DNA VR is one of London’s first VR arcades and is home to a whole host of arcade games, including one of the most impressive escape room suites we’ve seen in the UK! including a range of original, free-roam titles.
On a quiet Monday evening in November, we visited their brand new site in the beautiful riverside arches at Battersea Power Station to find out what all the hype is about. We were greeted by Games Master Chris our enigmatic host for the hour. As the previous group was just finishing off their session, it gave us a chance to explore the venue and find out all about the exciting games they have on offer.
Ubisoft’s VR Escape Rooms
How to play Ubisoft’s VR Escape Rooms
Ubisoft’s VR escape rooms are played standing in one spot and pointing your handheld controlled to teleport to different locations. You can spin around 360 degrees to view things around you, but it’s important not to get excited and run off towards an item as you are plugged in!
Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time
The story goes that you and your intrepid band of adventurers must journey in this virtual reality simulation to ancient Iran, to the brink of a beautiful kingdom quite literally falling apart at the seams. Your guide, the Empress of Time Kaileena gives you a mysterious dagger to help you. This dagger can turn back time, literally! You can freeze time, speed it up, reverse it all in one go. Falling rocks? No biggie for me and my dagger. I’ll just pause that right there.
In particular, this game is fantastic in terms of puzzles! It felt as close to a real life escape room as any other VR game I’d ever played, but with the added bonus that you can do things in VR you could never do in real life. Such as scaling enormous heights, crawling monkey bars over ravines, rummaging through cupboards to find clues… Oh wait, that last one you can actually do in a real escape room. But hey! It was twice as fun rummaging in VR.
Beyond Medusa’s Gate
Beyond Medusa’s Gate takes you, in a team of 2 or 4 players, back to Ancient Greece via the Animus (a device from the video game franchise which allows you to simulate the lives of adventurers past through their DNA). This time you’re in search of a mysterious and long lost artefact – a ship! Rumour has it the ship is buried somewhere inside a vast cave… Beyond (you guessed it) Medusa’s Gate.
It’s a very linear room with one puzzle needing to be completed before your team can move to the next area, with many mechanics relying on a little trial and error before figuring out how to do them. Between each puzzle area is at least one or two action scenes where you’ll find yourself doing other things – jumping from platforms, firing arrows, doing battle with monsters, or crowding round at the front of the boat pretending to be in Titanic.
Escape the Lost Pyramid
Finally, the third Ubisoft VR game available at DNA VR is Escape the Lost Pyramid. If Ancient Egypt nor controlling time are your thing, then stepping into an old pyramid might just tick the box. It’s a classic escape room scenario but few do it as well as Ubisoft.
VR Escape Rooms
If Ubisoft isn’t your thing, DNA VR Battersea also has 9 standard VR escape rooms available to play for teams of 2 – 6 players.
- Huxley – 3007 AD: The world, as you know it, is gone. Mankind was replaced by machines. What was once green, is now destroyed. You are the last, remaining survivors, with one mission: to help HUXLEY. With your first step into the virtual reality, you have 44 minutes to reverse the apocalypse.
- Mission Sigma – Dismantle a nuclear warhead with your squad! Secret services have located and neutralized a known terrorist who has been hiding out in a deprived area of the city for the last ten years. This is where the good news ends. It turns out that on the roof of an abandoned high – rise the maniac has installed a nuclear warhead with a timer on it. The rest is down to you. Can you get past all the traps and preempt a nuclear attack?
- Cyberpunk – Cyberpunk is set in the beginning of the 22nd century. Society has collapsed amid rapid technological progress. Corporations fight with one another over data, which has become ever more valuable. You are a group of cyborgs equipped with special skills who need to steal data from the archives of an influential corporation. Infiltrating the complex unnoticed, you must get to the archives and download everything you need. But there won’t be anything easy about that task.
- Prison Break – Get out of the Prison and prove you are innocent You are a group of police officers. Or at least you used to be. Now after your recent investigation you ended up behind bars yourselves. While the case is obviously fabricated you have no-one to rely on. Will you get out of the jail and clear your name?
- Alice in Wonderland Stories – Jump into the Rabbit Hole! Team-based VR adventure for 2-6 players. Fallen through a rabbit hole, you will find yourselves in a fantasy world full of family-friendly puzzles and challenges.
- Alice in Wonderland 2 – Plunge into the world of real magic! Uncover secrets of the Queen of Hearts, drink a shrinking potion and follow the White Rabbit through the twisted maze where everything is turned upside down. Help the Hatter sort out the mess at the mad tea party. The Cheshire Cat will guide you through the enchanted Dark Forest.
