Dinner With Anonymous Review | “First course – peanut stew, main course – your dirty lies with a tahini dressing.” Five honourable guests have been blackmailed to dine with Anonymous, a charming psycho claiming to know everyone’s dark secrets. In a twisted turn of events, you find yourself in Anonymous’ basement, kidnapped and challenged to answer two questions: “Who is Anonymous? And what have these five people done to piss them off?”
Completion Time: ~60 minutes Date Played: January 2023 Party Size: 2 Difficulty: Hard
It has been a long, long time since I’ve last played a Scarlet Envelope game and I have to say – I’ve missed it! Scarlet Envelope are one of those monthly subscription types I used to save up and play with my good friend Bianca. However since moving to Edinburgh, I hadn’t had the chance to pick up and play with anyone new. That is, until today. Apparently, if you can believe this, it’s been a whole year since I played the last in the series: Screaming Venice Art Heist. A lot can happen in a year, but it’s nice to have that feeling of returning home when you pick up a puzzle game that is both exciting in its newness and familiar in it’s reliability.
A Collaboration between Scarlet Envelope & Keith, of USB Escape
The first, and most exciting thing about Dinner with Anonymous is that this is the first (but hopefully not the last) collaboration between Scarlet Envelope and Keith Dozois of USB Escape… And it shows! You can see the metaphorical fingerprints of both creators all over this game. There’s the physical, tactile experience of Scarlet Envelope combined with the horror themes of USB escape, married together with fantastic audio visuals which I’ve come to expect from both creators.
On a personal level, it was a lot of fun watching the two creators collaborate, their partnership unfolding over Instagram, and creating funny gems like this one 👇
But onto the actual game, how did it play?
You Have Been Kidnapped…
Dinner with Anonymous starts with the startling news that you have been kidnapped! Notorious serial killer with their eyes set on 5 unique victims has you in their clutches, but you have one shot at escaping. If you can figure out the name of the killer and exactly why everyone is being picked off one by one, they’ll let you go. If not, it looks like you’ll be on the menu next… So no pressure!
We spilled out all the contents of the envelope onto our table and got stuck in. At first glance, Dinner with Anonymous was a much lighter envelope than some of the others. The reason for this is because most of the game takes place online and that’s the first puzzle – how to get to the homepage to get started. With a slightly rocky start trying a few ‘hidden’ websites and deciphering details we found a little too early, we eventually made our way to the correct landing page and the game begun.
With a fantastic cinematic quality, the game begins by you being greeted by the serial killer themselves. An individual with a large TV on their head, cooking a horrific looking dish, blood splattered everywhere, and threatening you next. Hehe… Well, I did say it was a horror game, didn’t I?
There are 8 videos in total over the course of the game, so even if it does seem on the lighter side, it’s no less meaty (no pun intended) than any of the previous in the series. In fact, the web portal and video portions were some of my favourite in the whole game. They played brilliantly, added a level of tension, elevated the otherwise already satisfying tabletop puzzle game into something extra special.
Once we’d figured out what to do, we were off to a flying start. The gameplay that follows is fairly linear. The first puzzle gives you a clue to the next puzzle, then the next, and so on. Each one uses both the TV and the physical ephemera in the envelope to be solved. Then of course there is also a meta puzzle that uses secret details you found throughout the game and comes together for the big finale.
Scarlet Envelope, But Make it Difficult
When ordering from Scarlet Envelope you get to choose the difficulty level of your game:
Since I don’t remember specifying which difficulty I’m on, I assume I’m getting the latter. Because, well, these games are tricky and it saves a little pride if I assume they’re tricky because it’s “Experienced” and I’m not just losing my puzzle solving marbles.
Dinner with Anonymous was no exception, and after spilling out the contents of the envelope over Rebecca’s table, we weren’t sure where to begin. I would go so far as to say it might be the trickiest of the games in this series I’ve played so far. For each individual puzzle we used at least one clue, and in a few cases we even ended up revealing the solution.
In terms of those puzzles, there was a fun mix of them. My favourite by far was one that involved a certain recipe. Can I say the puzzle made me feel physically sick? And in all the best ways possible! However that was also the one we used the most hints on to get to the correct solution in the end. This game also benefitted from a few details hidden in plain sight… Without wanting to give any spoilers, I love it when something you’ve been holding in your hand suddenly turns out to conceal something brilliant, in a place you’d never have thought to look.
If I had only one criticism of the game it would probably be that – it was a little tricky, and the signposting of where to begin at the start felt less than I’d had on previous games. But overall, despite finding it trickier than usual, we had an absolute blast playing through.
Michelin Star, or Food Fail?
Overall, I really enjoyed Dinner with Anonymous. It’s up there as one of my favourites of Scarlet Envelope – and that’s saying a lot from me since I don’t enjoy horror at all. I went in with an open mind and a horror-enthusiast, expecting a fun little game and instead getting something far more atmospheric and mysterious. The combination of two powerhouse Canadian creators mean that this game is something quite unique, and I hope this means there’ll be more collaborations on the horizon for Scarlet Envelope in the future.
In terms of who I’d recommend this for… I’ll start by saying who I don’t recommend this for: Kids. It’s creepy, very creepy. Some kids will probably be fine with that, but I’m a bit of a wimp myself and it certainly sent shivers down my spine. For any horror enthusiasts, Dinner with Anonymous is a must-play and a standout game in the genre. It would be good as a standalone, or as part of the full Scarlet Envelope series. In short, a big thumbs up from me.
As I write this, next to me on my desk I have the next instalment: Ashes of Persepolis ready to go. After spending a whole year without playing a single Scarlet Envelope game, my appetite is once again truly whet and I can’t wait to get cracking on the next.
Mission Breakout: The Lost Passenger Review | Based on the true story of the lost passenger in South Kentish Town tube station in 1924. In 1924, soon after South Kentish Town was closed down, a train stopped at the station by mistake, and a man absentmindedly alighted. The train departed, and Mr Brackett disappeared in the darkness. No one knows if he ever escaped. Are you brave enough to step down into the Ghost tube station and investigate the paranormal activity?
Date Played: 27th March 2022 Number of Players: 2 Time Taken: 47 Minutes Difficulty: Easy
My personal escape room Kryptonite that I absolutely melt with joy when I experience in a room is authentic theming and props. An escape room themed around the building it’s set in? Tick! Original equipment and props from the era and time? Double tick! Being allowed to press buttons and pull levers from old timey 1920s railway train control rooms that by all right should probably be in a museum behind a glass window? Triple tick. YES! PRESS ALL THE BUTTONS!
