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.

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

Escapages: Vice Versa | Review

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Escapages Vice Versa Review | Two strangers are meeting, heading for the same destination. One is a murderer; the other a victim. But who is who?

In this unique and ground-breaking book, 46 puzzles have been placed alongside a gripping narrative. The only way to solve the puzzles is to have a companion work through the puzzles, using the other edition of this book. Whether sitting next to each other, or on the other side of the world, you will need to work together to discover the truth.

Ratings

Theming: 4/5

Puzzles: 3/5

Format: 5/5

Fun Factor: 5/5

Overall: 3.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

An Escape Game… In a book?

YES! Aptly named company EscaPAGES creates escape room style puzzle content in BOOK format.

We’d previously got our hands on Journal 29 and were enjoying playing these puzzles as a great way to pass time on long train journeys (well, before COVID anyway…) or as a rainy afternoon activity. Journal 29 completed, we now wanted to find a new puzzle book adventure to enjoy during lockdown!

Escapages have a whole host of puzzle books on offer, but we decided to opt for a concept that stood out to us the most: a set of two books which contain clues and keys to ‘unlock’ the overall answer to each puzzle. This seemed perfect to us as here at Escaping the Closet we come as a pair!

There are two different adventures of this two-player ilk: Escape the Compound and Vice Versa. Although Escape the Compound sounds brilliant (each puzzle’s answer forms a compound word, from the clues provided in each version of the book), one of the editions is easier than the other, making it accessible for parents to play with children, or an avid puzzler with a newbie. As both avid puzzling fans, we figured we would not be able to decide who got the easier copy, so this helped swing it for us to opt to try Vice Versa!

Heads, or Tails?

As a cooperative puzzle escape book, you need to buy both editions of Vice Versa. Escapages distinguish between these by calling them Heads Edition and Tails Edition. In other words, if you have the Heads Edition, in order to successfully solve any of the puzzles, you will need a partner playing with the companion: Tails Edition.

We (fittingly) flipped a coin to work out who would get which edition and got stuck straight into Vice Versa. The beauty of puzzle books like this is that they can be played at any time. There’s no need to set aside a full hour for escaping, even if you’ve only got a spare 15 mins, you could probably fit in a puzzle or two!

There are 46 puzzles to complete in Vice Versa, meaning you can chip away at it however you fancy… One puzzle a day, a marathon puzzle sesh, or anything in between! We found a happy medium of fitting in a stint of about 5-10 puzzles each time we picked up the books, so we could thoroughly immerse ourselves back into the story and feel like we’d had our puzzling fix!

How does Vice Versa Work?

Well, in the words of Escapages themselves:

‘Sometimes you’ll have half a puzzle, and they’ll have the other half. You’ll have a code, and they’ll have the key to that code. Using your wits and the occasional internet search, you will work to uncover the buried third story, hidden within puzzles, codes and ciphers.’

In essence, it’s really important to communicate clearly between the both of you, to see how your unique parts of the puzzle align to give you a solution. No sneaky glances at the other person’s book!

More than just pieces of the puzzle

But, Vice Versa is more than just a puzzle book- within the pages a gripping narrative has been created, making this a story-driven puzzle book, providing that nod to a more escape room feel than a standard puzzle book. In Vice Versa, each edition tells the story of two people whose lives are linked in a curious way- both are on a journey towards one another, but one is a killer and the other a victim. But which is which? The parallel storyline provides twists and turns leaving you guessing right to the end, who is the murderer and who is innocent. 

You have co-operative puzzles set alongside an immersive storyline. But that’s not all; each section of the story provides subtle hints linked to its associated puzzle – everything is relevant!

Sometimes we found it could be really helpful to take a step back and look at everything related to the puzzle on a macro level…  What links are there between each of our sections of the story, and between the story and the puzzle? We found that key words in the text could literally be the key to unlocking how to approach the puzzle. Remember those parallels between the two storylines? While they throw each character’s intentions and motives into question, make sure you pay attention to them!

The A-ha Moment!

When you have pulled together all the relevant pieces for a puzzle, you can check whether you are right! Each puzzle is fully supported with a QR code linking to the Escapages website, so you can check as you go. Getting a solution correct unlocks for you a ‘key’ word. This is a word shared across both books, and make sure you hang on to all of these solutions!

