About nickbattell

Nick covers all escape rooms in and around Kent.

The Panic Room: CSI Mafia Murders | Review

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CSI Mafia Murders Review | A shooting has happened at the Mafia operated Bonnetti VIP Lounge! The Family has given you approximately 1 hour to investigate the crime scene uninhibited, but you’ll need to solve the case before the police arrive to brush it all under the rug!

Date Played: 2020
Time Taken: ~1 hour

A top-notch online murder mystery experience, where your inner detective will be tested and your enjoyment will thrive. 

Your mission – a robbery and multiple murders have occurred and “the family” wants to know who it was. It is your job to help the family (said in my best New York Italian accent) work out who did the job before the cops track them down, so you can handle them in your own special way! An old friend managed to gain access to the evidence locker at police HQ and now with it in your hands its time to track them down! 

Safe to say, we loved the story. A real true crime case, which doesn’t just tick the “you are a detective” box; its adds this brilliant twist of actually beating the cops to crack the case. It evolves brilliantly and as the evidence stacks up, so does the tension.  

The first thing to mention is the brilliant opening video. It sets the scene very well, tells the story, adds some great imagery and really gives the game its feel. Then add in the New York Italian soundtrack to your game and your atmosphere is complete. 

The puzzles within the game are also very strong – each evidence pack is a puzzle on its own however, don’t just read it as an answer to open the next lock – read a little further into it. Why? Well lets just say, in order to solve the mystery you need to have your detective hat on and not just look at things at face value. The puzzles aren’t hugely difficult on their own for more experienced gamers,  and the experience lends itself well to families with older children (I would say 10 years plus given the subject matter) and keen enthusiasts who love a who done it mystery. Likewise, getting your friends and work colleagues together over video conference software for this would be brilliant.

Another great point in this game is the quality of the evidence which vary vastly from puzzle to puzzle. Some are audio clues, others visual, others are video based. The written documentation is clear yet detailed enough to provide just the write amount of red herrings, so keep a clear head and you will be bound to succeed. If stuck some well structured clues are sat on each web page and you also have the option to reveal the answer – only use this as a last resort – everything is achievable and you’ll certainly get a much greater sense of fulfilment! 

The finale builds the game very well and pulls on all your powers of deduction from the previous puzzles to work out what has unfolded during the robbery. From your exhaustive list of suspects, who actually did it?! We really enjoyed this detective element in the story and makes the game more like an experience than just a set of online puzzles to answer and move on to the next. You can click back and forth through all the evidence once open just in case you have missed anything, but a keen eye will certainly be able to deduce the suspects as you progress through the game.  

When all is said and done, its safe to say we loved this game. Its a very well rounded, well produced online game, with stacks of strong puzzles and a great story line. A great game for enthusiasts and new comers alike, this online experience certainly put the bullet in our gun!  

CSI Mafia Murders can be purchased on The Panic Room’s website here.

Ratings

The Panic Room: Mansion Impossible | Review

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Mansion Impossible Review | Geoff the ghost has been stuck in this mansion for many many years, never being able to solve the mystery of what is keeping him inside. You have entered the mansion yourself and find that you too are now stuck and need to solve the puzzles and escape the mansion before midnight!

Date Played: 2020
Time Taken: ~1 hour

This child friendly online game is sure to be a hit with all the family, with some spooky challenges and ghastly goings on! 

Trapped within a huge mansion, you stumble upon a friendly helpful ghost! He knows the secrets of the mansion and the clues hidden inside its walls. Escape before the clock strikes 12 or be locked inside forever! 

The first thing that strikes you is the child friendly appearance of the audio and visual elements of the game, however still providing enough substance for parents to really enjoy the game too. The story line sits brilliantly with children, and the ghost is a great touch to add a little drama to the game without being scary or adding too much tension! Also, be sure to download the backing track to the game – it provides that extra atmosphere which the family will love! 

Similarly, the game play is also very simple to follow – work your way through the rooms of the mansion, solving the riddles and puzzles in each room. Don’t be fooled – just because this game is aimed at a younger audience, doesn’t mean that your own grey-matter is going to be tested! For more experienced gamers many of the puzzles are self explanatory (although, like me, I am sure you will find yourself over thinking them!). The whole family are sure to bring something to the table with this game as the puzzles are well varied and created with the user in mind. Some well placed clues provide just enough of a hint to get you through should you need them! 

