About Escaping the Closet

Ash & Al make up Escaping the Closet and are writers covering escape rooms in the UK and play at home immersive experiences.

Emergency Exit: The Studies of Dr. Becker | Review

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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.

Previously on…

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!

The Verdict

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.

The Panic Room: Dead Man’s Chest | Review

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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!

Aye-Aye Captain!

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.

You can book the Dead Man’s Chest experience at The Panic Room’s website here.

Key Enigma: The Butterfly Curse | Review

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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!

Image (c) Key Enigma

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…

You can buy The Butterfly Curse here:
https://keyenigma.com/products/horror-escape-room-the-butterfly-curse.

Ratings

Enigmailed: Chocolateral Bars | Review

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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.

The Verdict

Honeycomb Sting

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!

Fatal Experimint

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.

Excalibar’s Sword

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!

Toffear Apple

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!

Seasons Eating

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!

How did they taste?

Absolutely delicious! 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.

My favourite of the flavours (so far) have been Toffee Apple or Eton Mess.

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 in this *gestured vaguely* global panini.

Overall

Absolutely bloody delicious, really fun puzzles, a perfect gift. Other chocolate just ain’t going to cut it anymore and that’s coming from me, the great great (add some greats) granddaughter of the Terry’s Chocolate Orange founder. No puzzles? Sorry Cadbury’s, I only eat puzzle chocolate now.

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!

Escapologic Leicester: Reactorvate | Review

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Escapologic: Reactorvate Review | Your Great Uncle was once a leading scientist known for developing state of the art nuclear technology. In central Europe, during the late 1970’s, one of his experimental reactors went into meltdown as soon as it was activated, causing one of the most catastrophic disasters in modern history...

Your only option is to break into an abandoned power plant located in rural Russia, find a second inactive reactor and start it up. If it is fully functional then you may just have the evidence to free an innocent man. If your Great Uncle is lying, then you may need to run for your life!

Completion Time: 31:27
Date Played: 11th September 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Medium

First up on our long awaited road trip was to take a step into an abandoned nuclear reactor. Our mission was to find out what REALLY happened all those years ago in the 1970s… A totally normal activity for the first time Mairi, our friend Tasha and ourselves were all in person together, right?

We were very much looking forward to seeing how our team functioned in real life. After a long lockdown of playing countless digital escape games together, would the addition of a third dimension to our normally 2D team throw us off? Would being able to see how tall our team members actually are be too big a distraction..?!

Read on to find out…

WOW – Are we actually in the 1970s?

The first thing you notice stepping into this room (well, any of the Escapologic rooms to be fair) is their impeccable attention to detail. We entered a very realistic looking ‘reactor’, complete with the classic 1970s computer vibes, colourful lights and even featuring an on theme chilly room temperature!

Those first few puzzles we encountered in the room were great at introducing us both to the game and to each other. As an introduction space to Reactorvate, it had a fantastic flow. After initially hitting a bit of a hurdle with one of the beginning puzzles, we started to get out stride as we moved into the second space on offer. From here, we split up into two teams of two to tackle the wide range of challenges on offer.

We did have one quite hefty obstacle to get around first though…

Guys, is that your hand touching me? Where are the WALLS?

Before we entered this room, our games master Courtney warned us that at one point we would be in complete darkness. And that point came quite quickly into the game and they weren’t kidding – boy was it dark!

It was the sort of dark where you can’t see your own hand in front of you, and naturally we were all quite unnerved by this. We were quietly hoping that the evil spirit, Mr Moon, who haunts Escapologic’s other game (The Gateway) had not found their way into our room!!! Thankfully no ghosts, which just left the task in hand. Once we figured out where the four corners of the space were that we were in we were on a roll. But first, where the heck is the light switch?!

Science! We’re doing SCIENCE

The technology Reactorvate uses is great. You get to do physical puzzles, mental puzzle, observation puzzles…and you get to DO so much. We love a room that offers players the opportunity to really feel as though you are ‘doing’ the puzzling, rather than simply solving notes scribbled on a page. The whole thing had such a tactile feel as we lifted heavy objects and manipulated strange contraptions we’re all too young to know the true purpose of.

There was one particular stand out element of the room that provided just the right amount of shock value it’s still seared into our memory today. Although, we still can’t figure out if it was triggered by the Games Master, by our actions, or if the course we followed was inevitable – but that’s all good theatre!

We had a great time moving around and discovering this space. It was an impressive room and one we clicked with quite well.

