LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled with Stories | Review


LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories Review | Every life has a story. Every story has regret. But what if you could change the past? LOVE is a puzzle game about finding the things we’ve lost in ourselves and the people who help us find them.

Developer: Rocketship Park
Console Played On: Nintendo Switch
Time Taken: 1 hour
Difficulty: Medium
Number Of Players: 1

I can’t read the name of this video game without shouting the words “LOVE” inside my head… Which is pretty much exactly the opposite of the vibe of LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled with Stories. In fact, it’s one of the most quiet and narrative driven puzzle games I’ve played in a long time. So a far cry from my internal voice shouting LOVE every time I loaded up the Nintendo Switch.

About LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories

Referred to herein as just LOVE, is a game about the people living in a single building and their intertwining lives, past, present and future. Your role in the game is of an omnipresent God who can control their lives in small, subtle ways, nudging them towards certain outcomes.

You do this by flipping between the past and the present (or future, as you like), rotating the building like a giant Rubix cube, sliding people’s apartments so their windows line up to be closer to one another, and lightly tapping objects to interact with them at the perfect moments. But you’ve got to get it just right, for example to look up from what they’re doing and glance outside just in time to make a new friend which drastically changes the course of their lives.

Damn, it feels good to be a God.

I was really drawn to this game when I first heard about it… The words “puzzle” and “box” really jump out. I mean, what can I say? I make a real hobby escaping from boxes. But the game also turned out to be a lot more than I bargained for. Quite different, and utterly unique. Something a little closer to the powerful storytelling of small lives like Arianna Ravioli’s Will Die Alone.

The Book Video Game of Love

So I’ve established it’s a gentle and profound game, but what exactly is the goal of LOVE?

You’re given a photo album at the start of the game to fill full of memories. Each time something happens in the game, it’s captured as a little photograph in your book, so you can plot the lives of individual characters.

As I understand the game is multiple choice, so the specific ending of each character is not a given. I say ‘I understand’, but I only played through once so only saw what endings I gave my characters. But it is quite clear that how you play and how you solve the puzzles will have a real impact on what happens. And of course, you’re playing with people’s lives here… So choose wisely!

Spin the Wheel of Life!

There isn’t a lot of instruction as to how to play the game, so it may take some time to get used to everything – but the clue is in the name. It’s a puzzle box and therefore it’s safe to assume you’ll be solving puzzles.

In terms of puzzles, LOVE is a mix between a 3D slider game, a hidden objects game, a game about time travel, and a point-and-click adventure like those from the 90s. You’re spinning and rotating floors in order to hunt for small details and objects. It’s hard to get ‘stuck’ on the game in the traditional sense of “I can’t solve this”, but I did find myself spending a little too long spinning… And spinning… And spinning.

Many moments in the game I spent looking for one specific detail, only to discover something else entirely and be sent off on a tangent about another character’s life story – completely forgetting about the original puzzle. More often than not however, this tangent would somehow lead me back to the original puzzle anyway. Even if I’d almost forgotten the first character’s story, I found the game generally “worked itself out” in the end.

It’s details like this that make it hard for me to review it as a traditional puzzle game. There’s nothing traditional about LOVE at all. It is it’s own thing entirely! It’s a relaxing story about people, told through the medium of puzzles. If you’re an escape room enthusiast it’s probably not for you.

The flip side is, even if I describe the puzzles as ‘relaxing’ I’d be remiss not to mention that two mechanics of the game detracted from the relaxing-ness of it. First of all, it was quite hard to see. On the Nintendo Switch you’re looking for tiny details which playing on the handheld console just aren’t that easy to spot. Secondly, being pulled from story to story did break the immersion quite a bit. Perhaps I just played the game too late at night when my eyes were failing and brain not fully able to concentrate on intricate stories, but for my specific experience it fell a little bit short on those two points.

The Verdict

LOVE is a lovely game- no pun intended. I wholeheartedly congratulate the developers for tackling such an idea and writing such rich and powerful stories. I think the game could do with some improvements, but hey that’s what patches and sequels are for, right?

As mentioned, I don’t think it would be right for the average escape room player (after all, that’s who we’re writing for here). But I had fun and I really appreciated the storytelling. Any piece of media (especially games) that makes you feel something has done it’s job.

You can check out LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled with Stories and the developer’s others games at their website here.


How to Play the Crimson Room (2004)


You wake up in a Crimson Room, suffering from retrograde amnesia. You don’t know where you are, or how you got there. All you know is that you need to escape this mysterious red room. The objective is simple. Find the key to the door and escape. Search for clues around the room and look for clues that help you reach your goal of escaping.

