About Georgie Cozens

Georgie covers escape rooms in and around London, and throughout Wales.

Extremescape: Lost Tomb | Review

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Extremescape: The Lost Tomb Review | Your team of adventurers & archaeologists, enter an abandoned gold mine in the heart of the Mexican mountains, your mission is to find the hidden gold. Legend says that the holder of the hidden gold of El Narangel will find the Lost Tomb. The miners left subtle clues & hints, if you use all your skills you may find the hidden gold and ultimately the Lost Tomb but be careful they the miners won’t give up their gold easily.

Completion Time: 80 minutes (out of 90)
Date Played: 24th March 2022
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Hard

Ever wanted to be Indiana Jones? Of course you have, hasn’t everyone? Well this room gives you the chance to infiltrate a mine, fine some gold and then journey further into a hidden tomb.

One of the first things that immediately impressed us with this room is the obvious high budget set design – effects, solid decor, and a plethora of different elements all combine into an incredible experience. You are immediately transported into the mine in a way that is sure to leave an impression, with plenty of hidden aspects to delve into and discover. Once again, there were plenty of clues hidden in plain sight, waiting to be noticed. The moment of discovering the tomb was truly awe-inspiring too – you discover it in a very Indiana Jones-esque manner, and it definitely gave me goosebumps. Once more, the set had lots of details and really appeals to those who like seeking.

My only negative point on this room is likely to be a positive for others – there were quite a few ‘jump scares’! There were loud noises (particularly to alert you to someone you should be solving), with a couple of purposeful scares. I wouldn’t say this should put you off if you are nervous like me, but there were two I think are definitely unnecessary!

 

 

Duh de-duh dah…

Once again this room is non-linear, with plenty of aspects to address. Initially, you are looking for bags of gold, which are harder to find than you might expect. There are plenty of puzzles that are hidden in plain sight, with more physical puzzles thrown into the mix. I have never seen quite the variety of puzzles or the use of different elements in a room.

I was blown away throughout most of the game, and although the signposting could’ve been a little better (this feels like a theme for this venue), I think each puzzle had a certain level of surprise which just created so much joy and excitement throughout. Even the exit had us amazed!

The difficulty didn’t lie in solving the puzzles, but rather figuring out how to solve them! Once we’d figured out what to do each time it was fairly straightforward, with enough puzzles to keep us occupied without becoming stressed.

If I’m trying to nitpick I’d say that we required hints to identify a couple of puzzles, which I feel better signposting could’ve solved. I also felt like we ran into a wall after each puzzle (after a certain point), which got a little tiring. However, these are really minor points that ultimately shouldn’t put you off playing as it was one of the best rooms I’ve done!

 

Dah dah dah

Accessibility-wise, there are some stairs into the venue and within the room itself, with some physical challenges within the room. The room is dim in places, although torches are provided. Hints are delivered via screen and voice-over, so should suit anyone with visual or audio needs. As mentioned, there are loud noises and jump scares, as well as some smoke, so make sure to check ahead of time if you have any sensitivity to these things!

 

The Verdict

I loved this room. It felt like there was a lot to do, with plenty of elements and things to discover. Discovering the temple with only 30 mins left was definitely panic-inducing, but added a bit of pressure. I highly recommend this room to anyone!

 

Lost Tomb can be booked at Extremescape

10 BETTER KNOWN games to look out for in the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase!

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The ‘Cerebral Puzzle Showcase‘ is now live! It’s running from the 19th to 23rd May 2022 this showcase is full of demos, live streams, and even discounts for plenty of puzzle games that are designed to make you think! As such, here at The Escape Roomer we’ve been a little obsessed with how much fun we’re having playing all the games. A few days ago we highlighted some of the best upcoming games being launched (or with playable demos) in the showcase, and yesterday we dug around for 8 of our favourite hidden gems.

There are a huge amount of games being showcased (over 100!), but here are 10 games you’ve probably heard of – and not to be missed!

 

Get Coding

Human Resource Machine & 7 Billion Humans

Human Resource Machine: Program little office workers to solve puzzles. Be a good employee! The machines are coming… for your job. From the creators of World of Goo and Little Inferno.

7 Billion Humans: Automate swarms of office workers to solve puzzles inside your very own parallel computer made of people. A thrilling follow up to the award winning Human Resource Machine. Now with more humans!

Why we’re excited: Coding may not see fun, but HRM did a great job of getting many of us excited back in 2015! The follow up seemed to pass us by, so we’re excited to take the chance to catch up with this little world and dust off our algorithm skills again!

 

Explore a Mysterious World

 

Myst

Welcome to Myst: a starkly beautiful island, eerily tinged with mystery and shrouded in intrigue. Journey to Myst Island and other stunning, long dormant locations – called “Ages”- and begin to unravel the mystery you have been thrust into. As you learn what happened on the island, you will find that you are playing a key role in an epic story whose ending has not yet been written. Explore deeper connections in these stunning and surreal Ages, uncover a story of ruthless family betrayal, and make choices that will affect both you, and the world of Myst itself.

Why we’re excited: Myst is the OG mystery game from years ago (the clue is in the title) and even though Mairi couldn’t crack it, we can’t wait to return! The atmosphere is really what sells Myst – it’s quiet, with sparse sounds and virtually no writing. You come across little puzzles and vignettes, which you need to solve by exploring the island and figuring out what happened. It’s beautiful and unsettling and is a classic for a reason.

