ANTS Theatre: We Still Fax | Review


You receive a mysterious machine in the post. You plug it in and something strange happens… You connect with an alternate dimension; one in which the internet doesn’t exist and someone needs your help! To take on this important mission, you will need to crack codes, send faxes, unlock secret hatches and, when the time comes, push the big, red button. They are counting on you; their world depends on it.

Rating: Extraordinary!
Completion Time: 2hr +30 minutes for Easter Eggs
Date Played: 28th May 2021
Party Size: 6
Recommended For: People who know how to fax, and enjoy interdimensional travel between universes.

Disclaimer: No ants were hurt in the writing of this review! Despite my postman cautiously handing me an enormous box that says ANTS and pictures of ants on it, I can confirm there are no live ants in this game… Probably.

If there were any ants, they’ve travelled an extremely long way through many parallel universes to get here.

But do you know what there IS a lot of in this game? Faxing.

To prepare to play this game I extensively Googled what that word means… “What is a fax machine”, “Youtube Fax Machine tutorial”, “Why would people fax?”, and “Do Fax Machines still exist?”. I also enrolled the help of an absolute power house team consisting of Brett, Rich and Krista from the USA, and Phill joining me from the UK.

So how does this work?

We Still Fax is an immersive theatre experience played on a Fax Machine! It’s available from February – June 2021 in London, UK. Sadly, at the time of writing, it looks as if they’ve sold out until the end of the run – but that’s not to say We Still Fax won’t return again some day soon!

With humble beginnings as an Indiegogo campaign last year, We Still Fax might well be one of the most exciting play at home escape room games I’ve played so far this 2021? And that’s coming from me 2 weeks after escape rooms have reopened. This game is so immersive, quirky and ‘out-there’ that it defies definition and has excited me more than any other play at home game in a long, long time.

If I had to categorise We Still Fax, it would be a cross between live immersive theatre and tabletop escape room. The idea is simple – ANTS Theatre sends you a large Fax Machine in the post. This Fax Machine is a relic from another universe… A universe the same up until one key divergent point: The internet was never adopted and people still fax.

At your allocated time you open the box, dial the Helpline, perform your Fax Machine health checks and the game begins! Thankfully, as this game is Games Master-ed means that if anything does go wrong, they’re on hand to help.

The Story

The story centres around your Fax Machine, named Berna 3.142. In a strange blip in the space time continuum, Berna arrives into your possession and from here she acts as a communication device between you and a parallel universe. In this parallel universe the internet was never invented, Blockbuster and Woolworths are booming, Mars is on fire, Elon Musk is missing, and Jeremy Corbyn is in charge of the UK.

In this strange universe there’s somebody at the other end of the line, and they need your help! You’ve got to work together with your fax machine and save the day. The universe is counting on you!

As you power through the main storyline you’ll probably miss A LOT, but you’ve a handy 30 minutes at the end of your game to explore Easter Eggs along the way. By “Easter Egg”, I mean numbers you can dial on the fax machine’s phone to get additional content. There are around 20 of these numbers hidden throughout the game in the most unexpected places.

Ff you want to fully understand the world ANTS Theatre have created, you’ll want to press every single number you can. I absolutely adored the lore and worldbuilding the Easter Eggs in We Still Fax provided. Even now, days later, I’m itching to know more about the world – more about Berners Lee, Elon Musk, and more about the secret mystery of spoons.

The Fax Machine

Ok, so I have no idea what a fax machine is supposed to look like – but I’m fairly sure they don’t sing, flash rainbow colours, and pour smoke from a chimney at the back. But what do I know? I’m only from this universe.

Berna is the real star of the show throughout. What a beauty! We were warned she’d break if we insulted her, but it was easy to treat such a majestic machine with the respect she deserved! All that blue and pink flashing… *hair flick* I think Berna and I have a lot in common.

The Puzzles & Interactivity

Puzzles to solve come in a few forms, they’ll either be faxed to you, or they’ll exist on the machine itself. Players can expect to have to hunt around for 3 digit codes, padlocks and keys as well as analyse the ciphers and codes that come through intermittently.

More important than the puzzles were the moments of interactivity with the fax machine that the game presented. Funny “aha!” moments and surprising twists. By fax you’ll also be prompted to draw diagrams, answer questions and tick boxes, sacrifice objects (or in our case, people!) all whilst faxing back and forth in a two way dialogue with another universe. At one point something we said into the telephone receiver was played back to us which absolutely blew my mind! It was a real ‘wow’ moment how well it fit in, and I almost didn’t recognise my own voice.

I’d also be remiss not to mention how much I enjoyed the music. It was incredibly vibey. From “Dare” by Gorillaz, to hits from the 90s, to music composed entirely of the dialup tones. Did I mention the game’s also got the Nokia ringtone in it? Yeah. Can’t unhear that!

Playing Remotely

As a final note, I wanted to mention our specific experience as we didn’t play the game exactly as it was intended to play. There was a partial team ‘on-site’ as it were, playing with the physical box. Other team members followed along closely via Zoom. If you intend to play this way, I’d definitely get in touch with the team to help facilitate this!

Screenshot by Brett

Another note is that whilst playing We Still Fax we did come across a couple of technical hitches, but after chatting to the team after the game it seems like these are incredibly rare. For example, we were unable to join the call at the start of the game due to a software update on that very day, and later our ‘signal amplifier’ ran out of battery unexpectedly, requiring a remote reset. It also probably didn’t help playing the game with a team spread out across the world via Zoom, so we’re happy to forgive any hiccups. Thankfully the game is GMed remotely by the team, so they’ll very quickly pick up any issues that might arise!


I absolutely adored this game! Purchased as an early birthday present for myself and played along with some of the loveliest escape room people I know made it an all round great experience. If nothing else, We Still Fax is unbelievably quirky and innovative an experience! I mean… An escape room played on a fax machine? Wild. It’s made all the better by ANTS Theatre’s excellent writing and world building.

I can’t believe I’m saying it but… I hope more escape room games are played by fax machine in the future!

We Still Fax can be booked for £60 via Design My Night. Check out the ANTS Theatre website here.

