Morgan’s Escape: The Lost Treasure Review | The rumours of William Kidd’s lost treasure turned out to be true. I have found it and enclosed it with your issue of Mystery Times as not to cause suspicion. The treasure itself is sealed and a four-digit code is required to access it. I could not risk sending the code but instead I have hidden it in the articles of your newspaper.”
Completion Time: ~45 mins Date Played: 4th June 2022 Party Size: 3 Difficulty: Easy-medium Recommended For: An extra layer of fun as part of a gift for your favourite escape game lover!
We love an escape game as much as the next escape roomer, but this weekend it was a special occasion; we were celebrating our friend Tasha’s birthday! We’d already planned a gift for her, but we decided that Morgan’s Escapes’ Lost Treasure Mystery would add an exciting, puzzle-y layer to her birthday prezzie! The Lost Treasure Mystery comes with everything you need including a flat pack box (optional sizes) to stash the lost treasure (aka gift for your fave puzzler), chain and 4 digit padlock.
The mystery itself arrives ready to play but you will need to assemble the flat pack box, put your gift inside, wrap it up and secure it with the chain and padlock. The recipient must then solve the mystery and decipher the code to unlock their gift.
So without further ado, and with much excitement for an afternoon of fun, we set up the present and invited Tasha round for birthday celebrations!
The Lost Treasure Mystery takes the form of a newspaper which is filled with clues and puzzles to work your way through, before pulling the various sections together to determine a final code to unlock William Kidd’s lost treasure (aka Tasha’s bday prezzie). However, to kick the game off, there is an introduction letter which sets the scene and brings you into the mystery of the game, as well as advising how to access hints as/when required. This is a great way to set up the game and after reading about William Kidd’s lost treasure and our opportunity to find it by solving the clues hidden within the Mystery Times newspaper, we were keen to get solving!
Time to get mysterious
Mystery Times, the newspaper containing everything we needed to work out the code to access William Kidd’s treasure, contains six pages jam packed with information! Given how much content was in the newspaper, we almost didn’t know where to get started, but we opted to go for the most logical route- chronologically from pages 1 to 6. However, there are several separate puzzles to complete and a lot of piecing together of information required, so we wouldn’t say you’d need to stick to this order!
We are always wary with play at home games that there could feel like there’s some limitations to the kinds of puzzles which can be created. However, we were pleased to see a real variety of puzzle types within the pages of Mystery Times, and enjoyed the opportunity to let different puzzles play to each of our strengths.
Of course, there were the classics that you would expect of a newspaper (if you’re not screaming CROSSWORDS, you must never have picked up a newspaper before!), but also some really unexpected types of puzzles, and clever ways of using the information provided within the pages. There was a lot of interesting information contained within the articles in the newspaper- we actually learnt about the well-known pirate William Kidd, as well as other seafarers.
We did need to sneak a cheeky clue to help us with one of the puzzles. When we did, we found that the clue system was easy to access via a QR code, and there were several levels of hints before the full solution was revealed which helped give us the slight nudge in the right direction we needed without being handed the answer prematurely.
Piecing it all together
As mentioned before, you need to piece lots of different bits of information together from different sections of the Mystery Times. This overarching puzzle is a fab way to make this a really cohesive game. It was really fun to pull together the various elements to determine the correct path to choose to help work out the final code to access William Kidd’s treasure. And then for the final layer of excitement- opening the treasure up! Being able to input the code into a padlock to access the ‘treasure’ brings the tactile experience of an escape room in the comfort of your own home, and with the extra fun of getting to keep what’s in the treasure box.
We enjoyed this game and think it is a great way to add an extra layer of fun to any gift-giving situation! The game took us a little under an hour so is a great extra part of a gift (and also you can organise it so you can play it with the gift recipient- FUN!!).
If you’re not sure what to get for that next upcoming birthday, we would suggest a Chocolateral Bar wrapped up as William Kidd’s treasure using this Kidd- so much puzzling fun in one celebration event!
A puzzle-wrapped chocolate bar through the post every month? An idyllic village, ravaged with nefarious mysteries? The chance to vote for future flavours and storylines?
It’s a world’s first, people!
Have you ever been sitting there, eating a bar of chocolate, wishing that your experience was a bit more puzzley? Are you like me and want to include puzzles into all aspects of your life… Especially chocolate consumption? Are you slightly more normal and just want to get a cool gift for that puzzle person in your life? Enigmailed have the answer to all these questions.
Okay so those examples are a little extreme, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that British company Enigmailed have been hard at work these past months creating several new experiences, including my very favourite of which: Chocolateral Bars. Put simply, chocolate bars which contain brilliant little puzzles on the packaging!
At the moment, they have the following chocolate bars on offer:
Both chocolate bars have a mystery to solve – a kind of murder mystery come detective drama. Your job in both is to read the clues and discover a WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW the curious crime was committed. As one of my friends pointed out when I gifted them a bar, “I’m not sure eating chocolate called Fatal Experimint is a good idea”, but I can guarantee, several bars of chocolate later, that they are not poisonous. Just creatively named!
Neither mystery is going to take you any longer than the amount of time it takes to eat the chocolate bar, that’s for sure. But I think that’s part of the beauty of it, making this a fantastic gift for just about anyone in your life – puzzlers and non-puzzlers alike. It’s like playing a sudoku in the morning paper over your cuppa.
Flavour: Honeycomb Milk Completion Time: 10 minutes Date Played: 11th July 2021 Party Size: 1
Both taste and puzzle-wise, Honeycomb Sting was my favourite of the two, but that’s mostly personal preferences as I don’t really like mint all that much. In Honeycomb Sting, you’re introduced to the setting of a palace with a world famous beehive kept on the grounds – but wait, somebody has been stealing all the honey! Eek!
Thankfully, the culprit has left behind clues on the chocolate wrapper. From lightly highlighted letters to curious strings of digits, each separate puzzle points towards a different piece of information, such as the identify of the thief, or where they’ve hidden the honey.
The only question remains whether you’ll catch them before you finish the bar!
Flavour: Mint Dark Completion Time: 15 minutes Date Played: 11th July 2021 Party Size: 1
The harder of the two, Fatal Experimint adds a little extra tension to the game – Dr. Spears, the dentist has been poisoned! But if you can successfully solve the game, you’ll be able to find an antidote to save his life. In this mini mystery, you’re looking to make an arrest, and fast!
