ClueQuest: Alpha Brain System

Professor BlackSheep is developing a weapon called the Alpha Brain System, capable of hijacking humanity’s brain power. Agent Crimson is moving further into The Cube to find it – will you help her?

Rating: Exceptional!
Completion Time: 1hr 8min
Date Played: 28th of June 2020
Party Size: 2

Here’s a representation of me, playing this game, happy like Agent Crimson, playing Alpha Brain system:

Jokes aside, ClueQuest have done it again! Another fantastic episode in their play at home game series that is a cut above the rest in uniqueness and ingenuity. Escape room companies across the world take note!

Sure, there were some extremely frustrating parts. And, watching the ending video, we realised we didn’t quite set up some of the 3D levels like we were supposed to. But frankly, all can be forgiven, as ClueQuest once again push the very boundaries of what is possible within an escape game at home – and it works!

Picking up exactly where Episode 1: Stolen IQ left off, we once again join Agent Crimson, Mr Q and the whole band of ClueQuest characters as they begin to face ‘The Cube’. What follows is a classic (and I say classic, for sure it is a very common ‘trope’ in the escape room industry, but ClueQuest manages to make it timeless), heist-style infiltration adventure where you reassemble rooms, security networks, and floating tanks as you make your way into the heart of The Cube.

In particular, there is a section of the game where you recreate a laser maze and navigate your way through it. It’s so perfectly reimagined as a printable escape game, about as close as a real life escape room experience (or dare I say it, better?) but in paper format.

If I had to think of one tiny criticism it would be, as seems to be popular consensus, that there’s an awful lot of printing and cutting. But if you (as they suggest) cut ahead of playing, you’ll set yourself up for the best experience possible when you sit down to play. But if you can look past that, the cutting and printing is thoroughly rewarding to create the cool structures Alpha Brain System encourages you to.

To conclude, a perfect game? Maybe. Thanks ClueQuest!

Alpha Brain System can be purchased for £12 on ClueQuest’s website.

Escape from Home: Darkwood Manor

Following the death of Emily, Master Darkwood locked up Darkwood Manor and never returned. You stumble upon the house and realise the ghost of Emily is stuck inside. You must find her and set her free. Are you brave enough to try?

Rating: Mysterious
Completion Time: 30 minutes
Date Played: 21st of June 2020
Party Size: 1

The spooky tale of Darkwood Manor by Escape from Home centres on a series of letters by the mysterious Emily who passed away at the manor many years earlier. You retrace her steps through the manor, guided by her ghost, eventually finding her place of death and freeing her spirit once and for all.

In terms of setting, it’s a little like a cross between the escape games My Dearest Emily by The Panic Room and Murder at the Mansion by Escape Hunt. But the uniqueness of game flow and puzzles sets Darkwood Manor apart from other escape games of the genre. In this, you receive a pack of puzzles that run along a clear narrative. At the end of each ‘level’ you have to find a code, or a word, which you should check in the answers before proceeding.

The game strongly encourages you to use real-life props such as padlocks and code locks on different parts of your house – which would make all the difference in the world! I can easily imagine Darkwood Manor being a game you could recreate in your own home with locks on cupboards and each section of the pack protected by the puzzles. By comparison, playing on your sofa with only the paper is just a little less magical, but engaging enough to keep you excited.

In terms of difficulty, I’d put Darkwood Manor in the middle! There were some puzzles in there I honestly couldn’t get my head around it – I’ll caveat, definitely my problem not the game’s! There were others which were comfortably easy, as I turned the page a “Yep! I know exactly what to do”. So good signposting all round, and a handy hints document just in case you do get stuck.

Overall, an enjoyable and spooky escape game with a unique set of puzzles! I’d recommend saving this one for Halloween (or at least a dark night) – the perfect excuse to get the candles out and really get in the mood. Me, I did this on a sunny Sunday morning. Less spooky, but no less enjoyable.

Bluefish Games: The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks


Inventor Stephen P. Hincks has been developing a set of confounding puzzles and he is finally ready to present them to you.

Rating: Outstanding!
Completion Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Date Played: 19th of June 2020
Party Size: 2

This has to be one of my most awaited play at home games of the season! In the current period, shipping times are long! It still didn’t stop me excitedly checking my post every day for this box. When it did arrive, I had a hefty UK customs fee to pay, but all completely worth it to get my hands on The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks!