The Mystery Agency: The Balthazar Stone | Review


Can you unlock the ancient chest, find the Balthazar Stone and break the ancient curse? Join Elsa Winslow on her journey to Sharktooth Island. To solve the mystery, you must unlock an ancient treasure chest, find Balthazar’s Stone and break its ancient curse.

Rating: Fantastic!
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 23rd May 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: A spectacular adventure from your own home!

Can I just start this review by saying I absolutely lost my mind when I opened up The Balthazar Stone, like, what?! How cool is this? It’s an ACTUAL TREASURE CHEST. WITH TREASURE IN IT. WAT?! *cough cough* okay professional review time….

I was super lucky to be lent this game by the fabulous Armchair Escapist, who sent the box via Review the Room (side note – Review the Room have the world’s most excellent package wrapping skills!) and it was very cool to be part of that escape room box chain of fantastic people. I’m also kinda glad I borrowed it and don’t own it myself mainly because the accompanying news article explained how the mysterious box whispers to the owner and eventually sends them crazy. I don’t need that kind of drama in my life right now.

The Story

You are sent the box by The Mystery Agency, hoping your puzzling skills might be able to help in uncovering the mystery that surrounds the Balthazar Stone. After all, the professor who had it last went crazy trying to decipher the riddles and open the case. He even tried *whispering* brute forcing the lock, but alas! The Balthazar’s Stone keeps it’s secrets.

But this is where you come in and what quickly unfolds is a story so much larger than a simple piece of lost treasure. The Balthazar Stone is actually about a young orphaned girl named Elsa Winslow who goes on a quest to Sharktooth Island to find out what became of her father after finding the words “Balthazar Stone” written in his last message to her.

As you descend through each layer of the locked box you uncover more parts to the tale – more treasure maps, more curious artefacts and more sea-weathered materials that will lead you back to the Balthazar Stone. But do you actually want to find the stone? Well, that’s for you to decide.

The Experience

The coolest thing about playing The Balthazar Stone is the sheer spectacle of the game – which is probably why I took so many photos (too many to fit in one review). The production quality on this boxed game is extremely high. For starters, the contents of the game literally come locked inside the more treasure chest looking thing I’ve ever seen, complete with aged padlocks and trinkets.

As well as the physical component, you’ll also need to head online to The Mystery Agency’s website where other resources – such as newspaper records and death notices can be found to help aide your solving of the game. Logging into this interface was just as special as the treasure trove of goodies though, as it’s all themed around The Mystery Agency. You log into a very vintage looking computer system, and have other folders such as ‘Hints’ and where to begin scattered about the desk – all clickable of course!

From here you weave your way through the game unlocking each layer of the locked box as you go. Arguably, I found that with each layer the puzzles got a little bit more difficult. The first three digit code was fairly easy to crack using the newspaper that came with the box but from here in I was on my own with stacks of pirate maps, feathers and corks.

The whole thing is themed beautifully. From the thin paper stock for the newspaper, to weathered materials that felt centuries old… It just felt genuine. You, the player, aren’t merely passive. You’re part of the action and holding a very valuable treasure chest in front of you. It’s magical.

In some ways I felt it would be technically possible to play the game in a non-boxed form. There weren’t any puzzles that explicitly needed to be physical. Taking the corks and feathers as an example again – these could have been drawings or even images on my computer screen, sure. But as the physicality of the game was what I enjoyed the most, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s a little pricier than your average ‘play at home game’ but if you enjoy feeling like a real life treasure hunter in the most immersive way possible, you can’t do too wrong with The Balthazar Stone.

The Puzzles

This game is split into three areas, with a three digit lock at each. What this means is that most of the game revolves around finding a three digit code. If you keep this in mind, you’ll be golden. The rest of the story falls into place around this.

I’d rate the puzzles around the “medium” level of difficulty. As a solo player I completed this in exactly an hour with help from one or two clues to get started towards the beginning. The whole time I had my player 2 hovering nearby wondering what on Earth I was doing.

“Looking for treasure again”
“You bet.”

And of course, weighing in on the occasional puzzle.

My favourite puzzles in this box revolved around looking for co-ordinates on a map. Again, this was broken down into further, smaller puzzles, but anything that lets me roll out a big pirate’s map and pinpoint locations is a double thumbs up in my book. I love it!


A thoroughly enjoyable treasure hunt style play at home escape room. Although I suppose you’re not really escaping from anything, you’re unlocking padlocks to get into something. It’s easily one of my favourite play at home escape room experiences of 2021 so far (woah are we already halfway through the year?!) and it’s definitely put The Mystery Agency’s upcoming games on my radar.

I’d be remiss not to mention that in recent times, the company as a whole has had a little controversy around this (and other) games being distributed publicly before Kickstarter backers received copies. Some production errors also meant that some players have received multiple boxes and others none. As neither a Kickstarter backer, nor a purchaser (thanks again for lending me your copy, Armchair Escapist!), I don’t have an experience to share, but I thought it worth mentioning nonetheless. From what I can tell their customer service has been generally positive though, and the high quality product has enabled them to bounce back from this and go on to continue planning and making more games. In fact, I hear they have a 4th in the works now too!

My only regret? Borrowing the game and not owning it myself! The treasure chest it comes in is gorgeous and I’d love to show it off at parties.

“Oh? What’s this? Only a mysterious stone lost for centuries that drives people insane… Wanna give it a go?”

The Balthazar Stone can be purchased for £40 via The Mystery Agency’s website here.

Escape My Room: Mardi Gras Study (Digital) | Review


The year is 1990, and Odette DeLaporte has invited you to her study. As the last remaining heir in New Orleans to the DeLaporte fortune, she needs your help locating a treasure which went missing a long time ago. Can you recover what’s been lost?

Rating: Historical!
Completion Time: 50 minutes
Date Played: 17th March 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Technologically literate folks who LOVE local history!

I was invited to play The Mardi Gras Study’s digital room as part of an early beta tester group, prodding and poking at the technology to make sure it’s robust. As such, my review is of the ‘pre-launch’ version and amazingly, the creators have since improved this game MASSIVELY which I find hard to believe because it was already so good in the first place!

The Mardi Gras Study is a real life escape room at Escape My Room’s New Orleans location and now, thanks to the pandemic, you can play it digitally from anywhere in the world! The room has been reimagined in a browser based point-and-click piece of software. The idea is simple, click the arrows to move your screen left and right and click into anything you like to take a closer look, or add to your inventory.

