Professor Puzzle: Curse of the Dark | Review

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Curse of the Dark Review | Investigate the mystery of a doomed village and its cursed castle in this thrilling escape room game! You couldn’t resist the allure of Mordengraf: a remote mountain village, overshadowed by an imposing Gothic castle and haunted by a spate of mysterious disappearances. Could there be truth in the hushed whispers of a ‘creature’ stalking the area? As you look for answers, your investigation takes a sinister turn. Captured by an unseen force, you must escape the castle’s dungeon or become the creature’s latest victim. But you only have three hours before the creature resumes its hunt.

Completion Time: 3+ hours
Date Played: 6th May 2022
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

It was only a little while ago that I had the pleasure of playing through Professor Puzzle’s “Danger in the Deep” so when I heard that they had another escape game out but double the length, I jumped at the opportunity. The former is easily one of my favourites of 2022 so far, and I was eager to see how their sequel would perform. It was time to dim the lamps, light some candles, pour some red wine (because of course, vampires), and crack open the game.

The story goes that you, an investigator, receive a mysterious letter from someone known only as “J”. A monster lurks in the castle at the corner of a village and many of the villagers blame the monster for the recent disappearances. Your job is simple: investigate and get to the bottom of the mystery. But before long you find yourself sucked into the castle and soon to become the monster’s next victim. That is, unless you can puzzle your way out!

 

 

How to Play Curse of the Dark

Curse of the Dark is nothing if not very ambitious. Written in large letters on the front of the box is a total play time of “180 minutes” which of course, can (and probably should) be split into two parts at 90 minutes each. Our team of 3-4 players decided that we’d set aside an entire evening to complete the experience. From 6pm on a dark and stormy Saturday evening we sat down to a bottle (okay, maybe two bottles) of red wine, plenty of snacks and spooky music in the background.

180 minutes? Pfft.
We ended up concluding the game with a successful win at around midnight 🤯

This would put the game in more comfortably at 6 hours long, but even I’ll admit that’s a bit silly. The point being is this game, despite the recommendation, be enjoyed at any pace by any sized group and is definitely the most fun when you break it up with wine and snack breaks. So long as your goal is to have fun, you can’t go wrong with Curse of the Dark. So don’t be worried if you take a lot longer than the recommended time.

Where Curse of the Dark differs from *checks notes* pretty much every other escape game I’ve ever played, is it’s fantastic use of space. It’s somewhere between a tile-based, almost “worldbuilding” game with Cluedo, and Unlock! mixed in. As a team of intrepid investigators, you reveal and place new tiles that build up an immense, sprawling castle around your movements as the game progresses. Past the halfway mark and you’ve already strayed into 3D territory with an enormous stained glass window and not one but two brilliant tall towers standing at either edge of the board. Until we flipped each new tile it was impossible to know where our story would take us, but each room was as fantastical as the previous and each twist and turn as exciting as if we were watching a movie.

Visually, this game is gorgeous. Each tile is a top-down view of a specific room, but as mentioned the game occasionally forays into 3D, building up a complete picture of an enormous ‘spooky castle’. I happen to know *taps nose* that each tile was modelled in 3D on a computer and then rendered top-down to create a large but well proportioned environment. The edges of each tile often had an overlap or matched up directly to where the next room was. Only a few times did we need to slide the whole model across because we’d built too close to the edge, but thankfully figuring out how to lay out your castle isn’t one of the puzzles. There’s a handy guide as you go.

 

 

See the Day Turn into Night…

In terms of puzzles, there are 22 in the game, but if that number sounds low I can assure you it is not. Curse of the Dark is big. No, I don’t think you understand. It’s packed with possibly hundreds of pieces, cards, tiles and objects. We found that throughout our experience, objects we’d discovered earlier in the game often didn’t come into play until hours later – resulting in more than a little panicked rummaging throughout the boxes. So a fair warning when we say that this game is big – it’s worth keeping track of what you’ve used and are still to use.

By the end of the game we found that there were a few cards we hadn’t drawn from the deck, but thankfully the game has a very robust clue system to keep you on track if you’re unsure. On only one occasion did we accidentally brute force a puzzle, and only then we realised this because we’d left a card we’d needed to solve the puzzle in the deck without spotting it. This goes to show that the puzzles whilst not too difficult nor too easy, seem well pitched for an enthusiast to comfortably potter through.

Throughout the experience, my favourite puzzles involved anything that was 3D – what can I say? It’s a lot of fun picking up the great big bell tower and pretending you’re King Kong as you push and pull bricks out haphazardly. Other puzzles take you away from the physicality of the game and onto a simple web-based application which worked well, but the bulk of it took place via a system of cards and ’tiles’. As with many games, there were some puzzles we got right away, but plenty more we needed to use hints (a scratch-off system). In each we were looking for a secret hidden symbol to proceed.

