Oblivity Podcast: The Profoctor Predicament


Rating:  Fantastic!
Completion Time: 55 minutes
Date Played: 30th July 2020
Party Size: 1

The Profoctor Predicament … Or to call it by it’s full name The Profoctor’s perfidious, perilous, puzzling predicament! How to describe it? SO MUCH FUN. It’s brilliant, hilarious, charming, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s immediately gone onto my Top Rated list and I can’t recommend it enough.

The best part? The game is supporting not only a brilliant podcast (which you should go listen to over here), but 50% of all sales go towards The Old Fire Station in Oxford, a public arts centre in Oxford that supports artists and helps people who are facing tough times. Which … Let’s face it is an industry that is hurting A LOT right now.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to travel to Research Base Persephone on the planet Pluto. The team that work there have gone missing! Of course, not being of any real strategic importance out there, the mission isn’t essential, but you may as well go check it out. So off you go on your merry way, through a series of really fun and interesting videos that set the scene and introduce the characters.

To help you along the way, you have a printed pack. This short pack contains a couple of samples from the notebooks and, as you’ll come to realise, will greatly help you crack the codes you need to rescue the team.

Without giving too many spoilers away, on arrival you come face to face with a sinister enemy and must play his little game *cough* the perfidious, perilous, puzzling predicament. That’s not all, within each room as you navigate around the base you’re looking for an 8 digit code and an 8 digit word. Very … Mysterious!

It’s not just the story I loved, but the puzzles too! They fit seamlessly within the world and were very unique! I really appreciate going into a game and seeing things I’ve never seen before. The Profoctor Predicament is full of them. In particular, this game contains a lot of logic puzzles in various forms. Planting plants … Picking characters in a game of Annihilation …

… Not least of all in my favourite puzzle of the whole game: the final one! In an exhilarating ending, you’ve got 5 minutes on the clock to solve the trickiest one of them all. To take EVERYTHING you’ve learned so far, tiny little hints throughout the game, and to put them into a grid all whilst the sinister Profoctor giggles in your ear? It’s perfect! It’s the perfect puzzle.

At this point, I should pause to admit that it took me 2 attempts on the final puzzle. In an honestly quite hilarious ‘twist’, your timer runs out and you get a “Well thats too bad, if only you could rewind time.” I mayyyyyy have rewound time at that point, yep. But I mention it because I adored how self-aware the game was at this point. Just one of the many quirks that made this one so much fun.

At the risk of this review becoming too long, I’ll end by saying you get a multiple choice on how to end the game. No idea if I picked the correct one. I didn’t hit ‘back’ in my browser to check, so I’ll just have to live with my decisions. After all … I got the ending that I deserved!

The Profoctor Predicament can be purchased for £5 from the Oblivity Podcast website.

Puzzle Post: The Missed Flight

You gave your message to Lucy Kingston to deliver. She’s been travelling around Europe but has been caught up in some unscrupulous business. She’s hasn’t done anything wrong, but someone’s after her and she’s gone into hiding.

Rating: Brilliant!
Completion Time: 32 minutes
Date Played: 26th July 2020
Party Size: 1

The Missed Flight is a brand new gift concept from the clever people at Puzzle Post. The idea is simple! A good friend of yours has sent you a message via third party, Lucy Kingston. But in an exciting twist, Lucy goes on the run! Unable to pass along your message, she goes into hiding. Perhaps the clues she’s left behind in her travels hold the key? If you want your message, you’re going to have to solve the clues.

Unlike other similar services I’ve bought for friends (*cough cough* sending one of these to your flatmate so you can backseat play along), I got to play The Missed Flight all by myself which I LOVE. It’s honestly exciting enough receiving a letter in the post, but then having that letter wrapped up in mystery and intrigue? YES!

What really stands out for me with this one is that it’s so wonderfully timed. We’re still in a pandemic. All our summer holidays have been cancelled. So for that brief moment to receive a letter from the sunny Hotel Placa de Catalunya sparks so much joy. It’s a wonderful theme and the puzzles work so beautifully in this setting. You’ll find yourself pouring over flight maps, postcards, cafe menus, beer mats and tickets. It’s a holiday in an envelope! Waiter, bring me a jug of sangria please!