I won’t comment on how well the tech worked because, as mentioned, I didn’t play the same version that is live today. But I would say if you’ve played anything point-and-click, or built on a similar software called “Telescape” before, you’ll pick up Escape My Room’s system pretty quickly!

The Story

The story in this game is quite unusual, but after looking at the website I realise it ties in nicely not only to the rest of the escape rooms available, but also some pretty nice local history too! Odette Delaporte has summoned you to her study to help with a little problem. A family heirloom has gone missing and, as the only living heir, it’s in your interest to reclaim it. The only problem is, she can’t quite remember in which cupboard or locked box the trail of clues are hidden. But not to fear, even though you’re locked in until you can figure it out, you have some very helpful handwritten notes to guide you along the way.

Photo (c) Escape My Room

The Puzzles

There’s an interesting mix of puzzles in this game. As it’s a digital offering, I can’t compare to the real life version. That said players can expect to interact with objects in creative ways, for example overlaying different pieces of information and cut outs. There are several 3 and 4 digit codes to be found, each with their own unusual pattern. One of my favourite puzzles involved a rug, but the less I say about that one the less I spoil it!

If I had one piece of advice for prospective players – take nothing for granted! Is that item just a curious antique, or is it an integral part of the puzzle? Who knows! That’s all part of the magic.


The room was delightfully quirky and not like anything I’d ever seen before. Virtually ‘walking into it’ you’d have thought it just a regular, dusty room packed with antiques and mysterious things along the walls. But on closer inspection the weird and wonderful world of Escape My Room just keeps getting more curious. With an almost Alice in Wonderland vibe, this whole room was quite something and should be played to be believed!

As I was beta testing the room, I had a surprising amount of fun considering I was meant to be on the lookout for bugs and website issues. Making this overall, one to watch! Since I’m not likely to visit New Orleans any time soon (*cries in pandemic*), I hope the company convert more of their rooms into digital, online spaces. I’d very much like to explore them.

The Mardi Gras Study Digital and the real life escape room can be booked on the Escape My Room website here.

Escape London: Casino Heist – Break the Rules | Review


A new underground casino has recently been discovered. We have successfully disabled the security cameras for one hour. Your mission? Steal as much as you can, use the hidden tools within to assist you but wager your time wisely and escape before security shows. Will money be rolling your way? or will greed consume you first? What’s a challenge without a little risk…?

Rating: Brilliant!
Completion Time: 55 minutes
Date Played: 22nd May 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: People who want to run out of a room with wads of cash in their arms

Here it is, everyone: The long awaited first escape since lockdown!!

*distant fireworks and fanfare sounding*

I have to admit I was super nervous going into Casino Heist in case I’d forgotten how to escape! But the moment you’re inside a room and the door closes behind you it all just comes flooding back and clicks into place. “Right, everyone start pushing buttons and opening drawers! Go go go!

I also played this with a brand new team of amazing people I’d never met before and it was wonderful to just click with a group of people and ace a room together so quickly. We’re already looking at booking another together!

Quick Note

While I was writing this review I realised that the version of Casino Heist I played is “Casino Heist – Break the Rules” which is, I believe, different from both the previous room at the Shepherd’s Bush location of the same name “Casino Heist” and the similarly named rooms across the UK. I did reach out to Escape London to check, but unfortunately they didn’t comment! However messages from a few friends who have played the regular “Casino Heist” confirmed it is ineed a different game. If you’re unsure, I’d definitely recommend phoning them before making a booking!

The Story

Simple setup, simple premise: Break into a secret, underground casino and steal as much cash as you can within an hour! And I’m talking real hard cash… Oh how wonderful it is to be holding so many stacks of £50s you can barely carry them out the room!

With the security cameras disabled, you truly are on the clock with this one. You have exactly one hour before the police are called to the venue so your job is twofold:

  1. Steal as much money as you can from the vault in the casino
  2. Escape from the room before the time limit is up

The unique twist about this room is that you can ‘win’ without solving all the puzzles available to you. In fact, you can more or less skip the entire last portion of the room and escape with £0 if you’re running short on time. But, I’m getting ahead of myself!

The Rooms

The first noteworthy thing about Casino Heist is the fact it’s a 3-room escape room, which I absolutely love. Escape London do this really well with hidden extra spaces and doors. These three rooms take you through a very logical and progressive flow in the casino environment.

First, you arrive at a rather regular looking bar, complete with bottles of alcohol, an adorable jukebox, and pretty much everything you’d expect from a bar. But, like all good speakeasies, it’s hiding a hidden illicit casino behind it… If only you know how to break in! Your first task is to figure out a way into the casino itself. The first room is a little cramped and I’d be surprised if 6 people could fit in – but it took us no time to ‘escape’.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll enter the casino room. This room was brilliantly themed! There are several casino machines, dominoes, even a roulette table. At first I was a little nervous I didn’t know the rules of poker, but it turns out I didn’t need to in order to solve this room. No expense spared when it comes to looking like an actual underground casino parlour – I love it! But there’s not much time to stop and savour the decor as there’s work to be done if you’re going to break into the hidden safe room.

This brings me to the final ‘room’ in the series which is, as expected, the safe room. Here’s where the cash is stored. This room by comparison is quite sparse and everything you’ll find plays an important role. By this point in the game, the time is ticking and you’ve got to quickly find a way to crack the codes on a number of safes in order to get that sweet sweet cash.

ino Heist Escape

The Puzzles

All the puzzles in Casino Heist can be broken down into “Break into a room” puzzles or “Break into a safe” puzzles, and they both had a very distinct vibe to them. In the first half of the game, you’re breaking into places by using what is around you. Players can expect a huge range of puzzles in a more or less non-linear format that would be great for a team of around 4 to keep busy with.

The types of puzzles included plenty of searching around in drawers, underneath things and behind things, some maths puzzles, sliding puzzles, more than one ‘physical’ puzzle requiring a steady hand, and several instances objects needed to be combined! Essentially – everything you’d expect in an escape room (and everything I missed in lockdown!). In particular, one of my favourite puzzles involved the jukebox right at the start – but what can I say, I love music!