Overall…

We really did have a great time in our first ever in-person escape room altogether. We are glad we chose such a vibrant, exciting and impressive room to play together for the first time.

Escapologic is great too in what it offers players after they’ve (hopefully) successfully escaped – there is a HUGE wall of tags signed by 100s of teams who have made their way through one of the four games on offer. It was a lot of fun looking through these and finding recognisable names, or even finding our own one from playing Chronos what feels like a loooonggg time ago.

Reactorvate can be booked at Escapologic Leicester by heading to their website here.

Ratings

Next Level Escape: The Strange Disappearance on Station Eleven | Review

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Next Level Escape: The Strange Disappearance of Station Eleven | Review | An online sci-fi adventure set aboard a mysteriously empty space station, with a noir flavour. Investigate what happened to the crew, and don’t get yourself spaced! Noir-esque narration, humour and story come together in a fun romp through a small station on the outskirts of space. With a shared inventory system, a catch-up option and other fun ways to interact with your friends, this game is designed to make you feel like you’re all working together… even while apart.

Completion Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes (ish!)
Date Played: November 2021
Party Size: 5
Difficulty: Medium

Welcome aboard…!

We sat around on a chilly November night to try out Next Level Escape’s new game: The Strange Disappearance on Station Eleven. This game is all about investigating what happened to the crew members – whether it was a classic case of a rouge AI, or if something more…gassy…was afoot.

With five of us playing, including us, Nick and Mairi, we knew it would be a relatively ‘busy’ escape, with people going off much like you would in an in-person escape, looking at different puzzles at different times.

So, what did we think?

https://sds11.escapingonline.com/videos/SDS11_OPENING.mp4

The Interface

Luckily, the interface set up by Next Level Escape fits really well with multiple users! It was actually quite a nice break from Telescape, and would suit those looking for something a bit more complex. That said, we did experience a few technical difficulties at the beginning which kicked one player out meaning they had to play along via a screen-share for the remainder of the game.

The graphics were excellent and throughout the game it felt like we were on board a spaceship straight out of a sci-fi movie – think The Expanse or Star Trek vibes. The physical space we were exploring felt huge too, with lots of different sections to explore and lots of clickable objects.

Most importantly, we really appreciated the humour interspersed throughout the gameplay too – there was one stand out moment which was a throwback to early 2000s trolling that Al (Alice, not the AI – we quickly realised the confusion we could have with Al and AI in the same space!!) fell victim to which gave us some laughs.

One of the biggest stand out features was a ‘Catch Up’ button, meaning team members who are slightly behind, or just cannot click with that ‘one puzzle’, can skip ahead to join the rest of their crew. This stops everyone from having to put in codes multiple times, which can be a bit of a pain.

We loved this – more of this please!

Image (c) Next Level Escapes

Some dramatic music + a voiceover (+ beans) = a good story!

The storyline in this game was great. There was a fun introductory video to get everyone up to speed, along with a handy tutorial at the start before you officially ‘board the spaceship’. From here, the game progressed well, with new spaces becoming available each time you solved a new puzzles, and more of the story being revealed as we made our way through the game.

We always like it when the puzzles link to the narrative, and this game really delivered on this front!

The game markets itself towards more seasoned puzzlers and we can see why. Often we think of puzzles in layers of complexity (the more layers of information needed to solve a puzzle, the more complex it is)! We found these puzzles pretty challenging, often requiring multiple people looking at different things to put together to find a solution, so communication literally was the key on many occasions. However, these were all enjoyable (and most importantly – logical!). There were no puzzles where we thought ‘how on earth is that the answer!’. Users need to make sure they have a keen eye for detail though, and be ready for a large amount to solve!

Image (c) Next Level Escapes

There was one particular series of puzzles that really stood out to us. It involved the use of shapes, and it was something we had never seen before – making for an extremely satisfying A-HA moment when we figured out what was going on.

We did have to use one hint, but this meant we got to see the fun hint package the game offered, which was on theme with the humour of the rest of the game. It was also really easy to navigate, which is nice as it prevents you from accidentally spoiling something you haven’t got to yet!

Friend or foe? (I’m going to poke it anyway)

The climax of the game was brilliant. It involved a lot of figurative ‘running around’ and everyone working in a team together. Once we had stopped poking the AI, we realised it had a lot more to offer us, including a hilarious ending and more mentions of baked beans than we had expected… (would you eat a baked bean cake?! I think even we would draw the line here…)

The Verdict

We would definitely recommend this game to puzzle enthusiasts looking for a fun game that is a bit different but still challenges you with its puzzles. You won’t regret it! Get together with 2-6 players and see if you can figure out what happened to Station 11…

The Strange Disappearance on Station Eleven can be booked on Next Level Escape’s website here. While you’re here, be sure to check out our review of A Temporal Tangle.