 

 

…Through the Darkness, There’s the Light

In terms of the question of age rating and accessibility , Professor Puzzle recommends 14+. In terms of theme, I’m not so sure about that. There’s the odd splatter of blood and an allusion to nefariousness, but it’s ultimately quite a light-hearted, Vampire themed romp and nothing I wouldn’t have loved as a kid. The real question is whether or not somebody is able to sit still for the full 3 hours and remain engaged and interested – so I’ll leave that at the discretion of parents.

There are a few puzzles that involve sound, so someone who is able to hear well is recommended, but I believe it may be possible to solve those with the visuals. Some of the scenes are darker and will involve Similarly there are some moments in the game where colour is referenced, but if I remember correctly, none of the solutions hinge upon being able to identify colours, so it’s also colour-blind friendly.

Unlike previous games in Professor Puzzle’s catalogue, Curse of the Dark comes with a free download of the printable elements of the game. This means that after destroying certain components during your gameplay, you can print them off at the end to reset the game perfectly back to the beginning. In an era of being more environmentally conscious, I commend the creators for making this game not single-use, and encouraging folks to re-gift it on. That said, I won’t be giving up my copy of Curse of the Dark any time soon. Oh no, by contrast I plan to reassemble some of the coolest 3D components and put them on my shelf in pride of place.

 

 

The Verdict

If you can’t tell from my gushing, the verdict is we really did have a great time playing Curse of the Dark. From the fantastically fun puzzles that consistently manage to surprise me, to the beautiful visuals (2D and 3D), to a very spooky vibe that made our board game night perfect. There were a great many “a-ha!” moments, so many I’m sure my co-players got sick of my insisting “wow thats a clever puzzle” by the end of it. For that reason, we’ve chosen to award it our Badge of Honour which is awarded to games that achieve five stars from us across the board, and it’s well deserved too.

For sure it will attract a slightly more niche audience than other games in the Professor Puzzle catalogue coming in at ~3 hours of gameplay. Compared to other ‘escape room in a box’ games you see on the high street, this one is three times the length. But in this way it’s also excellent value for money.

Typically in ‘The Verdict’ I like to recommend who I’d buy this for. The answer for this one is simple: everyone. I could see myself playing this with family members old and young, enthusiasts and newbies alike. I’ve no doubt it’ll be a big hit for Professor Puzzle and can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

A big round of applause from me!

Curse of the Dark can be purchased from major retailers, pre-order it here.

Emergency Exit: The Studies of Dr. Becker | Review

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The Studies of Dr. Becker Review | You are invited to spend an hour with the famous Dr. Becker at Boleskine Lodge Practice. He is currently with another patient and will be with you shortly. In the meantime make yourself at home and enjoy his hospitality and his study – a beautiful place decorated with his bizarre collection of strange and wonderful things. But do not dig too deeply as things are not always as they seem in this place, after all it is well known that some of his previous guests are still there after volunteering to help with his studies. Dr. Becker has a past which is questionable at best and not everyone agrees with his methods.

Completion Time: About 1 hour
Date Played: January 2022
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Medium

What’s your favourite scary movie?

What’s everyone’s favourite thing about horror movies? Scream…Halloween.. the many, many Friday 13ths!…Yes, it’s the sequels! Everyone loves returning to that creepy place they have become so familiar with from the original film that sparked the cult following. Well, what Emergency Exit have created with ‘The Studies of Dr Becker’ feels very reminiscent of this. Dr Becker is the third part of what is now a trilogy of escape games focused around Crowley Manor, the infamous house of Aleister Crowley.

Now, you may or may not know the name Aleister Crowley. In case you don’t, he was a real English Occultist in the 20th Century, and boy did he enjoy dabbling in creepy stuff! The lore around his mysterious life is a fittingly creepy setting for a series of scary escapes. The trilogy centres around Crowley Manor where the In:Theory investigators decide to sneak in to snoop around and find out what’s going down, and unfortunately find themselves WAAAAAAY in over their heads!

We came across Emergency Exit while we were in lockdown during COVID last year when everyone was looking to virtual means to get their escape fix, and The Beast was receiving rave reviews from the escape community. We managed to convince our friends Tasha and Mairi (aka the scaredy cats) to join us for this scary adventure (after all how bad can a virtual scare be?!) and we all loved the thrill of it (despite the varying degrees of fear we experienced). Since lockdown easing, Emergency Exit have reopened their doors to in-person bookings and created the third part of the trilogy, The Studies of Dr Becker. While we were super keen to return to the Crowley Manor story, we wanted to continue the story with the team we started out with. Therefore we were excited to find out that Dr Becker has recently been made available to play online too, and got the gang back together (virtually)!