There are some particularly strong puzzles in this game which I really enjoyed – a personal favourite is the final puzzle which really pulls together the rest of the game and gives a solid resolution to what you have found in order to escape the mansion – it is also very different to most other online puzzles in not being the normal “enter number/word” answer.    

All-in-all, a beautifully created, well thought-out online game, which provides a great atmospheric experience for the family all to enjoy! 

Mansion Impossible can be purchased on The Panic Room’s website here.

Ratings

On Your Marks, Get Set! Fool’s Errand – A 30 Day Fitness Puzzle Challenge

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Its time to give you the inside track on something new and exciting!

The team at Enigmailed, known for their outstanding innovative creations including the fabulous Chocolateral and Undeliverable (which we are massive fans of) now bring you something a little different, something which we are are equally excited about!

The headlines are simple:

30 Challenges, 30 Days, 30 Puzzles.

Lets face it, we wouldn’t be in the escape room game if it weren’t for our love of puzzles and our overwhelming desire to overcome challenges!

Fool’s Errand will be a month-long daily active puzzle challenge kicking off in April 2022. Early bird tickets to take part in the race cost £20 per person (discounted for teams and healthcare workers), and can be purchased here.

It sounds just like the thing I need to help me kick start my new years healthy lifestyle (slowly puts down the pack of delicious chocolate biscuits).

Is it a Sprint or a Marathon?!

Well, the great thing about this new adventure is that its completely down to you. If you want to hit things hard, go for it! If not, like me, slow steady steps is the way forward. You set your goals and challenges. The Fool’s Errand team will set your daily puzzles.

Given the creativity seen from Enigmailed before, be prepared for all kinds of fun and frolics – but be sure to get them thinking caps on – this will be no walk in the park!

If, like me, the thought of pacing the streets on your own fills you with dread, there is no need to worry; you can also share your puzzles and daily challenges as a team of two!

Brilliantly, there is also no need to be a real gym bunny, marathon runner or Olympic swimmer to take part. You choose your charity, and pass the sponsorship form to friends, family, office colleagues, even the people you pass on the high street, and then you can select your daily fitness goals.

Be it a half hour daily dog walk, your 10,000 daily step allowance, a few lengths of the local swimming pool, hell, even chasing the kids up and door stairs every day to make sure they pick their toys up!

Every day throughout April you’ll be emailed over a daily puzzle challenge. Even if your legs haven’t been given a workout, we’re quite sure your brain will! Enigmailed have promised that the answer to each puzzle will give you a subtle instruction to the next days task!

Satisfaction, Guaranteed

Being the selfish guy I am, clearly I will be raising money for my own selected charity, but, what’s in it for me?!

Along with the satisfaction of building on the healthy lifestyle ethos which we all long for, and the daily momentous moments of smashing through puzzles, there will be a daily leader board, support through the online social media channels and, to help build my ego a little further, daily spot prizes for teams and individuals that go the extra mile!

To top it off, each participant receives a 45mm commemorative colour metal pin, which comes complete with a built-in puzzle! Let’s be honest, we are not going to go short of puzzles in April! We’re looking forward to it!

Time to Get the Running Shoes on ?!

Yes! Why the hell not. Raise money for whatever charity you want, build up your fitness, get your puzzle count up, give your brain a daily workout, and maybe if your lucky, pick up a prize along the way. The decision shouldn’t be difficult, even if this picture of me tells a different story!

Don’t be scared now Nick. Slowly put down the bourbon!

Pick up your individual or team ticket right now with an Early Bird discount. If you’re up for the challenge, sign up, and get your brain and body ready for what’s sure to be a brilliant summer!

To enter, visit:

https://enigmailed.com/products/fools-errand-challenge-early-bird-entry

The Panic Room: CSI Deadline | Review

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CSI Deadline Review | Something strange is happening in your comfortable company. A few days ago, your boss ‘Jerry Hoskins’ died in his office. The official story: Suicide. So then why is his office now closed for investigation?