*hums rolling stones*

Towards the end of the game, the style of puzzles changes slightly. This time you’re looking for 4 – 6 digit codes to unlock safes! This was where our powers of observation were tested – were we paying attention to a detail in the first room? Noooooo I was not! So there’s a bit of running back and forth! *huff huff huff*

We played as a team of 4 and as I say I think this is the perfect number to play with. We were all busy and there was no crowding around waiting for someone to solve a puzzle. This room encourages pure collaboration!


We whizzed through room 1 relatively quickly, stalled a bit in room 2, and spend the majority of our time collecting ALL THE MONEY in room 3. Us, leave with less than 100%?! Not a chance!

At one point we asked for a single clue on one tiny puzzle that we couldn’t quite crack at the end. The clues are delivered via a walkie-talkie and the GM was quick to help us out and remind us how long we had left to finish. Overall, we escaped at around the 55th minute – woop woop! Not quite the epic escape this team might have achieved, but I’m glad we spent the extra time collecting as much money as possible.

It was also, on a personal note, really nice to make a new friend. This was my first time playing with a brand new team consisting including Georgiana, who runs Discomlogicated. If you’re looking for a great room to take a first time team, you could do a lot worse than Casino Heist.

Casino Heist- Break the Rules can be booked at Escape London (Shadwell) for £24 – £34 pp on their website here.

What Happens When You Mix Open Bars with Escape Rooms? – An Interview with an Enthusiast


I’m Chapter 2 of our “Interview with an Enthusiast” series, I spoke to Jamie from Armchair Escapist about all things escape rooms! Jamie is best known for covering escape rooms in Wales with his comprehensive reviews BUT did you know he’s also an escape game designer himself? Check out Dragon Egg Quest today!

Tell me about yourself!

Hi, I’m Jamie! I’m a somewhat overly enthusiastic geek stereotype from South Wales. I’m a puzzle designer and escape game reviewer over at Armchair Escapist. I cover escape rooms in Wales as well as play-at-home escape games.

The million dollar question – how many escape rooms have you done?

Here’s my shameful secret – I’ve only done about 40 real life escape rooms. Not even enough for my first escake! I’ll show myself out. 

I don’t get to travel much, so the vast majority of the rooms I’ve done are the ones near to me in South Wales.

Which was your very first escape room?

My first room was at Escape Rooms Cardiff when they launched, about five years back. As a former (disgraced) Egyptologist, I made a beeline for their Egyptian room – The Tomb. I was hooked instantly!

I went back and redid it a few years later to see whether I’d been wearing rose-tinted glasses, and it still held up. A very fun room to play!

Photo (c) Wales Online

What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve ever had in an escape room?

I once did two rooms while pretty drunk. I was at a launch event and was waiting for some friends to arrive before we played one of their rooms. There was an open bar …

We didn’t get out. It didn’t help that it was their hardest room, and being three sheets to the wind definitely didn’t work in our favour.

We then tried their second hardest room, but there was about a 45 minute wait to get it ready and the open bar was still there.

Yeah, that worked out as expected.

Desk, plant pot, picture frame – which do you look under first?

Always the plant. Everything else is too obvious. Plus you look like a raging madman if the first thing you do is start hauling the greenery around, so everyone knows you’re serious.

The last TV show you watched suddenly gets its own licensed escape room. Hooray, or oh no?

I’ve been watching The Irregulars on Netflix, so that would make for a wonderful escape room. Victoriana, paranormal happenings, a sprinkling of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a huge hooray from me!

Image (c) The Irregulars

Can you think of a song that would make the perfect soundtrack for how you tackle an escape room?

I tried my best to find something both thematic and cool, but it didn’t happen. So it’s going to be Complicated by Avril Lavigne. If there’s one thing I do in an escape room it’s over complicate the simplest of puzzles.

And keep me away from the maths puzzles. I’ll say I can do them but under any kind of time pressure my brain turns to soup.

When you’re not escaping from locked rooms, what do you like to do in your free time?

I’m busy making them! I’ve started doing some freelance puzzle design, and I’ve made a print-at-home game for kids to collect missing dragon eggs.

I’m also parent to a toddler so any notion of ‘free time’ is inconsistent at best.

How would you explain escape rooms to people who have never played one before?

Escape rooms are a self-contained, hour-long team adventure with puzzles. You can be an explorer, an astronaut, a spy or a pirate for 60 minutes while you and your friends are in your own cross between an immersive roleplaying game and The Crystal Maze.

If I gave you a blank cheque to create a dream escape room, what would it be like?

I’d recreate the adventure from The Goonies – you’d start at a lighthouse restaurant and work your way through tunnels, booby traps and puzzles to wind up on One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship. It would be epic! There’d be a lot of Rube Goldberg style machinery to give it that old school feel.

Can you imagine having to solve a puzzle that leads to a water slide? Shut up and take all of my money!

Can you give me a short puzzle for me (and my readers) to solve?

How about the puzzle I crafted based on your suggestion last Halloween? See if you can solve The Demon’s Smile:

Image (c) Armchair Escapist – check out the link below for the full puzzle!

A huge shout out to Jamie who runs Armchair Escapist for this brilliant interview! Jamie also creates fantastic play at home escape room games, go check out his site here!

Foxtrail: Lancelot Trail | Review


Join the amazing urban treasure-trail experience that’s taking the world by storm. Explore the city in a way that’s exciting, fun and utterly unique.

Rating: High Production Quality!
Completion Time: 5 hours
Date Played: 16th May 2021
Party Size: 6
Location: St. Pauls, Southbank, Tower of London
Recommended For: Teambuilding Activities, Bachelor/ette Parties, big groups of friends who want to spend a whole day in London

What Foxtrail does, they do really (really) well, and I’m not kidding. It’s actually the first company I’ve seen to successfully integrate aspects of the environment into their outdoor walking trails. You’re not just looking for some abstract answer to a question, you’re looking for physical objects – lock boxes with items to collect inside, carefully concealed buttons that project laser pointers onto public art, giant treasure chests hidden in pubs, and even public art installations that send coded messages to you when you text a certain number. Oh, and did I mention there’s a boat in this game?! You literally have to get on a boat and travel to another part of London. My mind is blown.