But it’s not over once you’ve solved all 46 puzzles (is it ever really over?!) Oh no, you are in for a TREAT, because there is still one final piece to unlock- a third, shared story! Could this be to do with those key words we told you to keep a hold of? Maybe, just maybe… 😉 (Yes, yes it is).

Do these two individuals know one another? Who is the killer? What is their motive? You’ll have to pick up a copy of Vice Versa with your best puzzling companion to find out! (And hope to not turn out to be the killer…although thinking about it, it doesn’t seem so great to be the victim either…. Maybe it’s best to just flip a coin for it!)

Peek a boo(k) – Am I the killer, or are you?

You can buy Vice Versa from Amazon for approximately £7 per book (don’t forget you need both Heads and Tails editions!), or go to Escapages’ website to find out more about the other great puzzle books they have on offer!

clueQuest: cQ Origenes | Review

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In order to stop the Professor from breaching our firewall, you and your team will have to access Mr Q’s old base. The only way in, however, is to shrink down to the size of a mouse with the help of the Shrink’o’Mat. Word of caution, agents: the technology you’ll be exposed to is…a bit unstable and still experimental. You’ll have only 60 minutes to counteract the cyber attack and secure the mainframe before the Shrink’o’Mat’s effect wears off and things get messy.

Image (c) clueQuest

Battling the storm en route to escape!

We played cQ Origenes back in February 2020, just before the pandemic began, which must have been the last time we were in London (wow that feels like a long time ago!).

Our first mission however was actually getting there, as this was during the ‘Storm Dennis’ weekend… Luckily, escape rooms are literally the PERFECT rainy day activity! Although, they are also ideal on: sunny days, snowy days, windy days too.

This trip was our second time at clueQuest. We had previously taken on Operation Blacksheep with the same team and thoroughly enjoyed it, so were very excited to be back to face the slightly more challenging cQ Origenes room. cQ Origenes is one which is always recommended as a top room in terms of the capital’s offerings, and it’s easy to see why. Even clueQuest’s reception area feels special, bustling full with teams. It makes for a very lively pre-escape atmosphere!

It’s clear clueQuest would be so great to host a big party with lots of people taking on different rooms and all coming back together to discuss times, and inevitably, searching fails!


…Hm, maybe this is something we would do for the big 3-0…?

The Mission Brief

Back to the mission: the briefing for cQ Origenes was consistent with the overarching CQ storyline – our group of ‘spies’ have to break in and retrieve an SD card. However, this is more challenging than it first appears! The first step of the two stage mission requires you to operate the shrink-o-mat to infiltrate the lair – making everything after this point ‘larger than life’!

Beyond this, the room is split really well, with the decoration tying into the storyline allowing for a super smooth puzzle flow. 

Image (c) clueQuest

The cQ Origenes rooms are decorated brilliantly, which is no surprise as the production value on clueQuest’s rooms is SUPER HIGH. This really pays off to create an immersive atmosphere with a humorous twist.

The mission offers great interactivity and clever puzzles to solve: varied, challenging, logical and original… There was plenty to get on with. We were glad that we went in with a strong team of 4, Tilda and Johnny are always super on it for escaping (our favourite kind of friends haha!).

There was even one very special padlock in the room – we’re sure even the biggest padlock-phobe would enjoy opening. 

Good things come in small packages

We absolutely loved the concept of this room, it was so simple but designed incredibly well. We had so much fun exploring all the props and clever, special touches in the space. The props were well designed and pretty much everything really ‘worked’, meaning a great deal of exploring the room pays off, not only for progressing the story, but also for the wow-factor of discovery!

We were particularly blown away by the final puzzle: this really impressed us with its design… But you’ll have to go and play to see what we mean!

Image (c) clueQuest

Alas, we did hit a hiccup at the end and spent around 10 minutes stuck on one (tiny, tiny…) piece… However, our overall escape time came in at just over 56 minutes, successfully returning to full size! That said, looking at the photo it looks like Johnny is full size and the rest of us are still slightly shrunk haha! 

cQ Origenes is great for enthusiasts or large groups of newbies looking for a challenge! We definitely hope to return to help Mr Q face Blacksheep again next time we return to London.

