E-Scape Rooms: The Sword of Drakul | Review

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E-scape Rooms: The Sword of Drakul | Review | Retrieve the sword of the dragon king and save the kingdom in this online escape room game. 

Completion Time: 46:24
Date Played: 18th October 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Medium

If we could give an award for the most exciting and dramatic intro to any at-home escape room game, The Sword of Drakul would claim it! Seriously, I felt like I was watching the intro to HBO’s latest fantasy drama rather than an escape room.

Game of Thrones, eat your heart out!

On an October Monday – not our typical escape room day of the week – Escaping the Closet, our friend Tasha and I sat down to try the brand new game from E-scape Rooms. Please note, we played the game a couple of days before it’s official launch, meaning it’s possible the game has been tweaked slightly (read as: improved), so take this review with a pinch of salt!

Kings and Dragons and… Goblins!

The story of the Sword of Drakul is an exciting one. We arrive on the scene at the end of an incredibly long war between dragons and humans. So deadly that many a city had been burned to a crisp under the dragon’s tyrannical rule. The king of this great land, after trying every ‘conventional’ method, soon turned to magic to try to stop them – bewitching his most trusted soldiers into dragons themselves to fight them off.

However those six soldiers soon turned against the king and killed him to stop their power from being reversed at the end of the war. However, this also meant that the only secret to stopping these power-crazed dragons died with him. Legend has it the only way to stop the is to recover a mythical sword from deep within the king’s armoury.

It just so happens our crack team of escape room enthusiasts are up to the job. This isn’t our first rodeo and we’ve broken into (and out of) many a king’s armoury before. It’s time to save the world!

Start in the Catacombs…

The Sword of Drakul is played on a platform called Telescape. This means that players have a 360 degree view of each new space and may click into anything for a closer look. Furthermore, you’ll be able to see each other’s mouse mark on the screen to see which puzzles they’re working on in real time. In The Sword of Drakul, when an object is clickable, a dragon’s eye appeared and blinked at us, so no red herrings here.

What was most impressive about this at-home escape room however was those 360 degree views. In most Telescape games, they’re recreations of real life spaces captured with a 360 camera, but E-scape have gone a step further and created a whole new world that felt like it was right out of a video game!

We started in the Catacombs before moving throughout the castle in search of the hidden chamber, solving puzzles along the way – but each time we encountered a new space it took our breath away. The sheer detail! How can this be real? Absolutely gorgeous.

The Dragon King’s Puzzles

Overall, the puzzles in The Sword of Drakul felt really well themed to the setting. When I think of fantasy castles, I think of dusty old games of chess, huge stone pillars with unusual inscriptions and mysterious mechanics lost of time, and of course plenty of dragon motifs! This about sums it up for this at-home escape game, and players can expect to encounter a lot of different puzzles suited to a small group of players.

In particular, my favourite puzzle involved a maze and a goblin. This was also one of the most collaborative puzzles in the game where Ash and I separated ourselves at other ends of the room communicating directions and instructions out to one another. Collaborative puzzles are a theme throughout the game, and on many occasions we had to work together with two, or even three of us split between different screens. As such, we’d recommend it for at least a team of three!

There was one puzzle which didn’t gel particularly well with us, but we were lucky to be playing an early access version of the game and could ask the creator directly what the correct solution and method to solve it was. Once explained, it made a lot more sense!

The Verdict

Overall, we really enjoyed playing the Sword of Drakul. It’s also one of the prettiest Telescape games we’ve seen in a long time – for that reason, we’re awarding it a Diamond Badge (left) reserved for the best looking games in their genre!

This would be a fantastic game for anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre – or anyone who simply wants to be impressed! There’s something for everyone in this game and we were delighted with it from start to finish.

The Sword of Drakul can be booked on E-Scape’s website here.

Ratings

Edaqa’s Room: Cookies | Review

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Edaqa’s Room: Cookies Review | At the end of Pleasantvalley Lane, on the outskirts of Pleasantville, we find a pleasant lady living a pleasant house. She loves cookies. And you happen to be selling them. Kindly, step into the lounge while she gets her purse.

Date Played: 14th August 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 30 minutes

The thing is, I love Edaqa’s Room escape room games. From playing Prototype earlier this year, and Carnival last November… Each time we somehow manage to have buckets of fun! The artwork, the quirky puzzles, the fun gaming platform. All just…

*chef’s kiss*

So on teaming up with Escaping the Closet and our friend Tasha, we were excited to give Edaqa’s free game Cookies a go. It being free to play makes it a perfect ‘starter game’, and an example of what you can expect from their other, full priced games.