Developer: Toshimitsu Takagi
Console: PC (Flash)
Number Of Players: 1

About The Crimson Room

The Crimson Room is widely credited as one of the first ever ‘traditional’ escape games created. For sure, many previous TV shows and teambuilding games are similar – such as The Crystal Maze in 1990, or The Adventure Game in 1980, but Toshimitsu Takagi’s Crimson Room pips the post for what we understand an escape room to be today. Created for Fasco-Cs, the exploration game has you wake up in an unfamiliar space – a locked room. Hidden around the room are a number of clues and puzzles that are the key to escaping.

The OG Escape Room Video Game!

“Hey Russ, I tracked down the original file for The Crimson Room, the original escape room video game! Are you up for playing it?” asks Mairi.

I mean I’m obviously curious as to what was developed 17 years ago. My interest was piqued with questions I wanted answers for.

Is it an important historical escape game artefact that paved the way for present-day games?
Is it still relevant?
Does the file even load?!

Well the last one I can answer a yes to, however you need the .swf game file and a browser flash emulator online to play it; it’s not as simple as streaming it off a dedicated site. Thankfully, I had both ready to go!

Where (and How) to Play The Crimson Room Escape Game

As a flash game from the early 2000s, it’s not an easy one to track down, especially if you want to avoid dodgy links on the internet. So here’s how we played the game (reliable and accurate as of 2021):

  1. Download the SWF file here (please note: this URL is hosted externally on Free Room Escapes)
  2. Choose a Flash emulator. We used this one:
  3. Select “Choose File” and upload your SWF file and select an emulator of your choice from the drop down (we used “Flash Emulator 1”)

And now, it’s time to escape!

The Premise

You’ve woken up in a crimson coloured room (hence the title) after too many drinks the night before. You can’t remember how you got there but you know you need to escape. Cue searching for items!

The Look and Feel of The Crimson Room

I mean absolutely no disrespect from this, but the game looks to have been made in MS Paint. The visuals are simple but striking with its bold colours and geometric-centric models. Special mention to the projector puzzle with it’s dancing animation, which back then I imagine was deemed as super impressive.

The Gameplay and Control

Most of the game consists of searching for items in a linear fashion, to edge further and further to successful escape. There are some unlocking of drawers, a placement meta puzzle and a single 4-digit combination safe.

Also there is a clue that directs you to a real website which has the answer to the safe combination. Well… it did. The site is no longer active. For the record, if you need the code to the safe; it’s 1994. That being said however, this puzzle mechanic of searching via an external website page, is rife in present-day online escape games. Quite innovative, this being executed over a decade prior to games we are more accustomed to.

Control wise, its a double-click method for everything ie: click in the corners of the screen to look around the room. Being so used to pushing a mouse to turn around, this took getting some used to, but hey; it’s 2004, this was a totally acceptable form of control back then.

The Duration

As to be expected, it’s just one room. The longevity of it however is arguably extended by its requirement to be precise with mouse pointer clicks. There are a few areas in the room that are hard to get to (and subsequently gain integral items), unless you do some mass trial-and-erroring with mouse clicks. In this day and age, this could be deemed as a massive no-no for escape games. It also adds additional fire to the debate of games in the 20th and very early 21st century, being harder to complete due to unfair or frustrating mechanics… but that’s a thought (or article) for another time! Again however, not a criticism; just a commentary on the historical difference.

The Verdict

Is this a game to rush to play? Probably not.

Is this a game to view and appreciate how far escape games have come since 2004? Absolutely.

Crimson Room doesn’t offer much when compared to present-day gaming standards, but the ideas that it spawned most certainly helps it to walk, so future escape games could run.

If you don’t want to play it, but still want to view to scratch your curiosity itch, see this super-fast walkthrough here 👇

Escape Hunt: Murder at the Mansion | Review


Escape Hunt: Murder at the Mansion Review | As the sole heir to the family fortune, it’s up to you and your team of detectives to solve the crime. Go back to the fateful night of a lavish party at the old Blackwood estate, where Sir Charles’ body was discovered. Can you put the suspects under the microscope to discover who did it, where and with what? Sift through the evidence and step deep into a world of mystery and intrigue!

Date Played: 2020
Number of Players: 1
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 60 minutes

Now, this print at home/online murder mystery ticks every box for those who love a who done it case!

The story, back in 1914, the owner of a wealthy estate died under mysterious circumstances. With the war looming, the case went cold and no one had been charged with his murder. A Will has since emerged over 100 years later, with you as the sole beneficiary –  you are attempting to solve this cold case, find out his killer and gain your rightful inheritance! 