Which room would you recommend we try our hand at next?! Check out our reviews for clueQuest’s other games here.

cQ Origenes can be booked on clueQuest’s website here.

Ratings

Margate: the Summer of ‘21 – a triumphant return to real-life Escape Rooms!

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As mentioned in our introductory post, we are big fans of the escape rooms available in Margate, Kent (UK) and as Ash has family here, we make the trip at least a couple of times a year, giving us plenty of opportunities to explore the rooms in the sunny seaside town (and surrounding towns within a ~45 minute drive hehe).

After 18 months (looking @ u covid), we finally got to make the journey again, and of course, we booked in as many games as possible.

Instead of reviewing each room separately, here’s a ‘showcase’ of rooms we got to play this past week, in the hope that it might be useful for anyone planning a ‘staycation’ this summer. We’ve played a lot of (very good) rooms in this area in the past couple of years, so we will include our previous reviews too, to keep all the information together for you – sort of like a very niche ultimate escape room tourist guide.

A Guide to the Best Escape Rooms in Margate

Ash, Al and Mairi finally in person together!

Ctrl Alt Esc (Margate)

Complete puzzles and unravel the mystery in a highly themed, real life game that’ll have you laughing and making memories with your friends and family!

As Ctrl Alt Esc were the first company we (literally) stumbled upon, we figured this was a good place to start. In a previous life (pre-2017) before we had discovered the wonders of escape rooms, we had walked past this place on the sea-front, and wondered what it was all about. Little did we know, housed in that building was an entire Spaceship, and Frankenstein’s monster! These rooms are wonderful; hand-crafted and obviously built with a lot of passion and ingenuity. The company feels very friendly, with a great team spirit, and hugely enthusiastic GMs. We played their two original games, Spacescape and Frakenscape back in 2018, and after loving those, there is a lot of excitement at word of new adventures from them- first with Detention and now with their upcoming Quick-E-Mart game (which we are buzzing to try on our next trip!). 

Frankenscape ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

‘Scatty professor Alec Smart has gone missing in the midst of a very important experiment.The storm is coming and the lightning is key. You must take his place or forfeit losing his groundbreaking research!’

CAN YOU FINISH WHAT HE STARTED?

This room was brilliant! You begin by descending a flight of stairs, with thematic lighting and music. Ctrl Alt Esc does an amazing job of immersing you in the world of Frankenstein right from the off. The first puzzle you face is outside the main ‘room’, as you need to work to gain access to the laboratory in order to continue Alec’s research. We like rooms that begin in this way and find that it helps ramp up the excitement, as who knows what is to come!

The space itself is HUGE – and definitely fills up the 75 minutes allocated. We loved exploring the space that has been created, and the decoration was fantastic. There was a good range of puzzles (one featuring the use of a mallet and another using bellows, which were veeeery fun), including some that we haven’t come across before. The room stays true to its theme throughout, as you are tasked with rebuilding Frankenstein’s monster in time to awaken him! The ending was absolutely superb, and felt very ‘complete’ (and definitely made some of the scaredy cats of the room jump).

Photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc (so were the hats…)

Spacescape ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your crew are on a voyage to a newly discovered planet, but now the spaceship’s lights are flashing and alarms are sounding. Surely you can just turn off the warnings and forget about it, or maybe you need to prepare the escape pod…

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

This room was reminiscent of returning to the Wacky Warehouse (do people know what this is – or is this a strange Northern place?!), as players are brought into a legit (it felt very legit) spaceship to complete this room. Standout features of this experience include:

  1. Having to replenish and restock oxygen levels throughout the experience, again ramping up the immersion!
  2. Each player is assigned a particular role. We LOVED this aspect, everyone has their own little ability, which works really well alongside the ship theme. Plus, you get your own little jacket!
  3. There are some places which open up in this room that we would NEVER have guessed. Forget the wardrobe door in the corner with some sneaky hinges showing, we had to be given a couple of nudges to explore some places we thought couldn’t possibly be part of the game (but, wonderfully, they were!) 
  4. The ENDING. Oh wow – the ending! We can’t give this away here, but rest assured, this will be an ending like no other you’ve ever experienced. 