A delicious puzzle beside a cozy fireplace

The story of Cookies is very simple. You’re selling cookies and you come across a lovely old lady’s house. She’s so excited to see your cookies, that she invites you in to wait in the front room while she goes to find her purse. How lovely!

Except… The game’s tag line is “Are you her favourite flavour?” which sets the scene up for something a little more sinister than an innocent old lady buying some cookies off you. As you poke around her front room you quickly realise that you’re locked in. A few more clues and something very dreadful is about to happen… Quick! Better find a way out before she returns!

The game is shorter than Edaqa’s average room and takes place in just one location – the little old lady’s front room, complete with cats, blankets, a lovely fireplace, and paintings on the wall. While trying to find a way out, you’ll rummage through her belongings (a bit rude, eh?), unlock cupboards, and examine her shelves a lot closer for clues.

Just like Edaqa’s other experiences, the whole game looks and feels a lot like a 90s point-and-click adventure game, complete with interactable elements and a lot of very amusing humour. Yep, I definitely clicked on the joke items a lot more than the average player, but the tongue-in-cheek humour Edaqa’s Room is infamous for just can’t be beat.


Time to be a smart cookie

In terms of puzzles, they follow the same point-and-click format you may be used to from other at-home escape rooms launched over lockdown. You point at things, you click things, and so on. There’ll be buttons to discover, dials to spin, cupboards to unlock, items to collect, paintings to examine and so on. The best part is that you can see in real time what all other players are doing in the same space as you, with occasional nudges such as:

“Tasha has collected a flower” or “Al has solved the Window Puzzle”

One of my favourite puzzles involved a rather creative cabinet lock, the but sound puzzle was also fairly ingenius. The one tip I can offer is to make sure you click everything – we almost missed a few items as we hadn’t clicked on them, so click everything! You never know what might be interactable.

There was one puzzle in the game that felt a little out of place, and this involved outside knowledge which is generally a bit of a ‘no-no’ in the escape room world. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but essentially we were presented with a scene, and had to say where the scene was. Except, none of our players recognised it at all – likely it’s quite famous, but the puzzle went over our head. After some very creative Googling I eventually figured it out, but it did cost us a lot of time.

Cookies: The Verdict

On balance, Cookies was a fantastic game. And… Err… Did I mention it’s free?! Considering how much fun you’ll get out of the game, we were seriously impressed. I’ll also forgive it any minor tech blips or puzzle confusion for the fact it’s one of the best at-home escape room experiences you can play for the least amount of money… No money!

But of course, if you enjoy it you’re absolutely encouraged to go and purchase one of Edaqa’s Rooms other games which was just as brilliant.

Cookies can be played for free by heading to Edaqa’s Room’s website here.

Ratings

Escape Nation: The Citadel | Review

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The year is 2321, Earth’s population has spread out into space. Mega-corporations have built space stations throughout the galaxy. You have not long arrived on-board a Citadel class space station owned by the Federal Defence Union (FDU). The main function of this Citadel is scientific research and development. The night you arrived, the station’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) was beginning to malfunction. And now, only one week later, the Citadel’s main power has just shut down, and the backup generator has come online.

The doors won’t open, communications don’t work, and you can hear some unusual noises from other parts of the space station. Can you escape before the backup generator goes offline and you’re trapped on-board forever?

Completion Time: 32:30
Date Played: 26th August 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Moderate

We have seen a lot of good reviews flowing in for Escape Nation’s room, The Citadel, so we took the opportunity of visiting Al’s parents to journey down to Stafford – and we were NOT disappointed! This room was BRILLIANT. It was definitely a good choice to play with Al’s parents, who are big fans of ‘puzzle content’. We actually managed to escape with the second fastest time ever recorded, which we were absolutely stoked with.

The logic definitely was not puzzling…

When things ‘click’ in an escape room, it always makes a room more appealing. As a group of 4, it was surprising that we all seemed to gel with the puzzle flow and the use of logic in the room. This was one of those rooms where you kept seeing new puzzles that were yet to come, which can be distracting as you get excited about the puzzles still to solve, whilst you are still figuring out the previous puzzle. 

We split up into two duos for the majority of the room, each moving through different puzzles, and coming back together at the particularly ‘tricky’ bits! Some of the puzzles used in this room were ones we haven’t seen before (which is unusual now we’ve done >150 rooms!). Others were more ‘classic’ escape room puzzles, but when delivered so well, these are a joy to solve. We even managed to do some searching, successfully! Perhaps it was the addition of Al’s parents, or perhaps it was just a good day for us, but we will take that victory haha!