Mission: Breakout is located in South Kentish Town Station. It’s in the classic tiled redbrick style of many stations around London, but unfortunately was closed down in 1924 due to low passenger numbers. The building sat there for a very long time gathering dusts… And ghosts!
…And he was never seen again!
We booked in to play The Lost Passenger at Mission: Breakout after a very, very long lockdown. My family are long-time fans of urban, abandoned building exploration. Our idea of a fun weekend out is putting on hard hats and descending into the old abandoned railway stations of London (on guided tours of course, we’re not breaking any laws here!). So one Christmas I knew just the gift to get them – a voucher for us all to play this escape room, set in the old disused train station in Kentish Town.
Unfortunately, that Christmas was Christmas 2020 and it took us almost 2 years until we were actually able to redeem the voucher. Even then, the day before we were all due to play, half our party tested positive with covid. After deliberating, the remaining 2 decided to go ahead with the booking – we lost the other two places on the booking but it was still worth it, if we didn’t play now, we may never have gone!
In The Lost Passenger, you descend into the depths of the station in search of a passenger who alighted from the train when it mistakenly pulled up at the abandoned station. Based on a true story, this passenger seemingly stepped off the train, walked into the darkness of the station and vanished into thin air and was never seen again.
The Lost Passenger. Photo (c) Mission: Breakout
Mind the Gap
Arriving at Mission: Breakout was exciting. It quite literally, is inside an old train station. I’m not sure what I’d expected, but we couldn’t contain our smiles at the details,
“Wow look this bench is an original Great Western Railway bench OMG!”
“Look at the tiling here, it’s from the 1910s!”
Our GM who came to greet us in amongst our cries of exclamation was Elza, who explained that it was of the very first escape rooms she’d run. She did a fantastic job – and even managed to tease us with a few jump scares during the game too. She led us down several corridors through the dim lights and past curious features of the abandoned railway station, until we arrived at the escape room. From here, we were shown into the lift that was to take us into the bowels of the train station from whence we may never return.
So, a full disclaimer, this room can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. We didn’t know it going in but apparently you can ask for a certain level of scariness and the host can dial it up or tone it down accordingly. Since we didn’t ask, I imagine we got an ‘average’ level of scariness. I scream easily, and my screams probably terrified my co-escaper more than the original jump scares did, but it was all light hearted fun. The kind of ‘doors closing behind you’ and ‘what’s that lurking in the shadow’ scares. No live actors, but a general level of creepiness for sure. If in doubt, just ask them to tone it down and I’m sure they will!
Can you read a train map?
In terms of difficulty, The Lost Passenger is definitely on the easier side. This makes it a good room for smaller groups, kids, or people who are mostly there because they love abandoned train stations. For once, I am in the last group. Although, despite it being ‘easier’, it’s still a vastly big escape room space with no fewer than 6 separate rooms, and many of those containing stairs and cool passageways. So it certainly won’t be a quick room to escape from.
One thing to flag (and it’s important to mention for accessibility reasons), is that some parts of this escape room are in the dark. Very, very dark. Almost pitch black. These rooms involve puzzles where you have to feel around for things and then try to solve them in the dark. In the escape room industry as a whole, there’s a little bugbear among enthusiasts about ‘darkness’ being a puzzle in itself. I can see why it (has to) work in this room, and it fits well with the environment – why wouldn’t you be crawling in the dark?
There are also several moments where players must crawl around on all fours in cramped spaces. Again, this is likely just the way that the original site was built, a lot of the rooms in this are workers shafts and tunnels leading between control rooms – but it’s another consideration.
In terms of puzzles beyond “dark and small spaces”, players can expect to encounter plenty of searching and finding, some jigsaws, finding objects to use in other places, and a few very fun cerebral puzzles involving operating the heavy machinery. Largely, the room is less about using your brain and more about pushing and pulling things. It’s a very physical room, and there’s more than a little trial and error to get particular puzzles working, but we liked it. My favourite thing about this escape room was that it really does use all the original equipment, and there’s something very exciting about pushing buttons and pulling levers on machines from the 1920s to make escape room puzzles work.
The Lost Passenger was a really fun room and well worth the long wait in lockdown. It won’t challenge enthusiasts, but that’s okay – I think the real reason to book and play this is to experience an exciting an adventure in such an impressive physical location. We loved that it was based on a true story, but what we loved the most was the setting, the theme, the creaky equipment, and the general ghostly vibes as we scrambled around the depths of an abandoned station looking for puzzles to solve. Furthermore, Elza did a great job as our host and made us feel really welcome (and more than a little bit scared).
The Lost Passenger can be booked at Mission: Breakout in London by heading to their website here.
Lady Chastity’s Reserve Review | Enter the lair of the deranged Lady Chastity as you pit your wits against her mysterious belongings and strange contraptions. Those who prove themselves worthy will whoop their way through an hour of surreal gaming, leaving with Chastity’s fabled bottle of aphrodisiac wine.
Completion Time: 50 minutes Date Played: 15th January 2022 Party Size: 4 Difficulty: Hard
Through fits of uncontrollable laughter after a pint downstairs, we stumbled into the famous (or should I say, infamous) Lady Chastity’s Reserve. Tucked away above The Hope in Farringdon, it’s a venue I literally pass every day of my life and never once realised an escape room was hidden within. But that’s how we found ourselves, in the earliest week of January we could get our team together, excitedly buzzing with anticipation that we finally secured a Lady Chastity’s Reserve booking.
[cue more giggling and excited noises]
What Happens in the Lady’s Parlour… Stays There!
So first things first, let’s clear the air. Lady Chastity’s Reserve is an 18+ room. Some of the reasons for this, we assume are:
Themes of a sexual nature (she’s not that chaste after all – are you offended by light-hearted references to Victorian orgies?)
The prize of a bottle of wine (tantalising!)
The location of the escape room being above a pub (it’s unlikely kids are allowed in after a certain time!)
It’s a little bit spooky. You may encounter a dead body.
For those reasons, the owners have slapped on a strict 18+ rating. Whilst we reckon in theory the game could be toned down for a 16+ audience, we mention the reasons why both as a content warning, and to ensure other bookers avoid disappointment. Keep the kids at home for this one!
So with that aside, let’s get into the light-hearted spooky debauchery that is Lady Chastity’s Reserve…
Lady Chastity is a woman who is well known for her… Errr… Parties. Her aphrodisiac wine is a big hit and brings all the ladies and gentlemen to her parlour for some fun. After suffering heartbreak, the lady hosts one final lavish party but- oh no! Disaster strikes! A candle left unattended tips over and sets fire to a curtain, engulfing the building. Whilst all the visitors manage to escape in various states of undress, Lady Chastity is never seen again. Rumour has it at the first sign of fire she ran to her cellar and locked up her last bottle of aphrodisiac wine, but didn’t make it out in time.