We played this game as a three (Al, Ash and Ash’s mum) – and had an absolute (excuse the pun) blast. We would definitely play this again, just to watch other players’ faces as they find out just how much Spacescape has to offer. 

Having a blast (photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc)

Detention ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Take your seats. Sit up straight. Don’t answer back… As a misbehaving student you’re where you belong, but the teacher has just left the room and you have better things to do…

ARE YOU TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL?

As two very well behaved children, we went into this room ready to pay attention and follow the rules, but, obviously, things weren’t quite that clear…! This room is full of energy and humour, with an absolutely cracking soundtrack and some really amusing attention to detail. We played this game as a large group (6) and had a great time exploring the space together. We were a range of ages too, with Ash’s grandma joining us for the game (and having a great time throwing it back to school!). 

The room itself was very well themed, with the Game Master taking on a brilliant role, allowing Ctrl Alt Esc to pitch the room perfectly for various audiences. We ended up with a particularly ‘lively’ version, which was very entertaining. We have never come across a ‘school’ themed room before, and this was executed very well. 

We are really looking forward to seeing what games Ctrl Alt Esc go on to deliver. We will definitely make sure that we visit when we return to Margate! 

Photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc (and the big pencil)

The Escapement (Margate)

The Escapement is located towards the ‘old town’ side of Margate, tucked away, ready to be discovered! We can’t believe we ever visited Margate without doing one of their rooms, but once we had the joy of playing, we played all three in pretty quick succession. One of the nicest touches the Escapement has is the tokens that are given to players following completion of a room – we’ve got all three of ours proudly displayed (we can’t wait to get some more!). What are these wonderful rooms, and what did we think of them?

The Pit ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Do you have what it takes to save the planet in this journey to the center of the earth?

From the moment you descend below ground, the room provides complete immersion. We played this with four people, and there was plenty to keep the 4 of us busy and the puzzles were mostly very “hands-on”, which totally suited the scenario and also were a lot of fun! We always love it when a room has something we haven’t seen before and plenty of the puzzles here were completely new concepts to us, which we loved!

We really enjoyed the authenticity throughout, including the clue system which although is not totally unique, suited the situation perfectly!

We don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of discovering all the room has to offer but we have to say the way of getting from one section to another was a highlight and we were guilty of wasting some time enjoying the fun of this instead of ploughing on with the next puzzle 😂 this is one of those rooms you really don’t want to be over and we found ourselves taking our time, rather than pushing for an amazing time (not having a countdown in the room also helps with this, as well as the authenticity of the room) to maximise our enjoyment!

Honestly, we’re just sad we’ve already ticked this one off as it was a joy to experience! However, we’ve got our lovely Escapement token to commemorate our successful escape proudly displayed with those from their other rooms and look forward to expanding the collection and seeing what other marvellous adventures the Escapement will be offering when they reopen post-covid! One of the best!

Photo courtesy of The Escapement (unfortunately the big torch isn’t ours either)

Egyptian Exodus ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

All of you. Against a God. You must help the pharaoh pass onto the afterlife but…

Think sand – real life, authentic sand…(we wonder if it’s from the beach!?), some excellent decor and one of the most exciting doors to an escape room we’ve seen. These things combined throw players straight into Egypt, and into the very real wrath of a God. We have done a few games with this theme, but this one definitely stood out in terms of the quality of the puzzles (which all stay on theme throughout the gameplay!). Players need to rely on one of the lesser used 5 senses in this game, no spoilers, but we had fun with this part!

We played this game as a four, with Ash’s grandma and mum joining us on travelling into the dusty tomb, and hoping we wouldn’t end up in a sarcophagus. All of us had a great time in this game, we had heard that it was the most difficult of the three that the Escapement offer, so we were super chuffed to escape in a reasonable 37 minutes.

The end of the game was particularly exciting, with the wrath of the Gods closing in. This helped ramp up the excitement, and we were all relieved once we managed to escape from the tomb unharmed! A great game for families, there’s lots of fun physical things to do, but plenty to offer a solid challenge. 