- Sanctum – Something truly sinister is happening in this abandoned temple and it is up to you and your team to find the missing people and discover the evil secrets these ancient walls are hiding.
- Chernobyl – If only we could change the past, or witness the events that changed the world… Is it possible to change fate? Travel back in time to see if you can change the situation from which, it seemed – there was no way out.
- Jungle Quest – During a walk in the park, you found a portal that leads to a mysterious world. An amazing sanctuary populated by animals appears in front of you. But how do you get back? To find the way home, you have to solve a series of puzzles and explore the mysterious world of flying islands.
- A Christmas Story – Help Santa get home and deliver the presents on time! Christmas is in jeopardy! Santa got caught in a blizzard, lost all the presents and can’t find his way home… Only you can save Christmas now! And with Santa’s best reindeer hurry to revive the first Christmas tree!
Free Roam VR Escape Rooms
Our absolute favourite experience at DNA VR however was the free roam escape games. At DNA VR Battersea they’ve set aside a huge room at the top of the building which is dedicated to ‘free roam VR’. What this means is you are not plugged in to anything and are free – no, you are required to move around the entire space to achieve your goal.
Since the Free Roam VR escape rooms are scaled to a specific size, there are very few places in the UK offering these particular games. That’s right – you won’t be able to experience anything quite like this anywhere else!
How Does Free Roam VR Work?
On arrival, your Games Master will help you get set up on the Vire headsets, and you’ll be required to tuck a receiver in your pocket for the duration of the game so that the sensors can find you in the room. From here, the whole room materialises in front of you and you can move freely throughout the space in teams of 2 – 4 players.
It’s incredibly difficult to remember that what yo’re seeing isn’t actually real. Don’t be tempted to sit down on one of the boxes or lean on a desk!
We had limited time at DNA VR and so only experienced the two following games:
Space Station Tiberia
Space Station Tiberia is right in the middle of DNA VR’s difficulty scale at 2 padlocks. It puts you and a team of up to 4 players on a distant space station floating high above planet Earth. An asteroid is set to destroy the planet, and you’re humanity’s only hope!
But you’ve been hit, and hit badly. First, players must repair their ship and get the systems back online. Then you must head outside the ship on a space walk and try to turn your weapons online. The clock is ticking but with any luck you’ll be able to target the asteroid and save the planet once and for all. Saving the world is tricky business though. With all our rushing around and lifting (virtual) objects we made it with mere seconds to spare on the clock for a real show-stopper finish.
Space Station Tiberia manages to combine arcade style gameplay, for example stretching and crouching, dodging asteroids and finally using that angles maths you learned in high school to solve a puzzle. This makes it a fun, well balanced game that would be good for players comfortable in VR, or simply wanting to try something exciting and new.
Hospital of Horrors (Short)
With a few minutes on the clock to spare, our Games Master Chris invited us to try out a short, 5-10 minute version of their full game Hospital of Horrors.
“Not sure I like this”, my player two uttered from the other side of the room as we descended a rickety old lift into a pitch black basement. As the lights came on we realised we were surrounded by spiders…
Overall a truly creepy experience but it really pushes what is possible in VR and one we’d definitely recommend everyone try.
Player beware, you’re in for a scare!
Besides Space Station Tiberia and Hospital of Horrors (the latter of which isn’t technically an escape room but gets an honourable mention for being so fun!), you can also play the following 40 minute long escape games:
- Dragon Tower – Uncover the mysteries behind the old alchemist’s lab and fight off a real (well virtual) Dragon in this free-roaming VR Escape room!
- Manor of Escape – The mad count Malin has been running evil experiments with dangerous creatures in his creepy manor. It’s up to you to get inside, investigate — and make it out alive.
- Depths of Osiris – You are a team of deep sea archaeologists. Years of dangerous missions, months of planning and finally you are here. You almost found the lost temple of Osiris. Your journey starts on the Deep-sea platform Oceanus 5. From here the task is quite straightforward. Or is it?
- Time Travel Paradox – Ever wondered what it would be like to walk around with dinosaurs? Travel to the distant future and come back safe? You finally can do precisely that in our new Free-Roaming Experience: Time Travel Paradox!
DNA VR Battersea: The Verdict
Overall, DNA VR is the kind of place you can live out your wildest escape room fantasy – whether it be controlling time, moving freely throughout an enormous space station, or descending into the bowels of a creepy hospital. On our visit, we had a lot of fun – and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what is available. You could spend a whole week here and still not get round to playing all their escape games available!
We thank DNA VR for inviting us to come and play fantastic evening out at DNA VR and are already counting down the days to when we’ll come back and play the rest of their games with friends and family!