The puzzles differ a lot between the two experiences, with Fatal Experimint utilising more numerical puzzles, and a couple of well known beloved ciphers with an Enigmailed twist. Since I played (and ate) this one second, the chocolate might be getting to my head and making it seem tricker, but I’d definitely rate this one as the more challenging of the two.
Flavour: Eton Mess Completion Time: 15 minutes Date Played: 19th September 2021 Party Size: 1
This time, a priceless artefact believed to be the Sword in the Stone has been stolen! Once again it’s your job to figure out who thief is, why it was stolen, where it was last seen and what it is being disguised as. As with the other chocolate bars, there’s also a (very tricky) bonus puzzle, for those who want to go the extra mile: How many millions the sword is insured for!
By the time you’ve played the first two, you’ll get the gist of it by now – all over the packaging many small puzzles are hidden. In Excalibar’s Sword you’ll be looking for any letters that seem out of place, ciphers, and hints in plain sight… Among other things!
Of all the flavours (so far) Eton Mess absolutely has to be my favourite. I’m a huge fan of white chocolate and strawberry, so it’s a double thumbs up from me!
Flavour: Toffee Apple Milk Chocolate Completion Time: 20 minutes Date Played: 30th October 2021 Party Size: 1
This time, there’s mischief afoot at the Longstocking Orchard. Apple wielding ghosts? Or perhaps just a Halloween prank! It’s the player’s role to find out who is disguising themselves as a ghost, how they’re evading security, what their motive is and where they are hiding out.
As a Halloween special, it’s delightful! Of course, Toffear Apple is part of the Chocolateral subscription, but as someone who likes to give Halloween gifts this makes it the perfect treat to give out to guests and adult trick or treaters.
But of course, as with all Chocolateral bars, the puzzles are not particularly easy. No sir. I’m very well acquainted with Enigmailed’s hints page by now. But, since you’re always looking for a word (or a few words), players can expect a bounty of exactly that: word based puzzles! In Toffear Apple in particular I enjoyed turning of the bar over and over on the look out for ghosts, apples, and making the words out of the peculiar things on the paper. Spooky fun, and just what I needed to kick off a Halloween celebration!
Flavour: Chilli Dark Chocolate Completion time: approx 30 mins Date Played: 21st November 2021 Party Size: 2
In this edition of Chocolateral, we’re getting festive! But don’t expect tidings of comfort and joy…at least not straight away. There is something afoot, as someone has snatched all of the snacks which had been left out for Santa and his helpers! As usual, it is up to you to peruse the clues hidden in the packaging to solve the seasonal mystery, and there is plenty to sink your teeth into (geddit?!). Yes, not only have you got to figure out who left their footprints in the snow, when they struck, what they’re doing with their bounty of festive treats and how they managed to evade being caught- you’ve also got the chance to go the extra mile (all the way to the north pole maybe?) to figure out which popstar paid for them in the first place!
Picture this: a chilly but clear Sunday afternoon in the lead up to Christmas, eating delicious chocolate, sipping on festive spiced punch and solving puzzles! What better way to get cosy and in the spirit for the next month’s worth of festivities (oh yes, we looove Christmas!). We really enjoyed the level of detail Enigmailed have gone into- the classic Christmassy red, green and white colour scheme; the seasonal imagery of crackers, santas and presents; and the puns- oh how we enjoy a good pun at the best of times, let alone when Christmas is involved. The puzzles are cleverly interspersed into the packaging as usual, which if you’ve played before you will have come to be quite familiar with. We found some of the puzzles quite quick to solve and others took a bit more thought, which we thought would make this a great little activity to do over Christmastime with the whole family- there’s enough to go around in terms of both puzzles and of course CHOCOLATE (if you don’t mind sharing!)
The chilli dark chocolate flavour of the chocolate was lovely; the chilli wasn’t overpowering but provided a nice warming which felt perfect for a Christmassy bar. And we loved the fact that as a dark chocolate bar this month, it is suitable for vegans, so everyone can get on the chocolatey puzzle solving bandwagon, just in time for Christmas! Seasons Eatings was a perfect festive puzzley treat for the lead up to the big day itself!
Flavour: Plain Milk Chocolate Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 6th February 2022 Party Size: 2
What’s the classic Valentine’s Day gift? Chocolate! But, what’s the perfect VDay gift for your escape enthusiast Valentine? Puzzle Chocolate! In this edition of Chocolateral, trouble is afoot at the village Jewellers, Emerald Aisle (yes, we loved that pun) as someone has robbed all their rings, depriving many happy couples of their VDay engagement plans!
While nibbling on our non-engagement related chocolatey Valentine’s treat, we had to figure out the classic W’s- Who, What, Where and Why, oh why, were the rings targeted?! Each time we play we are amazed by Enigmailed’s ability to squeeze in new and different types of puzzle into such a small space and following a consistent format. We enjoyed the variety of puzzles offered and found that each of us had ones that just seemed to click with us instantly. The matter of Why did stump us for a while and we decided to go for a quick look at their handy hint page to help us out with this one and work the puzzle backwards, but we got there in the end! We were also very pleased with ourselves as we also managed to solve the bonus puzzle to find out the name of the owner of the jewellers.
With Valentine Brawl, as with all the Chocolateral bars, we love the feeling that the chocolate is a reward for doing a good job puzzling and, of course, puns-a-plenty is always a bonus to enhance the puzzle solving fun further!
Whether you’re cupid reincarnate, or not so much of a fan of the mushy lovey dovey stuff, Valentine Brawl is a fun option to celebrate or take your mind off the season of love!
Simply the Zest!
Flavour: White Chocolate Lemon Meringue Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 12th April 2022 Party Size: 2
Dun, dun, dun! There’s been a murder, but who dunnit?! It’s the classic soap, a mysterious murder, a woman found dead in her high-rise apartment, the suspicious roast dinner… Hold on, a roast dinner!? We are glad that this did not feature in the chocolate bar flavouring.
Our of all of the bars in this subscription, this one was the most ‘story based’ of the Chocolateral series we have played so far, asking you to find out who has committed the crime, as well as tasking you with identifying those pesky red herrings (ahh yes, enthusiasts will recognise the struggles of red herrings as well!)