Artificial Intelligence… Friend or foe?!

The interaction between the players and the AI in this room was great. We love a good sci-fi story, and this did not disappoint. In fact, we thought we had finished the room at one point (so much so that Al’s mum had gone and put her coat on!), only for a rather alarming alarm to sound, and the narrative took quite a dramatic twist. We quickly dropped our bags, took off our coats and returned to puzzling. It was fun to see parts of the room we had thought we wouldn’t interact with suddenly open up and become part of the gameplay – a welcome surprise.

We are so glad the room ended like this. We weren’t quite ready to leave the room when we thought we had finished, and loved the opportunity to face even more puzzles. It made the experience feel much fuller and really helped to create that ‘last minute’ game tension that can sometimes be missing from rooms which you click with so well.

Overall

We can’t recommend this room enough. The puzzles, the decoration, the hosts, everything was brilliant. If you are in the vicinity of Stafford, definitely make your way across, and see if you can beat our time!

You can find Escape Nation on this website here: https://www.escapenation.co.uk/

Ratings

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.

Ratings

Puzzled Escape Games: Professor of the Occult | Review

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Puzzled Escape Games: Professor of the Occult Review | A professor from the local collage who is the prime suspect in the murder of three of his colleagues has gone missing. It is rumoured that they were involved in occult research that has led to their disappearance. Head to the professor’s house and see if you can uncover anything about his whereabouts but be careful, I have an uneasy feeling about this one.

Date Played: 5th September 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 50 minutes

There’s nothing better than winding down on a Sunday evening to investigate some disturbing supernatural practices with your friends, and lucky for our team (Mairi, Al, Ash and I) this is exactly what we were tasked to do by Puzzled Escape Games.

With the promise of jump scares sat securely in our minds, we enter the professor’s study and I notice I’m gripping my mouse ever so slightly too tight.

It’s just a normal study, right?

What transpires is a realistic representation of the in-person escape room based in Easthampton, Massachusetts which you are free to explore using a simple click and drag method with the ability to take a closer look at certain items. You can interact with most objects, which allows you to perform tasks as though you were in the real room (and we all agreed, this would be an incredible in person experience).

The browser-based game does not update based on other players movements, which could have been frustrating but the way the game flows means that players can still go their separate ways to solve puzzles, then reunite to provide the final solutions.

The Puzzles

The puzzles range from straight forward to rather complex, and I must admit I struggled with one geography-based conundrum in particular. People always regret being landed on my Articulate team when we get stuck attempting the ‘world’ category for five rounds though, so I might be an outlier on this one.

There’s a good mix of puzzles to suit various specialities, with riddles, crosswords, map reading, logic puzzles and plenty of hidden objects to test those observation skills. For some of the more difficult tasks we came together as a team, once again learning that communication is the key to escaping!

A link to the clues was provided at the start of the game but be warned, the solutions are in the same paragraph as any hints so you may accidently see the answer.

The puzzles have been cleverly designed to compliment the narration, and we experience a slow story reveal through puzzles, letters, video messages and audio to discover the mystery behind what the professor has been up to. There are some surprises which I’ve purposefully avoided sharing, but they ensured we all had a good (nervous) laugh.

A Confession

I love the horror genre, but you couldn’t pay me enough to say Candyman in the mirror five times. When it came to the finale, I absolutely bottled it. The loudening sound made it feel so immersive, so if you’re into it I’d recommend gathering some candles, dimming the lights, and popping on your headphones to find out what happens!

The Verdict

The Professor of the Occult is a game leaning towards the more difficult side, so if you are a group of seasoned puzzle solvers this would be a great challenge.

Fans of the supernatural will love the theming, and mystery solvers will be delighted to discover the hidden secrets that lie within the room.

Don’t get too comfortable in the familiarity of the study though, things might take a sinister turn…


The game can be booked directly on their website here.

Ratings

Headlock Escape Rooms: The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us | Review

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Headlock Escape Rooms: The Keeper and the Fungus Among Us Review | The Keeper has awakened. This only happens every 1,000 years when the evil Paxillus is released from his mushroom prison. Your team, The Guardians, must help our hero defeat this dreaded Mushroom King and save the people of this land.