Curiosity has got the better of you. It’s decided! Time to sneak into the office to see what you can find. Was he killed by someone in the company? Or was it really just a suicide?

Date Played: 2020
Time Taken: ~1 Hour

The Panic Room have done it again with a brilliantly strong CSI style murder mystery, with an impressive story line and great engaging puzzles.

In terms of story, you are an employ for Gen Win Solutions – a pharmaceutical giant. Upon your arrival to work, you are advised by police that the company boss, Jerry Hoskins has sadly taken his own life in his office. Knowing Jerry better than most, you feel that this would not be possible and have your suspicions. You and your group of fellow employees take it upon yourself to investigate further, as the police feel that this is clearly an open and shut case. 

Instantly I was hooked – the CSI series of games by The Panic Room all have really strong stories and this was no different. A believable story line, which as it evolves, gives great depth and further realism. Much like all other CSI games, the opening story is easy to understand and grasp and then as the case deepens, you find yourself unravelling subtleties and niche information. 

The first point of note in this game is that it feels much smoother in terms of game play that the other CSI games (and I am a big fan of all of them!).  A new and improved password system has been a real boost to game play and the interaction with on screen documents is much smoother.

Being the music geek I am, I loved the soundtrack to this game. Certainly not as intense as the rest of the series, however packed with subtle sound effects, giving a great office ambience, coupled with some well placed background music. 

As ever, no spoilers, however I really enjoy the opening video to this game as you are met by another Gen Win employee. It plays a great balance in being able to understand the company as well as giving you some hints on how the game works – I found the actor in this very believable and it is a very cute opening touch.

I found the puzzles within this game the strongest point of all. They are well produced, neatly presented and given the “office” environment you are working in, surprisingly varied.  An added element within this game is the use of slightly more interactive images, so there are aspects of “point and click” coupled with the more traditional “here’s a set of pictures, now solve the puzzle” games. This makes you feel like you are a little more involved with this “detective” case and actually rummaging around to find evidence of what actually happened. 

That being said, there are a number of evidence items you come across throughout the game will help you solve the case! You may not think it at the time, but I would certainly suggest jotting down what you see,hear and read – much of it will come in handy later! This all adds to the detective feel of the game.  

With the above in mind, I think that, given puzzle difficulty and interactivity, this game would suit families with older children/teens as well as enthusiasts. There are certainly some trickier puzzles within this game which will get the grey matter working, however if a little stuck,  a quick click of the hint button will get you back on track. Two or three puzzles in this game were real highlights, where the innovation of creating puzzles never ceases to amaze me!

Again, this game builds nicely as you pull together all the evidence and clues to work out actually what happened to Jerry. Using your powers of deduction, gathered clues, puzzle answers, subtle hints you’ve found along the way, this is a great finale to your hard work.  

Yet again, The Panic Room have pulled it out the bag with another outstanding CSI game. Stacked with puzzles, well presented, neat soundtrack and a very nice game play flow, this one will not disappoint. Gather your friends and family for a day in the “office” you will never forget – but don’t forget to meet your Deadline!

CSI Deadline can be purchased from The Panic Room’s website here.

Mythologic Escape Rooms: Mr Todd’s | Review

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Mr. Todd’s Review | Just a little off the top! this could be more than you bargained for, you heard that Mr Todds was the place to go for that close shave, but maybe a little too close, a strange smell in the air raises suspicion, you decide to leave but the door is locked, can you get out before he returns?

Date Played: 24th November 2021
Time Taken: 87mins 23secs (90 minute game)
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Hard

After being met by our host Amber and the always enthusiastic owner Chris, we were let to the entrance of the infamous barber shop. Then, the fun began; lightning strikes and thunder rages, as we were plunged into near darkness at the start of this game!

So, where to begin?!

As ever, no spoilers but knowing where to begin is actually the hard part! Clearly the designers have gone to great lengths to ensure that the décor reflects that of the era – this evidently creates a challenge of its own, as the room is relatively dark and sparse – and this works brilliantly!

As experienced players, we are often drawn to one to two areas of a room which get us flowing. Here, subtlety is key – some really well hidden signposting sits within the room without being too evident. This was a big winner for us as it really get the brains working from the offset! But don’t expect too much of an easy ride either!