We got stuck into this bar quickly (the puzzles we mean…of course…) and found ourselves with 4 of the 5 puzzles solved relatively quickly. They were all logical and had strong sign-posting, something which always impresses us as Enigmailed managed to squeeze this so much onto such a small chocolate bar wrapper!
The final, trickier puzzles left us scratching our heads though. We could not figure out the WHEN of our murder mystery. In this case, finding out the ‘when’ was the the bonus puzzle of this chocolate bar, so the answer is not on the website. So, dear readers, if anyone knows the WHEN – please do get in touch and let us know! We promise we will pay you in chocolate (if there is any left…)
All in all, another great entry into the Chocolateral series, and we cannot wait to see what fantastical flavours and puzzles the creator dreams up next.
Flavour: Banoffee Milk Chocolate Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 4th April 2022 Party Size: 2
So, we definitely should have played this on April Fool’s Day – we missed a trick there! But alas, we sat down to see whether we would be made fools of, or whether we could work out who was clowning around trying to set up poor Uncle Fumble? We are currently playing the month-long puzzle offered by Enigmailed – also named “Fool’s Errand” – so it was felt apt to tackle this game to check our puzzling skills were ready to challenge the enigmatic “Leaderboard”! Also, after playing one of the more recent games, we realised we could have used our chocolate bar to complete one of the challenges…double Fool’s Errand (can we have a shout out on the leader board if we manage to link the puzzles?!)
We found this bar one of the more challenging ones. We couldn’t seem to click with the puzzles in the same way as some of the others. However, we think this may be a good way to showcase how different each of the bars manage to be. Some we find we can solve in ten minutes, others we keep coming back to over a series of days to see if we can finally get that a-ha moment (and steal a piece of chocolate as a reward hehe). In this way, you can savour the puzzles in the same way you can savour the chocolate (well, if you want to…). There was one stand out puzzle on this bar though that we did click with (after the hype around a particular word based game which we play religiously every day) – it must be all that practice. It was a really clever way of translating the puzzle concept onto paper, and we appreciated the effort that had been made to showcase a new puzzle type.
If you’ve not checked out the month long puzzle that Enigmailed are running, definitely pop onto their website! It’s a great way to get your puzzling in, whilst providing that competitive edge so many of us puzzlers enjoy. You can find lots of fun challenges, and plenty of ways to work up an appetite (although who needs to work up anything to eat a delicious banoffee flavoured treat – banana, toffee, chocolate…it’s a dream combo!).
Flavour: Creme Caramel Milk Chocolate Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 7th May 2022 Party Size: 2
Uh oh! There’s been a robbery! Lizzy (very aptly named) has had her most fabulous lizards stolen, and it is up to you to find out the WHO, the WHEN, and the WHY. Oh, and to add to the mix, one of the lizards suffers from a skin condition, and you need to figure out which one so you can get the lotion to them ASAP (an excellent way of adding a bit of pressure). We went for a pic of our lovely pet here (any excuse to put in a pic of Tilly – she was not helpful in solving Lizzy’s predicament).
As we play more of Engimailed’s wonderful Chocolateral series, we are beginning to learn a bit about the different puzzling styles featured on the bars. We are getting better at seeing patterns, and playing these games regularly is definitely helping to give our puzzling skills ticking over. However, that definitely does not mean that we are now finding these easy – there was one puzzle in particular on this game that we found especially challenging – and brought a wonderful A-HA moment when we finally solved it. We clicked with this bar better than the previous one and managed to get through all the puzzles without looking for a hint (although, when we did go to check the answers, we got stumped trying to find those (wink wink!)).
We were stoked to also manage to solve the extra challenge of finding out HOW MANY lizards were taken. It would be creme-inal not to mention the excellent pun use in this bar. We are so here for some fun word-play and always enjoy Enigmailed’s humorous blurbs and storylines.
We shared this chocolate bar with Ash’s mum to spread the love (and also because we had recently ordered a huge amount of reduced Easter chocolate oops). We’ve had some excellent feedback from her on the taste “very creamy, very caramel, perfect for a sweet tooth” so I think we may have another Enigmailed fan on our hands! These bars would certainly make such a good gift for anyone you know who likes chocolate (and who doesn’t?!), and enjoys a bit of puzzling.
Tilly Enjoying Crime Caramel Chocolateral
About the Chocolate
The chocolate manufacturer is Kernow Chocolate, created and hand-packed in Cornwall, UK. If you need any evidence of all the love and care gone into creating this chocolate, just look at the list of ingredients! I’ve never seen a shorter ingredient list in my life – it’s all totally natural, not a chemical in sight.
Even without the puzzles, I already find myself browsing the manufacturer’s website to see what else they sell. It was that tasty, and I feel great about supporting a local UK business.
You can purchase a Chocolateral Bar over on Enigmailed’s website here, and also use the promocode MAIL10 for 10% off an order of Undeliverable!
The Secret City: Murder on the Don | A local resident has been found dead after playing a mysterious game. The only way to catch the killer? Joining the next round. Solve cryptic and sinister tasks as you work with Sherlock Holmes to try to figure out the identity of the game’s murderous creator. Fail, and you might be their next victim.
This outdoor escape game offers an engaging new way to experience Sheffield. Explore the historic city, its pubs, statues and street art, as winding clues lead you to the heart of a deadly mystery. Will you be able to catch the killer, or will you be forced to survive by other, less heroic means…
Completion Time: 1 hour 42 minutes (plus a couple breaks as recommended by Sherlock) Date Played: 17th April 2022 Party Size: 3 + a bulldog! Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire Difficulty: Medium
We struck gold with the BEST weather we could ask for to take on The Secret City’s ‘Murder on the Don’ outdoor experience. It was also the vegan market in the centre of Sheffield, so it was a double win-win for us to be out and about exploring the city!
Prior to heading down to town, Ash received clear instructions from the Secret City team instructing us how we would access the game and what to expect. We’ve never used the Telegram app before, and we were really impressed with how well it functioned! It helped boost the immersion with ‘real-time’ messages and clues that progressed alongside the storyline, helping to give the experience, that ‘buzz’ of adrenaline that can be sometimes hard to capture outside of a physical room.
