No Escape: The Haunted Toy Store | Review

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The Haunted Toy Store Review | An abandoned toy store looms over an otherwise charming village. People tell stories of weird noises and strange happenings, toys found in odd places and children going missing. Nobody has been brave enough to attempt to solve the mysteries of the toy store that is, until you…

Completion Time: 40 minutes
Date Played: 29th October 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Easy-ish

I’ve got a reputation on The Escape Roomer for being a little bit of a scaredy cat… Dark Spaces? Ghosts? Asylums? No thank you.

I listen in horror as Al and Ash chat about all the UK’s scariest games they’ve played and instead ‘reminisce’ about the time I went to the London Dungeon and had to be escorted out because I got too scared and started crying. It would be a funny story if I’d been a child… Only I was 17 at the time!

But when our group committed to playing a scary escape room over Halloween, I figured what the heck – if you can’t get scared witless on Halloween, then when can you? No Escape, bring it on!

A Hauntingly Good Halloween at No Escape

For No Escape’s special Halloween weekend, we went for what sounded like the least scary game they run: The Haunted Toy Store. Somehow ghosts feel more manageable than walking into a blood splattered cutting floor- which made being greeted at the entrance by a terrifying butcher in full character, sporting a human ear necklace all the more chilling.

For one weekend only in 2021, each of No Escape’s escape rooms at both of their London sites had a live actor in the room with the teams. It’s important to note that normally, their rooms are not live actor rooms, but given the circumstances I think The Haunted Toy Store was vastly improved with the presence of a creepy clown throwing red herrings our way. The creepy clown was an actor, Nicole, and just outside the room our games master was Holly.

We resolved to enter the room and pretend as if we wouldn’t be scared and in the end I think we made the right decision. I think without the live actor the room itself would have been fairly average and not too scary- but if you’re into creepy cursed dolls and children’s toys coming to life, then you’ll probably enjoy it all the same! No jump scares in the original, but plenty in the Halloween special! So a huge shout out to Holly and Nicole for that!

Pitch Black… Cackling Laughter

We began our briefing being told that this was a mysterious toy shop. The day before a boy had come into the room and cut himself quite badly, but when they’d returned to clean it up all the blood had mysteriously disappeared. Creepily, so had the boy – not a trace of him since.

The doors then swung open and we were in pitch darkness. As cackling laughter rose out of the corner, we quickly realised we were not alone! Our first actor interaction began in this room, which I feverishly tried to ignore, rushing past them to start busying myself with anything else. A word of warning: It’s quite hard to try to look for a light switch when you have your eyes closed.

From here, we were off to a flying start. The Haunted Toy Store is essentially a two-room escape room that pretty much looks and feels exactly like a toy shop from everyone’s worst nightmare. Plenty of dolls staring out at you from shelves, and plenty of toys that have had heads and limbs ripped off. So many distorted faces, dark corners and eerie sounds!

*shudders*

How did we escape the Haunted Toy Store?

The puzzles in this escape room were fairly straightforward and we managed to escape with a respectable time that put us right at the top of the Halloween leader board. I’d probably pitch the general puzzles at an easier-than-average level, but that’s not to say we didn’t get immensely stuck from time to time! No sir. The presence of a creepy clown made it all the harder.

There was a bit of searching and finding, plenty of children’s toys, some of which had clues and others were just for display, as well dials to turn, things to count and a few 3 and 4 digit codes. This all led to a meta puzzle which combined lots of the room and took us the longest to get right! There were also a few red herrings in the game which are usually a no-no in escape rooms, but we all felt they worked pretty well in a room like this. Red herrings can go a long way to building up atmosphere and forcing you to spread out (and away from the safety of numbers!)

Over the course of The Haunted Toy Store we asked for two hints. One of these was delivered via a screen in the room, and the other was given by the live actor in the room. Since this room is not usually available with a live actor, I don’t mind telling you that she had us all holding hands and singing ring-a-ring-a-roses followed by lots of screaming in order to receive the clue. I still have nightmares!