In short – love the story! I think it sits beautifully with a print at home game where you can have multiple pieces of evidence and pull it all together. The element of the case going cold due to the war is a great touch – not only does it make the story line believable, it adds to the feel of the game and provides a greater insight into the world you are being plunged into. 

The initial aspect of the game is at print at home PDF document. It contains some vastly detailed, well produced documents which set the scene nicely – great attention to detail and some strong characters aide your experience. This is much like an old-school puzzle book elimination puzzle where you have to work out who did what, where they did it and what they did it with – but on a much more elaborate scale!   

Unlike the online escape games where things are much more linear, the printed materials provide a great way of building a case file against the prime suspects, where everything isn’t black and white or on one screen! Some “puzzles” are on the simple side where it is easy to understand what suspect the evidence relates too – other are much more complex and will call on numerous pieces of evidence to understand the motives of the killer. As such, families with older children, couples and enthusiasts alike, will all enjoy this game and bring something to the table!

In addition to the printed materials, there is a handy online hint and answers page which you can refer to. It is particularly helpful that this doesn’t form part of your printed materials, as not to spoil the game by accidentally reading the answers! There were moments we were tempted to check for answers but I’m too proud to do that so carried on regardless! (Although from looking at them after the game, these are really well put together, easy to understand and provide just enough level of hint without spoiling the game play). 

Without giving too much away, cleverly, the finale to this game isn’t as part of your printed materials – the use of email and internet is therefore also required to solve the mystery. Further evidence comes to light which, as long as all your other answers have been solved, allows you to complete your mission and rightfully gain your inheritance! A strong finale to this game ensured we went away happy with our hours-worth of detective skills! 

All-in-all, a well rounded game, with great puzzles, a strong design and good story telling. A real treat for families and enthusiasts alike, this game comes really highly recommended. Take an hour out of your day to become the detective you were born to be! 

Murder at the Mansion can be downloaded from Escape Hunt’s website here.


Escape Simulator | Review


Escape Simulator Review | Escape Simulator is a first-person puzzler you can play solo or in an online co-op. Explore a growing set of highly interactive escape rooms. Move furniture, pick up and examine everything, smash pots and break locks! Supports community-made rooms through the level editor.

Developer: Pine Studio
Console Played On: Steam
Time Taken: 3 Hours
Difficulty: Medium
Number Of Players: 1

Escape Simulator is finally here! And yes, we’re thrilled. After all we’ve been patiently waiting for this game ever since they announced it in September.

*let me innnnn*

We spent a lot of time on The Escape Roomer between us various video game editors deciding if a video game is close enough to an escape room to review it. Is a point-and-click adventure sufficiently puzzle-y? What about unravelling a mystery? Deduction puzzles, are they puzzley enough?

But there’s no mistaking Escape Simulator. The clue is in the name. Escape Simulator is an escape room simulator game. The idea is simple: solve puzzles to escape from the rooms. So lets get into it:

About Escape Simulator

Escape Simulator has three themes of escape room:

  • The Labyrinth of Egypt
  • Adrift in Space
  • Edgewood Manor

Each of these settings has 5 rooms to solve which get steadily more difficult as you progress. There’s a time limit of 15 minutes per room – although these serve as more of a ‘time guidance’ as the only thing that happens if you fail to escape is you miss out on extra achievements.

They’re short fire games at 15 minutes each, and it’s very hard to stop ionce you’ve started! The next level is only 15 minutes… Which is how I found myself still up and playing the game in the dim computer light at 3am one night!

Players can move around the 3D spaces and pick up and examine objects closer in their inventory. There are a number of tokens to find throughout the rooms (again, just for extra achievements though), and many tactile puzzles to uncover and solve throughout the spaces.

Since each escape room has it’s own unique personality and flavour, it’s hard to say which are my favourite – but I probably vibed the best with the Edgewood Manor series. What can I say I love Victoriana! But the early Labyrinth of Egypt games were a lot of fun too, the perfect introduction to the experience.

On the flip side, I would mention that when I played the game there was no hint system. This means it’s very easy to get stuck… And I mean really stuck. But once you get through the first few games you begin to get a feel for it. For example, one tip I realised far too late (after about 11 rooms) is that items related to puzzles are indicated clearly in the inventory, and the rest you can toss away.

Co-Op Escape Room Video Game

One of the coolest things about Escape Simulator is that there’s a co-op mode which I loved! Only a few days before I heard of the game I was lamenting to a friend that most good escape room video games (with one notable exception) are single player.