The game began at Devonshire Green. We were called upon by our friend, Sherlock Holmes, to assist him with a recent murder case. From there, we were thrust into a race against time to play along with the mysterious ‘murder game’ that had been involved with some recent homicide cases (just some light-hearted Easter fun!!! It was a bit more time-pressured than your average Easter hunt).
Initially, I must admit that we were all very sceptical of Sherlock’s role – could we trust our favourite detective?!
So far managing to stay ahead of Sherlock….
One Sunny Day in Sheffield
The puzzles were great. We were looking at our city through new eyes! It was a combination of following directions (which were often given to you in riddles), noticing things around the area and then applying these to a ‘puzzle’ to work out a solution that was input into the Telegram app. It was really handy that we were given the total number of tasks at the start, so we could easily see our progress, and how much we still had to complete (side note, the bulldog managed about 18 of the 23 tasks – Maggie was a 10/10 companion, although she did mean we took way longer as everyone understandably wanted to give her fuss and attention).
The game itself had in-built breaks which were very welcome, and recommended local businesses nearby to try out – very much a win-win!
Taking a much needed pit stop at one of the great bars recommended to us!
We should caveat our commentary on this game with the fact that all three players are very familiar with the city of Sheffield (although despite living here all her life Tasha can still get lost hehe). However, we managed to visit places we had never been before, which was amazing! The scope of this game was great, it took us all throughout the city, visiting the classic spots such as the cathedral, the Riverside, the steel works at Kelham Island before finishing at the beautiful Victoria Quays!
For people who are new to the city, or those that are steel-city legends themselves, this is definitely one to play.
Tasha seeing our city in a whole new light!
The ending was delivered well – it was dramatic and provided a satisfactory finale to our playthrough. A nice touch was the list of recommendations for nearby pubs etc that the game gave us (big shout out again for this, what a good feature!).
We will definitely be keen to check out the other games on offer by The Secret City. What a fab activity for the upcoming summer months and such a brilliant way to discover somewhere new or get a new perspective of a well-loved city!
Rating: Just….wow! Completion Time: 53 minutes Date Played: 13th March 2022 Party Size: 4 Recommended For: People of all abilities who want to have a brilliantly satisfying hour of fun!
New building, who dis?
At Escaping the Closet we have been fond fans of Escape Quest Macclesfield for a long time, and having completed all of the rooms they had to offer pre-pandemic, we were so excited to hear that they had new stuff in store for 2021, as we weren’t sure what could top what we had already played! They reopened in October 2021 with their shiny new building and their shiny new unique concept- The Chapelgate Mysteries; a series of games set across different periods of time but all taking place in the Chapelgate district. We were delighted with this idea and so excited to finally be able to plan a return to Escape Quest. The first of the Chapelgate Mysteries quests to open is Mr Copplestone’s Curiosity Shoppe, a familiar name as we had already played this game at their previous premises…. However, FEAR NOT, as although the OG Curiosity Shoppe was brilliant, the new, improved version was 99% new. Trust us when we say, it does NOT matter if you have played the previous version of the game, you will be sure to have to use your head (all the while being WOWED) throughout the game!
It’s bigger on the inside!
Upon arriving at Escape Quest, Elaine (side note, the friendliest GM ever) advised us of our mission. Turns out Mr Copplestone was a bit of a genius and actually managed to invent time travel. Unfortunately, in the present day, he’s down to his last Time Echo Crystal (‘what’s one of those?’ I hear you say. They’re what power the time machine, of course, what else?!), but there are Time Echo Crystals a-plenty back in his shop in1873. But, time travel being one of those risky businesses, with the portal only holding itself open for an hour, we were charged with being the ones to head back there and try to gather as many of the Time Echo Crystals as poss. Easy, right?! Well, not when you aren’t sure just how many of them forgetful Mr Copplestone has left behind! Well, at least 8 are required to successfully make it back to present day, so that is the minimum goal, but there could be MANY MANY MORE (spoiler, there are MANY)!
Of course, us being very much up to the challenge, we hopped into the time machine, listened carefully to Mr Copplestone’s advice and jet-set ourselves all the way back from 2022 to 1873 (tbf it was a welcome change to leave 2022). And then there we were on Chapel Street and our jaws literally hit the floor because we LITERALLY were on Chapel Street, home to taverns, pharmacies and of course the target location, Mr Copplestone’s Curiosity Shoppe. We spent time peering in the shop windows (until we managed to get ourselves in at least), reading the signs and posters displayed on the street and searching high and low for those pesky Time Echo Crystals! There was so much to take in and oh so much to do, we felt like we were in a literal escape roomer’s heaven! The space is vast and yet there is such close attention to detail- everything is there for a reason whether that is for a puzzle itself, or the immersion of the quest, we were astounded by the thought that has gone into every inch of it!
Teamwork makes the dream work
It seems we managed to bring the dream team along, with Tasha and Lucy as honorary Escaping the Closet members, as we fell straight into a rhythm of exploring Chapel Street and solving the mysteries it contained. Of course, with so much space to explore and so many potential Time Echo Crystals to find, this is as you would expect, a non-linear game. We split up to make our way around, often switching up the pairings for a fresh set of eyes on a puzzle.
The room integrates the time machine (dutifully holding open the portal for us) with Chapel Street brilliantly, and we did many a dash between a Victorian era shop and the time machine for important Time Echo Crystal related business. We enjoyed this and felt it really added to the fun of the game as it gave a real sense of urgency and accomplishment as we made progress on our mission.
The puzzles are cleverly put together, and solving each one was satisfying. Every time, the solution just made sense (and the importance of that in escape rooms cannot be understated- there’s nothing worse than still not quite getting it, even after you’ve managed to solve something) However, on the contrary, there’s nothing more satisfying than that A-HA moment when you finally work a solution out as all of the parts fall into place, and that happened so. many. times. in Mr Copplestone’s! Multi-layered puzzles, where you have *that* additional step to reach the solution when you find the first attempt was good but not right, observational puzzles, logical puzzles, code-based puzzles, riddles…. the list goes on. And on. AND ON! There really is something for everyone in there, and that meant we as a team often circled round a puzzle, each taking a turn at looking at it and piecing our different perspectives together until… that magic CLICK when the penny dropped and we got it.
As we mentioned, the puzzles make sense, and we had no trouble working out which clues we should be using together for the most part. But if clues are needed, a brilliant AI based inside the time machine is always on hand to give a nudge in the right direction.