The Verdict

Overall, we had a lot of fun! We screamed quite a few times – but thankfully not as many as the butcher room next door to us, so I think we made the right choice!

There are a few ‘meh’ reviews of the company and the room out there, and I can see that without a live actor it probably wouldn’t appeal to hardcore enthusiasts as much. We were there for a good time, a couple of screams, and that’s exactly what we got – so no complaints.

For the special Halloween edition, we paid £35 per ticket which is also fairly expensive, even for London, but we’d still recommend the experience for the right team. Especially at Halloween.

The Haunted toy Store can be booked on No Escape’s website here. Please note, this review is of their special Halloween version of the room available from the 28th – 31st of October 2021. This involved a live actor in the room, which is not typically available.

Ratings

Kingston Escape Rooms: Rob the Bank | Review

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Rob the Bank Review | Angie knows who stole the family gold – it’s midnight and she backs her Ford Transit into the side of Harman’s Bank. You and your team have one hour to jump out and get the gold back. Will you find it? Will you make it out in time?

Completion Time: 51 minutes
Gold Bars Stolen: 59
Date Played: 21st November 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Tricky!

Think you know heist rooms? Think again!

Confidently, after playing a lot of heist themed escape rooms together, I teamed up with my good friend Bianca to take on another. By this point, we’re debating putting “expert bank robbers” on our CVs. But Rob the Bank at Kingston Escape Rooms proves how unexpected (and delightful) even a familiar theme of robbing a bank can be!

Grab the Cash, Get Out

Rob the Bank is an escape room that is available at a number of sites within the Know Escape franchise including at Gatwick, Bishop’s Stortford, Maldon and Chesterfield Escape Rooms respectively. In many cases the rooms are similar but each site has the freedom to get creative and Rob the Bank is a perfect example – so expect the unexpected.

At Kingston Escape Rooms, your experience starts in the back of a van- yes, literally! A short introductory video later, a wild ride and BOOM! You crash the van into the side of the bank! From here it’s up to you to sneak in and steal back your family gold. Emphasis on the word ‘sneak’, as it’s imperative to be quiet. Amusingly the bank security guards we were hiding from didn’t hear the van crash into the wall but they did hear me giggling a few times.

So, How Do You Rob a Bank?

What sets Rob the Bank apart from other bank heist escape rooms are the puzzles. They really ask the question: how do you rob a bank? This escape room’s answer is… Dare I say it, quite realistic.

Photo: Bianca / Shiny Life

In terms of puzzles, you can expect a lot of interaction with actors. This sort of thing always makes me nervous. I’m rather heavy and noisy, so you can imagine I get caught by security guards often. But, did we expect to be in fits of laughter and have to sing and cry our way out of puzzles? Certainly not!

The level of theatre that has gone into the room is absolutely fantastic, and our brilliant live actor Braedyn should be given an Oscar for her equal parts thrilling and comedic performance as the security guard (and a pair of glasses – these guards are not the most observant!).

To explain too much more would be inching into spoiler territory, so we’ll just leave with these words of wisdom if you’re planning to book the room yourself: expect the unexpected, think outside the box, and most importantly: have fun!

The Verdict

With so many exciting twists and turns in this room it’s possibly one of the most “fun” escape rooms I’ve done in a long time. Considering the fairly large space, we’d recommend this room would be perfect for a team of 2 – 4. I counted an impressive 6 separate ‘areas’ you’ll end up exploring over the course of the hour. Within that there are a few tight spaces and a few moments where only one person is playing an active role in solving a puzzle and the rest are watching, but it’s an otherwise well balanced and fast paced, exciting experience.

In the end, this room isn’t about the fastest time to escape – it’ll take all teams a fairly similar time to escape. Too fast and the games masters will slow you down a little, too slow and a friendly nudge will keep you on track. It’s also not about stealing the most gold, though again that’s another thing your team will be measured on at the end. Nope, the real winners are any team that got stuck in and enjoyed themselves to the fullest. It’s a game you’ll really bond with your co-players (or ruin friendships for life – as our host recounted a very funny team story from a few weeks earlier), and excellent for beginners and hardcore enthusiasts alike.