Escape Simulator makes it really easy to play with a friend. You start a game and share a code and voila – the two of you can move around freely within the escape room together!

There are a few caveats however. Firstly, the rooms you can play in co-op are the same as the single player rooms. If you chose to play the game entirely in single player, you can’t then play co-op as you’ll have solved the rooms already. The same is true in reverse. None of the puzzles (which I encountered) were co-operative puzzles, which means that the co-op mode felt slightly like an add on.

Secondly, there is no in-built voice communication in Escape Simulator, meaning you should fire up a call with the person you’re playing with. The key to solving any good escape room is, afterall, communication.

But still, I’m glad they did include co-op, as it’s more fun to play with your friend than alone!

Create Your Own Escape Room

In truth we received our Escape Simulator code a little early for review purposes which was fantastic. We quickly leapt into the escape room immersivity and worked our way through the exciting scenarios to our heart’s content. But instead of posting this review right away on Day 1, we chose to wait a little longer. Why? The very best thing about Escape Simulator is the build-your-own-room feature, meaning the real gem is the long term longevity of the community creations!

Escape Simulator’s Build-A-Room

Kinda like how Skyrim is a great game and 300 hours later you’re like “huh pretty cool” and then you go and open up the Steam workshop and end up spending 1,000 more hours on the mods to the point you no longer remember what was in the original game and what is the glorious creation of a fan-dev.

Escape Simulator is a little like that.

For sure, it helps that my day job is a Game Designer – but I found the escape room workshop pretty intuitive and accessible. Having now created and played plenty of community creations, there’s an almost endless amount of possibilities when it comes to what you can create. You’re given all the objects from the previous four environments, but can combine them in some creative ways to make entirely new puzzles the game developers hadn’t even though of, which I like.

At the time of writing Escape Simulator has been out for about one week and there’s a fair amount in the workshop already. I expect that as the game matures, even more brilliant rooms will be available to play, giving the game some real longevity. I look forward to picking up my controller in a year or more’s time and losing a lot of time in the wonderful world of Escape Simulator…

Keep an eye out for a “Best Escape Simulator Workshop Games” post in the near future!

So what’s the verdict? I really enjoyed it! No surprises there. But honestly, it’s a well rounded escape room video game that’s been long missing in the video game world. I’ll be recommending this to anyone who wishes to dip their toes into the wonderful world of escape rooms – and doubly recommending it to anyone who wants to have a go at designing their own!

With it’s smooth gameplay, relaxing music and bright, poppy graphics, it’s just a lovely game. My only criticism is that I wish were was more of it out the box – more levels, more puzzles, and more world’s to explore! I also think this would be a fantastic VR game, but hey, a girl can dream!

Escape Simulator can be downloaded on Steam.


Escape Hunt: Stolen | Review


Escape Hunt: Stolen Review | Five priceless treasures, five notorious thieves … can you catch them in time? Take on the role as one of Scotland Yard’s finest detectives as you hunt down the suspects behind the world’s most audacious heist!

Five priceless treasures have been stolen across London and the five dastardly thieves have escaped the police’s clutches once more. But intelligence has it that they will strike again soon. Can you work your way through the evidence and reveal which thief stole which item and where they’ll strike next?

Date Played: April 2020
Number of Players: 1
Difficulty: Easy
Time Taken: 48 minutes

A strong “who done it” print at home game, which is slightly different to the norm, but safe to say we really enjoyed it!

There’s Mischief Afoot in London

The story – there is mischief afoot in the streets of London! Five robberies, five precious items stolen. Your job, work out the culprits, what they stole, when they stole it and where they stole it from. 

I really enjoyed the concept with the game in that it isn’t the traditional linear puzzle in that you have to find out one person who is responsible for the crime. 

On the flip side, this isn’t the normal escape room format and works off a logic style grid in being able to eliminate particular individuals or scenarios as you work your way through the evidence you are presented with. 

In terms of the evidence, the attention to detail is strong within this game. The printed materials are certainly believable and very well presented. In fact, given that this is a print at home game, there is the potential to turn your home into a physical escape room by hiding the different printed objects to be found and then pulling the team together to carry out the actual detective work.

The print at home document contains 9 pages of “evidence” to aide you in your detective investigations. The puzzles vary vastly in each evidence item and there were two or three which we were particularly impressed by. Your powers of deduction will certainly be tested! In terms of difficulty its an odd one to gauge – I would suggest slightly more experienced gamers would enjoy this, that said, it is a great game for families with older children to get involved in too!

It is clear that the designers have taken great pride in developing this product and it certainly shows in the care and attention. It cannot have been easy developing the volume of complex “puzzles” which allow you to solve this game – particularly as all the documents intertwine with one another and it is not always cut and dry as to whom the evidence relates to- one member of the team certainly got themselves in a twist!