Ratings

The Best UK Escape Rooms to Play This Halloween (2021)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas? Pfft, it’s all about HALLOWEEN! We’re calling it – spooky season is upon us and the perfect way to get into the ‘spirit’ is to play as many ghoulish, creepy and downright terrifying escapes! And lucky for you, we at The Escape Roomer have pulled together a roundup of the most spook-tacular escape games out there so you don’t have to.

Our list covers spine-chilling games from across the UK, as well as some to give you the creeps from the comfort of your own home (we know, we know, there’s nothing better than settling down with a classic PSL for a rainy autumnal afternoon escape at home, before getting the willies watching scary movies all night!).

But we also know that being scared WIT-less doesn’t work for everyone (and their puzzle solving capability). Never fear! You can still enjoy spooky season; we have included some tamer escapes that are guaranteed not to scare, but that fit in perfectly with the Halloween season.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find your perfect Halloween escaping plans!

Disclaimer: These scares levels were accurate at the time of writing, but we know some companies like the ramp up the scare for Halloween, so if you are a bit nervous, please check with the company directly if they’ve snuck in an extra scare (or a live actor, no one wants a surprise live actor!!)

😱 Hardcore Scary Escape Rooms 😱

Want to be scared out of your mind? Try one of these escape rooms for an extreme scream…

The 13utcher – Escapologic, Nottingham

If you know anything about scary escape rooms, you will have heard of Escapologic’s the 13utcher! This game is notorious among the escape community for being one of the most terrifying escape experiences in the UK. You accidentally get trapped behind the shutter of what turns out to be the Butcher’s lair and there’s no saying when he will return (it’s definitely during the hour!).

We haven’t yet played the 13utcher (we’ve been working our way up to it), but we have heard amazing things- including overhearing a lad scarred by the fact that the butcher stole his shoes! If you like hardcore scares, this is the game for you!

Please note this game is advertised as 18+. You can book to play the 13utcher at https://www.escapologic.com/nottingham-escape-rooms/butcher/.

Edith – Unescapable, Derby

So Unescapable aren’t really an escape room company- they’re a super secret time travelling facility masquerading as an escape rooms company, but we’re sure they won’t mind us telling you that! When they open a time portal they send one of their scientists back to make sure everything is ok, and Edith was just the lady for the job… only things went awry when they lost communication with her. She should have shut down the portal but something stopped her. It’s your job to go back and get that portal closed!

We can vouch for the scare levels of Edith- there’s plenty of opportunities to get the adrenaline flowing! Something evil stalks you on your mission and takes every opportunity to make you jump, scream and, at times, get separated from your team mates. There were certainly a fair few nervous giggles among our team when we played, but we loved every heart racing moment of it! If you like a scare, this is one not to miss!

Please note there is an element of crawling required by all players in this room. You can find out more and book to play Edith at https://www.unescapable.co.uk/#rooms1.

Operation Clearsafe – Project Breakout, Brighouse

You’ve infiltrated a top secret facility rumoured to have been undertaking unethical tests on humans and animals to expose their secrets. Unlucky for you, these test subjects have broken free. Can you avoid the creatures to escape the compound with your life?

Operation Clearsafe can be run on scalable levels of scary. So if live actors and jump scares just really aren’t for you, you can still enjoy all the fun this game has to offer without the fear (fun) factor.

You can find out more and book to play Operation Clearsafe at https://www.projectbreakout.co.uk/escape-rooms/.

Phobia – Paralysis Escape Rooms, Stoke

Local people have been going missing and you believe Riser Kane, a creepy psychologist known for his boundary pushing experiments, is to blame. So, of course, while he is detained, you choose to head down into his cellar (shudders) to find out what has truly been going on. Can you manage to overcome your phobias and make it out with the crucial evidence before Riser Kane returns and takes you as his next ‘patient’?

You can find out more and book to play Phobia at https://paralysisescaperooms.com/rooms/phobia-escape-room/.

👻 Escape Rooms That’ll Make You Jump 👻

Scary, but not “scarred for life” scary. These rooms will make you jump!