Online games work well for us as a team still as geography does not favour in-person rooms. With us in the North, and Mairi based in London, we love to still plan in a regular escape in the online world. Recently it’s been a lot of Telescape rooms, which we love. But what better way to brighten up a gloomy Friday evening that by dabbling in the occult. The hosted virtual game, played through Zoom, is really immersive and arguably offers even more than the in-person experience. Not only do you get to play the room in full, but you get the additional fun of working with the In:Theory team to solve the room.

Previously on…

Emergency Exit have put a lot into putting on a show in their rooms; hosting the game on Zoom requires 2 people who you interact with (the In:Theory team) and the story is extremely important. While each of the games are playable as a standalone, the overarching story is really cohesive and adds an extra layer of enjoyment knowing the backstory.

Previously in Crowley Manor: The In:Theory team managed to accidentally summon Surgat, Demon of Locks (very apt). Woopsie! Let’s see what happens to them next…

What happens to them next? They find themselves in Boleskine Lodge Practice, under the care of creepy Dr Becker, who is ‘treating’ them to help them forget their experiences in Crowley Manor. However, Dr Becker’s practices are…questionable….and there’s more to why he wants you to forget the demonic apparitions. Why’s that I hear you ask? Well, you’ll have to play to find out more, but let’s just say, Boleskine Lodge Practice ever so conveniently happens to be attached to Crowley Manor. That is to say, the In:Theory team STILL haven’t managed to escape Crowley Manor yet!

Lights, camera…is that someone’s BUM?

This is where you rejoin the In:Theory team as the voices inside your host’s head. Interacting with the hosts is one of our favourite parts about the Emergency Exit rooms (a bit because if any bad stuff were to happen in the room, it was happening to them and not us). But they really MAKE the experience; not only do you get to explore the room and solve puzzles, instructing your host as to what they should look at or do next, but the story is really brought into it’s own by James and Liam. James was our main host, and Liam is the dedicated cameraman. And boy is he dedicated to his role, ensuring that no matter what the occult throws his way, you always have a clear view of what’s going on around the space you’re in. And they’re funny! A bit of light relief from bantering with your hosts works really well to lighten the mood after a period of tension.

There are some pre-recorded sections which are transitioned into smoothly and which helped to accentuate the story with dramatic ‘cut scenes’. This includes an extremely dramatic conclusion to the story, which we enjoyed. While we’re sure the in-person experience is equally fun to play, we really feel like the Emergency Exit team have NAILED the online hosted escape room! The way it runs feels so reminiscent of a horror movie, but with the added element of choosing the decisions the characters make and, of course, what we all came here for in the first place- puzzle solving! For this reason, we’ve decided to award it the Immersion Badge!

The puzzles are all well-fitting with the theme and add an element of mystery, as they are well-integrated into the demonic, occultish storyline. Fear not, there is plenty to do in terms of puzzling in this room, you just also get the added bonus of a suspenseful horror movie setup!

The Verdict

We would really recommend playing The Studies of Dr Becker (and its predecessors if you haven’t yet). We are sure that an in-person visit would be equally fun but we can’t stop raving about the online hosted experience. At £20pp (for a four player team), this is a great way to spend your Friday night.

Please note that there are some creepy sections and mild gore, but these are generally not too scary so don’t let this put you off. We mentioned afterwards that we felt this was less scary than The Beast, but we enjoyed it just as much!

The Studies of Dr. Becker, either the live or remote avatar version, can be booked by heading to E-Exit’s website here.

Mythologic Escape Rooms: Mr Todd’s | Review

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

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

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

So, where to begin?!

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

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

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

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

Don’t go losing your head now!

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

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

An ever-evolving storyline

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

A really close shave!

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

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

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

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

Ratings

Key Enigma: The Butterfly Curse | Review

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Key Enigma: The Butterfly Curse Review | The legend tells that certain people who are blessed with the gift of deciphering and solving the most complex puzzles descend from dark pacts of blood. But now, an evil curse hangs over their shoulders, one that is taking the life of more than a hundred people. 

The Butterfly Curse” is an original horror escape game that mixes physical and digital puzzles with dark narrative to immerse you in a such terrifying experience that it may be impossible for you to distinguish reality from fiction.

Completion Time: 3 hours
Date Played: 28th November 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Challenging

Welp… Definitely a game for a dark night!

We sat down on an extremely snowy afternoon to try out Key Enigma’s game, ‘The Butterfly Curse’. After Mairi had warned us that word on the street was that The Butterfly Curse was a real ‘scary’ play at home game, we were very excited to see what we would find within the ominous red envelope!

It had a number of “ah-ha” moments as you always want to see in an escape game, but The Butterfly Curse was also markedly different. There were also a number of ‘AHHHH’ moments, especially when we finally got around to opening that sealed envelope. Al was watching the screen through her fingers at some points, and insisted that we turn the volume down after being made to jump off her seat (on more than one occasion).

Before we started playing this game, Ash already had a fear of butterflies… Turns out, she might have been on to something!