We made our way through the puzzles and managed to work out correctly all five scenarios without the need of any clues in 48 minutes! As a side note, the PDF file received with the evidence includes a link to the clues and answers page should you get really stuck – the clues are very well put together and point you well in the right direction without giving you too much to spoil it! 

Having completed the game, we checked the answers on the link and found that we got everything correct!  As with most print at home games, its really difficult to get the wow factor “pay off” finale. That said, we certainly had a great sense of pride in completing this complex who done it game. 

When all was said and done, we all agreed that this is a great print at home game which was very enjoyable. Some very strong puzzles, great attention to detail made even better by having to work out multiple different scenarios as opposed to just one. This being the second print at home game we’ve played by Escape Hunt UK, we would certainly recommend these games. Looking forward to the next one, and, when the doors are able to open again, making a trip to see their physical rooms! 

Stolen can be purchased from Escape Hunt’s website here.


Escape Hunt: An Enola Holmes Adventure | Review


An Enola Holmes Adventure Review | The game is afoot! Players have the opportunity to join Enola Holmes’ new detective agency – if they can prove their skill as detectives of course. Individuals displaying intelligence, bravery, and a degree of cunning are highly desired for the post. Armed with only a map of London, a newspaper, and your wits, chase Enola investigating iconic locations including Covent Garden, Bond Street and 221b Baker Street.

Date Played: September 2020
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Easy
Time Taken: 30 minutes

A print at home game, with the added bonus of being accompanied by a brand new film, just released on Netflix. What’s not to love?! A escape room game and a movie – that’s my weekend sorted! 

So to give you a full insight into the story, your best bet is probably to watch the film first (its a great watch and will certainly get the pulses of escape room enthusiast racing!). The film certainly sets the scene and you will certainly understand why Netflix and Escape Hunt have collaborated on this project.  The game would still work really well standalone, but combined it hits all the right notes. When it comes to the print at home game story, this follows a similar vein, however you will need to track down Enola Holmes (the sister of Sherlock), who has left a trail of breadcrumbs throughout London. Track her down, and become part of her allusive detective gang. 

Didn’t Cost a Penny… Except for the Ink!

A real positive to this game is that it is absolutely FREE! Yep, didn’t cost a penny, except the cost of ink. Although it is a rather colourful, and should I say beautifully designed piece of work, there isn’t particularly a need to print if all off in colour.  So don’t worry about your pocket when downloading this!

Now, onto the puzzles. When watching the film in the first instance, it was very clear to see the way in which the puzzles would likely to pitched, and it certainly didn’t disappoint – a brilliant collection of cipher styles and word games, plus some great fun origami type challenges.

As print at home games go, I often find them overcomplicated or over-engineered, however this is not the case here. The team have found a great balance between being able to cater for the enthusiasts and first time gamers. There are no huge surprises in puzzle content, however this is actually a positive – its more of a “what you see is what you get” approach, where the simplicity of the puzzles is a real bonus – that’s not to say that you will find this a breeze that for sure.

(One particular origami challenge was passed to the wife to complete, as it beat me!)

In terms of clue systems, the download document includes a page of clues in which you have to use a mirror to read. A nice touch, which added to the detective style theme – we didn’t use them often however they do provide just the right amount of hint without ruining the game. Likewise, if you are completely stuck, there is a web address where you can check the answers. These explained the puzzles very well and also included video answers to demonstrate the trickier paper folding challenges! 

The games revolve around some key London areas, and solving the puzzles in the correct order moves you to your next location and its associated puzzles. The game builds into a crescendo, whereby everything you have already solved works into the final puzzle, therefore getting the correct locations in the correct order is certainly key! 

The Verdict

When all is said and done, this is certainly up there with my favourite print at home games. As ever, getting a real wow factor proves difficult, however the combination of the escape puzzles and an accompanying Netflix movie certainly goes a long way to fill that void. A great collection of beautifully designed puzzles, suitable for all, which hit a home run in my household. Get out your magnifying glass and check this one our for sure!   

An Enola Holmes Adventure was available as part of a promotion for the Netflix film in 2020.


SENSAS London | Review


SENSAS Review | Immerse yourself in a multi-sensory experience where your senses and body will be put to the test. In teams of four to 30, push your senses to the limit and face your fears during a two-hour activity that is available seven days a week from 9am to 11pm. Whether with your family and friends, or colleagues during a corporate event, take on original and fun challenges that you’ve never seen before.

