdown

This place is pretty easy to find and has its own car park right outside the front door. The waiting area is small but has plenty of seating, with 3 sofas, though they’re quite close together! On our visit, we booked 3 different rooms and played them one after the other so we had some time in between when we were waiting around as our escapes didn’t take the full hour slots. The owners were very friendly and welcoming during these times and we really enjoyed chatting to them about different escapes that we’ve done and enjoyed. I think we’re all looking forward to going back and meeting them again!

The Room

This room was squeezed into quite a small space, which is both an impressive feat of design and a little bit squashy with 4 people! It was actually situated outside the main building, which made it a pretty chilly experience in January, I’d recommend playing this game at a warmer time of year! I really liked the first puzzle of escaping our ‘pod’ and getting out of our handcuffs, which was a fun start to the story. The puzzles in the pod weren’t difficult, but they were enjoyable to get stuck into, and we moved on to the next section of the game in a few minutes.

Alien Abduction has a very linear gameplay, though we found the solutions to the puzzles quick enough to find that there weren’t too many instances of someone having nothing to do, which is one of our pet hates of linear escapes. The second section of this room had an interesting concept, though the main puzzle involved us watching a video rather than actually doing anything ourselves, which made it seem a bit like it was just there to run down the clock. The final stage of the room involved a bit of search and find followed by an exit that was a really fun idea.

Overall, we didn’t find this room particularly challenging and the puzzles were intuitive enough that that game flowed smoothly without any instances of us getting stuck on a puzzle. It was a small space, which meant that it was a bit crowded, especially when we were trying to count things around the room, though I don’t think this negatively affected the experience.

Simon – I’m a big sci-fi fan, so I was looking forward to this game. As Ster mentioned, the game flowed really well, with three distinct parts. Unfortunately, the first part was the highlight, with interesting problem solving. For me, the second part let this room down, as a lot of the puzzles were guesswork, with little-to-no guidance of a method. In terms of the story, this made sense, but it did make me feel like we were just blundering around for a solution. The last part of the game was enjoyable, but ultimately fairly straightforward. I enjoyed this game, but I can understand why hardcore escape enthusiasts might feel a bit let down by it.

2019 alien abduction 6th Jan

Escape time -22:01

Score

This room was an interesting idea and the puzzles were enjoyable, though it didn’t feel as if there were that many of them and we achieved one of our fastest escape times as a team. I think that this is a room I’d recommend to new players, as it is a really interesting idea and the different stages of the mission were all enjoyable in their own way, but there isn’t a lot in here to challenge an experienced escaper. That being said, we did enjoy the experience and were really pleased by how well the game flowed from beginning to end.

Difficulty

2/5

Overall

2.5/5

 

 

 

Codetoexit

Code to exit – The Dark Ages

From https://www.codetoexit.com/

This team game takes you back to the time of the Legend of Camelot. By revealing the secrets of the castle, you will be able to rescue the mystical Excalibur. Once you have the mythical sword you are only a step away from acquiring the Holy Grail. You need team work, skills and excellent powers of observation to complete the mission in time and escape the room.

dark_ages_1

Team- Ster, Simon, Stu

Played – 29/10/18

(Reviewed by Ster)

Code to exit

Our visit to Code to exit wasn’t planned, we happened to be staying at a hotel down the road and had a spare 2 hours before the wedding that we’d travelled up for. The time from discovering the company existed to being inside the room was less than 30 minutes, and they coped very well with us calling up and telling them that we wanted to play immediately!

Inside Code to exit there was a small waiting area with a couple of sofas, though we were only kept there for about 5 minutes for a quick briefing before heading down to the basement. In the entryway we could hear a bit of what was going on in the other 2 two rooms, but not enough to give anything way, just enough to know that the teams inside were having fun!

The Room

This room had great decoration and the puzzles were well designed to fit with the theme. We were given a few tips before going inside, the main one being that we might need to be patient and take our time with some of the puzzles and that was definitely true for one of the first puzzles that we found. It wasn’t difficult to work out what needed to be done, but it took a lot of patience to achieve and was one of those puzzles that can only be completed by one person.

It was a little frustrating and we passed it around between us a few times before finally completing it. I have to admit that was a bit disappointed to miss out on some of the other interesting looking puzzles that the boys solved while I was working on that one task, one in particular was something that we hadn’t come across before and sounded like a lot of fun as I heard them solving it behind me!

There was a lot to do in this room and the non-linear structure meant that we ended up tackling pretty much everything at once. At one point I started a puzzle and then put it down to help with a different puzzle and ended up completely forgetting to come back to it! But that busy, chaotic atmosphere is what we tend to enjoy as a team, discovering and sharing things and also dragging people away to help when a solution requires more than one person

The only time when we got really stuck was when we opened a box and didn’t see the tiny key inside, so it was our own stupidity rather than the flow of the game that slowed us down! The puzzles weren’t overly challenging, but they were fun and the fact that some of them took a bit of time meant that the room didn’t feel easy, even though we didn’t struggle too much and the escape ended with a puzzle which was great fun and fitted in brilliantly with the theme of the room.