It makes sense though, Foxtrail is a hugely popular company from Switzerland with a major presence running immersive outdoor trails in many parts of Central Europe. It was only a matter of time before they came to London and hit the ground running.

One of my good friends invited me and a team of 5 to play the Lancelot Trail on a Sunday afternoon – one of those UK days where you get all four seasons in one day. Well, except snow. But hail is pretty close for winter. Despite the bad weather, we had an absolute blast playing it and I wholeheartedly recommend Foxtrail to absolutely anyone in London – tourists and residents alike.

Just be sure to pack an umbrella just in case, and set aside at least half a day so you can stop and take in the environment. After all, this game isn’t timed, which is how we come to mark this as a 5 hour experience. Inbetween stopping at pubs 4 times, waiting in queues for food, and generally taking our time, we weren’t in a rush to finish Foxtrail.

The Route

Lancelot starts at the visitor information centre neat St. Pauls. To actually begin the trail, you need to go into the centre and collect some stuff. We sent the two most outgoing of our group and 5 minutes later they returned with armfuls of lime green lanyards, boat tickets, and some very exciting items which wouldn’t make sense until much later in the puzzle.

From here, you journey South along and eventually across the River Thames through to one of my favourite parts of London – past the Clink, the Hinde and into Borough Market. The day we did the trail a lot of the market stalls were sadly closed, so it wasn’t as vibey as we’d normally expect from the area. However – it meant queues were shorter! In this area we made two (yes, two!) pub stops for takeaway drinks and I paused for a box of doughnuts from Bread Ahead and a sandwich from one of the open stalls.

The next part of the trail took us towards The Shard and back along the river all the way along to the Tower of London. From this area, the ‘boat’ portion of the trail started and we were taken all the way back to where we started – St. Pauls! I actually love it when a trail starts and ends in the same location. It makes it a lot easier to plan your day.

According to my step counter I did about 15km. The whole route should take no longer than 3 hours. We took 5 hours.

*awkward pause*

Moving on…

The Experience

Lancelot is unique in that is doesn’t require a mobile phone… Well, not really anyway, but it’ll help to have someone on your team who can text a number, and look up a video on YouTube. I say it doesn’t require a phone though because these parts of the game were so minimal, mostly what you need you have in your hands or you can pick it up from one of the secret lock boxes along the way!

Ahead of time, we printed out our pack of information which was a very respectable 2 sheets long (double sided). We were also given some additional material from the St. Pauls Visitor Centre. Early on in the game too, you’re able to unlock a box which will give you a map of London and some very helpful cipher translators.

Our impression of the experience as a whole was overwhelmingly positive. In short, we had a really good time – despite the rain. Every single step along the way was an unexpected delight. Even at the 4 hour mark I was like “ok nothing can surprise me now” and yet surprised I was. Even after such a long time starting to feel a little tired, the ‘grand finale’ perked us all up immediately.

Most walking puzzle hunts in London are like “get a text, follow a clue, text a reply”. Don’t get me wrong that’s still great fun… But Foxtrail was so different it blew me away. In particular, how much it actually relied on the environment was awesome. Climbing inside fountains to reach for hidden compartments with messages, huge pirate chests with concealed buttons to press in certain orders, spotting fox themed Easter Eggs on physical maps in the environment. Incredible!

The Story

If you’re looking for a super rich story, this is the only thing Foxtrail doesn’t do quite so well. The story is very simple – you’re following a fox. Why? I’m not sure. It didn’t really matter, so long as you knew to look out for lime green footprints here and there.

On the one hand this makes the experience slightly one dimensional, but on the other hand it does mean this game has universal appeal and infinitely translatable across groups. You could play with work colleagues, you could play with drunk people, you could play with small kids – it’s all the same, everyone understands what they have to do… On second thought, maybe don’t play with drunk people because it would be a waste not to experience the game with full focus!

The Puzzles

Finally, the puzzles! They were actually quite challenging which again is quite rare for an outdoor walking tour. On more than one occasion we had to hang around a particular location trying to figure something out.

In particular, the game made us do a lot of searching at locations. It wasn’t always so easy to find what you’re looking for. Things were often hidden underneath things, or in peculiar places you wouldn’t think to look. In particular, something was written upside down and backwards in a place we couldn’t see – so we had to use our camera in selfie mode to find the message. In other locations, we’d have to climb up onto something and look in a certain direction making bridges, or roads line up. In another location, we found a secret coded message and needed to use the cipher – and in others this went a step further in that the key for the cipher was also in the environment as well.

Each puzzle was very well thought out and made wonderful sense within the environment, and that’s a stand out for me! I’m impressed!


About 15 minutes into this game I knew it was the easiest 5* mark I’d ever give… Then the game got even better from herein! I’m absolutely stoked that we played it and despite the fact it rained and it rained and it rained, we had such a laugh. Given a little more press and publicity now that Foxtrail is officially open, I’ve no doubt this company is on track to being the best outdoor experience in London and I cannot wait to see what they do next.

I’ll leave you with a video which condenses 5 hours of laughing and puzzle solving into just 60 seconds:

Foxtrail can be booked for £19.99 and includes a boat ticket from their UK website here.

The Other Tales Printable Escapes: Gatekeeper | Review


Your Uncle Keith always stood out from the rest of the family. He lived alone in a grand old mansion, and everybody thought him to be a bit of an eccentric. It was a great surprise to you when you received a postcard from Uncle Keith. You haven’t heard from him in many years. You arrive at his home, but find the house empty. What mysteries await you within?

Rating: Lighthearted!
Completion Time: ~45 minutes
Date Played: 15th May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: A fun game to play at home – if you have a printer handy!

I kept planning to play The Gatekeeper and waited for the perfect sunny day to take photos… And waited… And waited. Yep, the perfect sunny day never arrived (*shakes fist at London rain*), so instead I tackled the print & play game with my Player 2 on a Saturday morning over a pot of tea.

What followed was a particularly charming game about breaking into your uncle’s house- but I get ahead of myself! Here’s the review:

The Story

The story starts with your eccentric uncle Keith who lives alone in a mysterious old mansion- alone. One day, he invites you to come visit but immediately you know something is not right when you arrive and Keith is nowhere to be found. Perhaps this is just one of Keith’s peculiar games, or perhaps he is testing you? In any case, you decide to see if you can find your way into the mansion.