Date Played: 13th September 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 80 minutes

One day, roughly 10 months ago, Joel (one of the creative geniuses behind Cracking Christmas and The Wizard’s Apothecary) was suddenly struck by the following pun:

I put the fun in fungi

Joel immediately turned to his partner and said, “OK we need to make a musical escape room out of this.

I put the fun in Fungi

The rest as they say, is history! Which is how our team consisting of Mairi, Al, Ash and Tasha came to be playing a remote avatar game curiously titled ‘The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us‘ one Monday evening. We had no idea what to expect, but within 5 minutes we were crying with laughter and within 10 minutes we were singing along to all the musical parts.

Keeper? Fungus? What’s Going On?

The Story of The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us is fairly simple…

In a mysterious land far, far away, the evil Mushroom King Paxillus awakes from a 1,000 year slumber and swears to turn every resident of the peaceful Toadstool Village into mushrooms. But not all is lost! To meet Paxillus’ challenge is a hero for all ages: The Keeper. This millennium, The Keeper is a curious, slightly sassy, five legged spider.

Through this puppet adventure, it was our job as players to guide The Keeper through the trials and tribulations, journeying across the land and solving puzzles.

Not ‘Mush Room’ For Error

In terms of game structure and puzzles, The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us follows the loose format of:

  • Exciting video introducing what is happening
  • An area of gameplay, with about 1-5 linear puzzles to solve
  • Collect some cool and unique items which’ll be used later
  • A (more often than not) musical outro

The types of puzzles players will encounter vary, but they’re also brilliantly creative and not something you’d encounter in a typical escape room style game. We found ourselves navigating puzzles which felt a lot more at home in an adventure RPG video game, such as rotating cubes in specific orders, or attacking a gang of street fighters in a very specific combination to ensure they could all be defeated in the right order and that you also wouldn’t run out of health.

It’s like the creators have taken a genre of video game, added puzzles, transposed the experience onto a miniature scene, and run the whole thing as a 90 minute escape room! And so many unique sets all built in a very small area no less! To call it creative would be the understatement of the year.

World’s Most Unique Digital Escape Room?

…Yeah, we’d say so.

There’s quite literally nothing quite like this on the market, and believe us – we’ve played a lot! It’s a cross between an adventure video game, a Dungeons and Dragons one shot campaign, a musical like Rocky Horror Picture Show, a hand puppet performance, and a kids TV show from the early 00s. If you like any of the aforementioned media, you’ve got to book this. Seriously, you won’t regret it. Go in with an open mind and an ambivalence towards mushrooms.

Joel and his partner have built the experience themselves from scratch and make use of several unique sets and a lot of wonderful video trickery to produce an all round fantastic immersive experience-come-show. At the end of our adventure, he took us behind the scenes showing us not only a few of the endings we didn’t unlock, but also exactly how much love and toil goes into setting up such an amazing set.

This is what good puzzle games are. They’re created by folks who love the escape room industry and put their absolute everything into making fun content for the rest of us to enjoy. Joel has nailed it, and The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us will go down in cult escape room history for may years to come. Make sure you book it while you still can, you’ll kick yourself some day, decades down the line when Joel has retired, if you don’t.

The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us can be booked by heading to Headlock Escape Rooms’ website here.

The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us Ratings

Enibot: Mission: Mars | Review

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Enibot Mission: Mars Review | Join a once in a lifetime mission! In the mission you will go through the astronaut selection process. If successful, you will join the first manned flight to Mars to find life signs! You must prove yourselves along the way via interesting challenges and smart and creative puzzles.

Date Played: 30th August 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 45 minutes

One small step for Team: Al, Ash, Mairi, Tasha… And one giant leap for mankind!

After receiving a code to play Enibot’s Mission: Mars as part of the RECON play pass, we wasted no time before arranging another of our weekly escape room get togethers to try the at-home digital escape game out. It’s been a long time in lockdown, and heck, I can’t think where better to spend a Sunday evening than as far away from here as humanly possible: Mars!

Mars Needs you!

The story behind Mission: Mars is very much in the title. You must embark upon a mission to… You guessed it… Mars! It’s a short, light-hearted, and very fun little digital game that follows you and your intrepid team of space explorers receiving an invitation, passing the test, and journeying to the red planet. Throughout your trip you’ll encounter obstacles, difficulties, and more than a few puzzles to be solved before you can progress!

Whilst it probably won’t be winning any awards for outstanding storytelling, it is a classic escape room space adventure. A reliable and predictable narrative injected with puzzle solving fun! Being playable via your browser makes it accessible to a wide audience and it’s a fun way to spend an hour with friends. Very nice!

