Beam Me Up, Chris! – An Interview with an Enthusiast

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In this brand new series on The Escape Roomer, I’m talking to a different escape room enthusiast each month and chatting all things puzzles, immersive, and of course, escaping! One of my favourite blogs to read belongs to Chris Fairfield, who writes about everything from Colourblind Friendly Game Design to really cool reviews of puzzle boxes. He’s also just a really nice person too!

Tell me about yourself!

Hi! I’m Chris Fairfield, hailing from Seattle, WA. I’m a Puzzle Game / Escape Room enthusiast, and review games over at my vanity site: https://chrisfairfield.com

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

The short answer is: not nearly as many as I’d like! The longer answer is I’ve gone through 12 traditional escape rooms and 23 at-home puzzle game experiences. I moved to Seattle in 2017, so finding a new local playgroup has been a challenge that has kept me from doing more traditional rooms, but I’m hoping to increase the number when we finally get out of quarantine.

Which was your very first escape room?

I am so lucky in this regard! My first escape room was “Office Hours“, which I ran through on March 24th, 2016. The room was created by two friends of mine, Anne and Chris Lukeman; I had met them through the local filmmaker community and knew that they were both exceptionally creative and talented story-tellers, so I was really excited to see what they would be able to do in a space like this. Unsurprisingly, they knocked it out of the park! Their company, CU Adventures, has gone on to well-deserved acclaim and, after several iterations and refinement, “Office Hours” eventually became what is now known as “The Lost Temple”. 

While it now, in hindsight, looks a little rickety in comparison to CU Adventure’s newest offerings (Gen 1 vs Gen 3), I was completely enchanted by the experience. The puzzles and presentation were really sharp, the space was used very well, and we were able to complete the objective and save the world! (You’re welcome world!) My favorite moment was finding a surprise basement in a spot where one wouldn’t expect a basement to be. This was extra delightful to me because I didn’t yet know that secret rooms were a common escape room trope, and, ever since I was a kid, I wanted to find a bookshelf with a hidden room behind it! Overall it was a ton of fun and I immediately knew that I wanted to go through many more escape rooms.

Photo (c) CU Adventures

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

Oh man, so many! My favorites are where you do something in a game that feels like actual, factual magic. When you think to yourself, “There’s no possible way this could work” and then it does! There’s a sort of stagecraft to it, and I love that no matter how many rooms I do, how many games I play, I keep coming across puzzles and concepts that feel unexpectedly magical and novel.  

It started with the secret basement reveal in “Office Hours”, I knew that there was a hidden door there from the beginning of the game. However, the game creators spent the rest of the room setting expectations in just that right way, that I was expecting the door to open into a closet or a small side room. Instead it opened to reveal stairs to a huge basement room, which swapped out the muted 1930’s palette of the rest of the room with these neon fluorescents. It truly felt like walking into another realm and left me with the biggest grin plastered on my face.

In another game, the room was setup as an apartment. In the kitchen, there was a sink with a garbage disposal—you might see where this is going—one of us needed to reach our hand into the garbage disposal and fish something out. There is some sort of preservation instinct that makes it hard for anyone to reach their hand into a garbage disposal, even knowing fully well that an escape room company isn’t going to risk the lawsuit of having it be live. Long story short, it took a full minute for my teammate to work up the nerve to stick her hand in there and announce that she’d found something. Which was the exact moment that the gamemaster remotely activated the very loud rumbler that they’d attached to the underside of the sink. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone scream as loud as my teammate did as her hand shot out of the sink—with the hidden object in hand. We laughed so hard about it afterwards, it was a perfectly designed moment. 

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

As the official “tall person” in my group (6’4”/1.93m), I feel like it’s my job to hit those picture frames first. 

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

I’m currently watching the 4th Season of Infinity Train, so very much hooray! Infinity Train is an emotionally rich cartoon that explores many concepts around mental health, identity, and belonging; but the foundational conceit that it builds all of that complex narrative around is a train filled with train-cars that are essentially each their own themed escape room. An licensed Infinity Train escape room would be amazing.

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

This was the hardest question! But, after much deliberation, I think I have found the perfect answer and it may surprise you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c18441Eh_WE

Once I start a puzzle game, it’s just stuck in my head until I solve them! Sometimes when I split a game over two days, the unsolved puzzles will even show up in my dreams at night!

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

I love creative activities that emphasize narrative and storytelling, so naturally I’m a big fan of roleplaying games. I DM a weekly Dungeons and Dragons campaign and have a stack of indie RPGs that I’m looking forward to running when I can sit around a table with friends again. I’m a big fan of board games and video games. I also have a habit of starting projects, though I have a less-than-stellar completion record on them. 😬

In safer times, I also really enjoy road trips and nature, and am looking forward to being able to resume exploration of this wonderful little corner of the country I live in. 

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

My pitch is always this: “Escape Rooms are the most fun way you can spend an hour of your life.” They will challenge, surprise, and delight you, and at their best you will feel like a superhero. 

I would also let them know that most rooms don’t actually lock you in, that most places will have a room that’s designed to onboard new people into the hobby, and that they’re designed to be fun. 

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

This is totally childhood wish fulfillment, but I would make a licensed Star Trek: The Next Generation escape room. The story would be that aliens, let’s say the Ferengi, in a botched takeover attempt have given up and fled, sealing the doors and turning on the self-destruct mechanism as they left. You need to board the ship, make it to the bridge, and abort the self-destruct sequence. You “beam in” to the transporter room, and have to find a way to open the jefferies tube that leads into Engineering. Decoding the pulses of the warp core in Engineering will be essential for restoring power to the turbolift, which will then take you (via a hidden rotation mechanism) to the bridge. The bridge, which is a life size replica of the set, is the crown jewel of the experience, requiring you to use various stations to regain control of the Enterprise and deactivate the self-destruct sequence. 

Players will also be given the choice of either tractor beam-ing the Ferengi vessel to capture it or to fire torpedoes and blow it up. 

The consoles are all touch-screen interfaces, using the iconic LCARS style that was popularized in the series. Tricorders with hidden RFID readers allow you to “scan” and get accurate readouts of various objects in the game. Puzzles on the fly based on the number of players and the players’ progress. For example, each player will be required to man a station in the bridge to get past that puzzle.

Now that I’ve put this out into the world, I need this to happen!

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

Think you’ve solved it? Let me (Mairi) know and I’ll check if you’re right!


Thanks so much Chris for taking the time to answer all my bizarre questions, and keep up the awesome work with your writing!

Online Escape Rooms Ireland: Spirit Seekers – The Clare Abbey | Review

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You are joining paranormal investigators, “Spirit Seekers Ireland”, on their investigation of the Clare Abbey ruins in County Clare, Ireland. Your team must capture at least 4 pieces of hard evidence of paranormal activity and get this evidence to Professor O’Connor of Trinity College Dublin. It is of vital important to make this a successful mission.