In terms of difficulty, I’d say this game is very comfortably paced. It’s not terribly difficult, but it’s not easy either. Effectively, as a player you’re looking for a string of numbers. Each puzzle is different and gives almost no clue to how to solve – so you must really read everything carefully. Some of them you’re like “yep, I’ve got this” and jump right into it. Other’s require you to really, really think outside the box.

My favourite puzzle was the one involving the napkin. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it was such a realistic puzzle within The Missed Flight’s universe. It’s my biggest bug bear when an escape game has puzzles that don’t fit in the world, but Puzzle Post absolutely nails it.

If you … Or your recipient… Manages to solve the whole thing, they’re given access to “The Vault”, within which contains a message. The message could be a video, a photograph, or even just a plain text. For my Puzzle Post, I received a super sweet video which brought me such a smile. But I can definitely imagine this being a great way to gift someone some tickets .. Perhaps even plane tickets for a holiday? Why not!

The Missed Flight can be purchased for £12.99 from Puzzle Post‘s website.

Extraordinary Investigations: The Morgan File

A missing investigator … A lost treasure … A sinister conspiracy.

Rating: Educational
Completion Time: 3 Days
Date Played: 26th of July 2020
Party Size: 1 (+2)

Before I begin the review, I want to issue a quick content trigger warning! This game is set in the immediate post-WWII era and uses real historical people in it’s narrative including senior Nazi officials. You, as the player are retracing the steps of a missing treasure hunter searching for lost Nazi Gold. Gameplay involves researching and studying real life articles from, of, and about Nazi Germany. Players will also encounter references to “torture”, “assassination” and “death squads”. Some players may find these topics distressing.

Extraordinary Investigations: The Morgan File is super realistic! For sure, it’s called a ‘Puzzle Novel’, but I’m not sure where the history ends and the fictional ‘novel’ begins? Which feels so refreshing! I love learning new things whilst I play and The Morgan File strikes that balance that very well.

You, the latest recruit to the XIU (Extraordinary Investigations Unit) are given an exciting cold case. A treasure hunter gone missing and a peculiar trail left behind in his wake. All you’ve got to help you is the collection of evidence in each chapter of the book and an online portal where you can document your findings.

As someone who has worked in investigative roles, I cannot emphasise the ‘realisticness’ enough. Yes, this is exactly how it works in real life. You have to use google, a LOT. You don’t get given the correct answer, you need to figure it out. Wikipedia will become your new best friend. This book gives you all that. Can’t figure something out from the evidence? Well, you’d better be prepared to go into the internet archives and find what you need there.

It’s really unique in that way. Yes, I am aware of the arguments in the escape room / escape game world to “keep all knowledge needed contained within the game”. But I’m also aware of the opposite, “be realistic, let players research themselves.” Extraordinary Investigations: The Morgan File is a great example of the latter.

Since it’s an escape room ‘novel’, don’t be daunted by my long time spent on the game. It’s the kind of thing you can pick up and put down again with absolutely no obligation to complete in one go. In fact, some of the puzzles will definitely be better solved once you’ve slept on it. After all, Extraordinary Investigations doesn’t offer any answers, only clues. If you get stuck, you just need to keep at it!

I’ve marked the game as a DNF because well, I got stuck! There were 3 puzzles throughout which I found fiendishly difficult. One of them I emailed the creator to ask for help, the other 2 had a finite number of possible answers, so easy enough to guess. I know… I know! It’s not in the spirit of things, but sometimes you have to think outside the box. I wanted to see the game through, by any means! 😉

At some point in the future, I’m going to return to the game and try to crack those last few puzzles, but for now I had enough to write for the review and wanted to get this post out to celebrate it’s recent launch. In particular, I reckon this is a good gift for all the ‘dads’ out there. So I might just rope my old man in, with his superior knowledge of WWII history!

Extraordinary Investigations can be purchased for £14.71 on Amazon, the website can be found here.