Completion Time: Around 120 minutes
Date Played: 5th October 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: FUN

For two hours, you will explore your senses (including in complete darkness) have fun and experience a loss of control like never before. But it does not stop here.

By surpassing yourself, you will collect a number of SENSAS Charms which will be converted into a donation that SENSAS makes for its partner charity supporting people with disabilities.

About SENSAS London

Wandering down the row of arches in Vauxhall, I don’t think I was the only member of our team who didn’t really know what to expect when it came to SENSAS. We’d read about the concept, we’d watched the trailer which looked equal measures exciting and scary, but I don’t believe any of us expected the treat that we had in store.

Behind the sliding doors, beyond the graffiti walls, there are two hours of fun and exciting challenges to be explored, with the help of your SENSAS master, Dan.

The Challenges

Each of the zones in SENSAS are linked to the senses of the human body:

  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Smell
  • Sight
  • Hearing

The first zone we went into very much tested our taste – I don’t want to give too much away in this zone as I really enjoyed the surprise and suspense of it all. All I’ll say is that you give your dietary restrictions ahead of time! We had to work together as a team to collect information in order to open three safes on the wall outside the tasting room.

The second zone was very similar to the first, only this time testing our touch – screams of both joy and fear were certainly more common in this zone. Again, working as two halves of the team, we collected the information and opened the safes outside the room.

The third zone was hearing, which was a novel one – bringing a more traditional game into the mix, but giving it a team based twist. The highlight of this one was one of my teammates rolling around on the ground pretending to be a seal – again, I don’t want to give too much away.

The fourth zone was probably my least favourite personally, as it was the smell zone. Now my sense of smell has always been a weakness, but thankfully the team rallied together to carry me through this one. 

The final zone certainly felt like it was the team’s favourite – sight. Now this one I’m not afraid to spoil a little as I’ve seen that there are already a lot of social media posts about this one! We absolutely loved diving around in a ball pit, obviously it’s a fun activity in and of itself, but it also unlocks that childhood glee that we always wish to recapture. Also you can’t go wrong with a laser maze!

SENSAS – The Verdict

When reviewing an experience I feel like this is always the most important question. Was it fun? Did we have a good time? Would I recommend it?

The answer to all of these questions with SENSAS is a resounding YES.

We turned up at an arch in Vauxhall with very little clue what to expect, and we came out two hours later having done things we’d never done before. It was unique, special and we had a lot of laughs.

I would definitely recommend it as something that the whole family would enjoy – an all in all fantastic experience.

Note: This review is written in collaboration with Grace and Joe.


Escape Quest Queenstown: Empire Escape | Review


Empire Escape Review | Before Henry Garrett became Queenstown’s most notorious gold rush bandit, he was an Australian convict and fugitive on the run from the British Empire….

Based on a true story! A Gold Bank in Victoria, Australia has been robbed! The fugitive, Henry Garrett, has been identified as the robbery’s ringleader. He has disappeared with the plunder. A convict and a thief. Charming and intelligent. A fugitive on the run to escape an empire. Using only your wit, hunt for the clues and embark on a global chase. Can you find him before the trail runs cold!?

Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 17th October 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Hard

After playing Escape Quest Queenstown’s The Missing Gold Escort back in March this year, we were very excited to hear they had a new at-home escape room out. What’s more, it’s not just any new game… It’s a fully augmented reality escape room!

The World’s First At-Home Augmented Reality Escape Room

So how does an ‘augmented reality’ escape game work? The idea is fairly straightforward:

  • You purchase your copy of Empire Escape
  • You print off the puzzles on A4 paper
  • You download the supporting app on your iOS or Android devices
  • Then, when ready to play, you hit ‘start’ on a browser-based interface to input your answers

As the wider The Escape Roomer family, we did have a little difficulty accessing the app and it took us a while to figure out whose phone worked with the new technology. But, once we figured that part out we were off to a flying start! Note the device recommendations from their FAQ below:

If your device is under 3 years old, it should support the app. Try downloading the app first before purchasing the game. Supported Platforms are iOS and Android. Compatible versions are iOS versions 10, 11, 12 and 13+. Android versions 27, 28 and 29+.

Once you’ve finished your setup, the game has a slow start setting up the premise through a series of videos and introductory puzzles then *boom* “Take your your app and scan the paper”.

I wasn’t sure exactly how this could work. I mean, there’s no QR code or barcode, so I had a lot of disbelief as I loaded up the app and held it carefully over my sheet of paper but wow… It just…. Works! Wow!