Rating: Unique!
Completion Time: 34:53
Date Played: May 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Paranormal Investigators

I’m calling it, Spirit Seekers: The Clare Abbey is the first of it’s kind…

*pauses waiting for an onslaught of DMs telling me I’m wrong*

…But seriously, let me explain the concept: The Clare Abbey is a real life location in Ennis, Ireland that has been converted into a virtual escape room experience. You play a team of ghost hunters and you must journey there to solve puzzles and… You guessed it: Catch ghosts!

The fact it makes use of a real life location that isn’t an escape room is huge to me. What’s to stop someone taking some 360 photos of the Eiffel Tower and making an escape room there (OK maybe the Council of Paris would have words, but you get the idea). It’s really, really unique and I love that the creators put the time and effort in to make this game.

It’s also great fun to play with Escaping the Closet as part of the 40th Escape Game Olympics! Bring on the leaderboards!

The Story

The Clare Abbey is packed with ghosts, and it’s your job to prove it! You’ve been sent by Professor O’Connor of Trinity College Dublin and are armed with all the usual spirit-catching equipment you need. You know, typical ghost catching stuff. We had an EMP thingy-ma-jig, heat reader, we had a spirit box, we had a camera, and so on.

The best part about this game is that it’s also just “Episode One” meaning there’s plenty more to come from Online Escape Rooms Ireland and frankly… I can’t wait! Give me some more ghosts to hunt any day!

The Experience

Spirit Seekers: The Clare Abbey is played in a platform called Telescape. This means you have a 360 degree view of the area and can point and click into any item or object to take a closer look. Unlike most Telescape games, there isn’t just one space to explore… But 16!! Each of those 16 locations is it’s own photosphere with it’s own mysteries to uncover.

There’s about one to three puzzles per ‘area’ meaning there’s still plenty to do. But it does give the game a feeling of being immensely big, and very easy to get lost in. The majority of the time spent in this game was probably searching for something we’d spotted earlier but couldn’t remember where exactly it was! Oops!

Note to other puzzlers: Make notes of what you find and where!

The game unfolds fairly linearly in that you need to first capture a ghost in one particular way, then the other, and so on. This means that when you first open up the game you’ll be spotting ghosts out the corner of your eyes everywhere! This was one of the most fun parts of the game and genuinely chilled me at points. Creepy sightings and eerie noises. *shudders*

All things considered, the graphics are really cool and a step up from the previous two Online Escape Rooms Ireland games I’ve played: Beach Bar and O’Brien’s Cottage. Cameras crackling and the haziness of ghost sightings felt immersive and engaging. On the completion of each puzzle, a video prompts showcasing the ‘what happened when you did this thing’.

The Puzzles

In terms of puzzles, the creators have been very clever making use of the environment and not adding too many things which feel out of place. Of course, some things have been added – like additional plaques, or 4 digit codes locking things away, but largely the game uses what the Clare Abbey provides. For example a relief in the wall you’ll place an object you find later, a strange etching already found on a grave, the crow caws, or strange puddles and sundials.

Even though your goal is different (capture evidence of ghosts), the puzzles are fairly typical of what you’d find in a real escape room. There are plenty of locks to unlock, including digits, and so on. In most cases, you had to combine items at the right time to achieve a desired outcome.

As the area is so vast, in our team of four I think there are definitely some puzzles I didn’t get to solve as other team mates finished them quite quickly – but vice versa on the things I spotted earlier on. This means this game would be best tackled by splitting up and looking for clues.

We got stuck a couple of times, but largely this was due to not remembering where something was, or missing a small detail in one of the many areas – wasting time searching through the other 15 areas before returning to the place you’re supposed to be!

Overall

This game reminds me a lot of a Halloween party I once threw, where all the attendees were split into teams of ‘TV Ghost Hunters’ and their goal was to complete escape room style challenges in this outdoor area whilst trying to capture the best footage of a ghost in order to keep their TV ratings up.

It had the same light-hearted yet spooky vibes and has inspired me to throw another future party maybe in the vicinity of a church. They are very creepy in the dark, after all!

I’ve marked this game here on The Escape Roomer as ‘good for Halloween’, and even though it’s set in the day time I stand by that. This would be an excellent game to tackle this October or November on a cold and dark evening from home. Driven by narrative and puzzles that aren’t too challenging makes this for me, a big hit with families too!

Props to the creators for making such a special game!

Spirit Seekers: The Clare Abbey can be booked for 24 EUROS on Online Escape Room Ireland’s website here.

Ratings

Online Escape Rooms Ireland: O’Brien’s Cottage | Review

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Eddie O’Brien bought a plot of land in the hills of West Clare. Against the advice of then locals, Eddie chopped down an old Hawthorn tree to make room for his cottage. His neighbours warned him that the Hawthorn tree was a Faerie tree and a curse would befall anyone who cut it. Since then, every generation of O’Briens to live in that cottage has suffered a sudden and unexpected death. It happens always on a night with a strange and sudden storm, and the locals report hearing the wailing of a woman in the wind.

Rating: Quaint and Curious!
Completion Time: ~35 minutes
Date Played: 8th May 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: People missing escape rooms in lockdown!

The first thing to explain about O’Brien’s Cottage is that it is available in three formats:

  • A real life escape room in Ennis, Ireland, which you can book in person once they’ve reopened!
  • Remote Avatar, where the host guides you around the room and performs actions on your behalf
  • Digital (Telescape), where you get a 360 degree view of the room and each interaction triggers a video

We played the latter style of game! No live host, but a room we could explore at our own pace and a pretty nice inventory system to boot.

I tackled this digital game on a dreary, rainy morning with Escaping the Closet! Our usual 4th team member was away for the weekend and so we got together for a back-to-back escape room marathon, starting in Ireland with O’Brien’s Cottage.

The Story

The story of O’Brien’s Cottage is spooky to say the least! After chopping down a mysterious old tree and placing his cottage on the site of it, a curse befell the O’Brien house passing down from generation to generation… A banshee curse! One cold and spooky night the locals hear wailing from the cottage and it’s up to you to go and investigate.

What you find inside is a mysterious series of locked cupboards and shelves and a major spooky vibe – tied in with local history, historical photographs, and eerie paintings. It’s up to you to see if you can figure out the mystery of O’Brien’s cottage and break the curse once and for all… woooooooOOOOOOOooo 👻

The Experience

As mentioned, we played O’Brien’s Cottage entirely in a piece of software called Telescape. What this means is that we logged in, could see each other’s mouse on the screen, and were able to seamlessly navigate around a 360 degree view of the real life escape room. At various points in the game you can zoom in on items and click them to examine them further. This is how you might find locks, or hidden items to add to your inventory. It also lets you take a closer look at items you might need to read or physically manipulate.

As a step away from remote avatar hosting, once we successfully completed a puzzle we were presented with a short video of us ‘solving’ that. E.G. Inputting a correct code, or twisting a lock to open a door. The game also had some interesting physical manipulation of items and puzzles, for example good use of the click and drag and drop functionality in Telescape, triggering correct answers once successfully solved.