Houdini’s Secret Room

The 150-year-old house that belonged to the most famous illusionist Houdini is now a museum. You decide to go there and learn some of his greatest tricks and illusions. Walking around, your curiosity leads you to a secret room, one in which no one has set foot for over a century…

Rating: Mysterious & Quirky!
Completion Time: 35 minutes
Date Played: 23rd of July 2020
Party Size: 2

Houdini’s Secret Room is visually INCREDIBLE. It was the first thing I noticed, those illustrations. It’s quite rare to experience a fully illustrated play at home escape game that does so in such an immersive and high quality way. But does the game play live up to the gorgeous designs? Absolutely! In all ways I found Houdini’s Secret Room quirky and fun. How on Earth is this game not as popular as it should be? It’s going right to the top of my list of games I’ll be recommending to my friends.

One big thing I should pause to mention before I continue however: Houdini’s Secret Room is an ‘Escape Room Kit’, meaning ultimately it’s designed to be set up by one player and played by others. In our game, we didn’t quite have that luxury – there’s only two of us. I did the ‘setting up’, then where a spoiler came up I quietly stepped back and let player 2 solve the rest. It worked well though, so don’t let that stop you from giving it a go if you’re a smaller group like us.

Illustrations aside, the game play is straightforward! Houdini’s Secret Room comes in 3 distinct parts that are well written and give helpful directions of what to do. You find yourself locked in Houdini’s mysterious room. The notes he has left behind first point you to a box, then to a window, then to a final lock to escape (I’m probably over-simplifying it here but it works!). The game will have you cut bits, staple things, glue sections, and assemble 3D puzzles in a logical and exciting way.

In particular, Houdini’s Secret Room has a puzzle that forces you to answer the correct way first time. Unlike a real life escape room, where you’d probably attempt everything before finding the correct way, the curious way of phrasing the question really causes you to pause. I’m trying to explain a puzzle without giving away any spoilers here – it’s tricky! The point being, this game does some very cool things with the ‘play at home’ format which wouldn’t work in the real world. I appreciate the creativity.

Overall, Houdini’s Secret Room was great fun! About as close as an escape room experience you can play from the comfort of your own home. I’m super excited to see if this company makes any more play at home games in the future.

Houdini’s Secret Room can be purchased for $29 USD on the Houdini’s Secret Room website.

Locked City: The Curse of Covent Garden

Legend speaks of a curse haunting the inhabitants of Covent Garden and turning them to stone. Follow the cryptic trail and lift the curse before it is too late…

Rating: Great Fun!
Completion Time: 1hr15
Date Played: 19th of July 2020
Party Size: 3

The Curse of Covent Garden … Something is afoot in the West End! A mysterious curse turning people across Covent Garden into stone? Spooooooky!

For me at least, outdoor games are the perfect remedy for the slowly-coming-out-of-lockdown season (that’s a mouthful!). It’s sunny out, summer has arrived – and if you’re not yet comfortable going back into an escape room, it’s a good way to reconnect with friends in an environment you can control.

So in all, what better way to spend a friend’s birthday than running around a gorgeous area in London, hunting for clues, and learning genuinely interesting facts? There is no better way, Locked City’s Covent Garden experience is fantastic!

In terms of gameplay, The Curse of Covent Garden has you solve 19 clues and travel to 19 locations within a small area in London. The clues range from spotting things in your environment, to some quirky local knowledge (nothing you couldn’t figure out though!), to cipher shift puzzles, to anagrams, and of course directional puzzles too. There’s a little bit of everything in this game.

The walk comes in at (my guess) 2 – 3km and it starts and ends in roughly the same location which is perfect. Without giving any spoilers away, you’ll have to walk down to the river at some point, see some very cool art at another point, and pass some very cool looking places to eat!

Compared to all of the other outdoor hunts I’ve played, I’d probably pitch this on the easier end of the scale? We didn’t get stuck at any point (zero penalties – woop!) and, apart from doubling back on ourselves just once, the route was easy to follow. For the seasoned puzzler, you’ll whizz through like we did (in fact, here’s a challenge – can you beat our leaderboard score?!).

For the more relaxed crowd, this game is perfect. I’m recommending this one for a family group in particular! The kids will love fighting over the mobile phone and reading clues… With plenty of cafe and pub stops, honestly you can afford to take it easy, look at the sights, stop for an ice cream or two … Or even pose in front of the giant rainbow currently outside Covent Garden 👇

All in all, a really good time. Honestly, I just had a lot of fun! I cannot wait for Locked City to expand their hunts to more areas of London … More, more, more, please!