 

Obduction

The strange worlds of Obduction reveal their secrets only as you explore, discover, coax, and consider their clues. As you bask in the otherworldly beauty and explore the enigmatic landscapes, remember that the choices you make will have substantial consequences. This is your story now. Make it home.

Why we’re excited: This is a successor for Myth, but instead of a mysterious island you’re now on a mysterious planet. We love the fact Cyan have incorporated the Sci-Fi trend into the franchise!

Psychological Mysteries

 

Return of the Obra Dinn

In 1802, the merchant ship Obra Dinn set out from London for the Orient with over 200 tons of trade goods. Six months later it hadn’t met its rendezvous point at the Cape of Good Hope and was declared lost at sea. Early this morning of October 14th, 1807, the Obra Dinn drifted into port at Falmouth with damaged sails and no visible crew. As insurance investigator for the East India Company’s London Office, dispatch immediately to Falmouth, find means to board the ship, and prepare an assessment of damages. Return of the Obra Dinn is a first-person mystery adventure based on exploration and logical deduction.

Why we’re excited: While the art style may not look immediately exciting or appealing, and ‘logical deduction’ may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this game has so many rave reviews across social media and has amassed a cult following, including by our own Russ! The narrative has a hold on you and stays with players long past the game is done, so definitely set your expectations aside and give it a go!

 

Inscryption

Inscryption is an inky black card-based odyssey that blends the deckbuilding roguelike, escape-room style puzzles, and psychological horror into a blood-laced smoothie. Darker still are the secrets inscrybed upon the cards…

Why we’re excited: This is the only horror game in our lists, but as it literally mentions escape rooms in the description we couldn’t not feature it! We are intrigued about how this game will blend escape room puzzles with a deck builder, but from what we’ve seen of the game we can imagine it definitely has our attention!

Change the Game

 

Lightmatter

A first-person puzzler where shadows kill you. Watch your step or be swallowed by the darkness. Play Tunnel Vision Games’ love-letter to the genre. Use lateral thinking to solve mind-bending puzzles with lights, shadows, beams, platforms, and lightmatter.

Why we’re excited: Silence in the library anyone? This game is a great mix of sci-fi, puzzles and a tad of atmospheric pressure from the fear of darkness!

 

The Pedestrian

The Pedestrian is a 2.5D side scrolling puzzle platformer. You are The Pedestrian! Enter into a dynamic 3D world with stunning graphics and challenging puzzles. You play by rearranging and reconnecting public signs in order to explore and advance through each engaging environment.

Why we’re excited: We love the combination of platformer and puzzler, as well as both 2D and 3D elements! We also bet you’ll pay more attention to road signs after playing.

 

Gunpoint

Gunpoint is a stealth puzzle game that lets you rewire its levels to trick people. You play a freelance spy who takes jobs from his clients to break into high security buildings and steal sensitive data.

Why we’re excited: Back to the pixel art! This game looks like a great mix of stealth, action and puzzles, with quick levels and interesting mechanics.

 

Baba is You

Baba Is You is a puzzle game where the rules you have to follow are present as blocks you can interact with. By manipulating them, you can change how the game works, repurpose things you find in the levels and cause surprising interactions!

Why we’re excited: Baba is you. You are baba. Baba is a bunny. We love the fact you control your own abilities, and change the environment, by moving blocks to change the rules. Maybe baba is you one minute, but baba is me the next…

 

You can sign up for all the news about the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase this week by heading to the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase website. Check out this post to read our top 8 new releases of the showcase, and this post to see 8 hidden gems you’ve got to check out.

8 HIDDEN GEMS to look out for in the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase!

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Today is launch day of the much anticipated ‘Cerebral Puzzle Showcase‘! Here at The Escape Roomer, we absolutely love a good puzzle game, and this Steam showcase is absolutely packed with them. Running from the 19th to 23rd May this showcase is full of demos, live streams, and even discounts for plenty of games that are designed to make you think!

There are over 100 games in this year’s showcase (too many to list here). Yesterday we shared our top 8 puzzle games launching or being demo-ed for free. Today, here are 8 hidden gems we’re particularly excited for:

 

🐉 Dungeon Time

 

Dungeons and Puzzles

Dungeon and Puzzles is a dungeon adventure themed Sokoban game. The movement and direction are restricted, and the adventurer’s ability can be changed by equipment at hand. Think through every step, destroy every monster and find a way to the end of the dungeon where the treasure awaits.

Why we’re excited: We love a dungeon crawler, but the added puzzle aspect takes this to the next level! This game has what you’d expect of a dungeon games – dungeons, monsters, and weapons! However, you really have to think through your decisions based on the movement and abilities they grant.

Fidel Dungeon Rescue

A critically acclaimed roguelite where you can REWIND to find the optimal path through monsters, treasure and secrets. Quick to play. No grinding. No filler. Deep gameplay.

Why we’re excited: This is a dungeon crawler with less emphasis on the ‘crawling’ – instead of repeatedly dying, reloading, dying reloading…in ‘Dungeon Rescue’ the whole point is to rewind time and do it better, which is a great concept and very ‘Groundhog Day’! Also, you’re a dog. What could be better?