Photo courtesy of The Escapement (and the Egyptian Gods)

Pirates of Polaris ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Are you pirate enough to navigate a ship on the high seas through thunder and lightning? Only time will tell…

We know this is a super common theme among Escape Rooms, but wow! We were so impressed with what the team had managed to put together. The floorboards, the walls, the ceiling, everything was creaky in the right places, and really made you feel like you were on a real life ship…OH WAIT – are those genuine artefacts from a real life 130 year old pirate ship called Polaris?! Yes, yes they are. 

The game began with us locked away in jail, and we had to work together in a small space to get into the rest of the game. We enjoy starting like this, as these puzzles are often a nice way to warm-up before the main event. Despite the size of this initial space being quite small, there was enough to keep all 5 of us busy! 

Once we did make it onboard, and into the ship, we were so impressed with the attention to detail. The room felt so real, and the puzzles were seamlessly intertwined with the space, making it feel as though we really were trying to get back to steering the ship, before the storm got the better of us. 

There were numerous rooms within this experience, and we had to work together (and hard!) in order to successfully navigate our ship to safety. This was one of the most ‘authentic’ rooms we’ve had the pleasure of playing, and we would definitely recommend – even if you tire of the pirate theme, you won’t be disappointed here!

Al looks so small…Photo courtesy of The Escapement

And the Escapement are due to soon be opening their eagerly awaited second branch over at Broadstairs. Keep an eye out for their announcements about this! We can’t wait to come back as soon as we can after they open and try them all out!!

Escape in the Towers (Canterbury)

If you are after a unique company who are running games from places with genuine historical value, then Escape in the Tower is definitely for you! All the games are set within England’s largest surviving Medieval gateway built in 1380, in the heart of Canterbury. Escape in the Towers have really brought history to life, using rooms that have never been opened to the public before, to host immersive (and challenging!) escape games.

We have been wanting to try these games for SO LONG. We’ve had our eye on them since we started escaping, reading many solid reviews and seeing the various accolades that the company has been awarded, it was only a matter of time before we made the short trip over to Canterbury to give it a go!

The Comms Room ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

You’re thrown in at the deep end to replace the recently deceased former Air Raid Warden Mr Parsons. Your job is to defend Canterbury from a barrage of air attacks by deploying air defences and performing your duties, all the while unravelling the mystery of an unknown traitor sabotaging your every step.

It took us a bit of time to decide which room we wanted to experience first, but logistics seemed to sort that out for us, and we booked the Comms Room – ready to try our hand at defending Canterbury! The first thing we have to mention is the set. The room is set in a genuine WW2 comms room and you can feel the authenticity as soon as you step through the door. It takes place in one room, but this space is jam-packed with so many puzzles, you wouldn’t have time to go anywhere else.

There was a bit of searching, but luckily with a team of 5, we managed to stumble across everything eventually (apart from one key, damn you key!). The puzzles were thrown at us from all angles (literally), as we explored parts of the room we did not expect to access in our escape. There were a lot of physical touches, including the use of a spanner, which helped increase the realism further. The clue system was brilliant – and tied into the storyline – which was SO clever. We loved this.

The finale of the room was so EXCITING. The music, the atmosphere, the story! Everything came together to a head, in a super intense finale which required teamwork and communication, bringing in some of the intensity that must have been felt in this room’s past. We cannot wait to go back and explore some more of the towers. A nice side note: the company offer free entry to the Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint as part of the Escape Room purchase, which we didn’t have chance to do, but looked fun!

Other games available: THE CRIME & PUNISHMENT LAB, MAGNA CARTA MURDER

A blurry escape courtesy of One Pound Lane: Escape the Towers

Escape Kent (Canterbury)

Kent is the gift that keeps on giving! Escape Kent is yet another brand we’ve discovered on our adventures in the South and we are pleased to say that it also offers some top quality escaping (we are very pleased there are a lot of rooms here as it gives us plenty of Escape Rooms still to play!). We originally chose to play ‘The Haunting’ room, however, we got about 6 minutes into the experience before the host informed us that the tech had unfortunately broken in this particular room. However, we will definitely be trying that room again. We were teased with some excellent decorations and some suitably creepy looking curtains…

Escape Kent were quick and professional, and offered us an alternative straight away. Shout out to some excellent customer service here. We crossed the road, and ended up losing our minds…

The Asylum (previously named Vice Versa) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Trapped inside The Asylum with nothing but your own troubled thoughts. It is down to you to control your mind, unveil hidden compartments and solve the interactive puzzles that stand in your way of freedom….Of course you will want to do so before your competitors do! After all, no-one likes to be second best.  