When I say this game is tricky, don’t think rocket science. Everything is very achievable. However, we got far too comfortable in the early going and let time drift away with us. This isn’t purely about difficulty – think about volume! There are A LOT of puzzles in this room! They really come thick and fast and vary immensely.

As regular readers will know I am a massive fun of physical puzzles. This room is loaded with them. And, brilliantly, they are all in-keeping with theme. You’ll find no digital shenanigans in this room. Sure, there is lots of clever tech going on behind the scenes in this one, but don’t go expecting to see that on display openly. Think locks, levers, pulleys etc! All right up my street!

Don’t go losing your head now!

As the illusive barber says, don’t go losing your head! As a team of four, this game played really well. The flow is superb and the surprises just keep coming. There is a subtle innovation behind this game and you can really tell that the owners have gone to great lengths to make this game a real showpiece. As ever, no spoilers, however its really easy to get lost in the atmosphere of this game. An eerie soundtrack keeps you on your toes, the volume of puzzles coming thick and fast – linear game moments followed rapidly by non linear game play. Lots of times when the team needs to come together and a number of times where you can go it alone. The flow really is superb.

I am the type of player who tends to go head first into most puzzles and doesn’t always thick of the bigger picture. Here, make sure to pay close attention to detail. There were a handful of occasions where time could certainly have been saved if I’d actually paid closer attention to the details that were presented! My awesome team mates pointed out on a few of these occasions that I needed to slow down (and yep, they were right!).

An ever-evolving storyline

Often is the case, that when entering a room, the understanding is that you need to escape. True is that fact with this room, however… As this experience evolves, you’ll find yourself deeper immersed into the storyline behind this demonic barber. To save the entirety of the team having to read into finer details on evidence that is presented, a well-timed audio soundtrack ensures that everyone understands the full story. And, without giving too much away, this game, with its 90 minute play time, certainly packs a punch when it comes to story and set.

A really close shave!

When all was said and done, we scraped by in a really close time of 87 mins 23 secs – a close shave when the barber was due to return! All the games we’ve played at Mythologic have been pretty impressive but this one takes it to another level. Awesome scenery, great action, a brilliant mix of puzzles (and a massive volume of them too!), customer service continuing to be outstanding, and overall just a fabulous well-rounded experience. As a side note, this is my girlfriends first ever escape room (yeah, I know right?!), and its already given her the bug! So although I’d air this game towards slightly more experienced players given the volume of puzzles, its evident that a newcomer will enjoy it just the same (she was actually really good in the room too – insert jealous face emoji here!).

I’d agree that a team of four works really well for this room; a 2 would be a major push to complete this within the time frame – although I’d love to see a pair give this a good try! Is the room generally family friendly – I’d say so. There’s no actors or jump scares to be concerned by. Sure the play area is generally quite dark, and there are some fabulously creepy props here and there, particularly as the game develops, however young teenagers and above wouldn’t have any issues in this room.

So sit back in the barbers chair, don’t get too comfy, a short back and sides will be more than you bargained for when entering this escape room!

To book Mr Todd’s at Mythologic Escape Rooms Gillingham, head to their website here.

Ratings

The Panic Room: Sherlock Holmes Detective Story | Review

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Sherlock Holmes Detective Story Review | The year is 1912, the location: London town. You and your group think yourself to be a top-notch group of detectives and are itching to take on your first big case. What better start than a case that Sherlock himself has been trying to solve? You’ll need your wits about you, a keen eye for detail and don’t forget to take notes! Time to bring out your inner detective, with this brilliant online game, with classic styling, challenging puzzles and great story telling. 

​Date Played: 2020
Time Taken: ~ 1 hour

The year is 1912. The location, London Town. Think yourself to be a crack team of detectives? What better than to work on a case that Sherlock himself has been trying to solve! Try and catch up with Sherlock and crack the case of the missing Mrs Haversham.

As stories goes, this is a classic and it hit all the right notes. As the story evolves there are also some great twists, which aide in providing a great sense of reality.  Once again, the Panic Room team have it nailed with an overarching simplistic story, coupled with some outstanding in game detail, which give the characters depth and realism.  