 

🖱️ Point and Click

Creaks

The ground starts shaking, light bulbs are breaking – and something rather unusual is happening right behind the walls of your very room. Equipped with nothing but wit and courage, you slowly descend into a world inhabited by avian folk and seemingly deadly furniture monsters.

Why we’re excited: From cute to creepy, this game is a quintessential point and click with a touch of unnerving!

 

🗝️ Playing with Rooms

Hiding Spot

A difficult puzzle game about isolating yourself. Build a safe place, huddle up and get cozy.

Why we’re excited: This is the introvert’s dream. This whole game asks you to rearrange the room to create a little hiding spot for yourself. Sounds simple right? It seems like there is a lot more to this game than it appears!

 

Moncage

Moncage is a unique puzzle adventure game where you explore a fascinating world trapped inside a mysterious cube. With each face displaying a unique scene, you’ll have to leverage the illusions and discover the hidden links to solve the puzzle.

Why we’re excited: Everything revolves around you… Revolving a cube, which sounds simple but the beautiful scenes within and how they interact with each other is bound to get your scratching your head pretty quickly!

 

🧩 Puzzle Time

 

Carto

Carto is a charming adventure game wrapped around a unique, world-altering puzzle mechanic. Use this power to explore mysterious lands, help a quirky cast of characters, and guide Carto on her journey back to her family.

Why we’re excited: We love the cute art style and story mixed with interesting puzzle and adventure elements!

 

Cosmic Express

Plan the train route for the universe’s most awkward space colony!

Why we’re excited: There’s something comforting about planning a train route, so let’s take that to space to make it even more fun!

 

Yugo puzzle

Yugo Puzzle is a minimalistic, challenging, and satisfying puzzle game. You move jelly blocks left and right to combine them with the same color. It may sound easy, but it can be challenging. Enjoy lots of mind-blowing moments.

Why we’re excited: Sometimes the most simple-looking games have the most interesting mechanics, and we’re looking forward to getting our head around this one!

 

You can sign up for all the news about the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase this week by heading to the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase website. Check out this post to read our top 8 new releases of the showcase, and keep an eye out for another up-coming post where we’ll be detailing some of the fan favourite games in the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase.

8 DEMOS & NEW RELEASES to play for free the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase!

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Here at The Escape Roomer we are often recommending various puzzle video games we’ve found, so you can imagine how excited we were when we heard about the upcoming ‘Cerebral Puzzle Showcase‘! Running from the 19th to 23rd May this showcase takes place on Stream and will be full of demos, live streams, and even discounts for plenty of puzzle games that are designed to make you think!

The showcase will feature over 100 puzzle games, so too many to list here. But we’ve searched through the list and picked out 8 extra special new releases and demos that escape room enthusiasts should look out for in the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase.

Unreleased Puzzle Games You Can Demo for Free

Escape Academy

 

Welcome to Escape Academy. Train to become the ultimate Escapist. Solve Puzzles. Hack Servers. Meet the Faculty. Brew the perfect cup of tea. Escape Rooms in single player or co-op with a friend – local or online!

Why we’re excited: This is an escape room as a video game… It should be obvious! The graphics and sets look fantastic, puzzles look intriguing and the ability to co-op both virtually and locally is really exciting!

 

Akurra

Explore ancient puzzle filled islands, meet strange new friends, and unlock epic secrets in an atmospheric world with a retro aesthetic. Experience a creative new take on a classic puzzle genre in the open world puzzle adventure Akurra!

Why we’re excited: The pixel art style is giving us Pokemon Blue vibes and the puzzles are giving Zelda temple vibes. This is taking us right back and we are here for it.

Paper trail

Paper Trail is a top-down puzzle adventure about leaving home, set in a paper world. You must fold and tear your way through a diverse, populated paper world. As you progress, new gameplay opportunities emerge, enhanced by the folding mechanics. Drag objects, shine lights, and push boulders across the paths you create through folding.

Why we’re excited: The puzzle mechanics intrigue us here, as well as the beautiful art style. We bet the story is going to take us on a journey too!

How to Say Goodbye

How to say goodbye is a narrative puzzle game inspired by illustrated books. Move the elements of décor and manipulate reality to help a group of ghosts wandering between two worlds reach the “other side”. But beware of the evil spirits that will try to keep you prisoner…

Why we’re excited: (At the risk of sounding repetitive) The puzzle mechanics seem very intriguing… From an eerie art style, you just know this title is going to be a beautiful and impactful story!

 

Storyteller

With Storyteller you are the one writing the stories! Start with a title, characters and settings and create your own twist on stories familiar and new.

Why we’re excited: The art style looks fun, and although the game play looks simple there are many many different iterations and stories you can create! It’s a recipe for replayability.

 

New Games Launching at the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase

 

Frequency Dissonance

You’ve been stationed on planet Omega for 24 years now, guarding, observing and maintaining the station. Finally, a signal is picked up by the radio. The empire calls. Your cooperation will decide fates.

Why we’re excited: Don’t let the simple art and mechanics deceive you – this game has 6 alternate endings and mysteries to uncover! We can’t wait!

 

We are definitely the baddies

 

The emperor is kicking you out of the planet. But that should worry an evil space overlord such as yourself. Build a huge factory, extract resources, fend off the locals, and escape with all you can grab before the deadline. Create a network of pipes and factories that are likely to be terrible for the environment but great for your pockets.

Why we’re excited: We love the pixelized art style, but intrigued about a game that timeboxes the gameplay to 1hr – just like an escape room!