We HAVE to talk about the theming. What a strange and surreal concept. There was no decoration, no objects, no props, just 5 bewildered people and 4 white walls. However, it soon turned out that this room had SO much to offer. We are going to have to be vague to prevent any spoilers, but there was absolutely loads to do in here. We discovered puzzles after puzzles, all different kinds, and had our work cut out trying to finish them all.

Despite the lack of decoration, the game manages to immerse you well, as players are faced with a huge variety of hidden puzzles, and the open nature of the gameplay meant anyone could be solving anything at any time…which made for some intense puzzling! It works well for larger groups, as everyone has their own strengths, and some puzzles that one person thought “no thanks I hate it”, another person took one look at and solved immediately. The room tells you a lot about yourself! We got out in 40 minutes, which we were super stoked with. We are really glad we got to play this game, definitely a positive spin on an unfortunate technical glitch!

Other games available: Missing, The Haunting, Pirates of the Stormy Seas, Jail Break, Raider of the Lost Tomb, Kidnapped, Missing at Christmas 

Some very white walls.. Photo courtesy of Escape Kent

Real Life Games (Ramsgate – now closed)

Feline Fiasco [kitties now rehomed] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Do you and your colleagues have what it takes to restore balance to Calico Village by finding and rescuing all of the missing cats?

This room was totally different to anything we have come across before, with a unique theme, and a completely original setup. The decor was wonderful, and featured a vast space that opened up alongside the story, really fitting the storyline and setting of the escape, as well as being very aesthetically pleasing- everything had clearly been carefully considered and was there for a reason.

The puzzles were a mix of traditional padlocks/solving as well as the clever use of items/objects from the room. The theming was strong throughout, with the narrative developing to a fun and well thought out conclusion. The props used in the room were brilliant, we spent a lot of time laughing at the developments and found ourselves thoroughly enjoying all aspects of this room.

This is a room that will cater to newbies and enthusiasts alike, giving you a 70 minute goal to free as many cats as possible! We squeezed out in a jam packed 69:30 minutes, aided by Chris kindly providing us with helpful nudges throughout to ensure we escaped with a few seconds to spare, while remaining fully immersed! 

All the kitties! Us in our element.

Extinction [now Extinct] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your friends having recently contracted the virus have been selected as ideal test cases for Dr Ruoff Nevesorezenin’s NV31 antidote but when you arrive at the surgery it becomes apparent that an unfortunate set of circumstances has occurred.

Can you and your team figure out how to get your hands on everything required to save humanity…

Unfortunately, this room is no longer in action, but we did enjoy it when we played, and thought we would leave a few thoughts about it! The decoration was quite minimalist, but went along nicely with the theme. As the space opened up, the game got more exciting as we discovered new places, which really helped to ramp up the excitement. One of our distinct memories of the room is a plant, and the dreaded searching! This was definitely something that slowed us down in this game – especially as we tackled it as only a team of two. We would have recommended this room to newbies to the escape world, but alas, it appears it is now…extinct (which is very sad, Real Life Games were lovely hosts with a passion for Escape Rooms).

Interesting that Al has the scarf on here but Ash has it on the other picture…

The Panic Room (Gravesend)

When we realised that we were driving DIRECTLY past Gravesend on our journey down the UK, we got very excited. Escape Room enthusiasts around the country have all heard of the Panic Room, and their HUGE breadth of games that they offer. But not only that: all of the games are designed with passion and ingenuity. There are so many to choose from, and so many unique themes, visiting Gravesend definitely feels like an enthusiasts’ dream come true, especially with their new shop opening (we had never seen so many Exit Games!!!).

If you are ever within 1, or 2…or 3 or 4 hours drive from Gravesend, get yourself booked in (you can literally make a day, or two days even of it!). You won’t be disappointed; we certainly haven’t been, and we’ve only played a few! 

Loop ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Be the first to test a pioneering new technology, in an experiment that will change the course of human history.

Welcome to Frontier Engineering — a private research and development company working on nuclear transmutation, quantum tunnels and the applications of dark energy.