Sleepover – Escapologist, Cleethorpes

Breaking into the abandoned house of the infamous murdered family is a great idea right? What about planning to sleep over there? Easy Peasy! But when the door locks itself behind you, those rumours of the place being haunted start to make you worry a little more…

Sleepover is a jam-packed 80 minute game that you really get your money’s worth from! If you enjoy a good jump scare, you’ll be sure to have a great time!

You can find out more and book to play Sleepover at https://escapologist-cleethorpes.co.uk/sleepover/.

Cabin in the Woods – Stuck in the Riddle, Huddersfield

Memory implant technology sends you back into the memory of serial killer the silent slayer’s last victim. You find yourself in a remote cabin in the woods. Well of course, what could be more appropriate as a killer’s lair?! Your mission is to find out the identity of the killer and get out of the memory before he comes back to kill the person whose memory you are inhabiting.

We had a great time playing this as a pair and can safely say there were lots of nervous giggles following being made to jump.

You can find out more and book to play Cabin in the Woods at https://www.stuckintheriddle.com/cabin-in-the-woods/.

Scarytale – Deception, Matlock

Not all fairy tales have happy endings… as the Millers found out when the price of a game they played with a wicked little man was their daughter Olivia, who was taken by him. They’ve spent years trying to find him to have a second chance at the game, and now that they’ve found the man with no name, can you help them defeat him?

A brilliant, dark and unnerving twist on a well-known fairy tale! We loved this room and enjoyed just how cleverly the elements are woven together.

You can find out more and book to play Scarytale at https://www.deceptionescaperooms.com/book-now

Seance – Enigma, Wakefield

Rated 18+, Seance is a chilling game including genuine arcane artifacts, demonic symbols and rituals. You enter the home of Tabitha, a sickly child who was lost when her mother did a ritual to try to help her. Expect a couple of jump scares incited by Tabitha popping to see what you’re up to. Lots of creepiness in a relatively small space, this is a really fun room!

You can find out more and book to play Seance at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-wakefield/seance-escape-room/

Howitz – Escapologic, Nottingham

Escapologic again?! Yes! And while this is a significant step down in terms of outright terror from the 13utcher (no live actor for a start), it is still a creepy room set in a disturbing toy shop with the ability to prompt some good jump scares! Escapologic have really thought about the *special* touches to send a shiver down your spine in this game. We absolutely loved this game, in particular the amazing clue system they use, which lends itself completely to the theme and fans of spooky stuff will LOVE!

There is a section which will require the group to separate, but we managed this as a pair and while unnerving, no one comes into the room so you’re as safe as you can be in a creepy toy shop!

You can find out more and book to play Howitz at https://www.escapologic.com/nottingham-escape-rooms/howitz/

Sacred – LetsXcape, Newark

Father Frederick has asked you to enter the Monastery at Kelham Hall to search for Novice Tobias who has gone missing. Your Sacred mission is to search for his whereabouts and discover the truth… A really atmospheric game set in the grounds of Kelham Hall. Who knew that monks could be so creepy?

This game is rated 12+ with parental advisory. You can find out more and book to play Sacred at https://www.letsxcape.co.uk/sacred/

The Orphanage – Lucardo, Manchester

Lucardo provide a PG rating for this game which is sure to give you the creeps. The derelict St Josephine’s Orphanage for Girls is up for auction so you’re headed there to take a look at the site and its redevelopment potential. Upon entering the building, the previous residents have left eerie signs of their unhappy time in the Orphanage and you get caught up in the history of the place. Just try not to get singled out by the cruel woman who ran the place, and try not to get locked in the Keeper (we thought this was veeeery reminiscent of the chokey from Matilda!)

You can find out more and book to play the Orphanage at https://lucardo.com/manchester

Run – The Great Escape, Sheffield

You may recognise this as the game Ariana Grande played on the Late Late Show with James Corden (just at a different branch, somewhere in the USA, rather than Sheffield). Set in a dilapidated ex-children’s home, local urban legend claims that many moons ago the home’s Headmaster used to pay for his own immortality with the souls of these poor unfortunate children. Of course this means that exploring the place you uncover unnerving items, things that go bump in the night and downright creepy goings-on. IF you want to break the curse, set these poor children’s souls free and make it out of the derelict building unscathed, you may have to RUN!

You can find out more and book to play Run at https://thegreatescapegame.co.uk/games/run

Abigail – Trapp’d, Kettering

An innocent little girl called Abigail whose life was stolen by her cruel parents who locked her away in her bedroom for years. Tragically she was taken by the flames of a blazing fire, burnt and alone. Some say they still see a little girl walking the hallways of the now derelict Hallows House. Since Abigail’s death in the early 1940s, there has been a terrifying amount of disappearances and accidents within the walls. 