Something for everyone
As well as having lots of different types of puzzles, Escape Quest have done something brilliant with the mission in Mr Copplestone’s Curiosity Shoppe, as it has been created as a game which is truly for all abilities. We kind of alluded to this earlier when mentioning that the minimum requirement to successfully complete the game is to retrieve 8 Time Echo Crystals. However, if you’ve managed this and have time to spare, you can collect as many of the crystals as you can (allowing for more trips through time, and who doesn’t want that?!). We understand that the average team will collect a number of crystals somewhere in the teens, but this offers the opportunity for success for the more inexperienced teams, families with young children and party groups, while seasoned experts can challenge themselves to try and find all the possible Time Echo Crystals.
Now, it’s actually classified how many Time Echo Crystals there actually are back in 1873, but we were determined to try our best to find them all, and we impressed ourselves (and Elaine and Mike) by managing to get ALL [CLASSIFIED] Time Echo Crystals with time to spare- for once searching was not our downfall!! Apparently only a few teams have managed to find all of the Time Echo Crystals, and even fewer with so much time left- apparently we came very close to Team Squared (the UK’s RedBull escape room team), so we were very pleased with our effort!
Escaping the Closet being extremely proud of their success with finding the Time Echo Crystals
Elaine and Mike have outdone themselves with their first quest in the Chapelgate Mysteries and we are already so excited for what’s in store in the next chapter (which we believe is travelling to an early C20th Chapel Street, although what mission awaits us there we are not so sure…). It’s safe to say we will be booking back in for the next mission as soon as it is available!
Mike and Elaine have thought about absolutely EVERYTHING in the room, and the attention to detail is impressive. The immersion has been created to the finest level, and we are still so amazed that they have created a full street and can’t wait to visit it through time! To top it all off, they are the most lovely, welcoming hosts, and you can absolutely see their passion and love of what they do in every aspect! We are very much looking forward to returning to visit them again.
The puzzles are brilliant and varied; the space is visually stunning; we had one of the most fun escape experiences we have ever had with this room; Mike and Elaine have created a super original; innovative concept with this room; the game is exceptionally immersive and we can’t think of another room quite like it! As they are outstanding in every category for which we award, we have decided to award Mr Copplestone’s Curiosity Shoppe a Badge of Honour, our highest award, which we think is incredibly well deserved for the hard work and love Mike and Elaine put into their rooms.
Anywhere that is within ~1 hour drive of Sheffield, we will have looked into whether there are any escape rooms that we are yet to try out. Brighouse is no exception!
The back story of us discovering Project Breakout is quite amusing – it was Sheffield Pride (which explains the face paint that some of our team members are wearing on the below picture) and it was SO rainy. We had a go on a few of the rides (it’s very amusing watching people ride of mechanical bulls in the pouring rain), but then we soon got chilly and wandered back to our house, looking for something to do for the afternoon…
Of course why not have a look into doing an escape room?!
We had done most of the rooms in Sheffield by this point and we were constrained to places that had last minute availability. After browsing the web, we came across Project Breakout’s room: ‘Operation Clearsafe’. We called them up, and got ourselves booked in. Before we knew it, we were on our way to Brighouse (although Al originally said it was in Pontefract which if you know your Yorkshire geography was quite a lie).
Little did we know what we had got ourselves into! (especially taking two escape room newbies, so sorry guys!!!)
Project Breakout: Operation Clearsafe
Welp! We were led downstairs into the basement of the climbing centre where Project Breakout is based, feeling the chilly air surround us as we were taken further and further away from the safe, light, outside world.
In the briefing, we were asked how scary we wanted the room, to which one of our members said ’10/10′. But we soon shut that down and asked for a medium 5/10, which in hindsight was lucky as I think if we had had 10/10 some of our team members might have actually cried!
The premise of this room is: an experimental laboratory which has been testing on animals and humans, and has recently experienced a disaster, and accidentally (whoopsie) let loose all of the test subjects. Of course, this meant a 60 minute count down until the self destruct of the entire facility. Our aim was to get out of the facility (alive) and avoid any unwanted encounters with the mysterious subjects who were said to be freely roaming around. Luckily, we had help from our technical friend, who kept us up to date on a walkie-talkie with the whereabouts of any unwanted guests.
“He’s got a KNIFE!”
This room is very, very creepy. You are on edge throughout, with a creepy soundtrack, the (very atmospheric) actual chilliness of the basement, and many, many dark corners…
Make sure you are comfortable with the people you go in with, as you will inevitably end up grabbing hold of them, or hiding in places that are way too small to fit one person, let alone two, to avoid being seen! One of our team members took the saying ‘hiding in plain sight’ a bit too literally and decided that sitting on the floor with her eyes closed was the best way forward. She then loudly exclaimed that one of the test subjects was carrying a knife (spoiler, he was not) – and then she was pretty much paralysed with fear for the rest of the game.
It’s amazing how well a spooky atmosphere, story and an actor can escalate into something altogether more scary through the participants’ own imaginations!
The actual physical space the game takes place in is vast- it is definitely one of the biggest escape rooms we’ve played, and as such we would highly recommend taking a bigger team to take on this challenge (not to mention the safety in numbers aspect!).
We talk about this game so much, and think it is one of the only escape rooms we would choose to re-play!
Project Breakout: The Dollmaker
Full of high praise from our first experience at Project Breakout, we knew we had to return! A weekend many moons ago (well, pre-covid so it feels like a lifetime ago) we headed up to Brighouse intending to play one room -The Dollmaker.
This was a dingy, unsettling room, with creepy dolls and plenty of serial killer essentials. It was nowhere near as scary as Operation Clearsafe, but it was quite creepy!
In our team of 4, we settled into a reasonably steady rhythm, navigating the puzzles on offer and taking it in turns to look after Alice when she was jumping at the slightest noise. The room is well suited to a more experienced team, and enthusiasts will find themselves facing some new challenges!
Project Breakout: Project Z – zombies and a secret bunker…
After successful completion of The Dollmaker, we wanted more, and our superb games host kindly squeezed us into Project Z. This room was set in a bunker-one of the best bunker sets we have seen (complete with a secret door none of us saw coming!).
The sound effects were perfect at heightening the immersion, with the zombies scratching and moaning, it was good for keeping you on track (and keeping Alice on edge lol).