The Theming

When you first enter O’Brien’s Cottage, if not for the eerie intro video, you’d think it were actually quite a warm and cosy environment to be. You’ll find yourself face to face with a cosy arm chair, some interesting pictures on the wall, some cupboards and shelves – essentially, everything you’d normally find in a real cottage living room. Just don’t look behind the- ARGHHH!

The Puzzles

O’Brien’s Cottage was a kind of hybrid between linear and non-linear. You can read that as: I don’t remember if we did things in a particular order, but that’s what happens when you play with the powerhouse Escaping the Closet team (haha!) we all just kind of jump in and start tackling puzzles head on.

What you can expect though is that there are a good amount of codes and keys. If I counted correctly, around 5-6 padlocks to unlock and behind each of those were items you needed to collect and tidbits of information to be used to solve the next puzzle.

Overall the puzzles weren’t too difficult and, with the exception of a puzzle about wheels, we weren’t tripped up! In particular, I really enjoyed a puzzle that reminded me of a jigsaw, and I loved a logic puzzle they included too! Gimme a logic game any old day! Woohooo!

The Company

A new heading I don’t normally use in my reviews *gasp*. But this company deserves it! I wanted to highlight that one of the best parts of the escape room experience was the customer service we received. From the first point of contact, through to playing, to listening to feedback (and constantly improving their games), it was an absolute joy to chat to and get to know Sarah, the owner. Props to escape room owners who love what they do and care!

Overall

Such a delightful room to play! I pictured myself in the eerie cottage perfectly – as the wind howled and rain fell outside my own window here in London! This game has buckets of charm and really scratches that escape room itch whilst we’re all still stuck at home in lockdown. I’d recommend this game to anyone!

O’Brien’s Cottage can be booked on Online Escape Rooms Ireland’s website here.

Street Hunt: Colombia’s Finest | Review

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Can you spill the beans on what’s happening in Jim Robusta’s coffee company? Jim works alongside people with a shady past and has asked you to sniff out evidence of crime amongst the caffeine.

Rating: Exceptional!
Completion Time: 2-3 hours
Date Played: 9th May 2021
Party Size: 4
Location: Blackfriars, London
Recommended For: Adventure fans! Folks who want a real good challenge in London.

CW: This game contains themes of drugs and murder and may not be suitable for a younger audience.

I normally start these reviews with a bold proclamation of what I love about the theme. Such as “I LOVE MURDER MYSTERY” or “I LOVE THE 80S” but Colombia’s Finest is about a drug ring operating out of a coffee shop so err… umm… I LOVE COFFEE!

No but seriously, this was like nothing else I’ve ever played and I don’t get to say that too often on The Escape Roomer because I’ve played a lot! Everything from the excellent technology, to the plot, to the brilliant writing, to the ‘non-linear’ format was unique. Could it be my new favourite outdoor puzzle trail company? Why yes, it might just be!

The Story

A mysterious coffee shop, an infamous drug ring, and a dead body! Shocking!

Actually, I had no idea what to expect in terms of the plot, but it was a little more explicit than I expected… Read As: walking around the centre of London loudly talking about cocaine, and getting to check autopsy reports. We tackled this game as a team of 4 consisting of me, my parents, and my 11 year old brother which, despite the theme, he found the whole experience absolutely hilarious (and I hope didn’t understand everything that was going on… Though he probably did! Kids have internet these days.)

Your first contact is a man named Jim Robusta, who suspects something very shady is happening at the coffee shop he works. Thankfully, you have a network of informants – a kinda modern day “Baker Street Irregulars”, if you’re familiar with Sherlock Holmes. These people have small tidbits of information and it’s up to you to travel around to each one and speak to them to figure out what’s going on and whether there’s a murderer on the loose! As the story unfolds, Jim’s life gets put in danger and you must seriously pick up the pace if you want to save him in time.

The Route

The game starts a short distance from Blackfriars Station in an inconspicuous square next to a library, featuring a very cool copper sculpture! Here, I waited a while in the late-pandemic deserted streets one sunny morning for my family to arrive.

The whole route is around 4 miles or so, or at least that’s what my step counter said by the end! But here I’m using the term ‘route’ very loosely because the fact is, you can actually take any route you want to complete this game. Your informers pop up at random intervals and whilst there’s a suggestion of who you need to see when, you might prefer to follow the interwoven story threads in a different way. So long as you solve the mystery and speak to as many people as you like, the choice is entirely yours. Take an unconventional route and you might find yourself cracking the case even quicker!

Our chosen path took us around the new builds of the City of London, through squares and leafy green spaces and even down along the river as we searched for the scene of the crime. The game both starts and ends in more or less the same area and with optional breaks there’s plenty to see and do.

If, like us, you choose not to take any breaks – I’d recommend grabbing a coffee at the end. The final location is a street or two away from St. Pauls and the Paternoster Square area is packed with cafes – even in lockdown and on a Sunday – for coffee.

The Tech

The technology in this game gets it’s own section because I really enjoyed this part! I’d gone into the game like “yeah, I know the drill, I get puzzles texted to my phone…” BUT NO. Nothing like that at all! Instead you get a link to a fully interactive in-browser map. At first, one or two “points of interest” appear on the map, nudging you in a certain direction. The more you solve and discover, the more yellow dots appear on your map.

However, before you can interact with a yellow dot – which it typically one of your informants with information, you must solve a quick puzzle about the surrounding location. A question you could only know if you were actually there – so no cheating!

Each player has their own link and must also input answers into the game for a unique personal score at the end. However, the game updates at a similar pace. Things will happen at the same time across all your devices and we didn’t encounter any sort of lag by using three separate devices.

Solving the Puzzles

There are two types of puzzles in this game:

  • The puzzles you encounter at each geographic location, to prove you’re actually in that space in order to talk to your informant.
  • The over-arching mystery, where you must figure out who in the organisation has which role and who the murderer is.

For the first type, it’s quite simple! You’ll receive a small question or riddle about the location and, once arrived, must figure it out. Usually this involves looking around for a clue on a blue plaque, or a piece of wall art. They were riddles, sure, but none were tricky and felt more like a formality.

The second type was the opposite – very tricky indeed and involved all our deductive reasoning skills to figure out how to take down the expansive network of criminals!

After solving your final location based clue, the timer suddenly goes red and starts counting down the time you have left to submit your police report and you’re presented with a simple form to tick who is guilty of what, and why. We needed to go back and re-read everything, as each conversation we had with informants gave us some small piece of information that only made sense in the context of the bigger picture. Tricky!!

Overall

We cracked the case! Woohoo! Take that, murderer!

It was touch and go for a bit at the end and yes, I did have to break into a run to reach the last location – making for a really epic and out-of-breath finale. But overall? This experience was AWESOME. I genuinely can’t praise it enough. We had a really sunny day for it, no technology issues, and enjoyed an absolutely lovely coffee at the end as we continued chatting about the case well into the afternoon.

I think what the two creators (London-based couple Annaliza and Tony) have created is totally unique in the market and this would be a huge hit for office teams, groups of friends, and heck even families (though maybe not your 11 year old brother, unless he’s cool with this kinda stuff). I had a wonderful day out and I absolutely recommend this. Five stars!