This is where you come in. The house has been refurbished by the ever-dutiful Gabriel. Her housekeeper turned inheritor. But he’s never found that bottle of aphrodisiac wine. Can you follow in The Lady’s steps, figure out what happened to her, and claim that bottle of wine?!
Creepy Corners, Candlelight, and Curtains for Days
One of the stand-outs for us in Lady Chastity’s Reserve was the decor of the room. We didn’t have to ‘suspend disbelief’ even for a second… It really felt like being inside a Victorian parlour! The whole space was lit with candlelight – torches were provided, which was a nice touch for an otherwise very dark room – and the furniture, curtains, wallpaper and decor felt lifted directly out of the Victorian era.
Darkness is marmite in an escape room. It makes it harder to solve puzzles. But for me, Lady Chastity’s Reserve was dark for a reason. It’s lit by candlelight, and it really works! None of the puzzles were hindered by it, it only added to the ambience. Dark shadows darted around in our peripheral vision, and when a sudden loud noise rang out from somewhere you were never quite sure where it came from.
Even the smell of the room was authentic. It feels funny to praise an escape room for having a good smell – but the slightly smoky, musty smell felt brilliant.
What I’m trying to say, is full marks for the decor. A lot of folks will be put off by a darker room, but I propose that instead players treat the darkness as an extra character. It really adds to the story.
What of Lady Chastity’s Puzzles?
So you see how I said I liked the darkness and they didn’t hinder the puzzles – well not strictly true, as this room does rely on a lot of search-and-find especially at the beginning. Just be sure to shine that torch everywhere!
The whole room follows a linear format. There’s a clear goal, and each puzzle leads onto the next seamlessly. You’re guided not only by clues from your host, Gabriel (of which you can claim just 3 of them over the course of the game), but Lady Chastity herself will often ring out from the darkness and the gloom. Listen to her carefully for she often gives big clues in subtle ways.
Players can expect to encounter quite a few padlocks and 4 digit codes (hey, this Lady is trying to protect her wine from thieves like us!), and some ingenious uses of physical manipulation, smoke and mirrors. For sure, there were a lot of puzzles to get through, but some of them were so utterly delightful I can’t help but still smile about them days later. Conversely, there were some that other members of my team solved so efficiently that I didn’t even see how.
Cue my “Woah look at this, you can do that!” to everyone replying in unison, “Yep we’ve solved it“. Haha, oops.
We were warned that the room was a little on the harder side, but managed to escape with 10 minutes left on the clock after using 2 clues. I think I’d still agree that it’s hard – but not impossible. For a team of 4 fairly experienced enthusiasts, some of whom on our third pint of the evening, we didn’t do too badly! We’d definitely recommend aiming to play with a similar sized group, but don’t be put off if you go in with a smaller, or brand new team!
How much does Lady Chastity’s Reserve cost?
For London, it’s not the cheapest escape room for sure. But it’s also not the most expensive. And hey, how many rooms let you take home a bottle of wine if you win?
This is a conversation we regularly have on The Escape Roomer. How do we measure “value” when different regions are priced so differently? There’s no right or wrong answer, so we try instead to ask “was it good value?” In all this room costs a flat fee of £30 per person – regardless of team size (therefore it’s £60 for a team of two, and £180 for a team of 6). Originally this escape room was also non-exclusive, meaning you might get put in with strangers. Whilst this is common in the United States, it’s unpopular in the UK. It seems like in recent times this policy has been scrapped and bookings are exclusive. Phew.
So, with this in mind, did we get a good value? Oh yes, absolutely!
Once upon a time, the original creators of Lady Chastity’s Reserve, Handmade Mysteries, closed down and for a while we thought the escape room would disappear forever. Whenever I asked other enthusiasts about their favourite room, I’d hear this one mentioned so often. Too bad it had closed down! Argh, the heartbreak.
But when the news that Houdini’s had purchased the game and was bringing it back – no price was too high for me to book this. It so happened that we got extra lucky with a Black Friday discount and didn’t pay full price between the four of us. But honestly? I’m just glad I survived the pandemic long enough to see this gem reopen.
Lady Chastity’s Reserve absolutely lived up to the hype for us, and I’m thrilled that we chose it for our very first escape room of 2022. Start the year as we mean to go on, eh?
It’s creepy, musty, sordid, manic and above all, just so much fun. We also in particular want to shout out our Games Master at The Hope Farrington for his fantastic portrayal of the caretaker Gabriel. From start to finish he never once broke character – all the way from a perfect intro briefing, to scaring us quite a few times, to presenting the bottle of The Lady’s Reserve to us at the end of our game.
After some deliberation in the pub downstairs, The Hope, we’ve decided to award this game our Fun Factor badge – awarded to all escape rooms that are just that extra bit of fun. Lady Chastity’s Reserve takes itself seriously yet still managed to balance the hilarity and silliness that we love in a room. We were all smiles and laughter from start to finish, and it’s certainly going to be a room I’ll remember for a long time.
I would highly recommend Lady Chastity’s Reserve to anyone wanting something a little different to play. At the time of writing, the Farringdon version of the game is the only one available on Houdini’s website (aww), but well worth the trip into London.
The Glasshouse Ghost Review | Investigate the strange events at the Winchester Mystery House and solve the case of The Glasshouse Ghost! You can start your mission right away! This game can be played completely online.
Completion Time: 35 minutes Date Played: 8th January 2022 Party Size: 4 Difficulty: Medium
Our first play-at-home escape room of 2022 goes to Society of Curiosities’ exciting new release: The Glasshouse Ghost. And hey, it’s good to be back playing with Escaping the Closet and our friend Tasha. If this game teases anything for what the landscape of escape games will look like in 2022, then Society of Curiosities have set the bar very high. Every time I think I’ve seen it all in at-home escape rooms, something delightful comes along and surprises me! The Glasshouse Ghost is one of those games. Narrative driven, deductive puzzles, and talking to ghosts via mysterious radio waves – spooky!
The Haunting of Winchester Mystery House
The story of The Glasshouse Ghost follows you, an intrepid team of ghost-hunters, sent in to the Winchester Mystery House – which is a very real place – to find out what is going on. You’re greeted at the start of the game by Taylor, the historian at the Winchester Mystery House. This is of course a chatbot, but in the moment it’s thoroughly immersive and feels like you’re speaking with a real person.