We were having a particularly good day when we played this game, and we really clicked with this room and the puzzles.
It is not a scary room, but is effective a creating a sense of unease (Steven was utterly convinced we were going to have a zombie visitor). We escaped in a record (at the time of playing) 26 minutes, but we felt this was a very jam-packed room with some clever puzzles which very much fit into the theme and which we just happened to click with on the day!
Antidote – the cure is always to play more rooms, right?
As we got out in under 30 minutes, Benn (our host for the day) told us we were eligible for a free escape… So we made our way into the Antidote and onto room 3 (thank you Benn for being so flexible!). We were warned that this was their easiest game, but we were excited nonetheless as we knew Project Breakout do what they do very well!
This room starts with a very clever play to spring you straight into the immersive story, it’s something that makes it stand out in our memories for sure.
This room would be absolutely perfect for a beginner group! It cleverly introduces a wide range of puzzles: logic, observation, math, riddle…it was all there, and delivered really well. The storyline was excellent, and we knew our challenge was not to escape, but to solve a bigger problem(!).
Escaping in 22 minutes, we just missed another record!
Overall – The Verdict
We love Project Breakout’s rooms. We have had some great days out playing their games and would be super keen to return when a new room opens. We have no doubt that enthusiasts and beginners would find something to enjoy here.
You can book yourself in to play any at Project Breakout by heading to their website here.
The Cari Mysteries: Grandfather’s Fortune | Review | A young family comes to the Netherlands from the Dutch East Indies in the 1950s. One day, one of the grandchildren receives her grandmother’s diary. For years, the story has been going around that Grandpa brought a fortune back from the Indies and that Grandma’s diary was supposed to be the treasure map. The diary is incomplete. The fortune has now been a legend in the family for over 50 years. No one has ever been able to find it. Discover and experience this true story and help find Grandfather’s Fortune.
Completion Time: 70 minutes Date Played: 30th January 2022 Party Size: 4 Difficulty: Medium
Gezelligheid kent geen tijd!
Or, to those of us who aren’t Ash (the French & Dutch graduate) – time flies when you’re having fun! Our classic online escape team of us, Mairi and Tasha sat down together on a chilly January evening to see whether we could help search an old Dutch farm house, to find the family’s hidden fortune. Turns out, it was hidden in far more than a locked box, it was hidden in time itself.
So, put on your time-travelling glasses, and let’s get exploring.
A beautiful family farmhouse – so much to see!
This game begins with a wonderfully sweet introductory video, bringing you up to date with the family’s history and the mystery of their grandfather’s hidden treasure. It is a very nostalgic game, as players are reviled with tales of old family traditions and introduced to the various members of the family and their individual stories.
The first space you get to explore is the looming front door. It’s very easy to look around, and the exploration in the game feels very nature. The software itself helps to plant you in the game, as you can see the seemingly never-ending fields stretch out way in the distance from the farm house, it feels like you are really there! Ash was absolutely loving this, and wishing that she had played the game in Dutch, returning to her days living in the Netherlands as a student.
Are these…magic glasses?!
Once we managed to make it inside, we were taken into the first ‘space’ of the game: the house’s attic. Here, we found out what really makes this game special: the magic glasses! Players can click a button to put them on, and they are taken back in time! You can look around the room with a whole new perspective, new puzzles appear, people appear, the overlay of the present and the past is brilliant! It works pretty seamlessly too, so it doesn’t feel dis-jointed or laggy, which was a big relief.
We worked together to solve the puzzles, which were actually quite challenging. You have a diary which accompanies you throughout the day, acting as a handy guide/map. It’s a clever way of having a sort of ‘options menu’ without breaking the immersion – and works very well in the digital escape room format.
The treasure! Eindelijk!
This was a really fun, wholesome game. We had a great time exploring the many rooms on offer within the farmhouse, flitting between the past and the present to combine items to make our way to the family’s hidden treasure. There were a hefty amount of puzzles, and we did get a bit stuck a few times! We definitely have a new favourite kind of puzzle, one we’ve actually never seen before (which is unusual given we are now nearing our 200th game) – kudos to the Cari Mysteries!
This game lends itself well to being played online. It’s been designed with care, and with love. We would highly recommend this for a cosy Sunday evening with friends. It might be a nice one to play with family if you are all apart, it certainly made us feel quite nostalgic!
Grandfather’s fortune can be played by going to the Cari Mysteries website here.
Fudge Fiasco Review: A pack of puzzles to solve to uncover what flavour fudge you’ve been sent!
Rating: Fudgin’ brill! Completion Time: ~30 minutes Date Played: 29th December 2021 Party Size: 2 Recommended For: A sweet treat!
A Christmas Treat!
A combination of a sweet treat + an escape room style puzzle…
…We are so there!
The team at Code Bakers have hit the jackpot with this winning combination which allows players to combine delicious sweet treats with puzzling to definitely make you feel like you’ve earnt your dessert! The Fudge Fiasco game sends players two mysterious blocks of fudge, challenging you to find out what the flavours are before tucking in.
For Fudge Sake!
After receiving Fudge Fiasco as a part of the UK Puzzle Bundle, we cracked it open on a cosy afternoon, looking to fill half an hour of puzzling and tuck into our afternoon snack. These games are interesting in that it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when you are presented with multiple puzzles at once. But, once we had figured out what we were doing and what bits went together, the puzzles flowed really well.
It is great how much the Code Bakers’ team can pack into their small envelopes!
The map puzzle (pictured above) was definitely one of the more innovative versions of this style of puzzle that we have seen. It did leave us scratching our heads for a while, but once we realised some slightly ‘outside the box’ thinking was needed, we worked our way through this nicely!
It was very satisfying to solve, and the aha moment left us both smiling.
The puzzles are good for teams of two or more working together in a more relaxed atmosphere. We think this would be a great pre-dinner game for a family or a pre-escape room warm up for a team of enthusiasts (plus then you’d have the sugar kick from the fudge ready to go in and boss your room!).
The Delicious Finale
Once we had made our way through the puzzles, we treated ourselves to two tasty bars of fudge! It’s nice to have a physical reward for solving the puzzles, which helps make these games stand out in that ‘at-home’ escape market.
We always enjoy a game from the Code Bakers – I think we will start using these to send gifts to our friends (to make them work for their treats!).