Just your average, friendly BuzzFeed quiz…right?

We’ve all sat and played the classic online quizzes, wondering which Friends character we would be, or which Disney princess we would marry, but we can’t say we’ve ever done an online quiz quite like the one that welcomed us into The Butterfly Curse. It started off so normal… Until everything seemed to go terribly, terribly wrong! We were so impressed at what Key Enigma have managed to create – it is easily one of the most immersive web elements of a play at home game that we have had the pleasure of using.

The introduction was perfectly pitched – it was scary, the puzzles ranged in difficulty, and the general preface of the story was set up so well. We were very excited (read: Al was scared) to see where our journey would take us.

A word of advice: Definitely make sure you play the introduction first – it’s well worth it!

Image (c) Key Enigma

Your run of the mill friendly internet stranger

We soon got our heads stuck into the game, after finding out that we had been cursed by Farglos(!) (which Al kept reading as Fergus lol), to see if we could make it out alive. You are taken in by a helpful internet stranger, who becomes your guide for the rest of the game. The game functions through an online portal, as you solve puzzles using physical components, plus information that you find on the in-game website.

This combination worked really well as you were guided nicely through each step, making it clear which puzzle was next, and what to use when. We really liked this, as it stopped us getting super distracted by exciting items we found in the envelope, which we wouldn’t actually use until about 5 puzzles in. We had to use the hint system a couple of times to get some nudges (Al does not perform well under fear). Luckily, the clue system is set up nicely to give you a few hints before offering the full solution (useful if you really are paralysed with fear – or if you bang your head falling off your chair from a jump scare – looking @ u Mairi).

Welp x2 – what an ending!

The game finishes on an excellent climax, producing one of the most ‘thrilling’ final envelope openings of any game we have played. We had been looking at the mysterious ‘do not open’ envelope throughout our play, wondering what on earth was inside, and whether it would save us from an eternity of being Farglos’ slaves…

No spoilers – but everyone should play the game just for the ending. It was high tension, high drama, and Key Enigma have done really well to re-create the ‘buzz’ of that final puzzle of a real-life escape room. Anyone who has played this will know what we are talking about!

Overall – this was a wonderful game, with clever tricks and turns. Turn off your lights, close the curtains, and hope for the best when you eventually open your sealed envelope…

You can buy The Butterfly Curse here:
https://keyenigma.com/products/horror-escape-room-the-butterfly-curse.

Ratings

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

Morpheus Show: Locked Down | Review

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Morpheus Show Locked Down Review | You wake to find yourself in a strange place. Memories distorted – a jigsaw puzzle of violence and horror. But what happened? As you explore your new surroundings, the pieces begin to slot together. There was a deadly virus. Mass panic. Riots. A civil war. There is now just one hope for civilization: you.

Completion Time: 2 hours
Date Played: 3rd November 2021
Party Size: 4 (+2)

Before setting out to play a Morpheus Show experience I read a lot of reviews. It seemed like this would be unlike anything else I’d ever played… And yes, despite reading up and getting in the zone as best I could, nothing could have prepared me for what the actual experience was like.

Instead I loaded up the Zoom call with my team with Rebecca, and Escaping the Closet, donned a blindfold, and was transported into an incredible, slightly terrifying, immersive world.

Live Action RPG Meets Thriller Meets Escape Room

So let’s address the elephant in the room – what is Locked Down and how does Morpheus Show work exactly?

Morpheus is an online interactive & immersive audio theatre experience, Morpheus takes place entirely in your mind as you are blindfolded and the world around you is described and implied solely by audio clues. Each guest will create their own visual interpretation of the show.

Morpheus Show ‘About’ Page

What this means is that it is a hosted, auditory adventure. No need for fancy graphics, because the whole game takes place entirely within your head. Your imagination is quite literally the limit.

You and up to 5 other players put on a blindfold and the game is described to you by the host.

“You wake up in an unfamiliar room”

As a team, you must move together. Meaning the situation is described to you and whilst individual characters can do different things… Such as Rebecca donning a dressing down whilst my character chose to stare out the window… you must make a decision as a group to move to a new location or explore something closer. In this way, it’s a little but like Dungeons and Dragons. Players can call out their action and the Games Master will respond accordingly, describing what then happens.

Because the game is played with a blindfold on, it’s also (probably accidentally) totally accessible for a blind audience. I thought this was really nice, as it’s a question we hear from time to time. Access Escape is generally seen as the leading company in accessible escape room experiences, but it’s cool to know there’s another on the scene.

The moments after we all put our blindfolds on…

Welcome to the Apocalypse

In Locked Down, players wake up in a dark room with a headache and fragmented memories about how they got there. Moments before we had been driving through London happily, embarking upon a trip, not a care in the world. Suddenly disaster struck – our car crashed! Days later, the hospital is dark and not a soul can be found.