Taylor explains that during recent construction works, secret documents and hidden compartments were found. But with uncovered secrets, come restless spirits. Surely the construction cannot continue until the ghosts are found, identified, and exorcised- wait, that’s probably too strong of a word. In any case, the ghosts need to go.
Remember… Ghosts are all about unfinished business!
But fear not – you’re not alone on your ghost-hunting adventure! Through a straightforward, top-down desk interface, you have access to a number of documents, your in-game mobile phone and most importantly… A radio!
The aim of the game is to find the following:
The name of the ghost?
What happened to them?
What do they want now?
As we discovered each new item within the house – a myriad of exciting documents like photographs, letters, and scribbled notebook entries – our page would update with the new document. Ever the trigger happy one of the group, I spent a lot of time tuning into various radio stations. Occasionally we would find static, but sometimes I would encounter music too. A correct answer gives the correct radio station where the invisible hand of the ghost would guide the words to form a sentence – a little like watching an episode of Buzzfeed Unsolved.
…But in ghost hunting, it’s not quite as simple as ‘input a correct answer’. No, one of the best things about The Glasshouse Ghost was the nuance and subtlety. For starters, the chatbot takes a wide variety of inputs and responds very humanly to them. At no point during the game did we feel like we were just solving puzzle after puzzle – no, we were detectives!
The Glasshouse Ghost takes you on a journey via a winding narrative that has twists and turns and of course, plenty of puzzles along the way. It’s refreshing and entertaining.
Things that go ‘bump’ in the night
One thing to note is that The Glasshouse Ghost does require audio. So don’t be like me and show up to game night without headphones! If you opt to play together via Zoom, you will need to have your PC volume up (to the maximum to catch some of the subtler noises) which doesn’t lend itself to talking out loud. It’s a fine line to balance – but in this particular play through I made do by muting my browser for most of the time, then unmuting it when I needed to follow along with a puzzle.
There are a number of sound-related puzzles in the puzzle, including but not limited to listening for clues, tapping, musical notes, and tests of how well you were listening! For the dialogue, the game offers a written transcript after any major dialogue is spoken. You can get by with the transcript, but for the best experience, listen to everything!
The other thing to note is that if you are playing via Zoom or another video message service, each player will need to input their own codes on their own screen – the game does not automatically update for everyone. This also meant that throughout our four players we all received a different score at the end of the game. Since I spent an embarrassingly long time trying different radio stations and talking nonsense to Taylor, I received the lowest score. The conclusion I draw is that the game will penalise for incorrect answers… That or the ghosts just weren’t very happy with me!
But despite these two small warnings about the tech, The Glasshouse Ghost otherwise ran perfectly well. We played a couple of days before public release – so expected to encounter a few hiccups, but instead had a smooth experience from start to finish.
Overall, we had a lot of fun with The Glasshouse Ghost. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a game like this, but it didn’t disappoint. As we wove our way through the different spaces and uncovered more secrets, a story slowly unfolded in front of us. Everything felt natural and realistic, the back and forth between you and your guide, and the sensitive history we engaged with.
I can’t help but feel like The Glasshouse Ghost is packed with many more secrets we didn’t yet find – and that’s a really exciting feeling. I actually kinda want to play it again. I want to try more radio stations, and I want to spend more time in the Winchester Mystery House trying different things and poking into dark corners.
Society of Curiosities have created something really special. It’s hard to call it a ‘hidden gem’ because it’s no secret this US-based company is one of the most consistently brilliant escape room creators out there – but over here in the UK we were surprised and delighted by what we found within the walls of the Winchester Mystery House. We’re looking forward to (hopefully) future installations!
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!
Escape Hunt Day of the Dead Review | Tonight, it is the Day of the Dead and amongst the festivities, music and colour, lies a legendary challenge: the chance to be reborn. Have you got what it takes to lead a skeleton crew of expert thieves into the most heavily guarded building in the whole underworld? For one night only, the walls between the real world and the afterlife have come down and the greatest prize of them all sits inside a secure vault somewhere inside the palace, waiting to be taken by someone bold enough to try.
Date Played: October 2021 Time Taken: 1 Hour 2 Mins Number of Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy
Bright, colourful, yet slightly spooky
Its no surprise that I am a big fan of the print at home games produced by Escape Hunt over the last year or so. Everything is of the highest quality, with some outstanding graphic design and solidly thought out themes and puzzles. And this game is certainly no exception.
The theme grabbed me instantly. I have real love for all things based on Dias De Las Muertos and I am surprised that its a theme that isn’t more widely used in the escape room community. The combination of traditional family values, beautifully colourful painted faces and the more ominous death factors give some real endless opportunities for puzzle designers – and the guys at Escape Hunt have certainly gone to town with this theme, and grasped the challenge with both skeleton painted hands!
Sensory overload?! You bet! But my eyes were buzzing with the amazing colours involved in this game. Obviously, your printer might not enjoy it, but your eyes certainly well. But don’t worry, the guys at Escape Hunt have you covered – the opening page of the PDF file clearly shows what you need to print to make the game a little more pocket-friendly on your printer!
Strike up the band, Amigos
Getting a sense of immersion from a print at home game will always prove difficult. One way that is always a winner for me, is the use of sound and music. With Day of the Dead, the website gives you the opportunity to strike up the Mariachi band and indulge in the sounds of Mexico. And whilst the soundtrack does get somewhat repetitive, it really adds a nice touch and a little bit of atmosphere often lacking at print at home games.
My favourite subject – puzzles! Now whilst I’d suggest that the majority of the puzzles are relatively simple, don’t go thinking you’ll just sail on through without too much to test you. There are some common puzzle themes which you may have likely seen before, but what Escape Hunt do really well, is give these a subtle twist. There are around 10 puzzles within this game and all are accessible to any level of player – the kids will love how they look graphically, and can certainly get involved without question. The more experienced players would likely love this as a solo or duo game.
The game is broken down into three distinct sections – as ever, no spoilers, however Escape Hunt have cleverly placed page blockers into the game to make sure that you don’t accidentally turn the page to the next puzzle and ruin your journey to secure what’s hidden within the vault. And whilst the game is linear in nature, there would be no harm in separating away from each other during each of three sections to play games as individuals and then pulling together when required.
The game also ties itself together well, by using a set of bones which are found early on in the process. These have some odd encryptions on them which need to be referred to on a number of occasions throughout the game. This is a really solid way of not making the gameplay feel too sporadic.