You’re part of a paranormal team investigating Hallows House when things turn sinister. A haunting looking doll has been watching you and you realise the uncanny familiarity the doll has to long gone Abigail. This is really exciting game spread over a large space giving you plenty of chances to get the willies as you go off exploring the house, and with a few opportunities for jump scares thrown in for good measure.

You can find out more and book to play Abigail at https://trappd.com/book-now/kettering/abigail/

💀 On the Creepy Side of Tame 💀

More creepy than spooky, these are perfect for those dark October nights.

Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse – Escape Quest, Macclesfield

If you are a longstanding fan of scares and escape rooms, you may remember Bad Clown. Unfortunately we missed out on playing this as we have heard that it was SCARY- in fact, owners Elaine and Mike said that so many teams would refuse before the beginning was over! As a result, a tamer version, Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse, emerged and we have had the pleasure of playing this!

You need to outsmart Mr Chuckles and his puzzles to escape his creepy funhouse. To do this, each player needs to win a ticket. The catch? The time ends as soon as the first golden ticket holder exits the game, sabotaging the rest of the team’s chances of exiting the creepy funhouse, so you need to decide what’s more important – A fast time or for every member of your team to win the game? Will you come together as a team to overcome Mr Chuckles and his games or will it be every player for themselves?

For teams unlucky enough to still be inside without a ticket or too slow to get out as the final seconds tick by, Mr Chuckles has one last surprise up his sleeve…

You can find out more and book to play Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse at https://www.escapequest.co.uk/mr-chuckles-funhouse.html

Jilted? – Deception Matlock

A missing bride is never a good thing…. Jilted? Or is something more sinister at play?

Can you go to hell and back to find out what really happened after the bridal party left the bride? Jilted offers plenty of puzzles in an impressive and interactive set that really immerses you in the unorthodox rituals the bride got involved in during her preparations for the big day. While there are definite creepy vibes and a darker story line at play, this game won’t scare your pants off (well not too much anyway!)

You can find out more and book to play Jilted? at https://www.deceptionescaperooms.com/book-now

Hellevator – Clue HQ, Birmimgham

A very dramatic (and black mirror-esque) introduction sets the story line for the Hellevator: your torturous ascent will be live streamed to the general public watching your every move as you try to solve the series of trials to make it up to floor 13 successfully! The drama and tension escalates exponentially as you ascend towards the final level, creating an intense and exhilarating finish, and feeling a rush of adrenaline followed by relief to have completed the Hellevator!

You can find out more and book to play the Hellevator at https://cluehq.co.uk/birmingham/escape-games/#thehellevator

Murder Motel – Enigma, Wakefield

Sam has been sticking around in your Motel for longer than the average guest. To add to that, something doesn’t feel quite…right…about him. He gives you the creeps and you want to know what he’s hiding. So, opportunity strikes when he heads out one evening and you take your chance to snoop around his room and find out who Sam really is. Just try to be quick and make it out before he returns to discover you in his dingy motel room, otherwise things could get really nasty!

You can find out more and book to play Murder Motel at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-wakefield/murder-motel-escape-room/.

The Night Watchman – Eskape Whitby

Out on the docks of Whitby, people have been disappearing. These are dark times, and there are rumours of things being spotted in the shadows. The locals have grown fearful, but the night watchman might have uncovered the secret. He’s the next person who has gone missing, but managed to leave a trail of clues. As the top detectives in Yorkshire, you have been called in to help. Can you follow in the night watchman’s footsteps find out what is wreaking terror on the town. (If you know anything about what Whitby is famous for, you may be able to hazard a guess at what or who that might be…)

You can find out more and book to play The Night Watchman at https://www.eskapewhitby.co.uk/rooms.html

🎃 Halloween Escape Rooms for the Family 🎃

These rooms probably won’t scare you, but they scratch the Halloween itch just nicely!

Frankenscape – Ctrl Alt Esc, Margate

You might be able to guess what the theme of this room is from the name! Professor Alec Smart has been working on a groundbreaking experiment that some may think is controversial. The key to its success is lightning and a storm is a-brewin’. Ctrl Alt Esc has gone all out on a thrilling room, and the end sequence is unforgettable!