We look forward to playing more of these in the future!
Fudge Fiasco can be purchased for yourself (or given as a gift) by heading to Code Baker’s website here.
The Studies of Dr. Becker Review | You are invited to spend an hour with the famous Dr. Becker at Boleskine Lodge Practice. He is currently with another patient and will be with you shortly. In the meantime make yourself at home and enjoy his hospitality and his study – a beautiful place decorated with his bizarre collection of strange and wonderful things. But do not dig too deeply as things are not always as they seem in this place, after all it is well known that some of his previous guests are still there after volunteering to help with his studies. Dr. Becker has a past which is questionable at best and not everyone agrees with his methods.
Completion Time: About 1 hour Date Played: January 2022 Party Size: 4 Difficulty: Medium
What’s your favourite scary movie?
What’s everyone’s favourite thing about horror movies? Scream…Halloween.. the many, many Friday 13ths!…Yes, it’s the sequels! Everyone loves returning to that creepy place they have become so familiar with from the original film that sparked the cult following. Well, what Emergency Exit have created with ‘The Studies of Dr Becker’ feels very reminiscent of this. Dr Becker is the third part of what is now a trilogy of escape games focused around Crowley Manor, the infamous house of Aleister Crowley.
Now, you may or may not know the name Aleister Crowley. In case you don’t, he was a real English Occultist in the 20th Century, and boy did he enjoy dabbling in creepy stuff! The lore around his mysterious life is a fittingly creepy setting for a series of scary escapes. The trilogy centres around Crowley Manor where the In:Theory investigators decide to sneak in to snoop around and find out what’s going down, and unfortunately find themselves WAAAAAAY in over their heads!
We came across Emergency Exit while we were in lockdown during COVID last year when everyone was looking to virtual means to get their escape fix, and The Beast was receiving rave reviews from the escape community. We managed to convince our friends Tasha and Mairi (aka the scaredy cats) to join us for this scary adventure (after all how bad can a virtual scare be?!) and we all loved the thrill of it (despite the varying degrees of fear we experienced). Since lockdown easing, Emergency Exit have reopened their doors to in-person bookings and created the third part of the trilogy, The Studies of Dr Becker. While we were super keen to return to the Crowley Manor story, we wanted to continue the story with the team we started out with. Therefore we were excited to find out that Dr Becker has recently been made available to play online too, and got the gang back together (virtually)!
Online games work well for us as a team still as geography does not favour in-person rooms. With us in the North, and Mairi based in London, we love to still plan in a regular escape in the online world. Recently it’s been a lot of Telescape rooms, which we love. But what better way to brighten up a gloomy Friday evening that by dabbling in the occult. The hosted virtual game, played through Zoom, is really immersive and arguably offers even more than the in-person experience. Not only do you get to play the room in full, but you get the additional fun of working with the In:Theory team to solve the room.
Emergency Exit have put a lot into putting on a show in their rooms; hosting the game on Zoom requires 2 people who you interact with (the In:Theory team) and the story is extremely important. While each of the games are playable as a standalone, the overarching story is really cohesive and adds an extra layer of enjoyment knowing the backstory.
Previously in Crowley Manor: The In:Theory team managed to accidentally summon Surgat, Demon of Locks (very apt). Woopsie! Let’s see what happens to them next…
What happens to them next? They find themselves in Boleskine Lodge Practice, under the care of creepy Dr Becker, who is ‘treating’ them to help them forget their experiences in Crowley Manor. However, Dr Becker’s practices are…questionable….and there’s more to why he wants you to forget the demonic apparitions. Why’s that I hear you ask? Well, you’ll have to play to find out more, but let’s just say, Boleskine Lodge Practice ever so conveniently happens to be attached to Crowley Manor. That is to say, the In:Theory team STILL haven’t managed to escape Crowley Manor yet!
Lights, camera…is that someone’s BUM?
This is where you rejoin the In:Theory team as the voices inside your host’s head. Interacting with the hosts is one of our favourite parts about the Emergency Exit rooms (a bit because if any bad stuff were to happen in the room, it was happening to them and not us). But they really MAKE the experience; not only do you get to explore the room and solve puzzles, instructing your host as to what they should look at or do next, but the story is really brought into it’s own by James and Liam. James was our main host, and Liam is the dedicated cameraman. And boy is he dedicated to his role, ensuring that no matter what the occult throws his way, you always have a clear view of what’s going on around the space you’re in. And they’re funny! A bit of light relief from bantering with your hosts works really well to lighten the mood after a period of tension.
There are some pre-recorded sections which are transitioned into smoothly and which helped to accentuate the story with dramatic ‘cut scenes’. This includes an extremely dramatic conclusion to the story, which we enjoyed. While we’re sure the in-person experience is equally fun to play, we really feel like the Emergency Exit team have NAILED the online hosted escape room! The way it runs feels so reminiscent of a horror movie, but with the added element of choosing the decisions the characters make and, of course, what we all came here for in the first place- puzzle solving! For this reason, we’ve decided to award it the Immersion Badge!
The puzzles are all well-fitting with the theme and add an element of mystery, as they are well-integrated into the demonic, occultish storyline. Fear not, there is plenty to do in terms of puzzling in this room, you just also get the added bonus of a suspenseful horror movie setup!
We would really recommend playing The Studies of Dr Becker (and its predecessors if you haven’t yet). We are sure that an in-person visit would be equally fun but we can’t stop raving about the online hosted experience. At £20pp (for a four player team), this is a great way to spend your Friday night.
Please note that there are some creepy sections and mild gore, but these are generally not too scary so don’t let this put you off. We mentioned afterwards that we felt this was less scary than The Beast, but we enjoyed it just as much!
The Studies of Dr. Becker, either the live or remote avatar version, can be booked by heading to E-Exit’s website here.
While adventuring across the seven seas looking for treasure, you spot a ship adrift on the horizon. It appears empty, not a soul in sight…
You decide to board this ghostly ship, and upon exploring the captain’s cabin you stumble across a strange chest, emanating a strange and mysterious feel. You reach out to it, and as your fingers move across the rusting steel, a voice bellows from the ether.
It is the spirit of the captain himself!
His disembodied voice tells of his discovery of an Aztec ruin, laden with gold. Yet, an even bigger treasure laid within: A totem of immortality. A totem he claimed to himself hastily, hiding the valuable icon from his crew in a chest only he could open.