What follows is a journey from room to room as you explore the mansion and uncover secrets along the way. Behind each new door is a delightful new environment filled with surprises. The magic you’ll find at the heart will surely change your life forever, if you can unlock it!

The Experience

The Gatekeeper is an entirely printable game, meaning there’s no online interface to grapple with. Even the clues can be printed in advance, making this a pretty good game to pack with you on a holiday if you know you’ll be without internet for a while.

The game is played in ‘chapters’ where each chapter has a number of puzzles which must be solved before you can proceed onto the next one. Each of these puzzles is marked with a unique symbol that relates to the puzzle at hand. For example, a star, or a key, or a potion bottle. These act as locks, and your answers are the key.

The Puzzles

There are 11 puzzles in the entire Gatekeeper game – 11 symbols to find, dotted around the pages and we both really enjoyed the puzzles. There’s a good mix of nice and simple and really hard but the different difficulties are dotted around the whole pack giving someone something to do at all times and no big blockers to continuing the game.

As the game is magic themed, players can expect to come across puzzles that make use of dusty old tomes, of strange language ciphers, mixing potions, harmonising crystals with magic properties, and crafting keys. In particular, I really enjoyed the first half of the game’s puzzles the most. There’s a puzzle early on involving books which took us a while but it was worth all the more when we finally cracked the code.

I also enjoyed a puzzle involving the Herbarium – or maybe that was mostly because I loved looking at the beautifully drawn pictures of flowers!

In terms of difficulty, I’d overall rate the puzzles as “Medium”. We definitely struggled more than we expected to – probably the pot of tea wasn’t strong enough! But there was plenty to do in this game and persevering on the harder puzzles made it worth it. In short, a great mix of different things to do in this game and the creators have made good use of the printed medium!

The Clues

If at any time you need to check your answers, there’s a separate PDF. I think Gatekeeper actually does their clues and answers system really well for a printed game – it’s kinda like a mini puzzle in of itself! The reason being, the clue system is designed so that you can’t accidentally spoil the game for yourself.

For each answer there is a 5×5 grid of letters. If you cross out all the letters contained in the answer you think is correct, the Xs will make a shape and you can check if this shape is correct. Pretty ingenious actually! And, if for any reason you want to skip this, the actual answers can also be found later in the PDF but written backwards so a skim read won’t be a huge spoiler either.

The Art

The artwork in this game deserves it’s own header as it is frankly fantastic! The whole pack has a whimsical, magical allure to it and this is made all the more special by the hand drawn illustrations on each page. It’s almost water-colour style and really brings the house to life.


Because of the light hearted nature of the game with it’s bright colours, warm vibes, and magical plotline, I’d recommend this game for families and kids in particular – and I think it would be a big hit in this group! I really enjoyed it, but after a whole lockdown of printing out play at home games I think my printer might be on it’s very last legs these days. Worth it though to see the bright colours of The Gatekeeper in all their glory.

The Gatekeeper can be downloaded for $29 USD on The Other Tales’ website here.

Emergency Exit: The Beast | Review


There’s a cabin in the woods with a legend of the supernatural. Long abandoned, there have been strange sightings and many people have disappeared, as reported in the news over the years, never to return. You should NOT enter! The question is… can you escape parts 2 and 3 of the Crowley Manor story? There’s lots of puzzles to solve before you can.

Rating: Terrifying!
Completion Time: ~90 minutes
Date Played: 14th May 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Playing by anyone late at night with all the lights off

I don’t like horror… Ohhhh no no no no no. But a horror escape room via Zoom? Yeah I was willing to give it a go. I mean if you’re sitting behind a screen it’s hard to be too scared. Right? Right?! Hahah, I kid! But seriously this was brilliantly terrifying and I had a lot of fun, despite my fears. Emergency Exit gets a lot of good reviews and has even won awards for it’s Exorcism (the prequel) and The Beast (this one) games and it’s very easy to see why.

I took on The Beast with team Escaping the Closet on a spooky (well as spooky as you can get in May) Friday evening with all the curtains drawn, my lights turned to ‘red’, and most importantly – home alone. Which I made the mistake of saying early on into the game, followed later on by this conversation:

Host: It’s a good job you’ve got people there with you Mairi
Me: No, I’m home alone
Host: Wait what, who’s that behind you then?

…Sharply moving on from that! Let’s get into the review:

The Story

We did not play Exorcism before taking on The Beast, so I’ll have to admit there was a bit of plot that was lost on me. The Beast picks up exactly where Exorcism leaves off after your camera man Liam was taken by… Well, something sinister and awful I’ve no doubt. The host decides he’s got to go back into the room and try and rescue Liam, but it quickly goes very south from there.

The whole vibe reminded me a little bit of “Britain’s Most Haunted”, but this time we’re not taking on ghosts, we’re taking on evil demonic spirits. The setting: Crowley Manor. There were a lot of references to the dearly departed residents of of the manor, such as Alice (who shared a name with one of our team!). As we skipped Exorcist, I feel like I didn’t fully follow the first half plot… That or I was too busy hiding behind a pillow!

As you work your way throughout the escape room you’ll go from the main room into a creepy cabin out back and from here the plot takes an even creepier twist. I don’t want to spoil it as it’s twisty and packed with “woah!” moments that are integral to the characters, the house and the history, but rest assured it’s a great room if you love narrative.

The Theming

In terms of theming, The Beast absolutely shines! There are two ‘areas’ to explore which are built around two of the real life escape rooms at Emergency Exit. They’ve got absolutely everything you want from a creepy house with an even creepier cabin. Everything I say? Yes! Even a cursed doll. Literally. It’s cursed. I thought the lock was part of the puzzle but no it’s locked in there with a Bible to keep people away.


The first location is cold and grimy with centuries old cots, cabinets and creepy children’s toys scattered everywhere. Much of the room has been defaced with paint.. Or is that blood? Anything you give you a double take and send shivers up the spine.

The second location is slightly cosier, as candlelit cabins are but that’s no consolation when the poor host has to crawl into small spaces and uncover creepy Satanic objects.