Simon – When we were told that we would be playing the basement, I was a little wary and expected a dark, damp, poorly decorated room. Thankfully I was wrong! This room was really well themed and the space, although small, was used really really well. The variety of puzzles in here was fantastic, although I did feel a bit sorry for Ster being stuck on the one puzzle that she mentioned for a while. Were we in a different team, I think we could have really struggled to complete this room due to that puzzle. However, the rest of the game flowed really well – the automation was good and we felt a sense of achievement upon completion. A great room!

2018 code to exit

Escape time – 40 minutes

Score

This room was really enjoyable, the puzzles were interesting and flowed brilliantly and the theming of the room was great. The aspect of having to physically obtain the sword before being able to access the Holy Grail that we were after was great fun and the variety of different puzzles meant that the room was interesting and engaging to play.

Difficulty

2.5/5

Overall

4/5

Break Escape, Loughborough

Break Escape – Enchanted Forest

From http://www.breakescape.co.uk

A portal has been discovered that leads through to another world. The realm is under the control of a dark enchantress, and the forest sleeps. Can you wake it, and find a rare blue gem before the enchantress and make your escape?!

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Team- Ster, Ni, Simon, Stu

Played – 29/10/18

(Reviewed by Ster)

Break Escape

This was the second room that we played at Break Escape on this visit and, despite the fact that we’d booked with a 45 minute time gap between them, our host was great at getting us straight into this room after finishing Sands of Time, which we all appreciated as we had a fairly long journey home afterwards! He also gave us a shortened briefing for our second escape here, just covering the essentials as we’d had the general stuff before playing Sands of Time.

I’m really impressed with Break Escape as a company, our host has always been very friendly and welcoming and has also made our visits feel personalised. The graffiti up the walls left by previous teams is good fun to add to at the end, even if some of it is not entirely suitable for younger players! And we’ve always left feeling like we can’t wait to come back, so we’re hoping for some new rooms soon!

The Room

The beginning of this room was superbly themed! There is a brief section of getting through the portal before entering ‘Narnia’ which really made us all smile. It was brilliantly executed and the puzzles were good fun too, requiring a bit of thinking and teamwork which we all enjoyed.

This escape is incredibly well decorated and we spread out amongst the puzzles enjoying the fact that the room didn’t have a completely linear structure. There was one fiddly little puzzle which Ni and I passed backwards and forwards between us because it was frustrating and time consuming and very easy to get fed up with! There were a couple of other frustrating puzzles that we discovered right at the start as well but they were so frustrating that we didn’t spend all that long worrying about them as they gained us time back at the end rather than aiding our actual escape.

I liked the idea of a key and padlock deposit box to put opened locks and their keys and if we forgot to use it, the wise owl in the corner would reminded us. Its main purpose is to stop anything getting in the way of the automated sections, which worked very smoothly, but it was also useful to stop anything getting lost or mixed up as we worked our way through. I found the wise owl a fun way of interacting with our host while keeping the theme more immersive, he was there to prod us in the right direction but also had a few sarcastic quips up his sleeve (or wing) which we all enjoyed.

The puzzles in this room require a bit of deduction and observation to complete and the whole team was brought together at the end, not because the puzzle required 4 people to complete, but because we found a strategy that worked and went for it! I found the puzzles in this room really enjoyable and while they weren’t too difficult, they took a bit of thought to work out and the answers weren’t always immediately obvious, which meant that we all felt challenged as we played.

There was a good variety of puzzles as well, less padlocky and more deduction, observation and riddles than the other rooms at Break Escapes, making it a really unique experience. The puzzles were also pretty well themed and, while the room wasn’t completely linear, different aspects did lead us in certain directions and there were some cumulative moments that gave the story a bit of structure.

Ni – This room is actually Narnia! Worth doing for the theming alone as it’s truly awesome 🙂

Simon – When I heard about the theme of this room, I was very keen to do it, and this definitely paid off. This room is really well themed, with the entrance being a particular highlight! Most of the puzzles are very cleverly constructed and fit with the game well, however there was one which we got a hint for, and I struggled to see how this would have been solvable without the hint. Despite this, we thoroughly enjoyed the room. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely enjoyable! I appreciated our host’s sense of humour throughout and would recommend this room to others.

Break escape 29.10.18

Escape time – 43:25

Score

We all really enjoyed this room! The theming and decoration was brilliant and there was a variety of puzzles which were good fun while being challenging at the same time.

Difficulty

4/5

Overall

4/5