Colombia’s Finest can be booked for £15 / player on Street Hunt’s website here.

They have also kindly provided me with a promo code for 20% off for The Escape Roomer readers: “THEESCAPEROOMER20”

Wild Child: Chernobyl A Puzzle Septology | Review

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Get to know the desolate town of Chernobyl and the ghost city of Pripyat as well as their history from the days prior to the nuclear accident.

Rating: Immense!
Completion Time: 16 hours 44 minutes (2:22 + 2:21 + 1:18 + 1:59 + 2:37 + 1:47 + 4:22)
Date Played: 24th March – 6th May 2021
Party Size: 3 – 9
Recommended For: Hardcore puzzlers and folks who want a “wow what was that” experience over multiple days

The only way I can start this review for Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology is with a meme. So here you go!

Literally, whenever anyone says the word “Chernobyl” to me:

It’s true! Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of brain power and even more stamina to get through the long hours required of it. But it’s also one of the most rewarding escape room experiences I’ve had to date and I’m super grateful to the amazing ESCAPE THE ROOMers team for hosting me for 7 awesome livestream weeks as we tackled this huge feat together.

The Experience

Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology is a puzzle hunt style game that is played over seven chapters (and one bonus chapter) in Google Earth. Each chapter is broken up into smaller (mostly standalone) puzzles and the solutions for which are always found somewhere within the area of Pripyat!

Since each chapter is fairly different from each other, I’ve decided to break up this review by talking about each chapter separately, and making note of a few details and what to expect about each one. In some chapters there are 7 puzzles, in others there are tonnes of ‘bonus’ puzzles (which end up being harder than the regular puzzles), in others there is just one puzzle, and so on. It’s a different experience each time! Expect the unexpected!

Extra Notes

  • As of the 8th of May the creator has created a ‘light’ version of the game for those who just want a taster! It contains the best puzzles from each chapter and should only take about 1 hour each.
  • Some of the proceeds for the game are donated to Chernobyl Children International who give support to children and families living in the aftermath.

Chernobyl A Puzzle Septology Hints / Answers

You’ll find all of the livestreams embedded in this article below and, as there are no hints available online, if you’re ever completely stuck you may be able to find the answer in one of our livestreams. Or you can contact me over on Instagram or Twitter and I’ll do my best to help. Just don’t ask me what ropey fruit is.

Here are some other hints I’d recommend keeping in mind as you play the game:

  • Every design choice is on purpose! The creator has chosen a specific font, text, border, colour etc. on purpose! Don’t forget that as you look for clues in the environment.
  • Google Earth won’t load unless you’re actually on that tab haha. Feel free to split screen. I played most of this game over two screens / split screen and it helps!
  • You need to also use the clue and the environment. I think that no clue on it’s own can be solved without first finding the corresponding area in Google Earth.
  • No idea is too outlandish. Especially if you’re playing in a team, just say whatever pops into your head. It might spark an idea.
  • Have fun! It’s a hard game but you’ll get through it with an awesome team 😀

Good luck!

Chapter 1: Core Galore

Core Galore is the first chapter in the series and gives a really cool introduction both to the experience and to Chernobyl as a whole! At just under 2.5 hours, it’s about ‘average’ difficulty compared to all the other chapters in the series and therefore sets you up for success if you can complete this without too much stress!

There are 7 parts and no bonus puzzles and I really enjoyed them – especially (no surprises here) the ones where I got to copy and paste images into Microsoft Paint and do some drawing on them! ART! YAY! I played this chapter with Cici (ETROOMers) and Thomas (Escape Stations) and we had a lot of amazing people in the audience tune in to watch us *coughcough* I mean help us out too!

As with all the puzzles in this game, it’s important to pay a lot of attention to every detail in the ‘clue’ given, as any colour, font or design choice is likely on purpose and therefore central to solving the puzzle.

The best part is, this chapter takes you around the nuclear core of the power plant itself and with every successfully solved puzzle, you get some trivia to read! *ahem ahem*

Chapter 2: Geiger Says

Chapter 2: Geiger is high up on my ‘frustrating’ scale, but namely because we absolutely whizzed through the main seven puzzles in under an hour, only to be tripped up by the bonus puzzles. These bonuses are worth a lot less, and I believe there’s no obligation to finish them. But not for our intrepid band of puzzles (Cici and Tammy)! Leave no puzzle unsolved!

In this chapter, we got to explore some of the surrounding area of Pripyat, including a swimming pool, a secondary school, a couple of museums, and the New Safe Confinement structure too! All of which, eerily NOT abandoned. Some of it felt quite new – kinda cool!

The puzzles were a lot of fun too! Yes, yes, even the bonus ones. As you played the ‘main’ puzzles you must to look out along the way for those bonus solutions. One such example was a rusted chair we spotted in one of the bonus puzzles, although actually solving it took an extremely long time, we kept returning to it puzzle after puzzle to give it a go. Another example was ropey fruit… Wait! I wasn’t going to talk about that. *flashbacks intensify*

Chapter 3: Natura

Chapter 3: Natura is one of the ‘easiest’ chapters in the series and took our team of three including Nick (Kent Escape Room Reviews) a mere 1 hour and 14 minutes! Woah! This chapter consists of 6 puzzles and 1 bonus puzzle. It felt like a nice ‘break’ week from the struggle of the previous chapters.

This chapter largely takes place outdoors, with some absolutely gorgeous sweeping drone shots of the Chernobyl area. One thing I didn’t realise is how green the nuclear area is. As the trivia explained: even if the nuclear fallout causes local wildlife to have much shorter lifespans, the absence of humans allows everything green to grow and flourish!

Whilst nothing was too challenging, I particularly enjoyed the final puzzle in the series – arguably the hardest one. It’s titled “The Maze” and was a several step puzzle with a cryptic clue at it’s very heart. After scouring minute details on each tiny crack in the ground and each tourist standing around, the actual solution was so much easier than we thought. But again, a huge shout out to the lovely community who tuned in to watch us for all their help!

Chapter 4: Clickety Click

Chapter 4: Clickety Click took us back indoors! Specifically, back to the school area which provided a lot of fun puzzles spanning a bunch of ‘topics’ you might expect to study at school. Oops! I should have paid more attention at school, huh? We were joined by the immensely smart (and fellow blue haired person) Rich Bragg who is one of the founders of TERPECA, and Clue Keeper app.

This setting provided some really cool locations for puzzles – 7 of them, to be exact and absolutely no bonus puzzles to be seen! *distant cheering* In particular I loved the puzzle which had us examine lockers to decode an hour, minute and second time. In particular I did not enjoy a puzzle which made a surprise appearance in Chapter 7 and involved maths… But not just any old maths, graphs and charts and algebra and 3D modelling. All those things I tried to forget when I left Architecture school to pursue another career!