The Curse of Covent Garden can be purchased for £25 a team on Locked City‘s website. You can start at any time from purchase, so does not need to be booked in advance.

ClueQuest: Humanity 2.0

Agent Crimson and MrQ have destroyed the Alpha Brain System, but not before Professor BlackSheep managed to escape. But the Professor no longer needs that old piece of machinery. He’s now setting his sights on a new vision, Humanity 2.0, a world order where humans only have access to the intelligence they deserve.

Rating: Outstanding!
Completion Time: 1hr15
Date Played: 17th of July 2020
Party Size: 2

Causing another exciting ripple in the play at home escape room industry, Cluequest’s final chapter in the Agent Crimson saga is here! If you’ve been following the story so far with Stolen IQ and Alpha Brain System, you’ll not be disappointed with Humanity 2.0.

There’s something so absolutely innately charming about Cluequest’s world. If you’ve played at least one of Cluequest’s real life games, you’ll know what I mean. In a world populated by scientist mice, evil sheep, and a hapless human population to save … The possibilities for adventure are endless. Once again you join Mr Q and go up against the nefarious Professor Blacksheep. This time, you’ll meet a surprising familiar face too.

In terms of puzzles, Humanity 2.0, just like it’s two predecessors really pushes the boundaries of what is possible. As a player, I don’t get the impression (like many other games out there) that a puzzle has been shoe-horned into the play at home format. No, each puzzle feels completely at home in the printed format. They’re effortlessly unique and creative. Assemble a laser maze? No problem. A 3-dimensional wire solving puzzle? Amazing. Creating and assembling a paper jacket? Flawless.

It’s really hard writing a review for a game I enjoyed SO MUCH. I just want to shout and rave about all the brilliant things … And there are so many of them! But equally, the game is full of “wow” moments, I don’t want to spoil a single second of it for any interested player out there!

So… I’ll just end this review by saying without a doubt in my mind, the ClueQuest series of play at home games are some of the best quality, most exciting and all rounder games on the market today.

Humanity 2.0 can be purchased for £12 on ClueQuest‘s website.

The Puzzled Maker: Date Night Treasure Hunt

Love is in the air!

Rating: Romantic
Completion Time: 1hr30
Date Played: 13th of July 2020
Party Size: 2

I was sceptical! Okay, I’ll admit it! We’re not a lovey-dovey couple … But then maybe that’s why this game ended up being so darned perfect? Being forced to sit down and work through your relationship with a series of puzzles and games made an average Monday evening just lovely. It reminded me a lot of the 36 Questions to Fall In Love article the New York Times ran a few years ago. After reading about it, I booked a dinner for my other half and we went through the questions together and yes, we fell in love again. The same effect that had could also be found in the Date Night Treasure Hunt.

Full disclaimer however, we did not realise it was an interactive PDF and meant to be played on a tablet. We printed the whole thing out – hah! There are some elements in the game where it encourages you to “click here” or pick from a selection of buttons … But it still very much worked as a printable game. In fact, a few of the puzzles (such as the word searches) worked a lot better printed anyway.

In terms of gameplay, the Date Night Treasure Hunt is quite simple. It’s not an escape room – not even slightly. It’s a couples game and revolves around activities for pairs. Some of them will challenge the puzzling parts of your mind, there’s a bit of hunting and searching for things and coming up with ideas. But there’s also truth and dare, questions to asked your loved ones, and an activity where you must synchronise your thought processes (which took us a very, very long time to get right!).

The most charming part of the game was it’s competition. At the start, you’re encouraged to set your own prize. My prize was a “surprising edible treat”, player 2’s prize was me sitting down to watch a film in full and enjoying it (hey! I’m not a film person. I’ve got no attention span whatsoever). Thankfully, I won and bagged myself a box of Crosstown Donuts the following lunch time. It was a really nice touch though, in most games (or escape rooms), you don’t get a prize. In this one, you do. I like that!