In both rooms there are a good deal of really impressive special effects that add to the mystery. Again, I do not wish to spoil anything, but this game utilises things that I never thought I’d see an escape room do and I am impressed!

The Host

The hosting of this room also get’s it’s own separate section as I can’t help but mention how brilliant our two hosts were – Liam (the camera man) and Ronnie (the host in front of us)! The camera man’s control of the room was absolutely brilliant. I know some people are concerned about motion sickness but there’s none of that in this room, everything was smooth to a T. Most of the time you’re chatting to Ronnie but at one part you’ll ‘control’ Liam instead and the transition was as seamless as it was fun.

Ronnie on the other hand brought the whole thing to life with his character and personality. He felt like an extension of our own team, interacting with us in a real and humorous way. We’d have to coax him into unlocking certain things and heck, it makes sense, this room is terrifying! I wouldn’t want to reach into that creepy dark place and pull out God knows what either!

Together the two host team worked super well and is the absolute icing on the cake of this already brilliant experience.

The Puzzles

Players can expect a more or less non-linear flow of puzzles but a linear progression through the story to reach the ending… Which is a confusing way for me to explain that there is a lot to do and I think we did it in a fairly random order but still made it to the end!

The first part is a bit of ‘searching and finding’. Your host finds himself locked in and you’ve gotta first guide him to finding everything in the room that might come in use. Just watch out for the horrifying creepy dolls.

As with all good Demon themed rooms- I’m kidding, this is my first because I’m a scaredy cat- the second area features plenty of supernatural puzzles! It was a delight to see things like candles, ouija boards, haunted dolls and tarot cards all playing a strong role in the puzzle solving! I also really personally enjoyed the puzzles that involved solving ciphers. Give me some cool demon language any day!

The Tech

A quick note on the tech, The Beast is played entirely in Zoom. This means everything you need is right in front of you – no inventory system, no point and click to get a closer look. This works really well for this room as it means you need never break immersion. In particular, the hosts can capture and hold your attention for some very well timed jump scares and seamless video transitions!


This game was brilliant and absolutely lives up to the hype. From about 3pm on Friday all the way until our 8pm booking I was working myself up into a frenzy – “What if it’s too scary?! Should I skip dinner?“, but despite my worries there was no way to prepare for the thoroughly creepy and immersive experience that it was.

It’s also worth noting that the experience can be scaled up or down in scariness – to a certain extent! If you chose to play this with kids, the hosts ‘read the room’ and don’t go too dark. A team of 20 something year olds they went all out though and I screamed my apartment down at least twice. But you know what, despite my aversion to horror, I had an amazingly fun time.

My only regret? Not playing The Exorcist first! But rest assured, we’ve got that one booked soon.

Oh I also regret that we sacrificed Tasha’s soul to the devil but I’m sure she’ll be ok.

The Beast can be booked for £100 per team on Emergency Exit’s website here.

ClueHQ: The Warp Core Part Three | Review


A Warp Core team ventured back to 1692 Massachusetts, the location of the Salem Witch trials, in search of a magic wand and spell book but they never made it back to the ship. Will you join the rescue mission to bring them, and the magical artefacts, home safely?

Rating: Awesome!
Completion Time: 61:45
Date Played: 25th April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Everyone!

Woohoo! It’s Escape Game Olympics part… *counting on fingers* okay, okay I’ve lost count, but I reckon I’m getting into the flow of it now *flexes muscles*. Nevermind that we only placed 15th this week… You can’t win them all, and anyway it’s the taking part that counts! Right? Right?!

The truth is I’m actually having a LOT of fun playing a new escape room game every week, and I was super thrilled after the success of The Warp Core Part II to see Part II in the roster. ClueHQ have really outdone themselves with this series, each game so far is an absolute delight (and better than the last!).

Part III is markedly more difficult than Part II, if the “time to complete” weren’t already a giveaway. There’s just so much to do in these rooms – I love it! So many nooks and crannies and unique interfaces to point, click, drag, button mash. In this game we found ourselves crawling around through caves, casting spells, and transfiguring animals. So darn creative. A round of applause!

The Story

I missed “Part I” of The Warp Core series and now I’ve come too far along to go back and play it, so I have to admit I don’t fully understand the over-arching plot. I admit, it’s my fault! But here’s my vague interpretation of what is happening in The Warp Core:

You and your team of intrepid explorers have a TARDIS- I mean, it’s a time machine. Just a general, sci-fi time machine. Any resemblance to fictional alien spaceships is purely co-incidental (I’m kidding! Haha). Your goal in each of The Warp Core games is to go to a specific time in history and steal an ancient artefact. At the end of each game you store that artefact in the ‘Artefact Hatch’. It’s likely there’s a greater purpose to all this, but in the mean time I’m enjoying the ride.

In Part III, you journey back to Salem in the time of the infamous witch trials. The year is 1692 and there’s magic afoot. This time it seems you’re not just there for an artefact but you’re also looking for a missing team of Warp Core treasure hunters who disappeared around this time. What on earth did those witches do to the treasure hunters? Can you find them? If you don’t hurry their fate will also be yours! Go go go!

The Experience

The Warp Core Part Three takes place in a piece of software called Telescape and honestly I think it is the best example of Telescape from any company out there right now. As well as the typical 360 degree view of a space that by now I expect, Warp Core is multi-room, meaning you unlock not only new physical spaces but also other additional spaces which would not be technically possible in a real escape room experience. You can move around, zoom in, and click on things, and often this will trigger an interesting video sequence or a fully interactive interface.

Again, I have to reiterate that Warp Core III is impressive in the world it creates and in particular for those moments which would not be possible in the real world. For example (and minor spoilers here – this is information available on their website so I think I’m free to mention it), in a real escape room would you really come face with a witch or wizard and be able to enter into a spell casting battle in real time? Could you cast spells and physically see the result of your spells in front of you, such as things materialising or transforming? Can you cut shapes out of materials and have them transform into the real thing?

I reckon the answer for each of those things is no. At least, in 2021! I dunno you might be reading this blog post way out in in the year 2500 and all that stuff is possible. But right now, I AM IMPRESSED. This game is excellent!