Chapter 5: Obscura

Chapter 5: Obscura was one of the strangest chapters to me, and possibly the one I enjoyed the least. It was pretty tricky, and (apart from the final chapter, 7) it was the one that took us the longest! That said, for this team we were joined by the absolute power house puzzle solver, Michael Augustine. To name just a few of his amazing achievements: He won the Red Bull “Mindgamers Quantum Challenge” and Idea Lab: “Memory Challenge”. He and his team “Slackers United” placed 10th in “Red Bull’s Escape Room World Championship”. Last year, he and his team “Unite Discord” placed 3rd in ERChamp’s “2020 Escape Room Championship”. *swoons in puzzle language*

Obscura contained only 6 puzzles this time round with no bonus puzzles. So it should be straightforward? Ahh, not really. We struggled! In particular, one puzzle involved some complicated maths that, no matter how many variations on the formula I tried, I couldn’t seem to get the answer correct. Another involved zooming out really far on a map… Except it didn’t, and I definitely wasted most of our time doing the wrong thing.

But again, however hard, it was still satisfying to finish and so close to the end… We were determined!

Chapter 6: Le Vitrage

Girl power FTW! For Chapter 6 we were back with an all-female team and joined by the amazing puzzle champion, Anna from Blue Fish Games and co-creator of two of my favourite play at home experiences: The Curious Elevator and The Curious Staircase of Mr. Hincks. We were also in for a treat, another ‘easy-ish’ game in the series. Or at least, it took us the second least amount of time to complete. In hindsight, the creators were just giving us a break before the beast that was Chapter 7 *nervous sweating*

Chapter 6: Obscura consists only of one puzzle, named “The Four Parts”. You’ll never guess why.

Of these four parts, you remain in the same one space – the Cafe Pripyat on the shoreline of a vast lake and sporting a really beautiful stain glass window! Pretty cool how so many different puzzles can be creators from just one small area, but there was so much to go on with the bright colours and artwork all around!

Each part of the puzzle was connected to the others, which was confusing, but once we figured out we had to tackle them in order, taking only a small bit of information from the other four, we quickly cracked the case and whizzed through the series.

Chapter 7: Higher Dosage

Each week I played the Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology, I wrote down some notes at the end of each week: “Liked this, didn’t like this, the location was ace…” and so on. My notes on Chapter 7 were just one word:

“What??”

Ok, so we started at 8pm UK time and ended at 1am and if you know me I crash at about 10pm. I’ve even been at parties and decided to go take a nap at this time because it’s “bed time”, so I’m fairly sure I didn’t contribute much, or understand what the heck was going on past about 11pm… But it’s a good job we had the ultimate Puzzle Avengers Team on our side (or PAT) for short, for this epic 4-5 hour stream! All the previous players joined us as well as Lee Ballan (creator of The Pyramid), and Jamie (Armchair Escapist). A truly formidable team and incredible group of people I’m so stoked to have met and hung out with these past Thursdays!

The puzzles ranged from “this is really hard” to “impossible”, yet somehow we were always able to figure it out! And of course, my favourite! Plenty of chance to whip out Microsoft Paint and draw on things in the environment too. I LOVE DRAWING.

There’s one more ‘stage’ to mention, and this is the top secret bonus puzzle. I won’t say much about it, except that you should definitely leave an additional hour at least to finish it! I also can’t say much about it because it was 1am and by the time we got to it I was halfway to the land of ZZzzzzzz.

Nonetheless, I’m proud of us! My teammates, my wonderful host Cici, and the creators for making such an incredible, immense puzzle experience.

Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology can be purchased for $60 USD for a team of 5 on Wild Child’s website.

Puzzle Post: The Split | Review

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Siena Sudlow hits upon her dream when a music producer spots her at an open mic night and asks her on tour with her favourite band. The dream doesn’t last long as she becomes embroiled in the scandalous activities of the lead singer, and the bands dispute with their management. Siena lives the high life for a wild week of photo shoots, award ceremonies and launch parties before the hearsay and gossip gets too much, the paparazzi is surrounding the hotel and she needs out. She stashes your message in an online vault and leaves a series of clues to reveal the passcode.

Rating: Challenging!
Completion Time: 52 minutes
Date Played: 8th May 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Music fans, puzzle aficionados!

What are rainy mornings for, if not puzzling? I received Puzzle Post in the post and waited the whole week for a ‘sunny day’ to play it on and take some lovely photos. But you bet it rained the whole week! So I took a hint from the universe, made a huge mug of hot chocolate, and got stuck into the The Split early on a windswept Saturday morning.

…And, actually this was just the ticket! Puzzle Post is set in an ‘alternate reality’ where the pandemic didn’t happen (I think). I say that because the dates on the puzzles in the game are March 2021 and the location is London. I was definitely here in London in March 2021 and things were still shut *sobs*, but being able to play this reminded me of the vibrant music scene in neighbourhoods like Soho…. Which is actually where I used to live! Woah! Small world. It was almost like the world was back to normal for the hour I played this… Almost!

How Puzzle Post Works

The Split is one of Puzzle Post’s harder games in their series, but the idea is the same as The Missed Flight: You purchase a copy and hide a hidden message in the game. This might be a video, or a plaintext message. Your message is then stored behind a login and a password, the latter for which is hidden in the game. So, when your recipient receives a mysterious envelope, they must first crack the code before they can access the message. So cool!

For this reason you should probably purchase a copy as a gift for a friend, rather than for yourself. But if you’re itching to play it, no judgement for ordering one for yourself, haha!

The Story

The story in The Split centres around the young Siena Sudlow, a musician invited to play with a band on tour – her dream job! But what she didn’t count on were all the paparazzi! She had intended to deliver a message from a mutual friend to you, but she’s trapped in her hotel, unable to go out without having cameras shoved in her face. Instead she stashes the message for you in a digital locker and, using the items around her, concocts a puzzle for you to gain access to the message.

After all, you wouldn’t want the message falling into the hands of any prying journalists, huh? Who knows if her email has been hacked. This way is much safer. It’s a good job I’m up to the challenge of solving puzzles. The funny thing is, my brother and I frequently snail mail secret codes to each other- mostly talking about our favourite type of cheeses. This feels a little bit similar. It’s unique, it’s a little old fashioned, and heck we can all agree its 100000% more fun to receive something in the post than an email anyway.

*partner disagreeing with me next to me on the sofa*

The Gameplay

If you’re familiar with Puzzle Post, you’ll probably know the drill by now! All of their puzzle experiences follow a similar route. It’s been a while since I last played one, so I have to admit I’m out of practice, but after using a clue to get me started on ‘where to begin’, I was off to a flying start!

Besides the introduction letter setting the scene, there’s no ‘instructions’ in the traditional sense of the word. These too, are a puzzle to be solved. The first big step is to find out the correct order. In this game there is one item in the pack that clearly suggests an order the others follow in.

From here, each puzzle solved will give a single or double digit code that when strung together makes a password. This part is important! It means you’re always looking for a simple, numerical solution. Don’t overcomplicate it – or maybe do overcomplicate it!