We’ve chosen to award this room our ‘Best in Genre’ badge. What does this mean? It means it’s one of the best bank heist themed room we’ve played. A special shout out to our hosts Dave and Braedyn, and Frank for inviting us to play!

Rob the Bank can be booked at Kingston Escape Rooms by heading to their website here.

Ratings

Escapologic Leicester: Operation Magnus | Review

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Escapologic: Operation Magnus Review | The year is 1942, World War 2 rages on. You are an elite spy deep undercover at the operations bunker of the infamous splinter cell group known as SPYKE. The group has reached an agreement with the mysterious Magnus, an aerospace engineer, and he has agreed to develop a new super weapon that could change the tides of war and leave devastation in its wake.

Completion Time: 35 minutes
Date Played: 11th September 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Moderate

Woohooo! It’s road trip time!

For the longest time I’ve been playing online escape rooms with Team Escaping the Closet and our friend Tasha, but now that the UK is starting to open up after a long lockdown – we’re finally able to meet in person! The first stop on our escape room travel itinerary? Escapologic in Leicester – the midpoint between London and Sheffield.

There we took on two rooms, first Reactorvate followed by Operation Magnus, where we were greeted by the enigmatic Games Master Destiny.

Change the tide of war

Operation Magnus is your classic World War 2 room with a couple of tasteful changes (namely, no awkward references to the axis forces, instead you’re fighting SPYKE). The story goes that you are a secret agent deep undercover in the enemy’s operations bunker. SPYKE is on the brink of developing a new super weapon that could seriously change the tides of war and leave huge global devastation in it’s wake.

It’s up to you to gather the intel on the inner workings of this weapon for the allied forces. You have another agent on the inside who has left you clues behind in their bunker, but you must not blow their cover.

No pressure, eh?

The most wonderful thing about this room is how well they’ve themed the room. For starters, you really are in a deep underground bunker. I’m not sure what the original use of the building was, but we emerged into our escape room into a strangely dark, slightly musty tiled bunker space. Nope, I don’t think this is just really creative set design, the room feels incredibly genuine. It seems so funny to mention it, but I loved how dusty the space was too. Real nooks and crannies, I even think I spotted a spider.

From the era-appropriate props (clues delivered by a real WWII phone, need I say more?), to the smell, to the tiled walls, to the coldness- if you’d transplanted this exact escape room into a “life during world war two” museum, I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised! And not a single broken prop either!

Another great thing about the physical escape room space is how large it is. It might just be the first escape room I’ve played with a whole staircase in it and multilayered areas. We found ourselves running up and down stairs, crawling through rickety doors, discovering hidden passageways. Some areas were a little bit of a squeeze for our team of 4, but nothing we couldn’t handle by dividing and conquering the puzzles.

Operation Magnus Puzzles

In terms of puzzles, there was a good mix to challenge us! The game got off to a slow start as we struggled to find the one thing which could start us on our way – but from reading other reviews, it seems like this beginning trips up a lot of teams, so don’t be afraid to ask for a clue so early! Once we got into the flow of things, we were off to a flying start!

Players can expect to encounter a lot of mimetic puzzles such as searching and finding, rummaging around the clues, and of course… No World War Two room would be complete without a couple of maps and a Morse Code puzzle or two.

The only thing to highlight is that there were a lot more red herrings than expected. In truth, I’m not a fan of any red herrings in an escape room unless they add to the story, but Operation Magnus had more than a fair few that didn’t have much connection. At the end of the game our Games Master Destiny was very helpful to walk us through the whole room from start to finish – but we had a lot of “what about this object” and “we never used this” questions. Examples of such red herrings included hidden openings in the wall, a key we never used, and some clear signposts to use particular objects when those objects weren’t involved in the game at all.