You can find out more and book to play Frankenscape at https://ctrlaltesc.co.uk/index.php/en/games

Carfax – Cave Escape, Nottingham

If you’re a fan of gothic classic Dracula, you’ll love Carfax! You are called upon by Van Helsing following some strange goings on, to find out what is going on. In Carfax, you follow the story of Dracula from arrival in the dockyard, through to overcoming the infamous vampire himself. And to add to the gothic atmosphere, Carfax is built within Nottingham’s underground cave network. Does it get more spooky and atmospheric than that?! But rest assured, this is not a scary game, just based around a Halloweeny theme.

You can find out more and book to play Carfax at https://www.caveescape.co.uk/carfax

Carfax – Cave Escape

Afterlife – Cryptology, Sheffield

Can you beat Death himself? Find out in this adventure through Purgatory, Hell and into the pearly gates of heaven. If you succeed, you get to add your name to the Book of Life. Fail, and I guess you’re…well…dead.

You can find out more and book to play Afterlife at https://cryptologyrooms.co.uk/sheffield/afterlife

Ward 13 – Enigma, Doncaster

You’ve been mistakenly put on Ward 13, and that is a place you do NOT want to be! Can you manage to work out how to sneak your way out before you end up in the same position as the patients before you? If you know Pretty Little Liars, think Radley vibes… A creepy theme, but rest assured that you can enjoy this safe in the knowledge that there aren’t going to be any jump scares to throw you off your puzzling!

You can find out more and book to play Ward 13 at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-doncaster/ward-13-escape-room/

Sweeney Todd – Enigma, Lincoln

I’m sure you know the story of Sweeney Todd. Barbershop… people going missing… plenty of delicious pies in Mrs Lovetts’ shop downstairs. Enigma have created a magnificent recreation of the Victorian tale in this game, with an amazing centerpiece that sets this off perfectly! Despite the dark tale, you won’t be too scared, just make sure you don’t try any of those pies!

You can find out more and book to play Sweeney Todd at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-lincoln/sweeney-todd-escape-room/

Salem – Trapp’d, Leeds

While visiting Salem, you hear stories that supposed witch Marjorie Sutton can still be seen prowling around in her old stomping ground and you want to know the truth, so you head to her abandoned shack in the woods to explore. But while you are there, the witching hour strikes. Transported into the world of Salem Witch trials, you must find and destroy the book of the damned and escape the cabin before you are trapped in the Salem forest forever. A great game to enjoy the atmospheric witch-y theme with no scares to freak you out.

You can find out more and book to play Salem at https://trappd.com/book-now/leeds/leeds-salem/

Spellbound – Make your escape, Derby

What a magical game! We’d recommend bringing a big group to this game as the room is jam packed with puzzles and is quite the challenge. In fact, with this game- the more, the merrier as it is a spacious room and can accommodate up to 10 players. Based on a real tale of witch trials that took place in Derby in the 1600s, you enter the cabin of these two accused witches, centuries after their conviction for witchcraft, to explore their cabin, find out the truth and become part of the legend. A perfect way to celebrate Halloween with all your fellow spooky season connoisseurs!

You can find out more and book to play Spellbound at https://www.makeyourescapederby.com/spellbound/

Stuck at home?

Here’s our list of the best at-home Halloween Escape Rooms

Escape Tales: The Awakening

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Escape Tales: The Awakening Review | Players take on the role of Sam, whose daughter has been in a coma for a couple of months and whose doctors still cannot explain how or what caused it. According to them, everything is fine with the girl; she’s healthy and shouldn’t be in this condition. Sam is desperate and looks for answers everywhere he can.

Enter Mark, a man whose son was once in a similar condition. Mark is quiet on the details, handing Sam a scary-looking book containing a ritual called “The Awakening”. Mark promises that the book contains the answer, but Sam will need to prepare himself mentally for the journey ahead. Sam must transverse a whole different reality! Through determination, and a bit of luck, he will be able to find his daughter, understand the cause of her condition, and wake her up.

Completion Time: 3-4 hours
Date Played: Summer 2020
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Medium

A sinister, story-driven game

The Awakening is a spell-binding, mysterious experience, merging board game and escape room, all pulled together by an emotionally charged, superb story. We played this during Lockdown 1.0 in Summer 2020, and absolutely loved it! We had added it to our wish list for a while before purchasing, and we are soo glad we did (and have since gone on to buy the other two games released by Escape Tales because it was so great and we wanted more!) because this game is a worthwhile investment!

The Escape Tales games’ format is an escape room style card game. But where, in an escape room you are challenged to complete the game within an hour, there are no time limitations in the Awakening, and encourages players to fully explore the story world they find themselves in, getting an amazing 3-6 hours of game play out of this story!