The Puzzles

The Split is supposedly the hardest of the Puzzle Post series so far – I’d definitely recommended for someone who is familiar with the ‘play at home escape room’ genre, or at least is fairly quick at picking these sorts of things up. However, even though it is the hardest, it’s not insurmountable. I used around 3 clues throughout the whole experience just to nudge me along in the right direction, and only got one of the numbers incorrect – something quickly rectified by going back and actually reading the puzzle properly! Oops!

A lot of the puzzles in this experience revolve around reading through things and properly understanding what is happening and what you’re looking for. For example I spent a long time looking through the magazine on completely the wrong page wondering whether something looked like Morse Code, only to realise I wasn’t thinking about the plot of the game. I’d missed the ‘real’ puzzle!

As it’s a physical game, a few of the puzzles relied in manipulating the materials you’re giving. A very clever jigsaw style puzzle gave one code, whilst overlaying items on top of each other gave me another code, and so on. In some parts, in an exciting twist, I got to venture out onto the internet in search of… Well, music, really! I thought that was a super cool touch and the puzzle that followed was definitely my favourite (and the one I got wrong the first time round! Haha!).

In short, there’s a lot to do. Even though there’s an order, you could follow this game fairly non-linearly. I played as a solo player, but I’d have enjoyed it just as much in a small team of 2, or even 3. There’s enough puzzles to keep people busy, and enough delightful “aha” moments to make the whole game exciting.

Overall

I enjoyed it a lot! I’m a big fan of Puzzle Post and they’re one of the few companies I keep seeing “out in the wild”. A friend recently received a copy of Missed Flight for her birthday and loved it so much she went on to order one for her friend, that friend enjoyed it so much that at dinner the other week we couldn’t stop chatting about it! It’s really cool and it shows that the word of mouth that surrounds Puzzle Post is excellent too!

Whenever one of my puzzle friends’ birthdays come up I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to order an envelope (or 2, or 3), and the company even have a special kids game which my brother adored. The Split lived up to the hype and as ever, I’m so excited to see what Puzzle Post do in the future.

The Split can be purchased for £12.99 on Puzzle Post’s website.

District 3: Interrogation Room | Review

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An investigation begins the day after an attempted heist at a museum. Despite being brought in for questioning as suspects, unease led to your attempted escape. Staying too long may lead to your arrest, or perhaps worse!

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 41:24
Date Played: 22nd April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Everyone!

*leaderboard klaxons sounding*

In an exciting first, not only did we manage to ace a District 3 room in under 45 minutes with no hints (yay for the bonus achievements!), but at the time of writing this score also earned us the coveted place of 7th in the leaderboard! I normally wouldn’t be this excited but this is the all time leaderboard- yep everyone who has played in person or online! Wow!

@theescaperoomer

7th on the District 3 Interrogation leaderboards! Can you tell I’m excited??? #escaperoom #onlineescaperoom #leaderboard #exitgame #escapetheroom

♬ original sound – The Escape Roomer

I’ll be showing this TikTok to my grandkids some day *blows nose*.

No, but seriously! I was already excited to play Interrogation Room and to get a great score felt like the icing on the cake. After Something Brewing and Haunted were generously comped by the company, we immediately rushed off to book Interrogation as an extra treat for ourselves and weren’t disappointed.

The Story

There’s been a heist at a nearby museum and priceless artefacts have gone missing! In the play at home version of Interrogation, one of your friends was caught at the scene of the crime with a mysterious briefcase the detectives are convinced holds the key to the case. The only problem? Your friend had nothing to do with it! Is he being framed?

Feeling hopeless, he calls you for help. From here, it’s up to you and your team to guide your buddy out of the interrogation room, crack the case wide open, and escape once and for all! Fail and being arrested is the least of his worries!

Photo (c) District 3

The Tech

Interrogation Room is what’s known as a “remote avatar” escape room but has the added benefit of Telescape’s online escape room software to hand. What this means is you see and direct an avatar around the physical space asking him to investigate stuff – pick up this, move that, and so on. You also have access to a 360 degree photosphere of the physical space with clickable links that give you a closer look. For this reason it’s best played with 2 screens – or split screen at a pinch.

At times, where we had to input a code in Telescape to unlock a door in the physical room (a cool touch, btw!), it felt a little bit like we were the ‘eyes in the sky’. But largely the game’s joy is in interacting with your live avatar – something District 3 does really, really well!

The Host

Our host this week was Lindsay, one of the founders of District 3 alongside David. Most importantly, he’s also the person behind District 3’s tech, which we enjoyed a lot! But overall, another stand out host experience with hilarious banter, acting, and gentle guidance in the right direction throughout, bringing the game to life.

The Puzzles

Interrogation Room is about ‘medium’ in terms of difficulty, and I’d agree with this rating. Not too easy, but not too hard!

The game starts in- you guessed it– an interrogation room with almost nothing around you for clues. ALMOST nothing! To properly get started, we had to do a bit of searching around and a fair bit of “can you poke that please” or “can you look really closely at this thing“, and hilariously “is that a plug socket on the wall? impossible, they don’t look like- oh wait we’re in Canada.

However, once you’ve cracked that first room, the whole experience blows right open in an exciting mix of genres: Heist and Historical. I would say that the two genres weren’t always the most comfortable bedfellows, but the concept was unique and they make it work! The game, at times, parkour jumped between puzzles involving CCTV, or UV Light- as you’d expect in a heist game, to deciphering dead languages and researching ancient Gods, as you’d expect for an historical, or museum themed room.

Interrogation Room was both, and neither. It was it’s own thing and heck it really owned it! The finale, in spectacular District 3 style, both themes came together with some very fun special effects. Boom!

In terms of actual puzzles, Interrogation Room is packed with them! Each area begins with an element of ‘search and find’ puzzles – look around and poke a few things! Players can also expect to encounter a few number and letter locks, black light puzzles, logic puzzles, information in different places coming together, translations, ciphers, and so on!

The puzzle I enjoyed the most involved information in one area corresponding to information in another area – again, no spoilers here, but it was a nice spatial awareness puzzle bringing lots of the aspects of the game up until that point, together!

Overall

Overall, another stand-out experience! After playing, I immediately rushed to the Escape Room Discord to share my thoughts and to this date I can’t decide if it’s my favourite of the District 3 online games or not. In any case, I enjoyed playing it a lot. If you’re a fan of drama, excitement, and cool puzzles to boot, you’ll enjoy this!

Interrogation Room (Remote Edition) can be booked for $15-$22 CAD per person via District 3’s website!

Immersia: The Forgotten Station | Review

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James Presswood is the CEO of the Simplon Orient Express company. He created a modern version of this mythical railroad track. Mr Presswood has generated a fortune with this new project. The Orient Express quickly became the most popular mode of transportation in Europe. In an unexpected turn of events, his operations team decided to kidnap his family and is asking for a 500 million euros ransom.

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 48:40
Date Played: 18th April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: People who want to play the IRL escape room but missed it! (It’s now retired)

So I LOVE the idea – The Forgotten Station was a real life escape room that was available to play at Immersia Laval from 2017 to 2020. Pre-2020, the idea of making an escape room live on in the digital world was unknown. Heck, I’m not even sure the system it’s built in (Telescape) existed back then. But thanks to lockdown forcing a lot of companies to embrace the digital, The Forgotten Station lives on! I feel privileged and thankful to be able to play it today.