In our playthrough of Locked Down it quickly became evident that a terrible virus had swept the world leaving few people remaining. Those that had survived were fragmented into militias. A tannoy overhead kept repeating more and more dystopian messages and as we crept through the hospital eerie screams and crashes reminded us of the horror outside.

Being in the middle of a pandemic ourselves, the experience was horribly close to home. For this reason it was all the more exciting too. The current climate, a deadly disease, and just a dash of Day of the Triffids thrown into the mix.

The show actually predates the global pandemic. Produced way back in 2018 by Yana Greene, the script was then adapted from the original Russian and converted into a play-at-home format.

Your Imagination is the Scariest Place to Be

From start to finish the whole experience was wildly immersive. I’m always a little sceptical when experiences take place ‘in your imagination’, but it turns out your imagination is often the scariest place to be. Not knowing what lurked around the next corner or what we might find was the chilling part. We’d hear a noise, and the group would panic and hide. For better or for worse, he outcomes were ours to decide.

Coming from a background of playing live-avatar escape rooms via Zoom, the only jarring thing about moving to Morpheus Show’s format was playing with strangers. Especially with our blindfolds on, it’s hard to know who you’re talking to. Instead, you have only the faceless voices of strangers you’ve never met before.

The game sets up the premise of ‘being with friends’, but unlike live avatar escape rooms (with mostly offer exclusive bookings for teams of 2-6), or even live roleplay games playing Dungeons and Dragons, the synergy of playing with friends and having a common goal was lacking. As such, some players took a more dominant role, making decisions collectively was met with resistance, and we struggled not to talk over one another during high-action scenes.

That said, of course it wouldn’t be fair to judge Morpheus Show on our escape room expectations. We just mention it as a word of advice for any escape room enthusiast wishing to book an exclusive show. A lot of folks will probably love being put in with strangers, and for sure there’s a kind of magic to starting as strangers and ending the show was best friends!

The Verdict

Overall we loved Locked Down. Morpheus Show is a wholly unique experience and we were blown away by the storytelling and production value that’s gone into it.

We’ve also chosen to award this show our ‘I Believe’ award for it’s incredible level of immersion. Sitting in the dark with nothing but your imagination is one thing, but the way this show manages to elevate your heart rate and send real shivers up your spin is quite another. At many points in the show I gasped out loud, and at many more moments I considered taking my blindfold off for a break from the vivid scenes. Truly Locked Down transports you to another world and for those two hours we lost sight of what was real or not anymore.

Locked Down can be booked on Morpheus Show’s website here.

Ratings

E-Scape Rooms: The Alp | Review

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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.

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

The Best UK Escape Rooms to Play This Halloween (2021)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas? Pfft, it’s all about HALLOWEEN! We’re calling it – spooky season is upon us and the perfect way to get into the ‘spirit’ is to play as many ghoulish, creepy and downright terrifying escapes! And lucky for you, we at The Escape Roomer have pulled together a roundup of the most spook-tacular escape games out there so you don’t have to.

Our list covers spine-chilling games from across the UK, as well as some to give you the creeps from the comfort of your own home (we know, we know, there’s nothing better than settling down with a classic PSL for a rainy autumnal afternoon escape at home, before getting the willies watching scary movies all night!).

But we also know that being scared WIT-less doesn’t work for everyone (and their puzzle solving capability). Never fear! You can still enjoy spooky season; we have included some tamer escapes that are guaranteed not to scare, but that fit in perfectly with the Halloween season.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find your perfect Halloween escaping plans!

Disclaimer: These scares levels were accurate at the time of writing, but we know some companies like the ramp up the scare for Halloween, so if you are a bit nervous, please check with the company directly if they’ve snuck in an extra scare (or a live actor, no one wants a surprise live actor!!)

😱 Hardcore Scary Escape Rooms 😱

Want to be scared out of your mind? Try one of these escape rooms for an extreme scream…

The 13utcher – Escapologic, Nottingham

If you know anything about scary escape rooms, you will have heard of Escapologic’s the 13utcher! This game is notorious among the escape community for being one of the most terrifying escape experiences in the UK. You accidentally get trapped behind the shutter of what turns out to be the Butcher’s lair and there’s no saying when he will return (it’s definitely during the hour!).

We haven’t yet played the 13utcher (we’ve been working our way up to it), but we have heard amazing things- including overhearing a lad scarred by the fact that the butcher stole his shoes! If you like hardcore scares, this is the game for you!

Please note this game is advertised as 18+. You can book to play the 13utcher at https://www.escapologic.com/nottingham-escape-rooms/butcher/.