Jelly is Sticky

Explore a world of colorful jelly blocks that can be deformed and stuck together. Use them in surprising, unexpected ways to build clever contraptions and solve delightful puzzles.

Why we’re excited: This one is more of a traditional puzzle game than others on this list, but it’s still full with lots of fun elements! Not only are you playing with jelly, contraptions and obstacles, but every jelly has a different property which you need to use to your advantage!

You can sign up for all the news about the Cerebral Puzzle Showcase this week by heading to the Cerebral Showcase website

Keep an eye out for our upcoming posts where we’ll be covering the best hidden gems, and more well-known games at the showcase.

Eleven Puzzles: Parallel Lab | Review

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Parallel Lab Review | The detectives are following Cryptic Killer’s trail. After escaping Cryptic Killer’s trap, the detectives thoroughly investigated the area where they had been held. Sadly they have found nothing that could move their case closer to catching the killer… Or so they thought.

Date Played: May 2022
Number of Players: 2
Time Taken: 2 hours
Difficulty: Medium

 

Image courtesy of Eleven Puzzles

 

Over the past 2 years, we’ve all become quite familiar with digital escape rooms, and I personally have had hit or miss experiences with them. After a few disappointing experiences, I decided to give virtual rooms a miss unless I was playing by myself, which means I didn’t play the first instalment of this series by Eleven Puzzles (that said, you can read what Rebecca and Mairi thought about the first instalment over in our review).

Fortunately for me, Eleven Puzzles reached out and invited us to play their latest digital escape room-style experience in exchange for a review (this review, in fact), and I was definitely intrigued by the premise and drawn in by the art style!

 

A very friendly parrot! | Image courtesy of Eleven Puzzles

The Premise

If the name hasn’t quite given it away yet, this virtual room requires at least two players, on separate devices. This is because you will each be exploring a slightly different version of the same room, and communicating to solve various puzzles. As you are independent, you are free to explore without being tied to the other person’s screen which was my main bugbear of other digital games. I loved the free roam aspect, but reliance on communication as there is no way to complete the puzzles otherwise. I assume this would be the same for any number of players and is definitely a huge positive.

 

The Puzzles

“Parallel Lab” is based in a series of rooms as you progress further into the lab and dive deeper into the story. There are 3 or 4 puzzles in each room, and it’s pretty clear where they are. By working together methodically we were able to get through each of them, but the answers aren’t always straightforward. Eleven Puzzles did a great job of presenting unique and interesting puzzles that were at the perfect level of difficulty – no hand-holding, no super obvious puzzles, and no tenuous leaps in logic. However, they’re also very supportive – allowing you to use hints with no penalties, and offering you a number of hints and nudges before revealing the answer – very similar to the increase in hints you’d get in a ‘real’ escape room!

I have to say I really enjoyed the puzzles in this game. Although there were a couple which we struggled with, they also brought a great sense of satisfaction when we’d had that brain wave – most of the time we just weren’t communicating enough! They were all perfectly suited for the room they were in and addressed a number of different skills and techniques.

My only critique of the puzzles was that they felt a little imbalanced at times – I found myself waiting for my teammate to complete something tricky on their side, but were unable to do anything on my side in the meantime. Later on, this was reversed – I was working on something a little more in-depth, and my teammate had to wait.

 

One of the rooms | Image courtesy of Eleven Puzzles

The playability

Technology-wise this ran extremely smoothly and easily. The game is played in a browser, so we hopped on a Skype call and logged in fairly quickly. The initial instructions were brief but informative, and ultimately the technology provided no barrier to playing. My only qualm with the setup is that I would have loved to see some of the puzzles my partner did!

 

The Verdict

I thoroughly enjoyed this game. I went in with fairly low expectations but was absolutely blown away. The interactivity and independence are a real positive, and the puzzles themselves were just as good as any physical room. I’m not sure how well this would work for a larger team, as you may end up talking over each other, but certainly paying £15 for 2 players is more than worth it.

 

Parallel Lab can be purchased by heading to Eleven Games’ website here.

Exitus: Tenovus Virus Tinkerers | Review

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Tenovus Virus Tinkerers Review | Do you have what it takes to be a Virus Tinkerer? Welcome to the Tenovus Cancer Care Research Labs. Dr Alan Parker has been conducting ground-breaking research in the field of fighting cancer. He’s managed to change the DNA of specific viruses and train them to attack cancer cells instead of healthy cells. Dr Parker is away at a conference. You arrive in the lab and realise the electricity had failed in the cleanroom and the backup battery, which powers the incubator has been running all weekend. It now has just 60 minutes of energy left, if it runs out of fuel the retrained viruses will deteriorate and fail. It’s down to you to gain access to the cleanroom and change the backup battery to the incubator before Dr Parker returns from the conference.

Completion Time: 54 minutes
Date Played: 30th December 2018
Party Size: 5
Difficulty: Easy

Having completed most of the rooms in Cardiff by this point (barring those companies we refuse to return to), we were very excited to see a new company open, perfectly situated on the high street nearby 2/3 other companies.

As an independent company, rather than a franchise, we knew it could be hit and miss. However, I want to say now that it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had, and extremely well done. You can really see the owners’ passion in the design of the room, as well as their customer service and the whole experience. This has shot to the top of my list of the best rooms in Cardiff, and at the time was in my Top 10 of all-time experiences.