The Escaping the Closet team and myself took on The Forgotten Station as part of the 36th International Online Escape Game Tournament and placed 12th (aww not quite top ten but we tried!). It’s a classic escape room converted to online format and an excellent use of the digital point-and-click system Telescape!

The Story

The story of this escape room is… Actually really exciting!! So I can completely imagine how brilliant it was to play the real life version too.

The story goes, the CEO of the Simplon Orient Express has called in the detectives after a huge ransom for his kidnapped family has been announced. If he doesn’t pay up, he’ll lose his family forever. It so happens that the family is… *gasp* On the train!! You’ve got an opportunity to stop the train, disconnect the carriage they’re in and capture the bad guys, but only if you hurry!

From here the whole experience takes place inside the control room of the train. The problem is, you don’t have the driver with you to help – he’s guiding you from afar with a series of video cut scenes. No pressure!

The Experience

The Forgotten Station is a completely self guided online game that takes place in a software called Telescape. If you’re new to the online escape room world, this means you have a 360 view of the escape room ‘environment’, can see where all your fellow teammates are, and can click into anything for a closer look.

In The Forgotten Station, the whole room takes place in one area, so we quickly familiarised ourselves with the space and got to work on the puzzles. There are three distinct ’rounds’ to this game. Each is characterised by a colour (red, blue and green), and during that round you need only focus on items in the room that are highlighted in this colour. At the end of each round you’re greeted with a cut scene. These cut scenes mark the plot – first, stop the train, separate the carriages, and finally capture the bad guys.

The cut scenes work really well and here we’re introduced to the actual train master, and the ‘bad guys’ as they tie up a genuinely frightened looking family in one of the carriages. There’s some fun acting and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. One point of note however is that the original game is in French, so the acting is dubbed into English. I think subtitles might have been a better choice, but I’m not complaining!

The Puzzles

The puzzles are where The Forgotten Station really shines, and they’re on the medium to difficult level of the scale! The main thing is, I thought it really interesting that they were separated by colour and (especially on the clock for the Escape Game Olympics) this tripped me up. I spent too much time early on looking at the wrong colour thinking a puzzle was relevant. Oops!

In terms of the types of puzzles, it’s got everything you’d expect in a traditional escape room and then some – there are a few number locks, a few padlocks, a letter lock, a directional lock… We also came across a nifty black light puzzle, and some fun use of maps too. There were also some unexpectedly creative stuff that required several members of the team looking at different things and calling numbers, letters and directions out loud. So this is definitely one to play in a group!

Overall

As I say, I’m especially stoked that I get the chance to play this room I may never have otherwise played! Long live the escape room, even when it’s been decommissioned!

Whenever I play a game as part of the Escape Game Olympics there’s a big degree of ‘need to smash this to get a good score’, so I probably didn’t personally see and experience everything the room had to offer. Teamwork makes the dream work after all! But I still came out with a smile on my face and a feeling of accomplishment. We saved the day, rescued the victims, and caught the bad guys! Not bad for a Sunday evening.

The Forgotten Station can be booked for $19.99 CAD on Immersia’s website here.

Scarlet Envelope: Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri | Review

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Mr. Ferri, the extravagant animal lover and the owner of the creepiest mansion in town, has suddenly passed away. The word on the street is that he was killed…by his own lion! But…was he really? And why is his wife hiring you to get him back home, while his son is talking to Ferri’s spirit through the ouija board? Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands!

Rating: Unique!
Completion Time: 1:45
Date Played: 3rd May 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Curious folks who want to unravel a unique narrative mystery!

📢 ANNOUNCEMENT 📢

You can win a copy of Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri from now until May 5th by heading to our competition page. Good luck!!

Woohoo, we are back with Chapter 5 (I feel like I’m really powering through these lately!) in the Scarlet Envelope series. Inching ever closer to ‘the truth’, AKA finding out more about your mysterious Scarlet Envelope master and why, oh why has he been sending you throughout time to solve mysteries?

Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri is unique in every sense of the word! It’s true, this game sticks with the general ‘mystery’ theme but steps away from the crime-y / whodunnit vibe of Breakfast for a Serial Killer and Cabaret in Lapin Blanc. Instead, you have a lot of information to sift through in what feels more like a scavenger hunt and a ‘grand finale’ minimal online interface that rounds out the story nicely. It’s more narrative heavy than I expected and we spent a lot of time with each individual character understanding who they are. Despite the lack of murder, I felt like I was on the set of the film Knives Out, complete with colourful and eccentric characters!

The Story

The rich old Mr. Ferri, an animal lover and owner of an almost certainly haunted mansion, sadly passes away. The only problem? Nobody really believes he’s actually dead. Every year Mr. Ferri sets up an audacious prank for his family members- a scavenger hunt if you were. The winner each year gets a larger portion of the Will.

Even with no body found, a very satisfied lion and scraps of clothing is enough for the detectives to call this an accidental death-by-lion. But you’re hired to figure out what really happened. Could it be possible Mr. Ferri is dead, or is this just some elaborate ruse? The game is afoot!

I love it! It’s light hearted, funny, and utterly charming. If he were real, I reckon I’d be great friends with Mr. Ferri.

The Experience

Almost everything you need to complete Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri is in the envelope! Unlike the previous games, this one I believe relies the least on an online interface, and besides an introductory voicemail, I only used my laptop at the very end of the experience to input my final answer.

The game, in a slight twist I haven’t seen in another escape room experience STARTS with a logic grid puzzle. I say I’m surprised because I’ve played (and designed, hah!) a few which use logic grids as the anchor but usually end with the successful completion of your grid. Instead, Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri begins with the completion of the logic grid. You can’t even begin to solve the puzzles until you’ve done this step.

The reason being, one of the key ‘pranks’ Mr. Ferri plays is that he’s assigned each member of his family a totem animal. But until you figure out who is who, you can’t do a lot with the information!

Once this IS out of the way, you then must work methodically examining each of the totem animal puzzles one after the other and solving the tasks that have been set for them. The bear, the crow, the snake, the cat and the horse. Each puzzle solved gives a solution, which when taken together gives another solution which completes the game! It’s a nice structure and again, a cool concept!

I had a minor tech issue at one point – specifically the web interface which requires you to assign each family member their animal, but this was quickly solved by finding a link in the clues page.

The Puzzles

I found this game… Really hard! I think whizzing through Breakfast for a Serial Killer lured me into a false sense of security because this one was fiendish! Sure, sure, I think I’m playing on “difficult” mode, but heck I also think I used a hint on almost every puzzle *hides with embarrassment*

The part I enjoyed the most was the logic puzzle. The game gives you a table, but I chose to draw out the full grid myself. After all, if a logic grid is going to be done properly, you may as well draw the whole thing out! And actually, it was a good shout! I needed it. There’s a lot of information (I believe 6 separate categories to track), and only so much you can do without drawing it out.