The Puzzles

The puzzles in Warp Core III are pretty cool too. It felt as if the designers paid a lot of attention to detail and furthermore really pushed the limits of what is possible in a digital space, which is cool. Using my magic wand, I was able to draw shapes and physically manipulate objects around me… With magic!

That said, we did get fairly stuck! Not only is there A LOT to do in one small escape room, but the puzzles were a big step up in difficulty from Part II which he how we came to take a lot longer to finish it. However one of the main places we ‘got stuck’ wasn’t due to the difficulty of the puzzles, but more because we didn’t think to look in a place where the next clue was to be found. Oops! So piece of advice: check everything and check it twice!

My favourite puzzles involved Scanny Tim. No spoilers here, but I loved the addition of a handheld device that helped advance the game in very unexpected ways!


I am a huge fan of The Warp Core series and I cannot stress enough what an impressive piece of tech it is! The creators have gone above and beyond in creating a brilliant play at home experience and I only wish we weren’t playing these competitively so I had more time to soak it all up and enjoy. I’m super stoked to see what Part IV will bring! Bring it on, Warp Core!!

The Warp Core Part 3 can be booked for £15 on ClueHQ’s website here.

Secret City Trails: Kings Cross – Colour, Curiosities and Courtyards | Review


Dive into the history of London’s buzzing Kings Cross area! Trust us, there’s much more to discover here than platform 9¾. Follow the location-based riddles made by our local creator, Jennifer, to explore hidden wonders of this remarkable neighbourhood. You’ll learn little-known or forgotten stories behind striking sculptures, fascinating architecture, and unexpected pops of colour. It’s an experience for the curious by the curious!

Rating: Delightful!
Completion Time: 1hr 23m
Date Played: 9th May 2021
Party Size: 2
Location: King’s Cross
Recommended For: Families, Couples, People who want a lovely day out (go on a weekend!)

Kings Cross – Colour, Curiosities and Courtyards is the second Secret City Trails experience I’ve played, and I’m beginning to get the hang of their unique style of puzzle! This time I was joined by the fabulous Bianca of Shiny Life for Me on a sunny Sunday afternoon. At the time of writing, it’s the last sunny day I can remember actually (*shakes fist at the rain*), therefore I’m glad we made the most of it!

The sun must’ve done us some favours though as at the time of writing, our score earned our team an awesome 10th place on the leader board overall! Take that *checks notes* Team Wiffins, in 11th place!

Unlike a lot of my reviews, I’m leaving off the “Story” aspect of this review, as Secret City Trails aren’t build around a narrative – or rather, you’re the narrative! The story is whatever you make of it and really it’s just a fun way to explore a new part of your city without worrying about saving the world or tracking down an elusive enemy.

The Route

Kings Cross – Colour, Curiosities and Courtyards starts off out front of King’s Cross station and, after talking a long round about route, ends up in the ‘new build’ area of King’s Cross: the beautiful and modern area behind the station next to the canals. Along the way, you’ll get to go into the station itself, around the courtyards in the nearby area, and into the British Library too.

I did two walks in one day, and by the end of the day I’d walked a whopping 25,000 steps! But noooo… Don’t get the wrong idea, this walk itself isn’t 25,000 steps. Unless you want it to be? It’s actually about half of that.

My favourite bit – even though by the time we finally got there we’d started rushing (gotta get that good score, amirite?) – was the canal area towards the end. It’s incredibly pretty round there and honestly I could have found a sunny spot on the grass and dozed for hours. It didn’t help one of the canal boats was also playing live music – lovely!

On our particular walk, we experienced one or two minor issues with the route, however this was down to us being the first team to play it post-lockdown. The British Library section was shut, and one of the features in a puzzle had been removed. However, on alerting the Secret City Trails team they’ve let me know they’ve fixed this right away! So take my experience with a pinch of salt.

The Tech

This walk was played entirely on a browser on our mobile phones! The team leader is given a link at the start of the game that all team mates can sign onto and begin their journey! The format goes:

  • Receive a riddle to your phone
  • Follow the clues and head to the location
  • Solve the riddle, input the answer
  • Read some facts about the local area
  • And repeat!

You can see your progress throughout the game at all times, and optional breaks are even listed in the game so you know how long until you can stop for a coffee! Which is exactly what we did at the half way mark and a nice opportunity to catch up whilst not thinking about puzzles for a brief half hour.

The Puzzles

In terms of puzzles, this is where the ‘core’ of the game really is. Each puzzle is a riddle… Of sorts! The kind of confusing message that would only make sense as you walk it through. Think anagrams of place names, puns hidden inside words, and references to stepping L or R depending on where about you are.

More than being ‘hard to solve’ you need to really pay attention to your environment – read every sign, every blue plaque, and look closely at the cobblestones you’re walking over! For this reason, this game is an excellent way to get to know the city. Avid puzzlers won’t be challenged, but a family or friends group will enjoy an exciting walk.

We got slightly stuck towards the start on one section, where the answer became super obvious once we walked an extra block (and might even have been more obvious earlier if not for scaffolding). So for this reason, I’ll also say to trust your gut and explore the environment thoroughly!

The Company

Secret City Trails, originally founded by all-female duo Wendy and Kristina, is now an international puzzle trail company spanning countless cities. In each city is a team of puzzle writers who can submit their own games to be used on the app (I assume) via a shared revenue model. Different creators have different styles and for that reason the games are priced slightly differently.

The most expensive route in London is priced at £30 per team, and the least expensive at £16 per team – unless you count the £10 “Mystery Walk” offer where you’ll be allocated a game at random. This makes the King’s Cross walk comfortably priced in the ‘middle range’ and great value for what you get too!


I really enjoy Secret City Trails! ESPECIALLY in lockdown where I’ve been having some serious escape room withdrawals, being able to solve puzzles out in the open with friends really scratches that itch! I discovered some amazing new stuff in an area I’d never normally visit, such as a beautiful mural of a maze and some awesome art within King’s Cross station itself. I love the area, I love the canals, and I love the company I shared the game with! I’d definitely recommend Secret City Trails to anyone new to the city, or even if you’ve lived here your whole life a chance to discover something new!

Kings Cross: Colour, Curiosities and Courtyards can be booked for £22 per group of 1-5 players on Secret City Trails’ website here.