Edith – Unescapable, Derby

So Unescapable aren’t really an escape room company- they’re a super secret time travelling facility masquerading as an escape rooms company, but we’re sure they won’t mind us telling you that! When they open a time portal they send one of their scientists back to make sure everything is ok, and Edith was just the lady for the job… only things went awry when they lost communication with her. She should have shut down the portal but something stopped her. It’s your job to go back and get that portal closed!

We can vouch for the scare levels of Edith- there’s plenty of opportunities to get the adrenaline flowing! Something evil stalks you on your mission and takes every opportunity to make you jump, scream and, at times, get separated from your team mates. There were certainly a fair few nervous giggles among our team when we played, but we loved every heart racing moment of it! If you like a scare, this is one not to miss!

Please note there is an element of crawling required by all players in this room. You can find out more and book to play Edith at https://www.unescapable.co.uk/#rooms1.

Operation Clearsafe – Project Breakout, Brighouse

You’ve infiltrated a top secret facility rumoured to have been undertaking unethical tests on humans and animals to expose their secrets. Unlucky for you, these test subjects have broken free. Can you avoid the creatures to escape the compound with your life?

Operation Clearsafe can be run on scalable levels of scary. So if live actors and jump scares just really aren’t for you, you can still enjoy all the fun this game has to offer without the fear (fun) factor.

You can find out more and book to play Operation Clearsafe at https://www.projectbreakout.co.uk/escape-rooms/.

Phobia – Paralysis Escape Rooms, Stoke

Local people have been going missing and you believe Riser Kane, a creepy psychologist known for his boundary pushing experiments, is to blame. So, of course, while he is detained, you choose to head down into his cellar (shudders) to find out what has truly been going on. Can you manage to overcome your phobias and make it out with the crucial evidence before Riser Kane returns and takes you as his next ‘patient’?

You can find out more and book to play Phobia at https://paralysisescaperooms.com/rooms/phobia-escape-room/.

👻 Escape Rooms That’ll Make You Jump 👻

Scary, but not “scarred for life” scary. These rooms will make you jump!

Sleepover – Escapologist, Cleethorpes

Breaking into the abandoned house of the infamous murdered family is a great idea right? What about planning to sleep over there? Easy Peasy! But when the door locks itself behind you, those rumours of the place being haunted start to make you worry a little more…

Sleepover is a jam-packed 80 minute game that you really get your money’s worth from! If you enjoy a good jump scare, you’ll be sure to have a great time!

You can find out more and book to play Sleepover at https://escapologist-cleethorpes.co.uk/sleepover/.

Cabin in the Woods – Stuck in the Riddle, Huddersfield

Memory implant technology sends you back into the memory of serial killer the silent slayer’s last victim. You find yourself in a remote cabin in the woods. Well of course, what could be more appropriate as a killer’s lair?! Your mission is to find out the identity of the killer and get out of the memory before he comes back to kill the person whose memory you are inhabiting.

We had a great time playing this as a pair and can safely say there were lots of nervous giggles following being made to jump.

You can find out more and book to play Cabin in the Woods at https://www.stuckintheriddle.com/cabin-in-the-woods/.

Scarytale – Deception, Matlock

Not all fairy tales have happy endings… as the Millers found out when the price of a game they played with a wicked little man was their daughter Olivia, who was taken by him. They’ve spent years trying to find him to have a second chance at the game, and now that they’ve found the man with no name, can you help them defeat him?

A brilliant, dark and unnerving twist on a well-known fairy tale! We loved this room and enjoyed just how cleverly the elements are woven together.

You can find out more and book to play Scarytale at https://www.deceptionescaperooms.com/book-now

Seance – Enigma, Wakefield

Rated 18+, Seance is a chilling game including genuine arcane artifacts, demonic symbols and rituals. You enter the home of Tabitha, a sickly child who was lost when her mother did a ritual to try to help her. Expect a couple of jump scares incited by Tabitha popping to see what you’re up to. Lots of creepiness in a relatively small space, this is a really fun room!

You can find out more and book to play Seance at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-wakefield/seance-escape-room/

Howitz – Escapologic, Nottingham

Escapologic again?! Yes! And while this is a significant step down in terms of outright terror from the 13utcher (no live actor for a start), it is still a creepy room set in a disturbing toy shop with the ability to prompt some good jump scares! Escapologic have really thought about the *special* touches to send a shiver down your spine in this game. We absolutely loved this game, in particular the amazing clue system they use, which lends itself completely to the theme and fans of spooky stuff will LOVE!

There is a section which will require the group to separate, but we managed this as a pair and while unnerving, no one comes into the room so you’re as safe as you can be in a creepy toy shop!

You can find out more and book to play Howitz at https://www.escapologic.com/nottingham-escape-rooms/howitz/

Sacred – LetsXcape, Newark

Father Frederick has asked you to enter the Monastery at Kelham Hall to search for Novice Tobias who has gone missing. Your Sacred mission is to search for his whereabouts and discover the truth… A really atmospheric game set in the grounds of Kelham Hall. Who knew that monks could be so creepy?