That said, if you don’t mind the occasional red herring or two, there’s still more than enough in this room to have a lot of fun! The attention to detail is second to none, and the puzzles challenging, tactile and delightful.

Operation Magnus – The Verdict

The real pièce de résistance of Operation Magnus is without a doubt the ending.

Oh my God that ending!

It takes the biscuit as one of the most impressive escape room endings in any room ever. I really don’t want to describe what it is bat the risk of giving away any spoilers, but anyone reading this review looking forward to booking it, you’re in for a treat!

It’s with a lot of pleasure I’m awarding this one a “Best in Genre” badge. Alongside Escape Plan’s Roll out the Barrel, Operation Magnus is probably one of the best World War Two themed rooms in the entire country. I’ve played a lot of World War Two rooms (it’s probably my most-played genre, come to think of it), but Operation Magnus ticks so many boxes and the designers have really outdone themselves on this one. It’s something special and not to be missed.

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

Ratings

Escapologic Leicester: Reactorvate | Review

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

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

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

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

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

Read on to find out…

WOW – Are we actually in the 1970s?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science! We’re doing SCIENCE

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

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

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

Overall…

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

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

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

Ratings

clueQuest: Revenge of the Sheep | Review

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Revenge of the Sheep Review | Professor BlackSheep is back again to destroy mankind as we know it, and this time he is not alone – he’s got an evil side-kick and together they have built a dangerous device: the SheepMutator. By mutating the human genome, the SheepMutator can turn anyone who is in the range of its evil rays into a placid sheep!

To make matters worse, the Professor has managed to set up several such devices in key locations around the planet – and one of them is here in London! You have 60 Minutes to locate and deactivate them all before they go online and it’s too late for mankind!

Completion Time: 55:23
Date Played: 5th November 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Medium

From the moment you step into clueQuest HQ you’re greeted with a large, open seating area with an impressive mural as the centrepiece. Gender neutral toilets are at the bottom of the stairs, and all areas are fully accessible with a stair lift. This inclusive, welcoming space set us up wonderfully for our first game – Revenge of the Sheep.

Everything Could be a Clue…

Our Game Master, Georgie, enthusiastically introduced us to the story behind the room. You don’t have to have played any other rooms in the series to understand and enjoy this experience, all the information you need is there for you to dive straight in.

The room itself is cleverly designed, with every inch requiring a meticulous search to find hidden clues. Don’t let the initial small space fool you, it’s jam packed with puzzles which will lead to an exciting reveal once solved. The props and artwork ensure you are immersed in your surroundings, with plenty of sheep related elements to keep you amused.

One of the things I loved about Revenge of the Sheep was that clues we discovered at the very beginning became relevant as the game progressed. It meant you were always thinking about the bigger picture rather than just tunneling in on one puzzle at a time which noticeably increased the difficulty level for us.

These clues lead to a lot of multi-step puzzles, meaning a lot of “Yes, we’ve solved it!” moments are followed by “Ohhh we now need to use this answer somewhere else” I personally love these puzzles because it feels like a huge achievement when you finally reach the end.

There was a great mix of puzzles you could go off and explore individually and some where teamwork was essential. I particularly loved the postbox puzzles for this reason, they required a mix of different skills along with good communication and I’ve not come across anything quite like it before.

Similarly, the use of a tablet for actual puzzle solving was a completely new experience for me. To be honest, I think the team at Clue HQ could tell as I required some technical pointers to fully appreciate what I was doing. Once I figured it out, it was a brilliant addition to the traditional lock route.

The hint system was flawless, using a TV screen with text when they felt you perhaps needed a bit of guidance, and a walkie talkie for anything you wanted to talk through. Josiah was our help at the end of the radio, and gave helpful, reassuring hints when required.

Time is Running Out!

The end of the game was exhilarating. We didn’t have much time left, and the lighting and dramatic music really heightened the mood in the room. Our frantic brains kept getting it wrong, and it took a few seconds of stepping back to realise the solution.