The game starts with a brilliant, black and white stylised video which sets the tone beautifully, It is evident from the get go that this game has a very different feel to the great CSI series of games by The Panic Room. The tension and urgency is replaced by a classic, stylised game which is more fitting to the era in which the game is set. It combines the feel of of their My Dearest Emily game with the detective puzzles of the CSI series- a real match made in Heaven!   

In respect of puzzles, these are really strong. Cleverly,  all the games have a similar theme throughout, by using both a visual and audio clue for each puzzle and working on locations around the streets of London. Trying not to give away spoilers –  it amazes me how well this game has been designed in spite of these features – it adds to the realism of the game and makes it feel like a proper detective case.  

When it comes to difficulty, I would suggest that these sit in the medium to hard range. First timers might struggle on a handful, but don’t be dismayed – a great on screen clue system is in place which provides just the right level of helping hand without spoiling things. Firstly you can choose a more cryptic clue and then if that doesn’t guide you well enough, a clearer clue then follows. If worst come to worst you can reveal the answer – try not too though – everything is achievable. Just put your mind to it, sit back and think of the obvious!   

This game has a real sense of charm brought on by some brilliant interviews with the characters, including some nicely inserted subtle musical aspects. The combination of the charm and the strong puzzles makes this a really enjoyable prospect. 

In spite of the less pressurised experience, the finale of this game culminates nicely, bringing together all your evidence gathering skills and naming the culprit. 

We really enjoyed this game, in particular with the slightly more relaxed feel, some really strong puzzles, brilliant theme and awesome story telling!  Playing this game is Elementary my dear Watson! 

Sherlock Holmes: Detective Story can be purchased from The Panic Room’s website here.

Ratings

CTRL ALT ESC: Quick-E-Mart | Review

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CTRL ALT ESC: Quick-E-Mart | Review | Shop smart and shop fast because there’s plenty of points to be won. You and your team will solve puzzles and fill those trolleys, shopping has never been so much fun!  IT’S TIME TO GO WILD IN THE AISLES!

Date Played: 30th November 2021
Time Taken: 62mins 27secs
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Easy

If you are in the market for some completely over the top, retro adventures then look no further. This game is an absolute riot and, potentially the most fun I’ve ever had inside an escape room! Strap in folks, here comes the positivity…

This room is going straight in my basket!

The recently opened 2nd venue for CTRL ALT ESC in Margate, Kent was the scene of this outrageous adventure. Treated like absolute royalty, we took a seat in the large reception area (which includes some cool gadgets of its own!), and here our briefing began. Lets just say the “normal” room briefing wasn’t present here. Our host, dressed appropriately in a very fetching game show host attire, set the scene superbly; a thorough introduction of what to expect, in what can only be described as showbiz!

And, for added sparkle, as a team we were then presented with our very own brightly coloured aprons and escorted up to the room to begin our game show!

Attention to Detail? This Checks Out!

Our Game Show Host escorted us to the room. Well, I say room – opening the door, you would be forgiven for mistaking this for a local shop! Our host Geoff stayed in character whilst advising us about the room and what to expect. One thing is for sure, this is no normal escape room adventure!

Here’s the deal: You are a contestant on a new gameshow Quick E Mart. Clearly, this is absolutely nothing like Supermarket Sweep (honest lol!). You are presented with a shopping list and 90 minutes in which to collect all the items and get as much money as possible. So certainly not your normal escape room, that’s for sure, but by god was this where the fun ramped up even more!

Our host left the room, we grabbed the trolley and our retro adventure commenced!

Now, the first thing to mention here is the overwhelming brightness of the room. Everything is exactly how you would think it to be in a throwback like this. Lots of inflatables, big, bright, bold colours, the lot. Something else to note are some really clever extra attention to detail areas. Make sure to look at product names, subtle nods to members of the CTRL ALT ESC team, and plenty of tongue in cheek humour! I’d suggest that the first five minutes of the game was us running around and laughing at all the different things in the room!

There is certainly nothing linear about this room. Sure there are specific things you cant do unless you have carried out actions prior to that, however on the whole, as a team we just spread out and got cracking.

Don’t forget your Shopping List!

Yep, that might sound obvious, however with so much going on in the room, its so easy to get distracted and lose track of what you were trying to achieve. And that is exactly why this room is so much fun. A clever system will keep tabs of the items you have collected along the way; some items are readily available and require just tracking them down. Others are brilliantly secured using some very innovative methods.