 

 

The set

I believe the company have essentially rented a large, open space, and then built all the rooms by hand. Their handiwork is very impressive, and we wouldn’t have realised if we hadn’t been told!

For the set, they’ve worked with the room rather than against it. The theme of the room is a deadly virus (sound familiar?), but rather than lots of zombie tropes they instead created this from a science perspective. Given the room was designed (and played) before the pandemic, it seems the company are psychic! The set perfectly fits with the theme, and is excellently done. It isn’t crammed with lots of furniture or objects, and feels very clean and sleek. However, there are enough ‘props’ for it to feel realistic, and act as red herrings without being too frustrating. In a way, it felt like a snowflake – simple at first glance, but complex and beautiful when you look closer.

The game

The room is not at all what you expect when you first enter, but for such a small space there is a lot to get you started. Admittedly one of the first puzzles was quite frustrating (technological issues), but once we were through the game really opens up. It is non-linear for the most part, and I believe there were different orders and methods for solving puzzles (which is extremely clever!). The hint system is a screen (YAY!), so it blends in unless you need it.

The puzzles themselves fit the theme perfectly and were an ideal level of variety and difficulty. We were a team of 5 experienced players, and we had a great time. However, I also think a team of new players would do just as well – there were no leaps of logic required, and the signposting through the room was very well done.

The only part of this game I disliked was the end. The goal of the room is to prevent the outbreak of a plague, so rather than ‘escaping’ you end by releasing the (hopeful) cure. I understand why it was done this way, but I always find these rooms can fall a little flat. That being said, what the ending lacked in drama it was made up for by the staff’s enthusiasm…

Outside the room

The staff were amazing. We had a really lovely chat with them prior to doing the room, where we were able to geek out about rooms we’d all done and how we found them. They were so welcoming and interested in what we were saying that we felt right at home. After the room we were able to discuss how we found it, things they’d noticed about how we played (and that they’d enjoyed seeing), and recommendations we had (very few). It was great to see they were genuinely invested in their room, and making sure their customers had a good time. It was refreshing to not feel pressured to get in and get out, and instead have the space to relax and take our time.

The ‘waiting room’ is a really nice touch too – lovely big sofas, food and drink and a really great atmosphere. I believe they have since added board games too, which I think is a nice touch.

Accessibility

Unfortunately, the room is situated up a flight of stairs with no lift, although the room itself is flat. There was nowhere in the room to sit down, but I’m sure they would be able to accommodate if required. The room itself was fairly spacious and felt pretty airy.

There is a color puzzle in the room, and a slow flashing light (the ‘plague alarm’ – like a slow siren). However, it’s not particularly bright and very easy to ignore.

Was it worth the money?

At only £12 a person for a group of 5, this far exceeded expectations. I believe the price is now £25pp, and I maintain that’s still a great price for such a fantastic experience, especially when you consider the customer service and overall vibe.

Honestly, this is so worth the visit if you’re in Cardiff. It is simple, and the theming may not be as amazing as some other companies in the same area, but it is the most enjoyable experience I’ve had.

TL; DR

Pros – Customer service, puzzles

Cons – Set design was pretty simple

Virus Tinkerers can be booked at Exitus Escape Rooms here

The Escape Roomer Interviews: Little Alex Horne!

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Here at The Escape Roomer we’re no stranger to puzzles no matter the form – room, box...or treasure hunt?

Last year Alex Horne released the fantastically titled ‘Bring Me The Head Of The Taskmaster‘ book and with it launched a global treasure hunt that has taken over hundreds of minds globally, as well as spawning a Reddit community and, naturally, a few of us here have also been obsessed.

It turns out that Alex is a very lovely man – each month he hosts a Zoom for those treasure hunters who crack the code, and has kindly allowed us to send him some questions of our own!

 

 

Hello Alex! Thank you for taking a break from a busy day of assisting to answer some eager questions from us, and congrats on your recent awards! We have been avidly following the Taskmaster Treasure hunt and would love to know how you came up with the idea?

I’ve always enjoyed treasure hunts, inspired, I think, by Easter Egg hunts as a kid. I like chocolate. A lot. I also like interactive things like Escape Rooms and The Crystal Maze. So it was a fairly short leap to get to making a Taskmaster Treasure Hunt. I must admit, however, that I didn’t know about Masquerade when I thought of the idea. I genuinely thought I was the first person to put a treasure hunt in a book!

 

 

How long did it take to create the treasure hunt?

It took about a year of lockdown. It was a useful distraction for me and, I hope, my two helpers, Dan Trelfer and Owen Powell. We would send ideas back and forth, stretching our brains and confirming if things worked or didn’t.

 

 

👆 Dan Trelfer & Alex Horne on Dan’s Vlog 👆

 

How did you come up with the puzzles? Are there any you’ve had to change as the hunt progressed?

I suppose I came up with the puzzles in the same way as I come up with Tasks from the show – I shut my eyes and hope for the best. There’s no plan or formula. They just sort of fall out of my brain. And ever since we left the confines of the grid in the book, we’ve been super-flexible. Readers have been far smarter than we gave them credit for so we’ve had to adapt every single time another clue is needed.

 

Has anything surprised you about the hunt?