I have to say that this really is a special ending. When we initially walked into the room, we didn’t know what to expect but it certainly wasn’t what transpired! Feel free to jump around with excitement like us, but don’t forget what could happen if the clock reaches zero…

Revenge of the Sheep can be booked at clueQuest’s website here.

Ratings

Escape Kent: Prison Island Maidstone | Review

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Prison Island Maidstone Review | Gather your friends, form a team and solve exciting logic or physical challenges in themed prison cells. Play amongst yourselves or choose to compete against other teams, the choice is yours – all that matters, is that you can escape the island.

Date Played: August 2019
Time Taken: 1 Hour
Number of Players: 2
Difficulty: Easy

So you think you can beat the bars?

Based on Maidstone High Street, Prison Island is a huge experience and is a combination of escape room and the Crystal Maze!

The first thing that hits you as you walk through the door is the sheer attention to detail, with even the welcome desk being designed to look like its in a prison! We were politely greeted and advised about the set up of the game. From there, we were escorted to a briefing room, provided with our room key and then set to work on the epic hour long experience.

Prison Island Maidstone Exterior

This isn’t a traditional escape room – its basically a Crystal Maze style adventure where you have 1 hour to score as many points as you can within the 25 different cells. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team is key, as you don’t wan to get bogged down in rooms and waste your time!

Each room is brilliantly themed and the tasks range from physical, mental and technical. WE quickly found out that the mental rooms weren’t our strong suit so we set to work on the more physical challenges.

I would hate to spoil some of the surprises so wont go into detail about what’s inside the rooms, but some real highlights for escape room fans would be Burglar, The Joker and The Prison, so be sure to try those within your allotted time!

An experience that I will never forget and certainly one you could do over and over again – in fact we are putting the team together for another try here very soon! (Update – we returned a few months later and had just as much fun the second time around!)

Nick & Team Escaping!

Would I recommend this room?

Yes, for sure. An adrenaline fuelled, exciting adventure you will never forget. 

Who would I recommend it to? 

Everyone! Groups of friends, families and work outings! 

How many players would I recommend?

3 players is perfect – we did it as a 2 which proved tricky in some rooms. When we returned as a four, this 1 person too many!

Suitable for Children?

Yes. Over 5’s would be fine. Some of the challenges would still be tricky for young members of the team, however you can always leave them rooms if you want! 

Image (c) Prison Island

Ratings

Hysteria Escape Rooms: Aftermath | Review

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Hysteria Escape Rooms: Aftermath Review | In a world where the infected kill & eat the living, how much time does anyone really have? In a secret facility a team is working on a cure to the zombie virus but communications are down and we need to send in a response team… CAN YOU AVOID INFECTION & HELP SAVE HUMANITY?

Completion Time: 54 Mins 55 Secs
Date Played: 30 June 2019
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

This is the first room that was designed by the guys at Hysteria and they really hit the ground running – This is an awesome, well paced experience which is an exceptional challenge.

Based on the fact that you need to find an antidote and escape from the clutches of a zombie apocalypse, this is one of those rooms where the pressure certainly builds. Another room where the the point is to ESCAPE!, this hit a home run with me and the team.

Good use of props, some well timed surprises, a simple yet exciting plot,  as well as some really well put together puzzles (many of which I hadn’t seen before!), this certainly puts this room up their with our personal favourites. The sense of tension within this adds to the atmosphere.

Would I recommend this room?

Yes, certainly. Great room, great atmosphere and hugely enjoyable. You will not be dissapointed! 

Who would I recommend it to? 

There are handful of trickier puzzles which may fox the most experience escapist, so maybe players that have a few games under their belt however if you want a challenge, this would be a great benchmark game for beginners.  

How many players would I recommend?

3-4 would be a great number in this room. Although not huge in size, the puzzles often need more than 1 brain! Communication is certainly key in this room. 

Suitable for Children?

Not young children! Hysteria suggest 12+ which I would agree with with.