This game is rated 12+ with parental advisory. You can find out more and book to play Sacred at https://www.letsxcape.co.uk/sacred/

The Orphanage – Lucardo, Manchester

Lucardo provide a PG rating for this game which is sure to give you the creeps. The derelict St Josephine’s Orphanage for Girls is up for auction so you’re headed there to take a look at the site and its redevelopment potential. Upon entering the building, the previous residents have left eerie signs of their unhappy time in the Orphanage and you get caught up in the history of the place. Just try not to get singled out by the cruel woman who ran the place, and try not to get locked in the Keeper (we thought this was veeeery reminiscent of the chokey from Matilda!)

You can find out more and book to play the Orphanage at https://lucardo.com/manchester

Run – The Great Escape, Sheffield

You may recognise this as the game Ariana Grande played on the Late Late Show with James Corden (just at a different branch, somewhere in the USA, rather than Sheffield). Set in a dilapidated ex-children’s home, local urban legend claims that many moons ago the home’s Headmaster used to pay for his own immortality with the souls of these poor unfortunate children. Of course this means that exploring the place you uncover unnerving items, things that go bump in the night and downright creepy goings-on. IF you want to break the curse, set these poor children’s souls free and make it out of the derelict building unscathed, you may have to RUN!

You can find out more and book to play Run at https://thegreatescapegame.co.uk/games/run

Abigail – Trapp’d, Kettering

An innocent little girl called Abigail whose life was stolen by her cruel parents who locked her away in her bedroom for years. Tragically she was taken by the flames of a blazing fire, burnt and alone. Some say they still see a little girl walking the hallways of the now derelict Hallows House. Since Abigail’s death in the early 1940s, there has been a terrifying amount of disappearances and accidents within the walls. 

You’re part of a paranormal team investigating Hallows House when things turn sinister. A haunting looking doll has been watching you and you realise the uncanny familiarity the doll has to long gone Abigail. This is really exciting game spread over a large space giving you plenty of chances to get the willies as you go off exploring the house, and with a few opportunities for jump scares thrown in for good measure.

You can find out more and book to play Abigail at https://trappd.com/book-now/kettering/abigail/

💀 On the Creepy Side of Tame 💀

More creepy than spooky, these are perfect for those dark October nights.

Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse – Escape Quest, Macclesfield

If you are a longstanding fan of scares and escape rooms, you may remember Bad Clown. Unfortunately we missed out on playing this as we have heard that it was SCARY- in fact, owners Elaine and Mike said that so many teams would refuse before the beginning was over! As a result, a tamer version, Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse, emerged and we have had the pleasure of playing this!

You need to outsmart Mr Chuckles and his puzzles to escape his creepy funhouse. To do this, each player needs to win a ticket. The catch? The time ends as soon as the first golden ticket holder exits the game, sabotaging the rest of the team’s chances of exiting the creepy funhouse, so you need to decide what’s more important – A fast time or for every member of your team to win the game? Will you come together as a team to overcome Mr Chuckles and his games or will it be every player for themselves?

For teams unlucky enough to still be inside without a ticket or too slow to get out as the final seconds tick by, Mr Chuckles has one last surprise up his sleeve…

You can find out more and book to play Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse at https://www.escapequest.co.uk/mr-chuckles-funhouse.html

Jilted? – Deception Matlock

A missing bride is never a good thing…. Jilted? Or is something more sinister at play?

Can you go to hell and back to find out what really happened after the bridal party left the bride? Jilted offers plenty of puzzles in an impressive and interactive set that really immerses you in the unorthodox rituals the bride got involved in during her preparations for the big day. While there are definite creepy vibes and a darker story line at play, this game won’t scare your pants off (well not too much anyway!)

You can find out more and book to play Jilted? at https://www.deceptionescaperooms.com/book-now

Hellevator – Clue HQ, Birmimgham

A very dramatic (and black mirror-esque) introduction sets the story line for the Hellevator: your torturous ascent will be live streamed to the general public watching your every move as you try to solve the series of trials to make it up to floor 13 successfully! The drama and tension escalates exponentially as you ascend towards the final level, creating an intense and exhilarating finish, and feeling a rush of adrenaline followed by relief to have completed the Hellevator!

You can find out more and book to play the Hellevator at https://cluehq.co.uk/birmingham/escape-games/#thehellevator

Murder Motel – Enigma, Wakefield

Sam has been sticking around in your Motel for longer than the average guest. To add to that, something doesn’t feel quite…right…about him. He gives you the creeps and you want to know what he’s hiding. So, opportunity strikes when he heads out one evening and you take your chance to snoop around his room and find out who Sam really is. Just try to be quick and make it out before he returns to discover you in his dingy motel room, otherwise things could get really nasty!

You can find out more and book to play Murder Motel at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-wakefield/murder-motel-escape-room/.