About Enibot & Quala

Enibot is a technology startup with the goal to create a software for digital escape rooms. To bring Mission: Mars to life, Enibot has also collaborated with Israel-based escape room company Quala. According to Enibot’s website,

After gaining experience together in hundreds of escape rooms, we came to the conclusion that it was time to create something special. We combined together puzzles and games with our unique and fun platform to create the perfect gaming experience for you!

Step One: Crack the Code & Travel to Mars

Mission: Mars is best played with one person sharing their screen and the rest of the team following along. When we first opened the game, it wasn’t immediately clear who would be the ‘lead’ screen-sharer, but we quickly figured it out after a couple of refreshes. From here, we were in!

The game is sectioned out into a number of unique scenes which tell the story of you and your team journeying to Mars. The flow of the game is fairly simple: Each scene has around one or two puzzles to be solved before you can progress to the next. To progress, you’ll find a chat-bot style interface on the left hand side of your screen where you need to input your next password. In most cases, this was a single keyword, but it could also be a number.

In an interface similar to Telescape, each scene we encountered was either an interactive image, for example our cockpit in the space shutter, or a 360 degree room we could click and drag and navigate around seamlessly! One of my favourite parts of Mission: Mars actually involved the sequences where we would find 3D modelled items and would need to rotate them to find specific details. Enibot handles this super well, and we found ourselves spinning planets around looking for minute details, and holding up Mars Rovers to discover hidden codes! Absolutely amazing!

To help you on your journey, you may ask for a number of clues. Clues and incorrect guesses will count against your final score, and we made 5 of them! Ooops!

One of the puzzles we enjoyed the most was the ‘takeoff to Mars’ sequence, performing all the last minute checks before your shuttle can take off. Here your screen is fully interactive and packed with dials and buttons to press and pull. It was pretty complex, but a lot of fun! I reckon after that we’re all just about ready to pilot a real space shuttle… Just waiting for my call from NASA any day now!

Don’t Forget to take a Selfie on Mars!

No escape room is complete without a team selfie at the end, right? One of the most unique features in Mission: Mars came right at the end of the game. Once you’ve successfully completed your mission – the game prompts a “photobooth”, offering boomerangs or still photos on the surface of Mars.

The Verdict

Enibot’s Mission: Mars is a sweet and light-hearted game! I think first and foremost it’s been designed as a showcase of their software – with different levels showcasing exactly how cool their software is. Above all, it’s also just a fun game! Not to be taken too seriously, it’s a fun way to spend an hour or two, escaping from the disaster we call ‘Earth’.

There’s some real fun humourous moments elevating the game, such as your crew saying “Oops, we didn’t think you were going to make it so we already locked the door!”. With a nice mix of puzzles to boot, it’s a well rounded digital escape room game with a fun theme.

Due to the nature of one player needing to share their screen, we’d recommend Mission: Mars be best played by players all in the same room. This would also mean that you can get all players in on the end-of-game selfie!

Currently, our team is third on the leaderboard! Think you can beat us?

Enibot’s Mission: Mars can be purchased for $30 USD on Enibot’s website here.
For 10% off your mission, you can use promo code TheEscapeRoomer (valid until 30th Sept 2022)

Ratings

Jersey War Tunnels: Operation Constellation | Review

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Jersey War Tunnels Operation Constellation Review | It is 1943 and Chief of Combined Operations, Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, has conceived Operation Constellation, a daring offensive against the Channel Islands. A team of elite commandos are to land on Jersey and break into Ho8 (Jersey War Tunnels). Your mission is to access the German Commandant’s Office and find the locations of the newly constructed fortifications. You will have to search, identify clues and decipher puzzles to find the locations and discover the code to unlock the door.

Completion Time: 65 minutes
Date Played: 21st August 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Hard!

Imagine playing an historical escape room in the physical space it’s set… Such as escaping from a pyramid, except it’s actually in a pyramid… Or escaping a submarine that is actually sinking and- oh no wait, maybe not that one 😱

A slightly safer way to experience a genuine historical adventure is to check out Operation Constellation at the Jersey War Tunnels. During World War II Jersey was occupied by German forces and during this time the war tunnels were dug deep into the hillside in the centre of the island. They were built so that the occupied regime would withstand Allied air raids and are still in perfect condition today!

Deep within the heart of the tunnels is a little space set aside for an escape room: Operation Constellation. Your mission is to break into the occupied tunnels, access the Commandant’s Office, and find the location of the fortifications so you can transmit the information back to the Allies. The room itself behind the site of an actual Commandant’s office is equal parts eerie and unique, and it’s safe to say that this is a one of a kind experience.