Don’t think traditional escape room puzzles here. Cyphers and numerous padlocks need not apply! Sure there are occasional nods to commonly utilised puzzles, however what the designers have done brilliantly here is cleverly insert puzzles into the theme of a supermarket. Nicely hidden puzzles (which are actually in plain sight!), sit beautifully on theme and do not sit out of place at all. Something short of amazing when you think about how little is locked up in an actual supermarket!

Many of the puzzles in this game are short and snappy and that really adds to the way it flows. There are one or two longer or ongoing puzzles in this room and they provided a great distraction to appreciate potentially how far into the game we were (I’m trying desperately not to provide a spoiler here!).

Walkie Talkies? No Thanks!

The big question: How the hell do you provide a clue system for a game based in a supermarket?! All I can say is: Brilliantly!

There isn’t a walkie talkie in sight. Instead pay close attention to the briefing at the start of the game as there aren’t any ‘normal’ ways of getting hints and clues that’s for sure. More innovation from the designers here – as a team we all agreed that this was possibly our favourite hint system. Very simple in practice, beautiful in execution.

We played Quick E Mart as a team of four, three adults and my 10 year old son. Now, this may sound bias however he is absolutely outstanding in escape rooms. He’s played around 10-12 games with me and he never ceases to amaze me with how he picks stuff up – and this room was no exception. Agreed that this room is a simple affair and certainly not going to be one that taxes even first time gamers, but he said, hands down that this is his absolute favourite game he has played – and he is a harsh judge!

With that in mind, I would certainly recommend this game for friends and families with children of all ages. It really hits the nail on the head between what you would expect in an escape room and what a family attraction has. Similarly, experienced escape room players need to embrace a game like this, let their hair down and just have 90 minutes of fun and laughter!

A Suitably Fitting Finale

As a team we smashed through the game at a great pace; the money was stacking up brilliantly and the shopping list had been completed! But wait, we are on a game show – we get to play the bonus round! Now, as ever, no spoilers, however be prepared for a suitably different over the top finale to this game. It will help you build up your cash and you’ll have a brilliant laugh doing it too!

When all was said and done, this was certainly one of the most fun and innovate rooms I’ve ever played. From the over the top retro theming, the cleverly inserted puzzles, the cracking clue system and the all round fun and entertainment value, this is certainly not one to miss. Brilliantly hosted, all in character, superb setting, and something very different from what you’d expect to see in many escape rooms.

So remember, next time you are at the checkout and you hear the beep, think of the fun you could be having on Quick E Mart!

Without doubt, I happily award this room a very special, well deserved, FUN FACTOR BADGE!.. 🎉

If you want to go wild in the aisles, click the link to book at CTRL ALT ESC: https://ctrlaltesc.co.uk/index.php/en/games

Ratings

The Panic Room: CSI Grounded | Review

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CSI Grounded Review | Are you ready to solve a mile-high mystery? A murder: The suspects are 30,000 ft in the air. Someone killed Avery Stone on Flight 9201! But who, and how?

Everyone on board is a suspect! The evidence you need to solve this crime is locked inside evidence packs. Solve the clues, unravel the mystery, and find the killer before the case crashes and burns around you!

Date Played: 2020
Time Taken: ~1 hour

Put your detective hats on in this high-tech online murder mystery! 

The story… A murder, a mystery. The suspects 30,000 feet in the air. Someone killed Avery Stone on flight 9201 – but who and how? Everyone on board is a suspect. Solve your way through the clues, unravel the mystery and find the killer. 

A real solid storyline gets this game off to a strong start. The depth of the story is pretty unbelievable with attention to detail which no other online game could dream of – particularly as the game evolves. 

Another major plus to this game is the level of tech involved. Numerous embedded and online videos, plus the use of QR codes add something different to this game. It really does make you feel like a detective. The video and audio quality is very strong. The use of different audio techniques really adds to the style of this game. (coupled with a tension building hour long backing track which really adds to the pressure!)