Logistically, this means that the game works as a choice based narrative, combining the use of a puzzle book with various cards, and an online app to input your answers and access clues. Players are required to solve puzzles to access objects or snippets of information. You are then required to make a series of (sometimes morally ambiguous!) choices, in order to progress through the game, moving you through various locations. You only have a limited number of moves in each location, so you need to think carefully about whether you *really* need to look at the teddy bear…

We found because of the decision making aspects of this game, that it worked well to play as a pair, as we could discuss our options and come to an agreement over what to do next. While the game is marketed for 1-4 players, we feel that 2 is the sweet spot for not having too many opinions on what to do next, while being able to talk each other into good decisions and out of bad decisions!

Image (c) Tabletop Board Games

You have chosen wisely

There is a good level of re-playablilty of The Awakening, as there are multiple different endings that players can end up with, depending on your choices throughout the game. This is great, as investing in a boxed game, it’s nice to know that you can play it again and get a different outcome! Lots of play at home games are designed to be played once, so it’s good to know that we can pass this on to someone else to enjoy without having the fear of ‘destroying’ anything that would affect future players’ game play!

By a very happy accident, we ended up with the most successful outcome (in the circumstances…), so we were pleased (read: extremely relieved!) about this. We did have a peek at the alternative endings and have to say, if you do choose less wisely, things certainly don’t go so well…

We got so engrossed in the story that we played the game in one hefty sitting (probably about 3-4 hours) ⏰ Considering that this is a play at home game, it is extremely immersive- we felt transported into a sinister ‘in-between’ land of those who have passed, or nearly passed!

The puzzles were challenging and logical, and managed to be varied despite the card based nature of the game. We got stuck in a few places, and definitely made some questionable decisions looking back 😦

The Beautiful Game

No, no, not football! We’re still talking about The Awakening and how beautiful this game’s aesthetic is! The artwork in the game was brilliant. We loved the style of the drawing, the theming and the colours used to create the perfect atmosphere for the story. The room cards are so vibrant, and each room you explore is so different.

In our first play through, there were some rooms we didn’t even mange to reach due to the choices we made, so when we glimpsed 👀 these when packing away the game we were definitely inspired to replay- we want to go to the bathroom next time!

Content warning

We would 100% recommend The Awakening games, but would add a provision that the story can get quite dark in places, with a content warning for themes of suicide, so tread cautiously if this concerns you. Perhaps give Children of Wyrmwoods a go, which doesn’t have a content warning, we’d definitely recommend giving Escape Tales a go!

You can purchase Escape Tales: The Awakening, as well as their other games: Low Memory (also great) and Children of Wyrmwoods (we have this on our games shelf ready to play 😃) from Board & Dice for €17,50.

Ratings

Escape Nation: The Citadel | Review

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The year is 2321, Earth’s population has spread out into space. Mega-corporations have built space stations throughout the galaxy. You have not long arrived on-board a Citadel class space station owned by the Federal Defence Union (FDU). The main function of this Citadel is scientific research and development. The night you arrived, the station’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) was beginning to malfunction. And now, only one week later, the Citadel’s main power has just shut down, and the backup generator has come online.

The doors won’t open, communications don’t work, and you can hear some unusual noises from other parts of the space station. Can you escape before the backup generator goes offline and you’re trapped on-board forever?

Completion Time: 32:30
Date Played: 26th August 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Moderate

We have seen a lot of good reviews flowing in for Escape Nation’s room, The Citadel, so we took the opportunity of visiting Al’s parents to journey down to Stafford – and we were NOT disappointed! This room was BRILLIANT. It was definitely a good choice to play with Al’s parents, who are big fans of ‘puzzle content’. We actually managed to escape with the second fastest time ever recorded, which we were absolutely stoked with.

The logic definitely was not puzzling…

When things ‘click’ in an escape room, it always makes a room more appealing. As a group of 4, it was surprising that we all seemed to gel with the puzzle flow and the use of logic in the room. This was one of those rooms where you kept seeing new puzzles that were yet to come, which can be distracting as you get excited about the puzzles still to solve, whilst you are still figuring out the previous puzzle. 

We split up into two duos for the majority of the room, each moving through different puzzles, and coming back together at the particularly ‘tricky’ bits! Some of the puzzles used in this room were ones we haven’t seen before (which is unusual now we’ve done >150 rooms!). Others were more ‘classic’ escape room puzzles, but when delivered so well, these are a joy to solve. We even managed to do some searching, successfully! Perhaps it was the addition of Al’s parents, or perhaps it was just a good day for us, but we will take that victory haha!