As with all the Escape Hunt games, there is a very trusty online guide available. As you progress through the series of puzzles, should you find yourself up the Mexican creek without a paddle, here you can find a selection of hints. The first hint for each puzzle tends to be rather cryptic but gives just enough of a nudge to push you forward. If this still isn’t enough there’s a secondary hint for each game which is much more obvious. And whilst I wouldn’t expect many players would need them, you can also find the answers for each puzzle too. It should be noted that this online guide is just as beautifully colourful as the printed documents and is a real treat for the eyes.
Cutting skills at the ready!
Don’t forget your scissors for this game though amigos! Two major puzzles (and I’d probably also suggest my favourite of the entire game), need you to put your cutting skills to the test. I often worry that you lose your flow when having to stop to cut things up when playing printed games, which can often a frustration. And whilst one of the two games did require me to put my expert arts and crafts skills to the test, it actually gave a much greater sense of achievement when I completed it. Instead of just reading through material, having these more interactive factors, were a perfect addition.
The finale of this game is very clever. The answers to your final puzzles just appear to be a bit of a muddle; I was certainly questioning whether I had messed up, but I shouldn’t have feared! Make use of the printed decoder tool and you’ll soon find how to complete your mission! Head online to enter your secret password and find if you can what secrets there are to unveil.
When all was said and done, this is certainly a very solid outing from Escape Hunt. The combination of some well designed puzzles (both with and without the requirement of my trusty scissors!), possibly the most beautifully created graphics for a print at home game I’ve played, and a really cracking theme, make this one of the games I am unlikely to forget in a hurry.
The Alp Review | The Alp is here. He won’t leave and you can’t run away. He waits for the night to fall. When you lay your head to rest, he will be there.
Completion Time: 1 hour Date Played: March 2021 Party Size: 2 Difficulty: Medium
I absolutely love the horror genre, and with that comes the excitement of horror escape rooms. The unsettling feeling of fear combined with time sensitive puzzle solving gives me such an adrenaline rush, so I was eager to play E-Scape Room Games’ The Alp.
An unsettling horror themed game with brilliant puzzles and an excellent eerie narrative
We played as a group of three over Zoom and were each invited to join the game on our separate devices. Our narrator is introduced through some mysterious black and white footage, and he begins to describe a house with a dark past. On moving into the house, his wife started to experience horrific nightmares until one morning, she didn’t wake up. Soon enough, the narrator starts to experience these nightmares for himself. It’s up to us to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.
The game begins and we’re free to explore the first room. We’re all able to explore separate areas of the room at the same time by dragging and clicking, and if anything of significance happens we’re all redirected to a video simultaneously to ensure we don’t miss a thing. Many of the puzzles require teamwork and communication from different areas of the room, and the game makes it really easy to co-ordinate this.
The puzzles are a mix of cyphers, deduction, pattern spotting and some algebra thrown in to test our school day memories. They fit in with the theme perfectly, and are supplemented by an eerie soundtrack which allow the puzzles to flow nicely with the story. Game design means it’s always clear what the task in hand is, and progress is marked with several sinister videos deepening the feeling of immersion.
The hint system is simple, and you can select which area of the room you need help with along with step by step clues designed to not give too much away.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this room. Although one addition to the ending of the story took us away from the immersion slightly**, we were suitably spooked and relieved with our decision to play in daylight.
Note: This review was originally published on March 7th 2021 on Borderline Puzzler. ** the ending has since changed.
E-Scape Rooms are currently offering The Alp for just £5.49 with the discount code ALPINTRO666, which is an absolute bargain for this game.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas? Pfft, it’s all about HALLOWEEN! We’re calling it – spooky season is upon us and the perfect way to get into the ‘spirit’ is to play as many ghoulish, creepy and downright terrifying escapes! And lucky for you, we at The Escape Roomer have pulled together a roundup of the most spook-tacular escape games out there so you don’t have to.
Our list covers spine-chilling games from across the UK, as well as some to give you the creeps from the comfort of your own home (we know, we know, there’s nothing better than settling down with a classic PSL for a rainy autumnal afternoon escape at home, before getting the willies watching scary movies all night!).
But we also know that being scared WIT-less doesn’t work for everyone (and their puzzle solving capability). Never fear! You can still enjoy spooky season; we have included some tamer escapes that are guaranteed not to scare, but that fit in perfectly with the Halloween season.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find your perfect Halloween escaping plans!
Disclaimer: These scares levels were accurate at the time of writing, but we know some companies like the ramp up the scare for Halloween, so if you are a bit nervous, please check with the company directly if they’ve snuck in an extra scare (or a live actor, no one wants a surprise live actor!!)
😱 Hardcore Scary Escape Rooms 😱
Want to be scared out of your mind? Try one of these escape rooms for an extreme scream…
The 13utcher – Escapologic, Nottingham
If you know anything about scary escape rooms, you will have heard of Escapologic’s the 13utcher! This game is notorious among the escape community for being one of the most terrifying escape experiences in the UK. You accidentally get trapped behind the shutter of what turns out to be the Butcher’s lair and there’s no saying when he will return (it’s definitely during the hour!).
We haven’t yet played the 13utcher (we’ve been working our way up to it), but we have heard amazing things- including overhearing a lad scarred by the fact that the butcher stole his shoes! If you like hardcore scares, this is the game for you!
So Unescapable aren’t really an escape room company- they’re a super secret time travelling facility masquerading as an escape rooms company, but we’re sure they won’t mind us telling you that! When they open a time portal they send one of their scientists back to make sure everything is ok, and Edith was just the lady for the job… only things went awry when they lost communication with her. She should have shut down the portal but something stopped her. It’s your job to go back and get that portal closed!
We can vouch for the scare levels of Edith- there’s plenty of opportunities to get the adrenaline flowing! Something evil stalks you on your mission and takes every opportunity to make you jump, scream and, at times, get separated from your team mates. There were certainly a fair few nervous giggles among our team when we played, but we loved every heart racing moment of it! If you like a scare, this is one not to miss!
You’ve infiltrated a top secret facility rumoured to have been undertaking unethical tests on humans and animals to expose their secrets. Unlucky for you, these test subjects have broken free. Can you avoid the creatures to escape the compound with your life?
Operation Clearsafe can be run on scalable levels of scary. So if live actors and jump scares just really aren’t for you, you can still enjoy all the fun this game has to offer without the fear (fun) factor.
Local people have been going missing and you believe Riser Kane, a creepy psychologist known for his boundary pushing experiments, is to blame. So, of course, while he is detained, you choose to head down into his cellar (shudders) to find out what has truly been going on. Can you manage to overcome your phobias and make it out with the crucial evidence before Riser Kane returns and takes you as his next ‘patient’?