Ratings

Hysteria Escape Rooms: Motel California | Review

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Hysteria Escape Rooms: Motel California Review | The year is 1963. In a motel room on Route 66 there has been a murder. Word has it that a large sum of money is hidden in the room… WILL YOU BE THE ONE TO FIND IT?

Completion Time: 56 Mins 18 Secs
Date Played: Aug 2019
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

A murder mystery room with a twist. You enter the Motel California after word has got out that there is a large sum of money hidden within it. In the year 1963, the police had tracked down a band of bank robbers – It is your job to find their loot. 

Welcome to the Hotel California… Such a lovely place

This room really packs a punch and is hugely enjoyable. The mix of murder mystery and loot finding is a great combination. Some rooms of this style can get a little similar however this certainly breaks the mould.

There is a lot to solve and you are really hit when you first walk in by literally knowing where to start. Its quite easy to see what you have got to do, however doing it is a different matter! A real great mix of short punchy puzzles and longer fact finding missions make this a great challenge, which is not only well themed, but also fast paced.   

Photo (c) Hysteria Escape Rooms

Would I recommend this room?

Yes, certainly. The variation of challenges, the pace of the game and the theme add up to a great experience.

Who would I recommend it to? 

Anyone! Although the room would be challenging for newcomers, everything is achievable if you set your mind to it.

How many players would I recommend?

4 would be a great number in this room.

Although not huge in size, the puzzles often need more than 1 brain!

Suitable for Children?

Yes.. Although I would suggest slightly older children as the puzzles can be taxing!

Ratings

Enigma Quests: The Million Pound Heist | Review

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The Million Pound Heist Review | Your team is breaking into the safehouse of London’s most notorious criminal gang. You will have to analyse highly confidential information, navigate your way through top level security and all this before you can even attempt to enter the vault. Of course there is money involved, but the challenges along the way will be tough and efficient teamwork will be absolutely essential to get you anywhere. Only the top scoring teams will make it to the leaderboard. Do you have what it takes to make the top ten?

Completion Time: 40 minutes
Date Played: 3rd October 2021
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

If the name The Million Pound Heist evokes images of a similarly named TV show from a decade ago… You’re not alone! But there’s something so exciting about knowing there’s a whole million pounds (that’s $1,362,345 USD for our American readers) up for grabs and you’ve got 1 hour to get out with as much as you possibly can.

Bring on the challenge!

About The Million Pound Heist

The aim of The Million Pound Heist isn’t to escape in the fastest time, it’s to escape with the most money. This is for the best, as we actually missed a vital clue at the end of our game, and walked out of the room thinking we’d finished with a whopping 35 minutes left on the clock. Our Games Master came rushing out to tell us we’d missed something and that we could go back in if we wanted and try to get some more money with our remaining 35 minutes… Oops!

This seems to be a recurring theme with Enigma Quests, as the only other game we’ve played (so far) was Witchcraft and Wizardry, in which the aim of the game wasn’t to escape the fastest, but to pass all your magical tests.

Since a friend I used to escape with frequently was back in down for one day (and one day only), of course we had to book ourselves in for old time’s sake. For this reason, we found ourselves on a bright and sunny Sunday morning locking ourselves in a safehouse and scrambling to get as much cash in a briefcase as possible. Typical Sunday, eh?

We set off ALL the alarms…

One of the things I loved the most about the Million Pound Heist was the decor. For a Heist room, it’s pretty good! When you first open the door you’ll be greeted by a pretty cosy looking safe room. If I were a super thief, I’d want to hang out here too… But no time to sit down! We were immediately on our toes rummaging around trying to open cupboards and look behind plant pots figuring out what to do.

The game gets off to a slow-ish start with some paper-based puzzles, but we found there was just enough to do for our little team of 3 to keep us all busy and occupied in that first space before the exciting part of the game begun: Breaking into the vault!

The second (and third, and fourth) spaces in the escape room are the exciting part. It’s not too much of a giveaway to mention that there’s an exciting laser maze. By this point, I feel like it’s a given in a heist room, but Enigma Quest does theirs pretty well.