The story of The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks is as follows, Mr Hincks. the purveyor of an extraordinary elevator (or as we call it in the UK, the less charming ‘lift’), invites you to ride to the top. As the elevator (okay it sounds weird to me I’m just going to refer to it as a lift from herein) stops at each floor, you collect a wrapped gift which helps you progress to the next level, and so on.

If 100 lift levels sounds daunting though, you actually only need to do around 7 levels or do. Each one takes around 10 minutes to complete (if you’re feeling smart), or 30 minutes (if, like us, there was a bit of arguing). Overall, we did this game spread out over an entire day. A few levels with lunch, a few more over dinner, a break for a call with friends, then smashed the last two levels with a cocktail in the evening. I’m assuming for this reason, we’ve got a solid last place on the leader board (which is a shame, I didn’t think we did that badly!)

In particular, what sets The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks is the quality of materials and equal quality of puzzles. Both genuinely breathtaking and the whole pack shines with the love and care that has been put into it by the creators. By this point, I’ve played a lot of ‘Play at Home’ games, but The Curious Elevator is a cut above the rest with it’s innovation and quality.

It’s also, if you couldn’t tell from the number I’ve put in this review, very photogenic! Different materials ranging from perspex, to business cards, to pencils, to a most spectacular piece of paper you have to quite literally ‘dunk’ into the elements in order to reveal the puzzle. In the words of Hincks – how extraordinary!

Rest assured I’m looking forward to returning to the incredible world of Hincksland in some of Bluefish Games’s other puzzles in the future, for example the Hincks Gazette. But until then, The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks is a game well deserving of all it’s praise and accolades and a great price to boot.

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks can be purchased for $35 on Bluefish Game‘s website.

Escape Live: Rogue Agent | Review


Whilst saving the world from all manner of terrorists and threats, a Rogue MI5 Agent has been growing his personal art collection and not entirely legitimately. The unknown agent has been stealing art and sculptures from across the globe.

Rating: Pretty Interesting
Completion Time: 1 Hour 8 Minutes
Date Played: 16th of June 2020
Party Size: 6

26/02/21 Update: As this post frequently pops up as my ‘most viewed’ article, I’ve updated it to add a little more detail and also address some FAQs folks keep asking me! 🙂

Rogue Agent by Escape Live is the first digital escape game in their catalogue – an exciting development! The story centres on the idea of… You’ll never guess… Quite literally a rogue agent in MI5! Somebody deep within the secret service has been using their power to steal a series of paintings from around the world and it’s up to you, as an outsider who can’t be traced, to stop them!

Rogue Agent has a pretty fun mix of video content, an online portal and an interesting collection of evidence to view at your own pace. In short, a little bit of everything you could want in a digital escape room game.

I played with *gasp* not my regular escape room team! In fact, this one I tackled via Zoom for a work team social – and this is one of the most commonly asked questions I get about this game: Does it work for a team social? My answer is yes, sure! But here’s everything about the game you might want to know before booking it for your next work do:

We had the maximum number of players in our team: 6. I think the game would possibly be better played in the same room around a table… But, given this new ‘working from home’ climate, we gave it our best shot via Zoom. In Rogue Agent, only one player can be logged into the portal whilst all other players join along via screen share. Despite this, the game doesn’t feel too ‘one-sided’ as the ‘leader’ can extract each level’s necessary files and circulate them to the whole team – giving all players something to do. There are after all a LOT of files, you’ll need all the teamwork you can get to work through them!

One of the most charming things I’d love to highlight about Rogue Agent is the acting! Throughout the game and at the end of each ‘section’ you get a face to face video with your ‘boss’ at MI5. He acts incredulously at each piece of evidence you submit, and cheers you on to keep going! LOVE the positive reinforcement at MI5, heck this dude is a pretty solid boss.

If I had only one piece of constructive criticism, some of the puzzles felt a tiny bit out of place in the universe. What I mean is to say in one instance you have to try to uncover the secret agent’s identity by riffling through some of their old school books from Year 5 Geography (for all my international readers, that’s err 3rd grade? I think?). This segues in a flag puzzle – which is actually one of my favourite types of puzzles. But I’ll be damned if I know where any of my Year 5 Geography books, not least of all would I give them to a prospective employer such as MI5! Hah!