I couldn’t believe how quickly people solved the 100 questions in the book. Unbelievable. I expected people to help each other on things like Reddit, but I was definitely – and pleasantly – surprised by just how far and wide the hunters would be spread. I’ve been in touch with people from every continent.

 

Bring Me the Head of the Taskmaster community

 

What’s been your favourite experience from the Treasure Hunt so far?

I host a zoom once a month for people who’ve found the details for that. It’s really fun to meet people who have invested so much time into something so silly.

 

Is there anything you didn’t manage to squeeze in that you wish you had?

No! It’s all there! My only regret is that I haven’t been able to film the whole thing because there have been some fantastic visual moments.

 

Is it too late to join the hunt?

Absolutely not! There are people joining all the time and everything is still possible to solve.

 

Do you have any advice for puzzle-makers out there?

Find a friend to test your puzzles on. You WILL make mistakes! You need to check and check again. Finally, be ambitious!

 

The hunt is quite puzzle-y, so you must also enjoy escape rooms, right?

My family and I love escape rooms. They bring the best and worst out of us, but they are always a valuable experience.

 

What’s the best/most enjoyable escape room experience you’ve had?

We spent a wet few days in Galway before the lockdown and the escape rooms meant it was one of our favourite ever holidays. They were simply laid out but well planned and brilliantly run. Also, we escaped (after just a couple of hints!)

 

If you had a magic wand (or an Assistant’s Assistant) what sort of escape room would you love to experience?

I’d like to go in an escape room set on the moon please.

 

You’ve just launched Taskmaster Supermax +, which is the first time a television show has essentially launched its own worldwide streaming service. Can you tell us a bit more about what to expect?

Well, it’s a curious experiment but the main idea is that it’ll be the ad-free home for all things Taskmaster. We will keep putting things up on Youtube, but EVERYTHING will eventually be on the Supermax+ platform: the international shows, extras, bespoke content and, of course, every single episode ever.

 

 

So you’ve got the Taskmaster Treasure Hunt, Taskmaster TV show, and The Horne Section…what’s coming next?

I’m literally going on holiday in 4 hours. I can’t wait – and nor can my wife!

 

 

Thank you so much for your time Alex! We hop you have a well deserved holiday! There is still time to get your hands on the book and join in the hunt, or just try out some of the challenges!

Hopefully The Escape Roomer team will soon be the owners of a silver bust… 😉

Breakin’ Escape Rooms: Blackwing’s Cave | Review

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Blackwing’s Cave Review | Holy padlocks, Blackwing! The evil games-master Doctor Drakker has broken out of jail and is on the loose in Knightsbane City, swearing revenge on his arch nemesis – Blackwing, dark crusader of justice. Drakker’s goons have tracked down the location of Blackwing’s secret base and riddled it with an onslaught of fiendishly twisted puzzles, trapping you – Blackwing’s trusty sidekicks – inside. They’ve hacked the security systems against you and planted an explosive surprise in the darkness… Time is running out. Blackwing cannot battle Drakker alone. Outwit the booby-traps, defuse the bombs, escape the cave and reunite your superhero family. So don your capes and pull on your masks – you’ll need every skill in your utility belt to defeat the villain and save the city!

Completion Time: 37 minutes
Date Played: 2019
Party Size: 3

This was another one of those rooms which we booked on a whim. Having done one of their other rooms previously (Sherlock’s Despair) I was interested in what their other rooms would be like, particularly going with a smaller, slightly more experienced group.

 

The set

The theme of this room is a superhero’s lair, and it is more than obvious which superhero this is meant to be. They did a pretty good job with the room – they managed to pack a lot into a small space, and I was pretty impressed. I only had two quibbles – firstly, the set itself caused us to stumble a little with some puzzles.

In my opinion, when it comes to puzzles, you should never be confused between whether you’re doing something wrong, or something is broken. Here, the set did cause us a little confusion at one point.

My second quibble was the exit method – I won’t go into too much detail, but the method to exit the room was a puzzle in itself, which I don’t think quite worked.

 

 

The game

The game itself started off quite interesting – you’re thrust into the dark, and you get a nice little voice over. I’m really not a fan of this – I’d rather get the brief before going in – once inside I just want to get started!

The room was very linear – there were only 3 of us there, and most of the time 2 of us were doing nothing. I strongly advise you don’t go with any more than 3 – there really would not be enough to do!

That being said, a lot of the puzzles were quite interesting and mostly unique concepts I haven’t seen before. Quite a few were co-op puzzles, and there were also a fair few technology puzzles. I think technology puzzles can be a little hit and miss, and this room was no exception – there were still a few parts where the technology wasn’t seamless, or felt like it was going on a bit long.

The hint system didn’t help things either – if we asked for a hint we had to get the GM up to speed with where we were first. It was also done via walkie talkie, which I often struggle with being able to understand.

I realised whilst writing this that I am coming off quite negative about the room, which was not my intention. I do think this was a good room, but I think we got lucky with our team. Any more than 3 people and we would have been too bored, especially if we were all experienced. I also think this would have been too hard for any novices. That being said, I did enjoy myself for the majority of the time we were in there, and would have put this on my list of places to return to, if not for the customer service…

 

Outside the room

The major flaw in our experience was the customer service before and after the room. When we arrived we were shown to their lovely big waiting area, with sofas etc, but then left alone with no indication about what was happening. We were told to lock our bags away, but there were no lockers available, meaning we took everything into the room with us.