This room is genius. The gameplay starts off very typically, as you solve puzzles and progress through switching on the three lights required to start the ‘portal’. We settled into our puzzling, enjoying the range of both physical and technical puzzles on offer, and making steady progress through the room. Then, SOMETHING HAPPENED. We can’t say what, but what a twist! We spent the second half of the room feeling a huge time pressure, and infinitely more immersed than we spent the first half. The gameplay that has been set up by the Panic Rooms feels so simple, but it is so, so effective. On reflection, it’s interesting to think about how we performed and communicated differently in the first half of the room compared to the second – you could do some fun science experiments playing on this concept!

We managed to escape in a solid time of ~45 minutes, and we were filled with relief to know that we had not just escaped, but SUCCESSFULLY escaped (there is quite a big distinction between the two in the room, you’ll have to play to find out what we’re talking about!). We really enjoyed what the team has created here, and this was an additional layer to the escape that we have never come across before. Definitely one for your bucket lists!

Going Loopy (too cheesy?) – Photo Courtesy of the Panic Room

Wizard of Oz ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Follow the yellow brick road, make your way into the Emerald City and step into the Wizard’s shoes! You’ll be sure to make some friends along the way, so work together to fix your hot air balloon before time runs out! Are you ready for the flight of a lifetime?
This review has been written by Mairi when we all FINALLY managed to meet in person (YAY). Please see here for the review (we love Mairi’s writing so definitely best to read it in her words)!

Dino Land [also now Extinct!] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Our state-of-the-art facility is looking for new Rangers! However, it seems you may have a tough first day of work… The Dinosaurs have escaped! Time for drastic Jurassic measures! Can you get to safety and restore the park’s security? Or will it be a Triassic triumph for these rampaging reptiles?

We had heard amazing things about this experience (definitely an experience rather than a typical ‘escape room’ – but not to its detriment).We took a big group as everyone was keen to get involved (and we had bigged up this room for a long time!). Upon arrival, our ranger, Lucy, welcomed us and got us ready to enter Dino Land!

The experience starts as soon as you walk through the gates of Dino Land; the theming and decoration is incredible, with the whole place immersing you with the dinosaurs right from the beginning. The puzzles were on the easy side, and our ranger guided us through these to progress the storyline. At times this felt like a departure from the normal feeling in an escape room of ‘hmm…what do we need to tackle next’ as we were often told what the current task was. However, this is an experience to give yourself over to and you can have so much fun immersing yourself in the game.

Although the puzzles were not the most challenging we have come across, they were varied and tied in well with the action going on in the park- there were some extremely fun physical elements which made everyone feel like they were in an action movie! 😊We were rushed from room to room, admiring set after set, and watching the story progress, and even coming face to face with some escaped Dinos!! 😬

Love the attention to detail, check the number plate! (Photo courtesy of the Panic Room)

Bonus content: Sacrifice ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your friends have been kidnapped! A satanic cult has been stalking you for a while now, and you’re due to be sacrificed in just 25 minutes to the one they call Mother. That is, unless you can work together and escape the van before your time is well and truly up!

Mother is great! All praise Mother!

It was about 8pm that we finished Dino Land, and the escape room adrenaline rush was so real! We pulled in Ash’s uncle and brother to play another game with us, as we weren’t quite done with The Panic Room just yet…Luckily, we managed to squeeze into Sacrifice (is it lucky to be kidnapped…?) to try our hand at one of the shorter games offered by The Panic Room.

We’ve never played an escape room in a van before, but this was really fun! We were on it for puzzling, we must have been energised from our time in Dino Land, as we managed to escape in a super quick time of around ~10 minutes! Obviously there are less puzzles on offer, so this wasn’t too bad, we still felt like we had worked for our win. This concept seems like a great idea for hosting escape rooms on a more fluid basis, at festivals or events. We would definitely try another!

The blurriest of photos.. I feel like you can tell it was nearly 10pm! Courtesy of the Panic Room

Other games available: there are SO many. Too many to list…head to the website to see the lowdown! 

There’s our rundown of what we have experienced (so far) of the escape rooms that Kent has to offer. There is literally TOO MUCH to choose from. We love our trips here and the variety of rooms that we can easily access. If anyone is taking a staycation this year – Margate would be an excellent choice! Let us know what other games there are to play in Kent…we are always on the look out for more!