Unfortunately, we barrelled straight through the laser maze setting off all the alarms… Oops!

But more than your standard laser maze room, what I enjoyed even more was a very creative pressure plate puzzle that forced us into a hilarious gymnastic-like round of Twister! Good job we’d had our morning coffees.

How fast can you count money?

In terms of puzzles, there’s an interesting mix of puzzles that ranged from the “we loved it” to “ehhh, not a fan”. So really… The puzzles were like marmite! Some we loved and some we didn’t like at all. As mentioned, one of the first puzzles players will encounter takes place over a piece of paper which is a little hard for a bigger group to crowd around. Similarly, the last puzzle which, if you choose not to bypass it, quickly reveals itself to be a repetitive exercise which could (and did) take a team a very long time to complete. There was a lot of maths, and counting, and looking for things which are so cleverly hidden we had to search and re-search spaces several times to find them.

Thankfully we had a maths graduate, an accountant, and someone who is quite short and doesn’t mind crawling around looking for things (me!), so it worked out alright.

By contrast, there was a delightful number of very tactile puzzles that involved moving, stepping, jumping, pushing, pulling, and sliding around the room. Any room that makes me jump around like a headless chicken with a big grin on my face is a double thumbs up.

We didn’t ask for any clues as none of the puzzles were particularly difficult, so I can’t comment on the clue system. However I will mention that every clue you ask for will deduct 10% of your total earnings from your ending. This means that if you ask for 10 clues or more, you’ll walk away with nothing.

Crack the Safe, Bag the Loot!

We scored £620,535 in winnings out of a possible £1,000,000. Apparently, this is above average. Our GM informed us that most teams escape with around £250,000, and because we escaped with no clues we also all took home wristbands to proudly show off our success. It was a really nice touch, and it was enough to get us a spot on the leader board!

Overall, its a really fun room with some nice, unique heist mechanics. It wasn’t always clear what to do and the fact we did walk out of the room accidentally early thinking the game was over, only to be told to go back in was a bit of a hiccup in an otherwise fun experience – but on the other hand I suppose it’s our fault for not noticing some small details which may have hinted that no… The game was far from over!

The Million Pound Heist can be booked at Enigma Quest by heading to their website here.

Ratings

Hysteria Escape Rooms: The Forgotten Realm | Review

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Hysteria Escape Rooms: The Forgotten Realm Review | Arvior the wizard is once again in need of your help. He has been left in a powerless state after an evil curse was placed over the castle, trapping him inside a painting. Now the curse has been broken and the sorcerer who placed it seeks revenge . We call on the brave and noble to embark on a dangerous journey and help protect the realm.

Completion Time: 47 Mins 22 Secs
Date Played: 18 Nov 2018
Party Size: 6
Difficulty: Medium

Interested in the world of magic, mystery, witches and wizards?! This is certainly the room for you.  The Forgotten Realm is based on the fact that the room has been cursed and it is your job to find the spell and lift the curse.

The real thing that makes this escape room stand out above others is its theme. Although certainly not a large escape room, when walking through the door you will be hit by the sheer attention to detail. All games stick strictly to the theme of magic and wizardry and there are some great surprises in the hour that follow. 

When carrying out the puzzles within the room it is easy to be distracted by the numerous items within the room, plus a little surprise from time to time so concentration is key! Many of the puzzles are riddle-based and, although some can be tricky, all are achievable. The finale of the room is different to anything you are likely to experience in any other room! 

Would I recommend this room?

In short, yes. The mix of a real solid theme, brilliantly decorated room, some use of technology, a handful of surprises, plus some challenging puzzles, mean I would certainly recommend it. 

Who would I recommend it to? 

Players that have played a few rooms before however aren’t hugely experienced

How many players would I recommend?

Around 4-5, taking into consideration the size of the room and number of puzzles inside

Suitable for Children?

Yes, however I would suggest being accompanied by adults as some of the puzzles are more complex.

Unfortunately The Forgotten Realm is now retired but you can support Hysteria Escape Rooms here.

Ratings