But let’s get into the details…

The entrance to the Jersey Wars Tunnels.

About Jersey War Tunnels

According to Jersey War Tunnels website,

Dug deep into the hillside by forced and slave workers from nations across Europe, they now contain an underground collection of thought provoking exhibits that tell the fascinating story of Jersey’s occupation from resistance, through to starvation, then eventual liberation.

We arrived at 2.30pm and booked in for the 3pm slot. Since last entry to the museum is 3.30pm, we opted to purchase our tickets upfront and use half an hour before the room and another half an hour or so after our room to explore the historical side of the site. There’s easily enough to explore in the museum you could spend hours there though – so be sure to factor that into your booking if you’re planning to make a day of it!

One of the narrow passages off the main tunnel.

The World’s Most Authentic Escape Room

Whilst the plot behind Operation Constellation is fiction, the space it’s in is not. From the moment we stepped into the escape room, our whole team was seriously impressed by the attention to detail. It felt like stepping back into history, where every item we picked up was an original authentic object from the time, here used as puzzles and clues.

On the one hand, this was incredible. Everything felt real and tangible in our hands – no plasterboard or out of place wiring to be seen. Even the clue system was delivered via an old timey, 1940s phone perched on the walls. On the other hand, authenticity can sometimes go too far. This is the only escape room I’ve seen use a genuine swastika flag as part of the decorations… A controversial choice!

Controversial decorations aside, the museum has created many different types of exhibitions to tell the story of occupation: from interactive bunkers, to video performance, to an incredibly immersive tunnels sequence (that may have made me jump out of my skin!). Each exhibit is respectful of the victims, and I’ve no doubt that every consideration was made with their escape room too.

Photo (c) Jersey War Tunnels

Puzzles and Panzers

In terms of puzzles, Operation Constellation is absolutely packed. I can completely see why they recommend the room for teams of 4 – 8. You need at least 4 brains working on things simultaneously if you want to escape in time. Your goal, if you choose to accept it, is to track down the locations of newly constructed fortifications across the island. Each location is on a piece of card with a corresponding key, and each is hidden behind walls and walls of puzzles.

Many of the puzzles we encountered in this room were quite meaty, meaning one person could be occupied by a single puzzle for a big portion of the time. This gives a lot of opportunity for specialisation – got someone who is good with words? They’ll quickly find their forte. Numbers? There’s something for everyone. In particular, since no one player could possibly solve everything, I worked on a word-based puzzle, which played to my strengths and meant that each time another player found a clue they could quickly hand it to me and move on with what they were doing. Similarly, another player chose to focus on a numbers puzzle which took at least 15-20 minutes to solve alone.

Along the way, there’s also a lot of searching and finding. Operation Constellation is a deceptively big room with a lot of cupboards, shelves, books and hidden Easter Eggs to be found. With all the items being so authentic, there’s no way to know what is decor and what’s a genuine puzzle – so check everything!

To help you along the way you have access to just 3 clues – these were delivered via the phone on the wall. That said, there’s technically a 3 clue limit but we were offered one additional, bonus one, when the time was really ticking down at the end and it looked like we wouldn’t escape in time! We technically did run out of time at the end, but our GM was kind enough to give us a little extra time.

Based on our team of 4 of wildly differing skill levels (one player had never played any escape rooms before!), I think we didn’t too badly running just a couple of minutes over the time limit. There were so many keys, so many codes, so many awesome things to find – making Operation Constellation a very impressive room!

Photo (c) Jersey Wars Tunnels

Is Operation Constellation Worth It?

To be sure, Operation Constellation is a quite expensive escape room. It costs a flat rate of £150, and the room can take teams of between 4 – 8 people. At the smaller team size this puts the room at £37.50 per player, and £18.75 if you can rustle up 7 other players. Due to the price, the room size and complexity of puzzles, I wouldn’t recommend doing it with any fewer than 4 players, though its technically possible if you get in contact with them in advance.

That said, your booking for Operation Constellation does not include entry to the museum, which is an additional £15 per person. If you don’t purchase museum tickets, you’ll be escorted into and out of the museum quite quickly… But in all honesty, visiting the museum is part of the experience and not to be missed!

Altogether, for a team of 4 including museum tickets you’re looking at £52.50 per player. At 8, it’s £33.75 per player.