To me, this (and others that I won’t go into because I don’t want to spoil the game) didn’t completely sit right in the narrative. But if you’re not fussed, then I wouldn’t worry too much, because this game has still got a nice range of surprising and unexpected puzzles we enjoyed solving as a team.

Overall, a nice way to spend an afternoon with my colleagues. Some of whom had never played an escape room, and others were absolute veterans. We completed our mission in a little over an hour… They say teamwork makes the dream work, so I’d call that a success!

Rogue Agent can be purchased for £20 on Escape Live’s website.

Lock Paper Scissors: Rebel Revolt

A treasonous escape room kit that transforms your home Into a daring Adventure.

Rating: Brilliant
Completion Time: 60 Minutes
Date Played: 13th of June 2020
Party Size: 2

Rebel Revolt is one of the many escape game / party kits available from Lock Paper Scissors Co. recommended for teams of up to 4 players. I’m specifically calling it a party kit, as with your download you get over 50 printable pages, detailed instructions on how to setup a party, and customisable sheets for invites and posters. Basically all you need to host a themed party, above and beyond a regular escape game!

As such, we recommend it more for a party setting – HOWEVER, as a team of 2 we still had a brilliant time. Any game that encourages us to dress up and get into ridiculous character is a double thumbs up in my book and deserves extra stars. Personally, I played Knox. The bomb wielding bodybuilder from York, accent, tattoos and all.

In terms of gameplay, there are around 6 ’rounds’, or rather you split your printed pack into 6 piles before beginning. An introduction, a round for each in-game character, ending with a mini party game requiring you to scatter mines across the floor and navigate them blind folded.

What the game lacks in sophisticated puzzles – no criticism here though, the game is just designed to be more accessible to a teen/younger audience – Rebel Revolt makes up with the fun. We completed the game in a comfortable 60 minutes, giving plenty of time for wine and snack breaks.

There’s a folding puzzle, a rearranging puzzle, a maze puzzle and an origami puzzle. It ticks all the boxes, like a textbook paper based escape game. Nothing too surprising, but nothing too difficult or disappointing either.

So if you’re an experienced escape room player looking for a challenging experience, this might not be the one for you. But if you’re a group of friends wanting to dress up, be silly and solve puzzles quickly for an hour in a fun environment, it’ll be perfect.

Overall – we’re rating this a comfortable 4 stars purely because we both genuinely enjoyed ourselves and were pleased to spend an evening with this game!

Rebel Revolt can be purchased for $29 on Lock Paper Scissors’s website.

Society of Curiosities: Mysterious Map Heist

Step into the 1700s and search for a mysterious map on the first step of your epic treasure hunt. But can you crack the cipher, uncover the documents, and bid your way to success in time?

Rating: Fantastic
Completion Time: 36 Minutes
Date Played: 13th of June 2020
Party Size: 1

I present the Mysterious Map Heist from The Society of Curiosities! An hour long game from the makers of a fantastic subscription series that sets the prequel for the whole series. The best part? *at the time of playing, IT’S COMPLETELY FREE. You have literally no excuse not to check it out.

For a free game, it’s also fantastic. I almost regret doing this one as a solo game, it could just have easily worked in a small group or via Zoom with friends and family. In particular, Society of Curiosities has a special something when it comes to their web development. The Mysterious Map Heist will have you texting, googling, researching, even bidding in real time on rare artefacts. I just don’t know how they do it, but they’re second to none!

The plot has it that you, a society member, are given a very particular ‘mission’ to find and track down a rare treasure map. You’re in direct conversation with Pip, a fellow researcher of the society by text. Pip sends you documents, links, photographs in real time and by doing your own research on a fantastic host of ‘fake’ (I don’t say that lightly, they’re pretty real to me!) websites as you slowly track down the goodies.

In what I can only describe as one of the best ‘twists’ of a digital game I’ve seen on the market, you race to outbid a mysterious foe. No real spoilers, but as it’s the prequel to the treasure hunting series that follows, you bet I won that bid at the last second! So exciting.

In fact, to conclude this review … The only reason I’m putting it as a 4 stars and not the 5 stars is clearly deserves, is because I’m sure their subscription box “Madok’s Lost Treasure” is even better. I’m saving that 5 star rating for when I get my hands on a copy.

Until then, enjoy the Mysterious Map Heist, which can be played for free on the Society of Curiosities website.

