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Escape Boats: SOS & Convicts | Review
You and your team are trapped on an abandoned, crippled boat. Your mission is to gather information, repair the boat and escape – before it’s too late! // You and your team are convicts, imprisoned on the good ship Zorg Ella. Using your wits, intelligence, and teamwork, can you work together to escape before the ship departs for the colonies?
Completion Time: 30 mins // 62 mins (out of 90)
Date Played: March 2023
Party Size: 2
Whenever I go to a new country, or even city, I love to find a local escape room to do, as it’s often very different from what is available near me. Usually, this involves a lot of research on blogs, travel sites, and Facebook, but for our recent trip to Dublin, I immediately knew where I was going to book – Escape Boats. It has been on my list for a while as I’d heard it was an escape room…on a boat…that really utilised the fact it was on the boat.
Luckily for me, since first learning of ‘Escape Boats’ they’ve introduced a second room, so we booked both for the same morning.
We started with their original room, the one I heard so much about. We were first lead to the steering cabin (probably not it’s technical name), which is where the GMs monitor the games from, before a door was revealed, leading us to the belly of the ship. This is where we began the game, so right from the start you are fully immersed in ‘boat’ aspect. The concept of ‘SOS’ is that you wake up on a sinking ship, so it was particularly cool that we started next to the actual engine of the boat!
From there we really raced through the room (completing it in half an hour!), as it was totally linear (one puzzle led to the next). For the pair of us this was absolutely fine – we worked on everything together, but for a larger team I can see this being a little frustrating. However, the puzzles were all well thought out and fun to solve, and fit in perfectly with the theme and story. The room really did feel like it was progressing throughout in a natural way – first we had to turn on the electricity, then find a way to communicate and send an SOS message, and then find a way out. It also felt pretty spacious given we were just on a boat, which actually fit two separate escape rooms – they’ve done a really good job of giving you the impression of size via clever tricks and sparse (but still relevant) set dressing.
It’s the final room that really sets this experience apart though. If you don’t want a spoiler I’ll just say…think boat. For those of you who do…
To solve the final room you have to flick a lever…which starts filling the room with water! Luckily I had already spotted a couple of pairs of wellies conveniently placed as we had progressed through the room, and made sure we put them on before entering this room!
I was actually very impressed and excited by how quickly the water came in – the room is probably larger than it seems, as although the water appeared to flow very quickly it only made it up to our ankles before we managed to stop it.
Not only was this every exciting (and the reason I had heard about this room in the first place), but it just shows how well this company have designed the room and taken on feedback. Apparently, many early teams had managed to solve the puzzle before, or just after, flicking the lever to trigger the excitement, so didn’t get the full experience. They have therefore modified the puzzle to stop it to only be ‘active’ once it has been triggered, and completely randomised so you can’t figure it out beforehand!
Overall, although this room was a very quick experience for us, we enjoyed it a lot. It was on the easier side, as we didn’t need help at all and only used half the time, but this also meant we were never frustrated. All the puzzles made logical sense and were fun to do, and the room itself was fantastic.
It was only natural to book both rooms at the same time, so after a quick coffee break at a nearby cafe we returned for their newer game. This is designed to be a head-to-head game, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do 1-v-1 as I had hoped due to the nature of a couple of the puzzles, so instead we did both sides…one after another. I think this is fairly unique – most head-to-head rooms tend to be mirror copies of one another, but in ‘convicts’ the two sides were similar, with a couple of the same mechanisms used for a different puzzle, but different in a lot of ways. We didn’t feel like we were repeating ourselves at all when we were into the second half – we were still experiencing new things and having to think how to solve certain puzzles. This was also a fairly unique aspect – rather than playing one side through, then the other, the first half lead to the second half before leading to the common final room.
Once more, this room does a fantastic job of feeling big and spacious, when actually it covers any space at all. This was partly achieved via the small rooms packed with puzzles, but also the method of moving between rooms – tunnels. These were great fun for us, but I can see this being a real issue for anyone with mobility issues or spacial concerns. However, I thought it was a really novel idea that meant the rooms themselves could capitalise on more space, and surprise you with your route to the next step.
This room was definitely harder than the last, and we were stuck a few times. There were more puzzles, which were a little trickier but this also meant they were more interesting. Once again, everything was themed really well, and there was less linearity at the start.
We escaped in 61 minutes – I believe we had 90mins available as we were playing both rooms. Technical issues hampered the ending slightly, but this is easily forgiven and explained by a very quick turn around to get us in early after the previous team had finished.
Overall, I’d probably still recommend ‘SOS’ over ‘Convicts’ for the novelty aspect, but why not do both?!
Vision: Convicts starts in the dark, with near to no light until you complete the first puzzle. There are also a couple of puzzles that are done in low lighting, and one requiring colour recognition. SOS is a little dim, due to the nature of the room.
Sound: Hints are delivered via a speaker, so there will need to be someone who is able to hear to utilise this. There is an audio puzzle in SOS, and a puzzle requiring communication between two (or more) teammates in Convicts.
Physical: This may be one of the least accessible rooms I’ve done! The spaces are very small – it felt crowded at times for even two of us. I could see it easily becoming too cramped and warm with more! There was climbing required for all teammates in both rooms, as well as crawling required for Convicts (for all teammates). Convicts also starts with very low headroom (I am 5ft3 and had to crouch to start), and to access and exit both rooms you need to climb up/down ladders. I would advise against doing this room if you have claustrophobia, mobility issues, or are unable to fit into small spaces for any other reason.
Location and overall verdict
The location was fairly easy to get to from central Dublin, although we got a bit lost trying to find the boat itself (both
Google and Apple Maps were sending us to the wrong part of the canal). It is based just over the bridge from a handy Caffè Nero and independent cafe, which also have toilets for use.
I think this was a fantastic pair of rooms, clearly designed and ran by people who care. Our GM was really friendly and welcoming, and did a great job of hosting us. We had a lot of fun, and I highly recommend you visit if you are going to Dublin! I am also awarding this our ‘Wow award’ as a I think what they’ve created for both room is very unique and innovative!
SOS and Convicts can be booked on the Escape Boats website here
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