Is it worth it? Well, maybe. A few days before our booking we got chatting to a few local folks who had the room booked for a stag party later in the week. They’d booked just the room (and not the museum) and were thrilled to find an activity so unique that could accommodate their team of 8. Fantastic!! It’s a perfect room for a team like this. On the other hand, if you’re a tourist on holiday in Jersey it’s unlikely you’ll be travelling in a big group, but you never know! If you can afford it, have at least 4 players in your party, and you’re visiting the Jersey War Tunnels anyway, then why not?! Operation Constellation is like nothing else in the world so worth a trip.

Operation Constellation: The Verdict

Operation Constellation is a very impressive room located in the heart of Jersey, an amazingly unique way to experience the local history, and packed with fun puzzles to boot. It’s the perfect escape room for a large group, for example for a birthday party, stag or hen night, or even a work team-building event. We had a lot of fun playing it in our little team of 4.

The best part? Jersey Wars Tunnels are hard at work building another escape room, truly solidifying the island as an excellent destination for escape room enthusiasts all over the UK.

To book Operation Constellation at the Jersey War Tunnels you can head to Jersey War Tunnels website here.

Ratings

clueQuest: cQ Origenes | Review

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In order to stop the Professor from breaching our firewall, you and your team will have to access Mr Q’s old base. The only way in, however, is to shrink down to the size of a mouse with the help of the Shrink’o’Mat. Word of caution, agents: the technology you’ll be exposed to is…a bit unstable and still experimental. You’ll have only 60 minutes to counteract the cyber attack and secure the mainframe before the Shrink’o’Mat’s effect wears off and things get messy.

Image (c) clueQuest

Battling the storm en route to escape!

We played cQ Origenes back in February 2020, just before the pandemic began, which must have been the last time we were in London (wow that feels like a long time ago!).

Our first mission however was actually getting there, as this was during the ‘Storm Dennis’ weekend… Luckily, escape rooms are literally the PERFECT rainy day activity! Although, they are also ideal on: sunny days, snowy days, windy days too.

This trip was our second time at clueQuest. We had previously taken on Operation Blacksheep with the same team and thoroughly enjoyed it, so were very excited to be back to face the slightly more challenging cQ Origenes room. cQ Origenes is one which is always recommended as a top room in terms of the capital’s offerings, and it’s easy to see why. Even clueQuest’s reception area feels special, bustling full with teams. It makes for a very lively pre-escape atmosphere!

It’s clear clueQuest would be so great to host a big party with lots of people taking on different rooms and all coming back together to discuss times, and inevitably, searching fails!


…Hm, maybe this is something we would do for the big 3-0…?

The Mission Brief

Back to the mission: the briefing for cQ Origenes was consistent with the overarching CQ storyline – our group of ‘spies’ have to break in and retrieve an SD card. However, this is more challenging than it first appears! The first step of the two stage mission requires you to operate the shrink-o-mat to infiltrate the lair – making everything after this point ‘larger than life’!

Beyond this, the room is split really well, with the decoration tying into the storyline allowing for a super smooth puzzle flow. 

Image (c) clueQuest

The cQ Origenes rooms are decorated brilliantly, which is no surprise as the production value on clueQuest’s rooms is SUPER HIGH. This really pays off to create an immersive atmosphere with a humorous twist.

The mission offers great interactivity and clever puzzles to solve: varied, challenging, logical and original… There was plenty to get on with. We were glad that we went in with a strong team of 4, Tilda and Johnny are always super on it for escaping (our favourite kind of friends haha!).

There was even one very special padlock in the room – we’re sure even the biggest padlock-phobe would enjoy opening. 

Good things come in small packages

We absolutely loved the concept of this room, it was so simple but designed incredibly well. We had so much fun exploring all the props and clever, special touches in the space. The props were well designed and pretty much everything really ‘worked’, meaning a great deal of exploring the room pays off, not only for progressing the story, but also for the wow-factor of discovery!

We were particularly blown away by the final puzzle: this really impressed us with its design… But you’ll have to go and play to see what we mean!

Image (c) clueQuest

Alas, we did hit a hiccup at the end and spent around 10 minutes stuck on one (tiny, tiny…) piece… However, our overall escape time came in at just over 56 minutes, successfully returning to full size! That said, looking at the photo it looks like Johnny is full size and the rest of us are still slightly shrunk haha! 

cQ Origenes is great for enthusiasts or large groups of newbies looking for a challenge! We definitely hope to return to help Mr Q face Blacksheep again next time we return to London.