Another puzzle that was a lot of fun involved some physical manipulation of paper, but I’m not talking about cutting or folding! One of the items in the envelope, when solved correctly, gives a hint at what you should do with it next. I spent a good 15 minutes being like “surely not”, before checking the hints and realising oh yes, I literally have to do this thing. It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but put it this way – it’s a quirky use of printed material I’ve only ever seen in one other play at home escape room and I am very impressed!

Besides these two puzzles, the rest of the pack was typical Scarlet Envelope: “Wow this is so difficult to solve” to an immediate “Oh wow!!” when you finally do crack it. Players can expect to encounter a wide range of things to do and mysteries to solve in this game.

Other Cool Things

  • To access the clues page, you must always first solve a puzzle. This one was actually pretty tricky, in a good way! I almost gave up and emailed the creators and them *boom* I suddenly saw the solution that gave me the access to the hints.
  • There’s a playlist! Yay! I love a game that comes with a good Spotify playlist and this one really set the mood.
  • Another nice touch was that I was super pleased to see see some minority representation in this game. I may be wrong but I think it’s the first game in the Scarlet Envelope series to feature a POC main character

Overall

A brilliant little game that really challenges the brain! I’d recommend this one to anyone who wants to play something a little different. It’s funny, good for a small group, but it’ll still really challenge you and provide some wonderful “aha!” moments. When playing by myself I tend to request clues sooner and faster, but I reckon this game might be their longest yet and could easily give you 3 hours of fun!

Don’t forget, I’m hosting a contest with Scarlet Envelope right now where you can win a game of your choice! Enter here! But if you can’t wait that long, you can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.

Scarlet Envelope: Breakfast for a Serial Killer | Review

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“Extraordinary Weekly”, 10/30/1956: “The death of Janice Ward, a young mother of two and a waitress at Stanley’s Diner, is being investigated in connection to similar cases in the state…” This time, Game Master assigns you to work as a cop in the fifties. Bring justice to the victims of a serial killer who clearly has a thing for junk food! Expect case files, coroner’s reports, & footage of suspects’ interrogations.

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 1st May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Armchair detectives and amateur sleuths!

📢 ANNOUNCEMENT 📢

You can win a copy of Breakfast for a Serial Killer from now until May 5th by heading to our competition page. Good luck!!

TW: This game contains themes of murder and domestic violence. It is non graphic and I think suitable for players aged 13+ with parental supervision.

Breakfast for a Serial Killer is the 4th chapter in the Scarlet Envelope series and this time we’re in 1950s Canada complete with cute hairstyles, diners and- of course- murder! In all sense of the word, this game is a classic murder mystery. 5 suspects, 2 victims, and you the detective. You’ve been sent back in time to catch a serial killer before they go on to kill again. Exciting? Heck yeah! I love murder mystery games.

Breakfast for a Serial Killer takes a linear format. What this means is you interview each suspect one after the other and as each new testimony becomes available you gain access to new pieces of evidence. The game holds your hand through the mystery slightly: you only know what you need to know. Each reveal is a new “aha!” moment revealing just enough to keep you guessing!

The final whodunnit is entirely up to you however. Even after following the game diligently and listening to everything twice, I still needed to pause before I made my guess. “Is this too obvious a guess?”, “But what about this character”, “This person is definitely lying”.

Thankfully, I guessed correctly! *flex* but more on that later!

The Story

A body is found at Stanley’s Diner a little after 2am – it is the head waitress, Janice! With only 5 people in the diner at the time of death, there aren’t a lot of suspects. But the most curious thing is that this murder bears a striking resemblance to another, only a week earlier. Do we have a serial killer on the loose? Gather the evidence, interview the suspects, and make an arrest.

The Experience

Like all of the Scarlet Envelope games, the experience begins when you receive a mysterious red envelope through your letterbox! Breakfast for a Serial Killer is packed! It contains a lot of material for such a small envelope – especially when compared to Distress Call from Outer Space which is largely online.

You receive a menu, an autopsy report, instructions, suspect profiles, and a few mysterious items found on the body. Elsewhere are three pieces of ‘further evidence’ that you mustn’t open until prompted. To get started, you head online and begin your investigation – ergo, interviewing the suspects!

This game is a little like the videogame “L.A. Noire” (set later and not in L.A. of course). One of the key mechanics in L.A. Noire is the facial mapping of actors telling the truth and lying. Players must literally look for subtle clues as to who is telling the truth. Breakfast for a Serial Killer does a similar thing in it’s video interviews!

I really, really enjoyed the watching the interviews and spent wayy too long rewinding parts to be like “oh this character touched their face when they said this! They must be lying“. It makes you feel like a real detective! People, after all, are the greatest puzzle to be solved!

At the time of writing, only two suspects have video performances. The other three are audio-only. I don’t know if the creators have plans to add more video content but it would be a super nice touch to see in the future!

At the end of each video, you also receive a sample of additional evidence – items each suspect has in their pockets: A bus ticket, some coins, a leaflet, that sort of thing. The game then prompts a question which you must answer by inputting a password before you can proceed.

The Puzzles

For me, Breakfast for a Serial Killer errs on the side of “ok this wasn’t too hard”. I say this having found every other game in the series quite challenging! There are less puzzles per se, and the game relies more on your powers of deduction as to who is lying, what is possible in the time and who has a believable alibi.

That said, there are still quite a few fun things to solve. In particular, I enjoyed one of the first puzzles in the game which required cutting things out to reveal a hidden message. It was creative and creepy, just like the sort of message a real serial killer would leave!

Other puzzles players can expect to come across include ones involving maths, some colour-based visual puzzles, some very cool dingbats, a cipher and more! There’s a good mix, but this is definitely a game for people who enjoy the logic of solving crimes more than the nitty gritty of puzzle after puzzle.

Whodunnit

So as mentioned, I guess correctly! Yay! To correctly ‘solve’ the murder, I’d advise really paying attention to everything. Not everything is important, but when the outro video explains it all there were quite a few “OHH!! WOW!!” moments where I’d missed some clue that made so much sense when spelled out.

Everyone has a good motive and all the suspects were acting very funny at the time of the death, but it’s important to remember the details of the crime itself too… This is me trying not to give a spoiler, but also trying to give some useful advice to budding detectives after me!

I guess the most important thing is to have fun though! The game will still let you proceed even if you guess incorrectly so don’t sweat it if you’re wrong.

Overall

In conclusion, great fun! I love murder mystery and this ticks that box in a refreshing, unique and creative way. I definitely don’t play as many murder mystery games as I’d like, but enjoying this as much as I did has given me some new found inspiration to go play more!

Don’t forget, I’m hosting a contest with Scarlet Envelope right now where you can win a game of your choice! Enter here! But if you can’t wait that long, you can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.

@theescaperoomer

today I played Scarlet Envelope’s 4th game and here’s how I got on..head to my site to win a free copy! #escaperoom #scarletenvelope #competition

♬ Theme from “Sherlock Holmes” – Movie Sounds Unlimited