In terms of puzzles these vary vastly. There are a couple of some very easy self-explanatory puzzles which we got in a matter of seconds. On the flip-side, there were some which will test even the most experienced escape gamer. Some well places clues will certainly guide you in the right direction (and yes, we did use them!) 

A pen and paper coupled with an extra mobile phone with a camera are a must in this game. With the volume of puzzles and evidence involved, coupled with some extra downloads on clues etc it can become easy to get bogged down, so take your time, write down the clues and your will be certain to succeed. 

All round, a very impressive online experience, which uses audio and visual clues in a modern way, yet still clinging onto the traditions of a murder-mystery game. Invest your time and your patience and this is one you wont forget in a hurry! 

CSI Grounded can be purchased from The Panic Room’s website here.

Ratings

Play Dead London: The Elf Who Stole Christmas | Review

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The Elf Who Stole Christmas Review | In the run up to Christmas, Santa’s workshop is in chaos! There’s so much to do and to make matters worse… SOMEONE has stolen Santa’s Naughty and Nice List! Can you solve the mystery and work out which Elf it was?! This family friendly mystery will be great fun and a way of our detectives young and old to test their interrogation skills!

Date Played: November 2021
Time Taken: 60 minutes
Number of Players: 1 (with 12 random online strangers!)
Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Who, who, who not Ho Ho Ho!

I’ll start this review of with a bit of a disclaimer! – I have never actually played an online zoom “murder mystery” style game before, so had no idea what to expect. When I say I was blown away, I mean I really was BLOWN AWAY!

First thing to mention is the storyline; a really simple affair – someone has stolen Santa’s Naughty and Nice List. It is for you and your team of detectives to work out who did it! Now, Line of Duty this isn’t BUT it pitches perfectly at the target audience – families, work get togethers etc. You don’t want something too taxing – this storyline certainly made the whole thing massively fun!

A photo of the cast pre-lockdown!

So, “how does it work?!” I hear you cry

Simple! You and your team will each be given a specific Zoom login via email which will take you directly to Santa’s grotto in the North Pole. (Ok, well maybe not his actual grotto, but the Zoom backgrounds looked fantastic!). Here you will be joined by Detective Sleigh Bells who will assist you on your mystery!

Detective Sleigh Bells is on hand throughout the game to give you subtle hints to the identity of the culprit and provide additional evidence which has been supplied as you get into the depths of this ever-evolving mystery. The awesome actor who plays Detective Sleigh Bells certainly has a challenge on her hands in being able to manage the game, the numerous players (I believe I was playing with 12 other strangers!), plus the team of naughty elves, who are our suspects! She done an amazing job in juggling all this at the same time plus staying in character.

The Naughty Elves – I Tip My Hat To You!

Speaking of staying in character, this is where the game excels! How the ladies managed to carry this out was beyond me, however you are also joined by a team of naughty elves within your zoom call. Each has a very unique personality and specific job role within the North Pole (I won’t ruin the surprise by telling you their names, but needless to say, they are just as creative as the rest of the game!).

Evidence is mainly provided by Detective Sleigh Bells within the main forum of the game, however cleverly, the Zoom chat is then taken into breakout sessions where you have direct conversation with the elves and have the chance to really interrogate them about their whereabouts, their relationships and their roles. Each actor was phenomenal in staying wholly in character (despite my best efforts to put them off, or tell silly jokes to take them off their stride!). Even though the game is aimed on the humorous side, this hasn’t affected the depth of each individual characters back story – and their improv game was off the scale! Quick wit, on point, clearly not scripted, I tip my hat to each of these ladies in being able to make comedy characters fully believable and allow me to spend an hour just generally being silly and forgetting about the world!

There’s no need to be a Sherlock!

Of course, in spite of this being a comedic online adventure, you still do have to pay attention to what is going on! There are subtle hints here and there which you should jot down in case you need them to build up your case. You certainly don’t need to be the next Sherlock Holmes however! The evidence is quirky, including some cool audio and visual clues, the occasion sing song (which clearly I sung at the top of my lungs!), however make sure to listen closely when discussing directly with the elves. The massive benefit of playing as a large team (even though I knew no one I was playing with), is that you all build up your file of evidence and then collectively come up with your final suspect. There’s no pressure to succeed but you’ll certainly be fully invested after just five minutes of playing this game!