Scary, but not “scarred for life” scary. These rooms will make you jump!
Sleepover – Escapologist, Cleethorpes
Breaking into the abandoned house of the infamous murdered family is a great idea right? What about planning to sleep over there? Easy Peasy! But when the door locks itself behind you, those rumours of the place being haunted start to make you worry a little more…
Sleepover is a jam-packed 80 minute game that you really get your money’s worth from! If you enjoy a good jump scare, you’ll be sure to have a great time!
Cabin in the Woods – Stuck in the Riddle, Huddersfield
Memory implant technology sends you back into the memory of serial killer the silent slayer’s last victim. You find yourself in a remote cabin in the woods. Well of course, what could be more appropriate as a killer’s lair?! Your mission is to find out the identity of the killer and get out of the memory before he comes back to kill the person whose memory you are inhabiting.
We had a great time playing this as a pair and can safely say there were lots of nervous giggles following being made to jump.
Not all fairy tales have happy endings… as the Millers found out when the price of a game they played with a wicked little man was their daughter Olivia, who was taken by him. They’ve spent years trying to find him to have a second chance at the game, and now that they’ve found the man with no name, can you help them defeat him?
A brilliant, dark and unnerving twist on a well-known fairy tale! We loved this room and enjoyed just how cleverly the elements are woven together.
Rated 18+, Seance is a chilling game including genuine arcane artifacts, demonic symbols and rituals. You enter the home of Tabitha, a sickly child who was lost when her mother did a ritual to try to help her. Expect a couple of jump scares incited by Tabitha popping to see what you’re up to. Lots of creepiness in a relatively small space, this is a really fun room!
Escapologic again?! Yes! And while this is a significant step down in terms of outright terror from the 13utcher (no live actor for a start), it is still a creepy room set in a disturbing toy shop with the ability to prompt some good jump scares! Escapologic have really thought about the *special* touches to send a shiver down your spine in this game. We absolutely loved this game, in particular the amazing clue system they use, which lends itself completely to the theme and fans of spooky stuff will LOVE!
There is a section which will require the group to separate, but we managed this as a pair and while unnerving, no one comes into the room so you’re as safe as you can be in a creepy toy shop!
Father Frederick has asked you to enter the Monastery at Kelham Hall to search for Novice Tobias who has gone missing. Your Sacred mission is to search for his whereabouts and discover the truth… A really atmospheric game set in the grounds of Kelham Hall. Who knew that monks could be so creepy?
Lucardo provide a PG rating for this game which is sure to give you the creeps. The derelict St Josephine’s Orphanage for Girls is up for auction so you’re headed there to take a look at the site and its redevelopment potential. Upon entering the building, the previous residents have left eerie signs of their unhappy time in the Orphanage and you get caught up in the history of the place. Just try not to get singled out by the cruel woman who ran the place, and try not to get locked in the Keeper (we thought this was veeeery reminiscent of the chokey from Matilda!)
You may recognise this as the game Ariana Grande played on the Late Late Show with James Corden (just at a different branch, somewhere in the USA, rather than Sheffield). Set in a dilapidated ex-children’s home, local urban legend claims that many moons ago the home’s Headmaster used to pay for his own immortality with the souls of these poor unfortunate children. Of course this means that exploring the place you uncover unnerving items, things that go bump in the night and downright creepy goings-on. IF you want to break the curse, set these poor children’s souls free and make it out of the derelict building unscathed, you may have to RUN!
An innocent little girl called Abigail whose life was stolen by her cruel parents who locked her away in her bedroom for years. Tragically she was taken by the flames of a blazing fire, burnt and alone. Some say they still see a little girl walking the hallways of the now derelict Hallows House. Since Abigail’s death in the early 1940s, there has been a terrifying amount of disappearances and accidents within the walls.
You’re part of a paranormal team investigating Hallows House when things turn sinister. A haunting looking doll has been watching you and you realise the uncanny familiarity the doll has to long gone Abigail. This is really exciting game spread over a large space giving you plenty of chances to get the willies as you go off exploring the house, and with a few opportunities for jump scares thrown in for good measure.
If you are a longstanding fan of scares and escape rooms, you may remember Bad Clown. Unfortunately we missed out on playing this as we have heard that it was SCARY- in fact, owners Elaine and Mike said that so many teams would refuse before the beginning was over! As a result, a tamer version, Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse, emerged and we have had the pleasure of playing this!
You need to outsmart Mr Chuckles and his puzzles to escape his creepy funhouse. To do this, each player needs to win a ticket. The catch? The time ends as soon as the first golden ticket holder exits the game, sabotaging the rest of the team’s chances of exiting the creepy funhouse, so you need to decide what’s more important – A fast time or for every member of your team to win the game? Will you come together as a team to overcome Mr Chuckles and his games or will it be every player for themselves?
For teams unlucky enough to still be inside without a ticket or too slow to get out as the final seconds tick by, Mr Chuckles has one last surprise up his sleeve…
A missing bride is never a good thing…. Jilted? Or is something more sinister at play?
Can you go to hell and back to find out what really happened after the bridal party left the bride? Jilted offers plenty of puzzles in an impressive and interactive set that really immerses you in the unorthodox rituals the bride got involved in during her preparations for the big day. While there are definite creepy vibes and a darker story line at play, this game won’t scare your pants off (well not too much anyway!)
A very dramatic (and black mirror-esque) introduction sets the story line for the Hellevator: your torturous ascent will be live streamed to the general public watching your every move as you try to solve the series of trials to make it up to floor 13 successfully! The drama and tension escalates exponentially as you ascend towards the final level, creating an intense and exhilarating finish, and feeling a rush of adrenaline followed by relief to have completed the Hellevator!
Sam has been sticking around in your Motel for longer than the average guest. To add to that, something doesn’t feel quite…right…about him. He gives you the creeps and you want to know what he’s hiding. So, opportunity strikes when he heads out one evening and you take your chance to snoop around his room and find out who Sam really is. Just try to be quick and make it out before he returns to discover you in his dingy motel room, otherwise things could get really nasty!
Out on the docks of Whitby, people have been disappearing. These are dark times, and there are rumours of things being spotted in the shadows. The locals have grown fearful, but the night watchman might have uncovered the secret. He’s the next person who has gone missing, but managed to leave a trail of clues. As the top detectives in Yorkshire, you have been called in to help. Can you follow in the night watchman’s footsteps find out what is wreaking terror on the town. (If you know anything about what Whitby is famous for, you may be able to hazard a guess at what or who that might be…)
These rooms probably won’t scare you, but they scratch the Halloween itch just nicely!