Yet, The totem was not all that it seemed, the captain passed away and awoke inside the chest itself. The totem was cursed!
You now need to help the pirate by solving all of the exciting puzzles within the chest, breaking the curse and set him free. Are you up for the challenge?
Date Played: 28th December 2021 Time Taken: 30 minutes Number of Players: 2 Difficulty: Easyish
All aboard the Ti-Panic…!
Back in summer 2021 (which is now LAST YEAR – when on earth did that happen?!), we won an Instagram competition to help name The Panic Room’s new pirate ship for their upcoming experience: Dead Man’s Chest.
As we are not often down south, we booked in (optimistically) for winter 2021 when we would be travelling down to Ash’s family in Kent. Luckily, the stars aligned and we managed to make it down south without getting infected (never thought we would cheers to a negative lateral flow test but COVID has taught us lots of new things about ourselves!).
So, we got to have a go at this new adventure which takes place inside the Panic Room’s sister shop – Don’t Panic, and we are so happy we finally got to play this escape game!
It’s only one box… Right?!
This adventure steers away from the typical escape experience as players are tasked with breaking into a cursed treasure chest, rather than escaping from a room. We initially thought, ‘this surely won’t take us long at all!’, but wow, we were pleasantly surprised by just how much The Panic Room have managed to squeeze into one (pretty big) box!
There were layers and layers of puzzles with drawers appearing from literally nowhere and secret compartments galore. On more than one occasion, a drawer appeared from somewhere that we did not expect and offered up a whole new section of gameplay. It’s a box full of different puzzles and gentle nudges in the right direction.
From moment to moment we found it fairly easy to figure out what we needed to work on next, but this just goes to show how well The Panic Room have signposted the experience… Especially when you’ve only got one treasure chest to work with!
Obviously, this is quite a linear experience as players are solving one section of the chest at a time, but we really enjoyed tackling this game as a pair. With the help of our spooky pirate ghost man, we worked through all the puzzles together and navigated the mechanics of the game seamlessly. The technology worked wonderfully to provide us with a magical experience of breaking into the treasure chest.
A note on the clue system, as we did get stuck on a couple of occasions and needed to use it. It was in theme and clues were delivered clearly and always for the right bit of the chest we were currently working on!
We would definitely recommend this game for an enthusiast pair to see how you get on. It would also work really well for a group of newbies to introduce the escape room concept (and to get you hooked!).
This cursed treasure chest!
Overall, this was a great game. We thoroughly enjoyed playing the Dead Man’s Chest and especially enjoyed getting to explore the Don’t Panic shop afterwards with a nice 10% off for escaping successfully! The shop is literally the dream for escape room enthusiasts, there are SO many games on offer and we had to resist buying everything…
We will definitely be returning to The Panic Room as soon as well can.
Key Enigma: The Butterfly Curse Review | The legend tells that certain people who are blessed with the gift of deciphering and solving the most complex puzzles descend from dark pacts of blood. But now, an evil curse hangs over their shoulders, one that is taking the life of more than a hundred people.
“The Butterfly Curse” is an original horror escape game that mixes physical and digital puzzles with dark narrative to immerse you in a such terrifying experience that it may be impossible for you to distinguish reality from fiction.
Completion Time: 3 hours Date Played: 28th November 2021 Party Size: 2 Difficulty: Challenging
Welp… Definitely a game for a dark night!
We sat down on an extremely snowy afternoon to try out Key Enigma’s game, ‘The Butterfly Curse’. After Mairi had warned us that word on the street was that The Butterfly Curse was a real ‘scary’ play at home game, we were very excited to see what we would find within the ominous red envelope!
It had a number of “ah-ha” moments as you always want to see in an escape game, but The Butterfly Curse was also markedly different. There were also a number of ‘AHHHH’ moments, especially when we finally got around to opening that sealed envelope. Al was watching the screen through her fingers at some points, and insisted that we turn the volume down after being made to jump off her seat (on more than one occasion).
Before we started playing this game, Ash already had a fear of butterflies… Turns out, she might have been on to something!
Just your average, friendly BuzzFeed quiz…right?
We’ve all sat and played the classic online quizzes, wondering which Friends character we would be, or which Disney princess we would marry, but we can’t say we’ve ever done an online quiz quite like the one that welcomed us into The Butterfly Curse. It started off so normal… Until everything seemed to go terribly, terribly wrong! We were so impressed at what Key Enigma have managed to create – it is easily one of the most immersive web elements of a play at home game that we have had the pleasure of using.
The introduction was perfectly pitched – it was scary, the puzzles ranged in difficulty, and the general preface of the story was set up so well. We were very excited (read: Al was scared) to see where our journey would take us.
A word of advice: Definitely make sure you play the introduction first – it’s well worth it!
Your run of the mill friendly internet stranger
We soon got our heads stuck into the game, after finding out that we had been cursed by Farglos(!) (which Al kept reading as Fergus lol), to see if we could make it out alive. You are taken in by a helpful internet stranger, who becomes your guide for the rest of the game. The game functions through an online portal, as you solve puzzles using physical components, plus information that you find on the in-game website.
This combination worked really well as you were guided nicely through each step, making it clear which puzzle was next, and what to use when. We really liked this, as it stopped us getting super distracted by exciting items we found in the envelope, which we wouldn’t actually use until about 5 puzzles in. We had to use the hint system a couple of times to get some nudges (Al does not perform well under fear). Luckily, the clue system is set up nicely to give you a few hints before offering the full solution (useful if you really are paralysed with fear – or if you bang your head falling off your chair from a jump scare – looking @ u Mairi).
Welp x2 – what an ending!
The game finishes on an excellent climax, producing one of the most ‘thrilling’ final envelope openings of any game we have played. We had been looking at the mysterious ‘do not open’ envelope throughout our play, wondering what on earth was inside, and whether it would save us from an eternity of being Farglos’ slaves…
No spoilers – but everyone should play the game just for the ending. It was high tension, high drama, and Key Enigma have done really well to re-create the ‘buzz’ of that final puzzle of a real-life escape room. Anyone who has played this will know what we are talking about!
Overall – this was a wonderful game, with clever tricks and turns. Turn off your lights, close the curtains, and hope for the best when you eventually open your sealed envelope…