Image (c) Escape Quest

Almost every page in the entire game has some kind of augmented reality mini-game on it. This ranged from character popping up from the pages, to 3D recreations of maps, and entire 360 degree rooms. Each puzzle-scape also came with it’s own music track or sound. Often just for ambience, I found that when moving my mobile device closer into each puzzle the sound would get louder and shift in perspective. The attention to detail here is amazing.

One of my favourite puzzle in the whole game was right at the end where scanning a page popped up a doll-house sized building. As well as rotating the paper to get a closer look at each room, players can also tap their phone to interact with different elements of the space as well. Really, really impressive stuff!

A Puzzle Adventure Rooted in History

Once you get over how exciting it is to play an augmented reality escape game, you can begin to appreciate the story and the setting. Just like in The Missing Gold Escort, Escape Quest Queenstown have rooted their experience in history which adds a special something to the experience. It’s educational too!

I can imagine a game like this being added to the New Zealand national curriculum. A lesson for all in how to teach rich stories through games.

The specific story of Escape Empire follows Henry Garrett, a gold rush bandit on the run from the British Empire. Oh hey, that’s us here in the UK! As you track down Garrett, players explore different locations around the globe. I mean, how do you escape an empire that spans almost the entire globe? You run… Fast and far! Which is exactly what Henry Garrett did and it’s exactly why your help is needed to track him down.

Along the way the puzzles felt true to the era and the genre. We poured over maps with shipping schedules, complex geography and hydrography, detailed documents about the various ranks of the British Army. There’s a lot to learn in this game. Thank goodness I had an eagle eyed history graduate as my Player 2 on this particular game!

Crack the Codes, Catch the Bandit

In terms of difficulty, I’d put this on the harder end of the scale. That’s not to say it’s too difficult, but it’s certainly challenging!

As with Escape Quest Queenstown’s earlier game, there’s a good amount and of cutting and assembling 3D models which I really enjoy in a printable escape room game. Tactile puzzles always get a thumbs up from us – but this time these puzzles were supported with the addition of more video game style puzzles that felt closer to the VR escape room games I enjoy a lot!

Players can expect to encounter plenty of historical puzzles (though nothing that would require outside knowledge), a few maths puzzles, some spatial reasoning puzzles, and lots of search-and-find puzzles, which are made all the more fun by being able to twist and turn your mobile device around a real life augmented reality 3D shape.

Each time you solve a puzzle you check your answer on the online interface provided. This verifies your answer and progresses the game, so you always more or less know what to do next. The online interface also has a handy hint system which *cough* we used rather a lot.

Ideally you want to play this with a small group. Many brains to crack the puzzles are better than fewer and if you have a history buff in your friendship group then be sure to invite them along too!

The Verdict

We absolutely loved it! It was delightful and challenging, rooted in history and yet immeasurably fun. Why couldn’t I have learned all my history from fun games like this, eh?

As the first of it’s kind, I cannot wait to see if the genre of augmented reality escape games will take off. Game designers take, note! I want all my print and play games to literally pop off the paper from now on!

If you’re looking for a fun escape game to play around the table with family, look no further. Once again Escape Quest Queenstown have nailed it with a unique experience that’s unlike anything else I’ve played. A round of applause.

Escape Empire can be played by heading to Escape Quest’s website here.


Sliding across the floor to unlock the final door! – An Interview with An Enthusiast


It’s October, and a new month brings a new chapter of An Interview with an Enthusiast! In this series we chat to some of the UK’s (and the world’s) biggest escape room enthusiasts to talk about some of their favourite and most memorable experiences.

Meet Georgie, the escape room reviewer behind Discomlogicated!

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Georgie – I’m originally from Wales, but moved to London a few years ago. By day I’m an analyst, which probably plays into my love of puzzles! I started by escape room review blog ( around room 50 – I’m now on over 120! I am also a pretty active member of the “UK escape room enthusiasts group” on Facebook, which is where I met the inimitable Mairi!

Escape Rooms, Board Games, Video Games..? What’s your poison?

I grew up on board games, dice games and card games thanks to my mum, so they’re definitely in my blood! Video games too – Monkey Island was a big favourite of mine, which I think all laid the foundation for my escape room addiction! 

The Secret of Monkey Island

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

Current count is 126. I don’t count virtual rooms because I haven’t done many…because they just don’t hit the same.

Which was your very first escape room?

My very first room was the secret agent room at Puzzlair, Bristol. It was for my 21st birthday (I’m coming up to 27 now), with a couple of friends. It still ranks quite highly for me – it had a secret room I didn’t see coming, quite a sneaky puzzle and was non-linear. It also had lots of the classic puzzles you’d expect, so was a great taste of things to come!