Frankenscape – Ctrl Alt Esc, Margate
You might be able to guess what the theme of this room is from the name! Professor Alec Smart has been working on a groundbreaking experiment that some may think is controversial. The key to its success is lightning and a storm is a-brewin’. Ctrl Alt Esc has gone all out on a thrilling room, and the end sequence is unforgettable!
If you’re a fan of gothic classic Dracula, you’ll love Carfax! You are called upon by Van Helsing following some strange goings on, to find out what is going on. In Carfax, you follow the story of Dracula from arrival in the dockyard, through to overcoming the infamous vampire himself. And to add to the gothic atmosphere, Carfax is built within Nottingham’s underground cave network. Does it get more spooky and atmospheric than that?! But rest assured, this is not a scary game, just based around a Halloweeny theme.
Can you beat Death himself? Find out in this adventure through Purgatory, Hell and into the pearly gates of heaven. If you succeed, you get to add your name to the Book of Life. Fail, and I guess you’re…well…dead.
You’ve been mistakenly put on Ward 13, and that is a place you do NOT want to be! Can you manage to work out how to sneak your way out before you end up in the same position as the patients before you? If you know Pretty Little Liars, think Radley vibes… A creepy theme, but rest assured that you can enjoy this safe in the knowledge that there aren’t going to be any jump scares to throw you off your puzzling!
I’m sure you know the story of Sweeney Todd. Barbershop… people going missing… plenty of delicious pies in Mrs Lovetts’ shop downstairs. Enigma have created a magnificent recreation of the Victorian tale in this game, with an amazing centerpiece that sets this off perfectly! Despite the dark tale, you won’t be too scared, just make sure you don’t try any of those pies!
While visiting Salem, you hear stories that supposed witch Marjorie Sutton can still be seen prowling around in her old stomping ground and you want to know the truth, so you head to her abandoned shack in the woods to explore. But while you are there, the witching hour strikes. Transported into the world of Salem Witch trials, you must find and destroy the book of the damned and escape the cabin before you are trapped in the Salem forest forever. A great game to enjoy the atmospheric witch-y theme with no scares to freak you out.
What a magical game! We’d recommend bringing a big group to this game as the room is jam packed with puzzles and is quite the challenge. In fact, with this game- the more, the merrier as it is a spacious room and can accommodate up to 10 players. Based on a real tale of witch trials that took place in Derby in the 1600s, you enter the cabin of these two accused witches, centuries after their conviction for witchcraft, to explore their cabin, find out the truth and become part of the legend. A perfect way to celebrate Halloween with all your fellow spooky season connoisseurs!
Evil Dead 2™ Dead by DawnEscape Room Review | Seems your leader decided to break into the old Knowby cabin and can’t escape…You and your team must guide him via his ghost gear technology through this misadventure so he can escape and find a way return the evil dead to their realm and escape before the cabin is sucked into the time-space vortex forever.
Date Played: 19th September 2021 Number of Players: 4 Difficulty: Medium Time Taken: 55 minutes
The nights are getting longer and there’s a definite chill in the air… You know what that means? Spooky season is almost upon us! 💀
I’ve had Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn: Official Escape Room on my to-play list since way back in Spring. But somehow playing a game based on one of the most iconic horror movie franchises in the world didn’t feel right on the eve of summer. So here we are, kicking off the beginning of autumn as we mean to go on: playing a brilliantly chilling game!
Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Official Escape Room is real life room converted into a remote avatar hosted escape room by the creative geniuses at Hourglass Escapes. One of the common threads in other reviews of the two versions are along the lines of “this was amazing but it would have been even better played in person”. Honestly? I agree! But since we’re not likely to visit the United States any time soon (thanks global panini!), playing wonderful escape rooms from all corners of the globe via Zoom is the next best thing.
The Story of Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn
It is highly recommended you watch the film(s) before playing this escape room! Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely can be played as a standalone spooky experience, but you’ll get so much more out of the experience – such as spotting all the brilliant Easter Eggs – if you watch the film first.
No time? No worries! Here’s a 5 minute version to catch you up:
Unfortunately none of us had watched the films beforehand (heyy, I’m no good with horror!), but this didn’t hinder our enjoyment of the experience in the slightest. Our host, Seth, was kind enough to give us the full run-through of every hidden detail after the game. It’s evident a lot of love and care has done into making Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Live Escape Room as true to the original film as possible. Speaking of the story…
Way back in 1987, Ash Williams and his girlfriend visited an abandoned cabin and accidentally summoned a troupe of Kandarian demons (of course!). After one of them swallowed the soul of his girlfriend, Ash went to awesome lengths to defeat the demons using the Book of the Dead. Unfortunately this obliterated the whole cabin and himself…
…Until now! The cabin mysteriously resurfaces in Hourglass Escapes. It’s up to you to help Ash get home. Remotely. Via Zoom of course. It’s Shemp, our funny yet slightly clueless ghost-busting host, doing all the heavy lifting.
Welcome to the Gnostic Research of the Occult, Omens, Vampires, and Yetis… GROOVY!
To get ready to play the Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn live game, you first need to get into character. Yep, just like in The Rise of the Mad Pharaoh, your booking email will contain a link to some character sheets for you and your team. It’s up to you to decide who you’d like to play as, get all dressed up, and perhaps even mix a cocktail or two (yep, your handy pre-game cheat sheet also has some recipes and drinking games to play).
For this challenge, we went as the following:
The Kandarian Historian – Played by Grace, the Kandarian Historian has discovered some information on the Cult of Kandar in her most recent archaeological dig. However she was contacted by G.R.O.O.V.Y. Ghost Hunting company to deal with some Kandarian demons before she could take her research further.
The Psychic – All week the cards were telling me (Mairi) about a foreboding future of hellfire and undeath- but tbh, when aren’t they?! This morning I felt a chilling shift in the integrity of the veil between the worlds. Being a certified medium, of course I followed the trail and discovered a team of ghost hunters.
The Skeptic – Whilst bored at work, Nick found himself scrolling through Craigslist. One day he discovered a job posting that claimed to guarantee interaction with the paranormal. “This ought to be good for a laugh”, Nick thought!
The Ghost Hunter – It’s been three weeks since Rebecca informed everyone online whom they should call if there are preternatural happenings within their community, and yet the business’ phone has never left the proverbial hook. After investigating, Rebecca realised she was being outshined by G.R.O.O.V.Y. ghost hunting company… But hey, they are hiring!