Escape Hunt: School of Magic


Wands at the ready, Witches and Wizards! Brackendel School of Magic needs you!

Rating: Magical
Completion Time: 32 Minutes
Date Played: 8th of June 2020
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: Kids, Families

I’m having a very Harry Potter week! First, watching a few of the films on my birthday, then later becoming obsessed with the Lego Harry Potter PS4 game (seriously it’s hilariously addictive – go try it!). So Escape Hunt’s “School of Magic” fit perfectly and gave me an excuse to keep the witch hat on one day longer.

The only big thing I absolutely must preface at the start of this review is that it’s very much aimed at a family audience. Give this to your kids, or play with a group of beginners for sure! I only mention it as 20-something Harry Potter fans like myself may wiz(ard) through this game in half the time as another escape game and be left feeling a little ‘meh’.

But as the genre of ‘wizard escape rooms’ go, this one isn’t bad at all! It has absolutely charming illustrations and it toes the line of Harry Potter better than others on the market (meaning there’s no “Henry Potter”, or “Professor Grumbledore”, you instead meet brand new characters in a brand new school that sits seamlessly in the Harry Potter universe without breaking immersion). In fact, to take that further I’d like to imagine that the Brackendel School of Magic is another alongside Hogwarts in the UK. If Hogwarts be Eton, I reckon I’d have gone to Brackendel.

In terms of gameplay, it’s quite simple and straightforward. You and your fellow students are gearing up for an end of year celebration when disaster strikes! Puzzle your way through the winding corridors of the school and collect magical items that you and your fellow witches can use to defeat an evil sorcerer, the Griffinex! You have to solve puzzles to uncover the spells (or write them yourself, really! This is serious magic we’re talking about). Helping along the way is another handy chatbot. This time, it really feels like you’re having a two way convo as your friend guides you through the school from the safety of your library. It’s creative! I like it!

Overall, rated 4 stars for some really solid puzzles, wonderful illustration and a unique take on the magic school genre. It’ll be a bit too easy for your average escape game player, but families will love this one.

You can purchase School of Magic from Escape Hunt‘s website for £14.99.

Clue Cracker: Fairground Felony | Review

Faskin’s Fairground has come to town and you are buzzing with excitement! You love the thrill of the rides, the sweet sugary smell of candy floss and the sound of the old-time music ringing throughout the park.

Rating: Hilarious
Completion Time: 41 Minutes
Date Played: 7th of June 2020
Party Size: 2

Fairground Felony is one of the latest in the series of online escape games from Clue Cracker. It’s much longer than our previous, Escape from Extinction Island, but no less charming! If you love hilariously bad puns, brilliant acting and lighthearted adventure, then Fairground Felony is for you.

I can’t compliment the team enough, Clue Cracker’s sense of humour is spot on. At the time of writing, their website has a tagline:

Bored of watching Coronavirus updates? Not sure which wall to stare at for the next two hours? Well, fear not!

They’re not wrong! A day after my birthday excitement has died down, on a rainy day staring out the window, Fairground Felony was just what the doctor ordered in these difficult times.

In terms of gameplay, Fairground Felony has you work through 19 ‘levels’. At the conclusion of which, you input a password which is usually a 4 digital code, or a scramble of letters, or a name. This then takes you to the next ‘level’. This mechanic worked pretty well for their other games, but it works perfectly for this one! Each level takes you to a new area of the fairground: The Haunted House, the Arcade, the Magician’s Tent and so on. Each level has it’s own brilliant character (I want to learn more about this bearded lady!), usually a fun video, and always a perfectly appropriate puzzle.

I would say it IS on the more difficult side. There were at least 2 puzzles I’m not even sure I understand now, and at least one puzzle where I think I found an alternative solution to. But if you do come up against anything too tricky, there are hints on every page. I mention this as I believe it’s better played with a bigger group of people so you can all solve it together (or argue!). Playing it as a group of 2 was challenging – but perhaps just the right kind of challenging to work!

At the fear of this review getting too long I wanted to round off by saying honestly it was outstanding. Furthermore, the team deserve all the praise in the world for being so helpful with some minor technical difficulties.

It’s one of the easiest 5 stars I’ve ever given!

Fairground Felony can be purchased for £9.99 on Clue Cracker’s website – check our their bundles too!