When the ‘GM’ arrived she didn’t introduce herself at all or even attempt any sort of conversation about us, our experiences etc. We were pretty much frog marched to the room, with a brief pause in a doorway to point at a few different lock types (one of which wasn’t even in the room). We found her ‘brief’ lacked any enthusiasm or energy, and I was already getting not great vibes.

When we escaped the room, we were stood alone for a couple minutes until someone on the walkie talkie evidently realised we were out and sent someone to greet us. This was a different girl than before, and she was lovely, but it was apparent she hadn’t watched our game. She offered to explain anything we didn’t understand but had no comments about how we had done, or even our time. She took a photo for us, and then disappeared – again leaving us alone in the waiting room.

At this point we got the message and decided to leave.

I actually spoke to the manager via email after posting this review elsewhere and was assured this wasn’t the norm. However, it has made me think twice about visiting again.

A good escape room experience starts the minute you walk into the building and doesn’t end until you’ve left. I’ve done average rooms that I’ve thought are brilliant, thanks to the customer service we received. This room was the opposite; a pretty decent room that has been let down by the staff on the day.

 

Was it worth the money?

We paid around £28 each for the room.

I would say the room itself would be about average, but (as mentioned) the customer experience let it down. For that reason, I would say it was worth the money, but not the return trip.

 

Accessibility

From what I recall there was one step into the venue, but the rest was flat. The room was spacious, although you do need 2 physically abled team members. There is nowhere in the room to sit down, but you will not need to navigate any obstacles.

The room starts in the dark but soon becomes lit. However, it is still dim. I would recommend having at least one fully sighted team member.

You do not need to have full hearing for this room, although it would be beneficial to hear the briefing inside, and communicate via walkie talkie for hints.

 

Do you recognise us under these masks?

 

TL ; DR

Pros; Technology, uniqueness, resourceful set

Cons; Customer service, hint system, difficulty level, linearity

 

Blackwing’s Cave can be booked by heading to Breakin’s website here.

Komnata: Doctor Frankenstein | Review

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Komnata Doctor Frankenstein Review | Some say that the inspiration for the character of doctor Frankenstein came from Johann Conrad Dippel, a German scientist, who was born in the Frankenstein castle. Could they be right? In the mystical world of steam machines and airships, you have only one hour to revitalize a homunculus and unravel Frankenstein’s mystery. You will follow in the mad scientist’s footsteps to complete his final experiment and attempt to reanimate the body of Frankenstein’s Creature!

Completion Time: 55 minutes
Date Played: February 2019
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

Komnata is (apparently) one of the highest rated companies in the US, but for some reason, it seems to be overlooked here in London. I myself was guilty of ignoring them – they didn’t even feature on my wishlist.

However, when I was given about 2 days notice to find an escape room in central London, that had space during a Saturday, and was suitable for someone under 14…I wasn’t really left with many choices.

However, even though I perhaps went into this room a little reluctantly, and apprehensive, I am glad I did. Like most rooms, it has good points and bad points, but I left feeling like more people should know about it.

So…here you go! Here’s me telling more people!

The Set

The room we did was “Doctor Frankenstein”. It was a wonderfully done set – it really did transport us with extremely well-done decoration and set design. The theme was excellent – without giving too much away, it cleverly subverted pretty much all Frankenstein tropes I’ve come to expect. Pretty much as soon as we were in the room I realised I needed to leave my preconceptions about the room at the door.

The Game

As mentioned, I chose this room as my team consisted of 2 newbies, one of which was 12. However, that doesn’t mean this room was easy. There were some really simple, but clever, puzzles in there. I wouldn’t say there was anything new here, but then again I wouldn’t say there was anything familiar either. There were enough red herrings to be interesting without being frustrating; engaging without distracting.

The room was mostly linear, but to its credit, it didn’t feel like it. It was very well done – I only realised afterwards that really there was only one, at most two, puzzles to solve at a time. Most of the puzzles felt satisfying to solve, and there was one in particular towards the end which used a unique concept I haven’t encountered before.

One of my favourite things about this room though is the fact that, for a few puzzles, there were multiple ways of solving them. I think this was a really nice touch and was a nice way to balance out the difficulty depending on different skill sets.

However, I can’t mention the pros without the cons. The hint system here wasn’t ideal. You are essentially given a guide to the room and puzzles early on, which was a blessing and a curse. Having what was practically a walkthrough ruined a little bit of the mystery/satisfaction from working it out, as well as causing some confusion. There were also additional hints…and again I felt the timing was slightly off. We received hints after already completing what they were hinting for, and as they were given over a speaker system I found it quite hard to understand (given my hearing difficulties).

The team rocking our new glasses

Outside the room

The staff were friendly and welcoming and did a decent brief. I really appreciated how they set up the story (which I sometimes take for granted). We didn’t really get much of a debrief though, and I felt a little rushed to leave.

Was it worth the money?

I mentioned at the start that Komnata has been overlooked a little here in London, and I think that’s probably down to cost. These cost ‘from’ £27 a person, but you’re looking at £35 ahead on a weekend at least. It cost me £42pp to book for 3 of us.

When you consider a lot of London rooms charge around £25 ahead, regardless of the number, that’s quite a considerable difference.

So, was it worth it?