Sooooo much fun!

I’m often sceptical about things that portray themselves to be “humorous or hilarious” but this game certainly succeeded! I’m never the best on video chats, and despite having almost 2 years of non-stop video chats at my office, I’ve always found myself to be a little self-conscious in front of the camera – not here however! Within minutes, I was happily talking to the other players, liaising with the detective and the elves and generally having an absolutely fabulous time. At no point did I feel embarrassed and I came away from playing the game with a massive smile on my face.

Our game finale was suitably fun and we were pitched off into breakout rooms to divulge our evidence before coming all back together to present it, and acknowledge who we felt was the culprit. And between us, I’m happy to say – we succeeded!

There are very few games that I have played within the last three years of reviewing, that leave a lasting impression. This however is one of them. A proper murder-mystery style game, with a brilliant level of immersion, impressive acting, some cool tech elements with audio and visuals and generally just an overwhelming level of fun. I’d urge families, friends and work colleagues to all come together to play this game. It gave me the festive cheer I didn’t realise I was missing!

To book this experience and see what other experiences Play Dead London are running, head to Design My Night

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The Panic Room: Clue Kingdom: The Forgotten City | Review

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Clue Kingdom: The Forgotten City Review | Follow the glorious quest of Aldred as he explores the harrowing streets of a forgotten city lost to time where the powerful Air element awaits. It’s time to start your adventure!

Date Played: Early 2020
Time Taken: ~1 Hour

Make no doubt about, I am a big fan of the online games presented by The Panic Room. And the Clue Kingdom series is something special. But this chapter (at point of writing) is my absolute favourite of the series thus far.

For those that haven’t checked out the series, let me set the scene… The Clue Kingdom is under the control of evil magic at The Spire. In order to regain control of the Kingdom, you follow the journey of different characters in their bid to obtain a collection of different elements Think epic “Lord of the Rings”  and you have nailed it! In this chapter, we follow the path of Aldred the Apostle in his quest to secure the air element from deep within the bowels of the Cathedral of Divinity, in the Forgotten City. Yep, you got it folks, our quest continues and the series of puzzles that lay ahead will certainly get your adrenaline buzzing and the grey matter working for sure! 

As with the other chapters in this series, The Panic Room have cleverly devised them to also be standalone games. Yes, purchase on their own if you must, however I would highly suggest buying the series, so you get that little surprise in your inbox once a month! The journey certainly unfolds when combining all chapters and for families and enthusiasts alike, having that online get together once a month to see where the adventure is taking you, is well worth it!     

Although easy to compare chapters, this review will focus solely on chapter 3. So where to begin? Well, the opening video really sets the scene for the adventure that follows. An epic, orchestral, beautifully designed and animated opening provides the senses with a shot in the arm, and gets your excitement pulsing. 

The puzzles then begin, which tend to follow the well trodden path that The Panic Room have used before – page by page puzzles, accompanied by some cool download documents along the way. A great bonus on this adventure is that there isn’t the need to read through masses of text – the start of every puzzle commences with a well scripted audio opening. 

When it comes to puzzle content, this game is packed with them, all of which stick strictly to the theme. I would suggest that this game is medium difficultly – some games kept me guessing for a while however the penny dropped in most cases. Although there are a selection of hover boxes at the foot of each page where you can get some well pitched clues, and, if your really stuck, reveal the answer. 

A huge positive in this online game, is the use of more interactive puzzles. Not only does the game include beautifully designed games (and I mean really beautifully designed), which appear throughout the game series, this chapter includes games which get the user even more involved in the surroundings of the puzzle and will need you to interact with the content in front of you (that’s me being as cryptic as possible without giving any spoilers!)

This outstandingly epic adventure builds superbly and certainly utilises the strengths already seen in the previous chapters. Accompanied with a well appointed soundtrack to download, packed with superb games and beautiful graphics, this is one that all the family will enjoy. 

Yet another brilliant example of a well-rounded online adventure, brought to you by the expertise of The Panic Room. Certainly up there with our favourites. Every chapter keeps the hunger for the next – and I’m already starving for the next one! Unlike the city, this adventure will not be forgotten!   

The Forgotten City can be purchased at The Panic Room’s website here.

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