The Night Watchman – Eskape Whitby

Out on the docks of Whitby, people have been disappearing. These are dark times, and there are rumours of things being spotted in the shadows. The locals have grown fearful, but the night watchman might have uncovered the secret. He’s the next person who has gone missing, but managed to leave a trail of clues. As the top detectives in Yorkshire, you have been called in to help. Can you follow in the night watchman’s footsteps find out what is wreaking terror on the town. (If you know anything about what Whitby is famous for, you may be able to hazard a guess at what or who that might be…)

You can find out more and book to play The Night Watchman at https://www.eskapewhitby.co.uk/rooms.html

🎃 Halloween Escape Rooms for the Family 🎃

These rooms probably won’t scare you, but they scratch the Halloween itch just nicely!

Frankenscape – Ctrl Alt Esc, Margate

You might be able to guess what the theme of this room is from the name! Professor Alec Smart has been working on a groundbreaking experiment that some may think is controversial. The key to its success is lightning and a storm is a-brewin’. Ctrl Alt Esc has gone all out on a thrilling room, and the end sequence is unforgettable!

You can find out more and book to play Frankenscape at https://ctrlaltesc.co.uk/index.php/en/games

Carfax – Cave Escape, Nottingham

If you’re a fan of gothic classic Dracula, you’ll love Carfax! You are called upon by Van Helsing following some strange goings on, to find out what is going on. In Carfax, you follow the story of Dracula from arrival in the dockyard, through to overcoming the infamous vampire himself. And to add to the gothic atmosphere, Carfax is built within Nottingham’s underground cave network. Does it get more spooky and atmospheric than that?! But rest assured, this is not a scary game, just based around a Halloweeny theme.

You can find out more and book to play Carfax at https://www.caveescape.co.uk/carfax

Carfax – Cave Escape

Afterlife – Cryptology, Sheffield

Can you beat Death himself? Find out in this adventure through Purgatory, Hell and into the pearly gates of heaven. If you succeed, you get to add your name to the Book of Life. Fail, and I guess you’re…well…dead.

You can find out more and book to play Afterlife at https://cryptologyrooms.co.uk/sheffield/afterlife

Ward 13 – Enigma, Doncaster

You’ve been mistakenly put on Ward 13, and that is a place you do NOT want to be! Can you manage to work out how to sneak your way out before you end up in the same position as the patients before you? If you know Pretty Little Liars, think Radley vibes… A creepy theme, but rest assured that you can enjoy this safe in the knowledge that there aren’t going to be any jump scares to throw you off your puzzling!

You can find out more and book to play Ward 13 at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-doncaster/ward-13-escape-room/

Sweeney Todd – Enigma, Lincoln

I’m sure you know the story of Sweeney Todd. Barbershop… people going missing… plenty of delicious pies in Mrs Lovetts’ shop downstairs. Enigma have created a magnificent recreation of the Victorian tale in this game, with an amazing centerpiece that sets this off perfectly! Despite the dark tale, you won’t be too scared, just make sure you don’t try any of those pies!

You can find out more and book to play Sweeney Todd at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-lincoln/sweeney-todd-escape-room/

Salem – Trapp’d, Leeds

While visiting Salem, you hear stories that supposed witch Marjorie Sutton can still be seen prowling around in her old stomping ground and you want to know the truth, so you head to her abandoned shack in the woods to explore. But while you are there, the witching hour strikes. Transported into the world of Salem Witch trials, you must find and destroy the book of the damned and escape the cabin before you are trapped in the Salem forest forever. A great game to enjoy the atmospheric witch-y theme with no scares to freak you out.

You can find out more and book to play Salem at https://trappd.com/book-now/leeds/leeds-salem/

Spellbound – Make your escape, Derby

What a magical game! We’d recommend bringing a big group to this game as the room is jam packed with puzzles and is quite the challenge. In fact, with this game- the more, the merrier as it is a spacious room and can accommodate up to 10 players. Based on a real tale of witch trials that took place in Derby in the 1600s, you enter the cabin of these two accused witches, centuries after their conviction for witchcraft, to explore their cabin, find out the truth and become part of the legend. A perfect way to celebrate Halloween with all your fellow spooky season connoisseurs!

You can find out more and book to play Spellbound at https://www.makeyourescapederby.com/spellbound/

Stuck at home?

Here’s our list of the best at-home Halloween Escape Rooms

Hourglass Escapes: Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Official Remote Escape | Review

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Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Escape 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.

Image (c) Hourglass Escapes

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.

Photo (c) Hourglass Escapes

The Verdict

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!

If you’re not a fan of horror, check out Hourglass Escape’s Rise of the Mad Pharaoh, or The Navigators and the Call From Beyond games instead.

The Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Official Remote Escape Room can be booked directly from Hourglass Escape’s website here.

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