I don’t know. It was a really good escape room, and if it was £25 I would definitely put it on my list as somewhere to return to. However, I can’t deny the price does make me hesitate. There wasn’t particularly anything here that justified that extra cost to me. I’ve done cheaper rooms with puzzles that were just as good, or better. I’ve done rooms with just as fantastic themes and sets. Everything here was good, really good, but not exceptional or deserving of that extra £20, in my opinion.

If you’re not too worried about the money aspect, then I definitely think it’s worth the trip. However, if you’re new, or a little warier of how you spend your money (like myself) I think there are other rooms in London I’d visit above this.

After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I congratulate Komnata on a beautiful room and just hope too many people aren’t dissuaded by the cost.

Accessibility

The venue is wheelchair accessible, but the room isn’t (due to a few steps) and there isn’t really much of a waiting room. There is a chair within the room to sit on, and it is a large, wide room.

The room is initially dark, then dim, then fully lit, with good lighting throughout.

There isn’t a necessity to hear, although this may help with the hint system. There is also a section with some smoke (the smoke effect kind), but you can stay out of this if you have issues.

There is a radio playing old-timey songs as you play, but you could ask to be turned down/off if required.

TL ; DR

Pros; Great set design, the variety of puzzles, difficulty

Cons; Price, hint system

Doctor Frankenstein can be played at Komnata London by heading to this link here.

Escape London: Overthrone | Review

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Escape London Overthrone Review: The King is dead, long live the King! With no natural successor to the King the throne is up for grabs. He who raises the legendary Sword of Britain will take the throne. Legend has it that the wily old King has hidden the sword within the castle. You are first onto the scene, explore the castle and retrieve the sword before the pretenders arrive!

Completion Time: 37mins
Date Played: February 2019
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Medium

I’ve done a few Escape London games now, and I always have a great time. I booked this room for myself and one other friend, both of us fairly experienced, as it was the only one available (I need to stop booking rooms last minute!)

I always like Escape London, and think they’re a company you can rely on for a good room – enjoyable, light-hearted fun. I’ve never had a real brain workout or adrenaline rush, but have also never had a bad experience or left feeling disappointed.

The Set

Their ‘Overthrone’ room is a vaguely medieval, slightly mythical themed room – it’s like combining the legends of Arthur and Camelot with the Tudors. The brief we are given is that the king is dead and his nobles are out to kill you next – to stop them you need to find the crown and sceptre and sit on the throne.

I think this is a great set up – I haven’t come across many like it, so immediately I was sold. They already have a magic-themed room, so I was a little worried that it would be a similar set. However, they were very clever in skirting the line of “Wizard school” magic and instead focusing on the Arthurian elements. The hint of magic was really just a subtle nod, and I appreciated it.

The set was really nice. Like their other rooms, it’s obviously a plain rectangular room that they’ve decorated. However, it’s been done pretty well, with lots of nice touches. It’s one of the few rooms that actually managed to surprise me with it’s set.

My only comment would be that it wasn’t particularly big – it worked well for the two of us, but don’t think any more than 3 or 4 would fit.

The Game

The game was fairly multi-linear which was really nice. There were two of us, and we were never bored. Towards the end, it became more linear, as expected, but by that point, you’re just excited for the final puzzles!

The puzzles also perfectly suited the theme and were nicely creative. For the most part, we were able to figure out what we were doing – we only used one hint for the entire room! There were no annoying locks which didn’t work, and at no point were we left wondering if we were wrong, or if something was broken – which you can’t take for granted!

The hint system was also my favourite type – just a screen, although even this was perfectly themed to fit with the room. My only qualm with this was that there was no indication of a hint appearing.

The only other issue with this room was there were a few points where we felt a little lost, and unsure of what we still needed to do. However, when we did figure things out there was one puzzle in particular which combined a few different parts of the room into a satisfying solution.

Overall, we had a great time in this room – there was less going on than in many rooms we’ve done, but that allowed us to appreciate the set. I think seasoned professionals would breeze through it, but there is enough to keep them interested. Likewise, I would also recommend this to newcomers, as the puzzles were all really nice and I think it’s a great example of a room to get started.

Outside the room

We were greeted by one staff member, but ‘debriefed’ by another, which I don’t tend to like. However, they were both really nice and friendly. The brief before going into the room was fun and informative and got us excited to go in.

Afterwards, the GM was also really friendly, and from the way he was talking it seemed he was invested in our game, which I don’t often see. He commented that he regretted sending us that single hint slightly, as he felt we probably could have done without it, but he was very excited watching us. This was a really nice touch and shows they really care.

He took a great photo for us and gave us a discount code for a future visit (which I will definitely be using!). The venue itself had lockers to store your belongings, and are smart enough to assign each locker by room (rather than allowing a group to monopolise all the lockers). They also provide water (which I’ve stopped taking for granted now!) and have a nice waiting area.

Was it worth the money?

This room should have cost us £33 each, but we used a discount from a previous visit to take it to around £25 each. I think it was definitely worth the money for two of us, but I probably would have felt short-changed in a larger group, particularly if it was an experienced group.

Accessibility

Neither the room or venue were wheelchair accessible, and there isn’t anywhere to sit within the room. The room isn’t particularly big (as previously mentioned), but you won’t need to be physically agile.

The room lighting is a little dim, and partially sighted people may struggle to read.

TL; DR

Pros; Staff, Hint system, set design

Cons; Not enough puzzles/not clear, space

Overthrone can be booked at Escape London by heading to this link here.