Artificial Intelligence… Friend or foe?!

The interaction between the players and the AI in this room was great. We love a good sci-fi story, and this did not disappoint. In fact, we thought we had finished the room at one point (so much so that Al’s mum had gone and put her coat on!), only for a rather alarming alarm to sound, and the narrative took quite a dramatic twist. We quickly dropped our bags, took off our coats and returned to puzzling. It was fun to see parts of the room we had thought we wouldn’t interact with suddenly open up and become part of the gameplay – a welcome surprise.

We are so glad the room ended like this. We weren’t quite ready to leave the room when we thought we had finished, and loved the opportunity to face even more puzzles. It made the experience feel much fuller and really helped to create that ‘last minute’ game tension that can sometimes be missing from rooms which you click with so well.

Overall

We can’t recommend this room enough. The puzzles, the decoration, the hosts, everything was brilliant. If you are in the vicinity of Stafford, definitely make your way across, and see if you can beat our time!

You can find Escape Nation on this website here: https://www.escapenation.co.uk/

Ratings

USB Escape: Season 1 | Review

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USB Escape Season 1 Review | Conventional escape rooms lock you in a room with a ticking clock and an assortment of puzzles. USB Escape brings that complexity and that intensity to your desktop for the ultimate immersive experience. Join us in solving a reality- bending virtual escape room puzzle collection.

Hours of story-driven puzzles explore the psychological horror of a broken family recovering buried truths. These will test your ability to observe the unseen and your commitment to uncover the truth. 

Have you got an inquisitive mind?

Date Played: July/August 2021
Number of Players: 2
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 2 stints of approximately 60-90 mins

Are you ready to plug into an immersive Escape Room experience like no other?

This game starts from the moment you receive your USB in the post, with an accompanying letter, as players are pulled straight into the USB Escape universe. The first thing to mention in this game is the wonderful USB itself. It’s so unique (much nicer looking than any USB we ever used at uni to save our essays on, and more exciting!) and we are huge fans of the logo and branding here. It was exciting plugging this into the laptop, and watching the game develop at our fingertips! 

A wax seal always makes a letter feel very important

We’ve never used the file explorer this way before, to ‘unlock’ files using the correct password, but it worked so well! You are given just enough information to start piecing the story together, but with a lot of cleverly placed ‘plot holes’ that make you desperate to figure out what happened in June of 2017. There are also helpful ‘password reset’ files for each puzzle, in case you need a hint to nudge you in the right direction- just don’t click into these files unless you are hoping for a bit of help! As you travel further into the narrative, you realise that things are definitely not OK, and something spooky is afoot. We both enjoy a creepy theme, and this game played some of the classic horror themes nicely!

A very pretty USB!

Is Alice a wimp? The answer is always… Yes!

The use of video and audio were particularly effective, especially to help pull players into an immersive universe. Watch out if you’re wearing headphones, Al had to take hers off at one point and watch through her fingers (much to Ash’s amusement!). (Side note – Al is a bit of a wimp, you will be perfectly fine playing this game even if you are a bit averse to the horror genre!). The creepiness increases as you progress with the game, so we would recommend playing this in a couple of longer sittings (or one major sesh, if you’re hardcore), to ensure that you get the full experience of being pulled into the tension.

Gmail has never been so scary!

The puzzles were interesting: lots of visual searching was required (good practice for us!) and often you had to combine multiple pieces of information to solve the puzzles.  Players are provided with snippets of information, through the medium of email between two central characters – “Owen” and his sister “Allie”. These emails get gradually more unsettling as you unlock more information. The progression of the narrative was strong, climaxing with an intense ending based on a local urban legend that had us both at the edge of our seats! 

Something strange is going on….

Reaching the end… for now…

We were so impressed by the volume of story and puzzles, all stored away in the tiny USB. There was one point during this game that gave Al quite the shock (and felt SUPER unsettling, it is such a simple but clever idea to do this). USB Escape can even add some ‘personal’ touches to your copy of the game! Ash gifted this game to Al as a birthday present, so of course she just HAD to get some creepy additions in there , and had a slight upper hand in knowing what was coming…

Overall, we really enjoyed this game, and we will definitely be looking forward to continuing the saga with Season 2 when this is released! See our full ratings below.

If you want more USB Escape Content, check out our interview with creator Keith Dozois here.

Players can purchase their very own USB from this website here: https://www.usbescape.com/, suitable for Mac or Windows, for $14.99 CAD.

Ratings