As a final challenge, @societyofcuriosities on Instagram challenged us to create a pick up line from the words we got from the wordsearch! I found:

  • Wonderful
  • Dub
  • Par
  • Marie
  • Tada
  • Tool
  • Rod
  • Raw
  • Connection

Every pick up line I came up with was honestly horrifying based on these words. I can safely say I’ve failed the challenge.

The Date Night Treasure Hunt can be purchased for $25 AUD on The Puzzled Maker‘s site.

Keyhole Escapes: Camping Crisis

Having driven for seven hours to reach the beautiful Cliffside Campsite, you pull up to the barrier and the guard asks for your booking confirmation pack. It’s not in the door and its not in the glove box or under the seat…

Rating: Creative
Completion Time: 28 minutes
Date Played: 14th of July 2020
Party Size: 1

Camping Crisis is the second game by Keyhole Escapes I’ve played! After choosing not to review Lighthouse Rescue, I was excited to get this review up and out there!

Games by Keyhole Escapes are fun and creative, they centre around a linear progression of activities within a setting. In Camping Crisis for example, you arrive at your campsite ahead of a holiday only to find out you’ve forgotten your booking confirmation. To secure your booking, the campsite manager has you travel from area to area performing various bits of work. You clean up rubbish, you help the staff … The list goes on. There isn’t a huge sense of urgency, but this would probably make it a good game for someone looking for an easier pace!

The game is also entirely digital – so very friendly on those who don’t own printers.

In terms of the puzzles, there are some creative and fun puzzles in there! Especially those involving looking really closely at an image, or finding something hidden to click on a page – which is pretty unique! There’s also a mix of maths puzzles, some logic puzzles, even some wordy and cipher puzzles. It has a bit of everything.

On the other hand the clue system is a little tricky. If a puzzle doesn’t seem to make sense, the clues/answer boxes will give you the answer rather than an explanation – leading to one or ‘scratch heads’ moment throughout the game. But overall as it’s a game on the slightly easier side, asking for clues shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the average escape room fan!

To sign off, my favourite puzzle in this game was the BINGO level. Love me a bit of BINGO and this one was wonderfully creative! All in all, a good first game from this company and I’m excited to see where they take it in the future.

Camping Crisis can be purchased on Keyhole Escape‘s website for £8.

Mobile Escape: Missing Person


After a harrowing cliffhanger in Episode 1, we’re back with cousin JJ in Episode 2.

Rating: Brilliant!
Completion Time: 39 minutes
Date Played: 12th of July 2020
Party Size: 2

This review passively discusses the ending of Episode 1: Family Secrets. Only read on if you don’t want that to be spoiled for you!

…And we’re back! The long awaited sequel of Family Secrets – Missing Person has arrived, and we could not wait to get stuck into this one.

In a bold departure from Episode 1, Episode 2 (Missing Person) takes us away from the whimsy of a treasure hunt and into a search for a missing person. No more studying ancient maps, this time we’ve got to take to the web and hack into a secret submarine base. Think radar, morse code, binary codes – exciting!

All in all, it’s an exciting twist of a game, yet absolutely strong enough to hold up without continually making comparisons to Episode 1. We enjoyed playing it as a group of 2, any more and it might feel a bit busy as the game progression is linear, meaning you all work on one puzzle, then the next, then the next.

In particular, I enjoyed the grid pattern puzzle. I absolutely adore anything that makes me shade in coloured blocks to slowly reveal the next step. A lot of fun in my books, and vastly under utilised in play at home escape games. This one was reminiscent of a Nonogram but infinitely more sophisticated and clever! Props to the designers all round.

We took a little less time to complete than Episode 1. Judging by the completion times of other players, this might be one of the slightly shorter ones in the series. That, or it could be that we’re growing accustomed to Mobile Escape’s unique style. Either way, shorter – but no less fun.

… And finally… You bet I couldn’t end this review without mentioning Cousin JJ. Ahhh, the cousin I actually wish I had! Well he’s back and he’s back with all his wit and cunning and ready to help you hit your goals. More Cousin JJ in the future pretty please!

Episode 2: Missing Person can be purchased on Mobile Escape‘s website for $14.99 CAD! Don’t forget to try Episode 1: Family Secrets first though.