Looking back, the set design was extremely basic and it’s probably a below average room now given what’s on the market, but at the time it definitely ignited a spark.

And how about your favourite escape room?

For the last 5 years my favourite room was by TimeRun (if you know, you know), which also closed 5ish years ago.

However, they were recently bumped by the amazing “Locked In Edinburgh” this past summer! You can read all about it on my blog, but essentially they hit alllll the points I look for – set design, immersion, staff, and puzzles (quality, quantity and individuality). Both the rooms we did there blew me away.

I truly believe this room (The Cutting Room) is an absolute work of art with how perfectly everything fit together, and should be used as an example for other budding room designers.

Review of The Cutting Room, Discomlogicated

Image (c) Discomlogicated

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

I’ve had to refer back to my list to remember, which probably isn’t a great sign! Most of mine come from either near-misses (sliding across the floor to unlock the final door when we had less than a minute left in Professor Dunstan at Co-Decode Swindon) or just walking into an amazing set for the first time (most rooms at The Panic Rooms).

I also get really excited about hidden rooms, especially ones I don’t see coming – shout out to Ctrl Alt Escape in Margate for this!

My most memorable experience was probably at Spacescape there – we’d discovered a hidden area (woo!) which had quite an exciting challenge, we had limited time left so I was rushing perhaps a little too much…and absolutely faceplanted off a couple of steep steps (imagine the stort you have to scramble up). At the time I was high on adrenaline and walked it off, but I remember my knees, elbows and chin being pretty banged up, and the GMs were very concerned!

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

Oh desk absolutely – rip those drawers right out and check the back straight away. I tend to absolutely destroy those sort of rooms.

image (c) Discomlogicated

If I gave you a blank cheque to create a dream ‘experience’, what would it be like?

I would love a vertical room, so rather than unlocking hidden rooms horizontally, maybe you discover a ladder, or a trap door. I’d also add some replay ability there – you have to make a choice at some point which locks you out of half the room.

What are you most looking forward to in the next 3 years?

Getting back to life! I’ve got a list of escape rooms across the country I want to go to, and I’ve made more friends in the community to play with. I’m also in the process of buying a flat, so looking forward to creating a home.

Can you give us a short puzzle for us (and our readers) to solve?

I’m more of a puzzle-solver than puzzle-creator, sorry! However, this is one I remember hearing when I younger (like, 10) which I think explains my sense of humour and enjoyment of puzzles:

  1. How do you fit an elephant in your fridge?
  2. How do you fit a giraffe in your fridge?
  3. You’ve been invited to a party in the Savannah and all the animals will be there. You’re running late, but to get there you need to cross a river where the crocodiles live and there’s no bridge! How do you get across?
  4. Phew! You reach the party, but someone is missing! Who is it?

Answers (Highlight to Reveal!)

  1. Open the door, take out the food, put the elephant in and close the door.
  2. Open the door, take out the elephant, bend the giraffes neck and put him in and close the door.
  3. You swim – the crocodiles are already at the party
  4. The giraffe – they’re still stuck in your fridge!

Hysteria Escape Rooms: Aftermath | Review


Hysteria Escape Rooms: Aftermath Review | In a world where the infected kill & eat the living, how much time does anyone really have? In a secret facility a team is working on a cure to the zombie virus but communications are down and we need to send in a response team… CAN YOU AVOID INFECTION & HELP SAVE HUMANITY?

Completion Time: 54 Mins 55 Secs
Date Played: 30 June 2019
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

This is the first room that was designed by the guys at Hysteria and they really hit the ground running – This is an awesome, well paced experience which is an exceptional challenge.

Based on the fact that you need to find an antidote and escape from the clutches of a zombie apocalypse, this is one of those rooms where the pressure certainly builds. Another room where the the point is to ESCAPE!, this hit a home run with me and the team.

Good use of props, some well timed surprises, a simple yet exciting plot,  as well as some really well put together puzzles (many of which I hadn’t seen before!), this certainly puts this room up their with our personal favourites. The sense of tension within this adds to the atmosphere.

Would I recommend this room?

Yes, certainly. Great room, great atmosphere and hugely enjoyable. You will not be dissapointed! 

Who would I recommend it to? 

There are handful of trickier puzzles which may fox the most experience escapist, so maybe players that have a few games under their belt however if you want a challenge, this would be a great benchmark game for beginners.  

How many players would I recommend?

3-4 would be a great number in this room. Although not huge in size, the puzzles often need more than 1 brain! Communication is certainly key in this room. 

Suitable for Children?

Not young children! Hysteria suggest 12+ which I would agree with with.