Enigma Rooms Wakefield: Uncle Artemis | Review

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The Turner family have always joked about Uncle Artemis and his eccentric ways. A World traveler with a keen interest in relics from around the globe and a head full of steam, the family never understood him like you did. News of his death has hit you hard, and while the rest of the family go about managing the estate, your only thoughts are with the single item he bequeathed to you, the key to his study. That place was his sanctum, and where you most loved spending time with him. As a child it was full of wonder, as an adult the key you hold in your hand is the key to Uncle Artemis’ most intriguing secrets. With a heavy heart but a buzz in your soul, you unlock the door and step inside…

Ratings

Theming: 4/5

Puzzles: 4/5

Online interface: 4/5

Fun Factor: 5/5

Difficulty: 3/5

Overall:4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An unusual game…

So, this was an unusual game for us for two reasons:

One, we were joined by a fifth escapee, Russ, from Russ Builds (you may recognise him as the creator of such games as Airlock and Citizen (side note, please read this in Troy McClure’s voice from The Simpsons)).

Two, we were playing a digital room, which was set in a physical room we had previously played a different game in (which was very strange!). Uncle Artemis is in the physical room where we have previously played Seance (well, some of us played, others sat down and thought that Enigma Wakefield had hired a small child to play a terrifying demon… Check out our previous review here!). 

We are big fans of the Enigma franchise and have played a lot of their games across a range of locations in the North of the UK. The Enigma Rooms seem to be run by people who are super enthusiastic about their rooms, often creating hand-built escape rooms which feel unique, fun and definitely challenging.

Uncle Artemis brought a brilliant new opportunity to play yet another Enigma Wakefield room, after completing all of their current physical rooms back in 2019!

A strange contraption…

Uncle Artemis begins with an introductory video, pulling you into the story of your quirky Uncle Artemis and setting the premise for the rest of the game nicely. The room converted into a digital form via Telescape was done really well, and there was a section of the room specifically adapted to the online interface – a strange contraption we had to get working using clues from around the room. This made the flow feel very smooth and helped to make it really stand out from your average ‘point and click’ escape room.

The strange contraption also aided the puzzle flow in the room, as players needed to keep returning to it after each ‘mini-puzzle’ was solved throughout the room. We always love a room that helps you track your progress, and Uncle Artemis delivered well on this. 

Same room, COMPLETELY different game

The room itself has been cleverly adapted from Seance; whilst some of the items were familiar (shout out to the creepy drawers!), it was really interesting to see how Enigma Rooms Wakefield put together a whole new room, including new puzzles, using the previous room’s theme.

This did mean that there were a few areas we spent a long time looking at and thinking “Where will we use THIS?”,but there were no obvious red herrings that led to any stunted puzzle playing – it all came together (very satisfyingly!) in the end. 

Teamwork makes the dream work!

This is definitely a room for teamwork. We often found ourselves pulled onto different puzzles, as this is not a fully linear game, so people were solving different things at different times. We enjoyed the puzzles that forced us to rely on each other for communication, as often online games can lack that interactivity with other players that brings so much satisfaction (and fun!) in real-life escape rooms.

It was a good job we did split up and conquered as this room contained SO MANY puzzles. A big shout out to Russ for being a very, very welcome fifth player on this! It gave us all the opportunity to play to our strengths. However, we can safely say that Tasha and Al do not gel well with spatial puzzles based on screens, as they spent a long time looking at a picture of a key

The Verdict?

Overall, this was a solid, enjoyable game. We were really impressed by how well Enigma Rooms Wakefield had changed the physical space we’d previously experienced – it felt like a brand new game! We would recommend a group of around 4 players or more as our group of 5 worked well for us.

We managed to complete it in a respectable 46 minutes – given that Enigma Wakefield have given this a 9/10 difficulty rating, we’re very pleased with how we fared!

If you are ever in Wakefield, we cannot recommend Enigma Wakefield enough (go and check out their Murder Motel room – we once beat the record there!).

Uncle Artemis is suitable for groups of up to 6 players. You can book to play Uncle Artemis for £20 here.