There were two further roles that were available, but since we played as a team of 4 we left them un-claimed: The Detective and The Realtor. Whilst there are 6 characters available, it’s worth knowing that you do not need to play with a party of 6. The benefits each character gets (such as specialist equipment) will actually all be handled by your trusty host, Shemp. So really, these are just for fun!
An Escape Room for Halloween
In terms of scenery, no attention to detail has been spared in the construction of this room. It takes place over several large spaces, closely mirroring (though slightly smaller) the original cabin from the movies. I counted at least 4 unique spaces, and that’s not even including puzzles hidden inside walls, beneath floorboards and so on! Impressive all round!
Since the game unfolds in a non-linear way (meaning any puzzle can be solved in any order), you’ve ample time to explore your surroundings. Supporting the live avatar in Zoom is a simple online interface that allows you to take a closer look at any object. When our avatar found something of interest, he instructed us to input a code, allowing us to view (or manipulate) the object further.
It’s fairly clear the game has been built for a real life audience – so if you ever get the chance to visit in person, you absolutely should! However it’s been converted well for the at-home audience. The more tactile puzzles have largely been simplified to make sense in the virtual world, and any jump scares were slightly numbed by playing the game over Zoom. Despite the changes, it’s still a brilliantly immersive experience and a must-play for any Evil Dead fans.
It’s a real stand out in the escape room world! With October just around the corner, I expect this one to book out quickly – so if you’re planning on a spooky night in with friends from afar, definitely include the Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn room in your plans and book early to avoid disappointment!
We escapes with around 15 minutes left on the clock and no hints used – though our host’s gentle nudges were greatly appreciated!
Witchery Spell Review | While playing Witchery Spell you will meet 5 young witches. One of them recently turned 23 and mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth. What happened to her and does the same horrific fate await the others? As young girls, they performed a ritual from an ancient book they found. Now it turns out that this seemingly innocent child’s play may be their downfall. The problem: only someone who is not a witch himself can lift the spell, but what are the consequences? Are you brave enough to unleash the powerful ancient magic once again?
Rating: Spooky Completion Time: 1hr30 Date Played: 1st August 2021 Party Size: 3 Recommended For: Small groups on dark nights
Witchery Spell is one of those games. You know the ones I mean… Everybody is talking about them.
If the at-home escape room industry had a ‘game of the year’ award, Witchery Spell would probably be up for nomination in every category there is. Which is why I’m surprised to be writing that I don’t know if it quite lived up to the hype. But don’t get me wrong – it was still a brilliant game. But that’s the problem with hype, isn’t it?
So all hype aside, we’re going to discuss the game’s merits with one cautionary note: Don’t me like me and place Witchery Spell on a (literal) pedestal in your office and wait over a year to play it because you were too worried about ‘wasting it’ on a regular board game night.
Just play it now! You won’t regret it.
Solve the Puzzles, Save the Witches
Dark Park have created a really well rounded boxed game that is equal parts surprising and delightful in Witchery Spell. At it’s core, Witchery Spell is a story about a group of witches being hunted by a modern day witchfinder organisation. One of their party had recently turned 23, which is the age their original protection spell wore off. Before they’re all found and killed, they turn to you for help. You see- there’s another protection ritual that they desperately need in order to evade detection, but apparently witches can’t actually perform this type of magic themselves. How inconvenient!
What follows is a non-linear style game to figure out a number of things:
What happened to the missing witch? And,
How we could perform the ritual ourselves?
To help you out, you’ve got a big cardboard box full of stuff, and the internet.
Really Impressive Puzzle Components
What makes Witchery Spell such a special game is the sheer high quality of it’s components. However I’ll caveat that by saying it does come in a very ordinary, and very degradable cardboard box. The box was pretty scuffed up when it arrived in the post *shakes fist at the postal system*, but thankfully the material inside was in tact, packed up tightly with straw.
The components include:
Curious jars and vials of ingredients, such as Arsenica, Ivory and Salt
Equipment that looks right out of an apothecary
A candle, a feather, and some magical stones
A small deck of Tarot Cards
Several rolled up scrolls
Something that can only be described as a “demon summoning mat”
Photographs, case files, and other oddities about the witches in question
…But that’s not all, Witchery Spell also has a very large online component, guiding you through the experience and providing guidance and puzzles along the way too. For a two hour experience, it really is an immersive and in-depth game.
Each one of these components I’ve mentioned ended up being used in really delightful ways. There’s one moment in the game, and I’ll try not to spoil anything here, where we suddenly spotted that an earlier item we’d put aside was now doing something very unexpected. Yes ‘doing’. Cue some very excited screams!
So I guess you could say it’s about as close to magic as it’s possible to get.
How Difficult is Witchery Spell?
Our team of three completed Witchery Spell in around one hour and thirty minutes with no hints. We did accidentally skip one or two steps in the game – reaching the next part without fully following how we’d made the jump, but overall this game flows well and doesn’t throw anything super difficult at you!
This means that in terms of difficulty, I’d rate it ‘comfortable’. It’d be a great game for beginners to fall in love with the wonderful world of at-home escape rooms, but still provides enough brilliant ‘wow’ moments and unexpectedly exciting puzzles for veterans. I can also guarantee that even players on their 1000th game will experience something very new in Witchery Spell!
That said, there is a ‘choose your own adventure’ element to this game. I mention this as the ‘other path’ may have wildly changed the difficulty in this game, but I may never know!
Halloween Activity? Look No Further
As mentioned, I had this game on my shelf for literal months. When one of my closest and most enthusiastic escape room buddies visited after a long lockdown, I figured it’d be the perfect game to try out with her. The sun was already beginning to set, we switched up the lighting to red, lit some candles and got stuck in.
In hindsight, October 31st 2020 was one of those days Witchery Spell sat on my shelf gathering dust, and I regret not playing it then! It’s so atmospheric and genuinely puts the player on edge, feeling like they’re inside a world of black magic and witches perfectly. But October 31st 2021? I might just put that refill kit to good use and invite a small team around to give this another go – it’s just that perfect of a game for October.
In particular, I’d recommend this for a team of up to 5 players sat around a table. Better still with candles, and better even still with some kind of witchy playlist in the background.
Overall, a brilliant game. Sure, it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, but it’s still absolutely worth the price and I can see how impressive it is in the at-home genre. Go in with an open mind and a sense of delight and wonder and you won’t be disappointed. Especially don’t let this one gather dust on your shelf 😉
Witchery Spell can be purchased for around £55 on Dark Park’s website here. We’d recommend purchasing a refill kit.