Which room would you recommend we try our hand at next?! Check out our reviews for clueQuest’s other games here.

cQ Origenes can be booked on clueQuest’s website here.

Ratings

Escape SC: Union of Recorded Lives | Review

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Union of Recorded Lives: we posses the secrets of eternal life. Solve our series of puzzles and you will be welcomed into the URL community. Prove your worth. Join us.

Rating: Unique!
Completion Time: 1hr 30 mins
Date Played: 2nd August 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Solo Players who want a creative ARG

Union of Recorded Lives was not at all what we expected! After previously playing Science Splice, Union of Recorded Lives came onto our radar as an earlier game by the same student society but one generally accepted to be a real hidden gem. But to be sure, it is nothing like Science Splice. This game blurs the boundaries of what is real and what is fiction, pushing players to question the very fabric of reality around them as they play. To say it’s impressive would be an understatement, but here’s why you should check it out.

An Escape Room on TikTok, Facebook and Twitter

Union of Recorded Lives is tricky to find. Put simply, your adventure begins on an unassuming Facebook page and a cryptic Facebook post with a list of rules:

  1. Use a computer and make sure you have access to the internet
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for hints – the puzzles are hard
  3. You may work in groups
  4. When taking the personality test, only two traits need to be developed
  5. There’s no time limit
  6. Follow the spiders

We decided to play in a group of 4 and once all of us had found the ‘start page’, the adventure began like a big online scavenger hunt looking for spiders appropriately on the world wide web. This led us down a rabbit hole of more Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, TikTok videos, and WordPress blogs – combining the best of what each social media platform does.

I chime in “Haven’t you people ever heard of…”

One of the things we rarely comment on in our reviews is the question of “how appropriate is this game for it’s target audience?”. Union of Recorded Lives is created by a group of Gen Z students aged around 18 – 21. I think they’ve nailed their target audience perfectly with a mix of sound and technology puzzles that’ll feel second nature to those in their peer group.

That said, even for less digital-native players, the team have woven in some ‘alternatives’. Aren’t familiar with all these mobile apps? You should be able to find a YouTube link with all the required audio/visual content.

Being in our mid-20s, we were very pleased to encounter a Panic! At the Disco song as an integral part of one of the puzzles and yes, I’ve got it stuck in my head now. So there’s a little something in there for us millennials too. Hah!

Overall, there were more than enough puzzles in the game to suit all different types of players, it just felt like a refreshingly unique use of technology to deliver them! In particular, audio puzzles combined with meta data puzzles, hidden things in long paragraphs of writing, and needing to interact with chat bots was particularly fun.

The puzzles largely were quite difficult, with a fair few really stumping us. In the end we used a couple of hints and due to a difficulty with a US mobile number, used one answer too.

The Personality Test

Let’s talk about my favourite moment in the game: the personality test!

Towards the end of the game each player took part in a personality test. From this point, the game splits into two different directions which I assume leads to a different ending. I have to assume as amazingly, all four of us had the exact same result, making it easier to collaborate remotely.

But this isn’t your grandma’s personality test – it’s a live RPG game in which your little hero has a choice of objects to pick up and directions to travel in. The designers went all out on this section of the experience with a brilliant browser-based video game sequence including slider puzzles, snake games, and maps to explore.

Here are my results:

Skillful Adaptability Score: 107.5

Creative Logistician Score: 65.5

Those who possess strong skillful adaptability tackle challenges head on, compete against the timer, and have a competitive nature. This type of person might be interested in buffing their creativity and logical analysis skills to progress further in their journey.

Escape SC – The Student Escape Room Club out of USC

Escape SC as a team are a really interesting group of people. I had the pleasure of chatting to them in an interview for Telescape and found out that they’re a student group dedicated to creating escape rooms on the USC campus. At the time of writing there are more than 15 in this student society – although membership is by application only, to keep the group intimate.

Union of Recorded Lives was created back in April 2020, so the team is not exactly the same as the Science Splice team, but one thing is incredibly clear – this group has buckets of creativity! Someone needs to go hire each and every one of these talented students.

Photo (c) Escape SC

The Verdict

We had a lot of fun playing Union of Recorded Lives. Once again, Escape SC have made something really unique and the best part? It’s completely free. For at least an hour (more like two hours) worth of fun, you can step into the wacky and wonderful world of the Union of Recorded Lives and see if you too can uncover the secret to immortality.

I look forward to seeing whatever this team come up with next, and have no doubt it’ll be just as special as this game!

Union of Recorded Lives is free to play. Simply head to this link to get started.


Ratings