Escape SC: Union of Recorded Lives | Review


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.


Doctor Who’s Hidden Treasure Hunt #FindTheDoctor


Welcome to a mystery across space and time. Work together to solve the hiDden clues and reveal a password below. #FindTheDoctor

Last week Doctor Who launched a brand new trailer for Series 13. You know, the usual aliens and monsters and heartfelt moments between The Doctor and her companions. But eagle-eyed fans spotted something else hidden inside the trailer: a cryptic clue that read only:


On this page only more mysteries await, from here many fans spotted further unusual clues on the page – from a hidden word ‘FRED’ written in white text, to possible Morse Code in the latest poster, to unusual hints in the page’s source code itself.

Would-be treasure hunters have set up unofficial Discords to try to crack the case, working around the clock. At this stage it is unknown what will happen when the code is cracked, but it seems like BBC have been planning this for a while – with hidden typos and cryptic clues dotted all around their website and social media pages these past weeks.

Whatever we’re looking for… It begins: 13:13.13.

What We Know About #FindTheDoctor

For a little in-depth analysis of all the clues that have been compiled so far by Twitter user @updates_who, read on. Or if you choose to discover them yourself, you can head to /mystery here

  • The D is capitalised in hiDden
  • FRED can be found by highlighting white text on the page
  • By looking in the page source you can find ‘X4G6H66TZ114Z33H19K6’. If you decrypt it using Arcfour, it reveals ‘Z’
    • Interestingly, ‘X4G6H66TZ114Z33H19K6’ contains the exact number of letters as the Time Lady’s real name.
  • John Bishop posted something with ‘a d’ in it but it should say ‘and’. ‘N’ is the missing letter
  • A spectrogram of the page’s image reveals high frequencies around the ‘OR’ in ‘DOCTOR WHO’
  • Mandip Gill posted something with ‘T.AR.D.I.S’. ‘It should say ‘T.A.R.D.I.S’

Fan Theories About #FindTheDoctor So Far…

  • Twitter user @BBCWilliamWho pointed out that another article confirmed ‘universes’ and speculates if #FindTheDoctor will introduce more universes to the show
  • Twitter user @updates_who theorised that 13:13.13 could be a timecode for a video or a time of day/year. It could also lead to Apollo 13 in 1970 – their rocket was launched at 13:13pm
  • Twitter user @DampPuddle pointed out that Romana’s first episode (connected to the word FRED) references 116 parsecs at 13 minutes – the co-ordinates of the Planet Ribos.
  • Many users have pointed out that some passwords get an ‘incorrect password’, and others take you to a page that says “You have not cracked the code this time.”, indicating that a password can only be input at a certain time.

Credit: BBC

Doctor Who returns to BBC 1 later this year, but if you can’t wait that long you can book your own Doctor Who adventure at Escape Hunt.

Swamp Motel: Mermaid’s Tongue | Review


Your help is needed to track down an ancient lost artefact. Thrown into a murky underworld, you’ll have to hack into CCTV, outbid a high-end art dealer, and decipher messages from beyond the grave. Every click will immerse you deeper in the mystery. What is the Mermaid’s Tongue? And who are the dark forces who will stop at nothing to beat you to it? Let the hunt begin…

Rating: Fun
Completion Time: 1hr 3 minutes
Date Played: 27th March 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: Fans of ARG, general audience.

For this second (or third, as we played The Kindling Hour first and Plymouth Point second) instalment of Swamp Motel, we were thrown into the murky underworld of lost artefacts, art trade, and murder, to figure out exactly what the Mermaid’s Tongue is and recover it before it’s too late.

The only small problem? Because we’d played the Kindling Hour first, we kinda already knew what the Mermaid’s Tongue was, and where it was. Double oops! But it did help us solve the puzzles faster, so there’s a silver lining!

Some Notes on Tech

So first up, we had quite bad tech issues throughout this game. Although our invisible host was super helpful trying to fix it, it did add quite a few minutes onto our completion time. Unlike Plymouth Point which is played in Zoom, this one is played in-browser, so more like The Kindling Hour. Swamp Motel have built their own browser system complete with video and audio but for some reason it didn’t work for us. Voices dipped in an our, screen share audio sounded robotic, and there were a lot of echoes on our voice.

HOWEVER, take this with a pinch of salt, because I’ve read countless more reviews that haven’t mentioned any tech issues at all and we didn’t experience any problems with the third instalment, so it could have been a one off.

So with this, onto the actual review!

The Story

You join the game as part of an online art class – oh yes, I’ve done plenty of these in lockdown! The instructor gives us an intro, the model arrives, and we get started drawing- or do we? One of the previous patrons of the art class is missing and hacking into her art class login is where this story begins.

The shadowy London Stone Consortium is looking for an item called the Mermaid’s Tongue but it’s location is hidden between three people who only have part of the puzzle. But those people are dropping like flies so it’s a race to finish line to figure out what the three pieces of the puzzle are and where the fabled item is hidden today.

The Game

Again, the Swamp Motel series isn’t exactly an escape room experience. No, it’s was more of a thriller/adventure ARG (alternate reality game) whose stage is the internet. As such, players won’t expect to find many puzzles in the game. There are one or two, for example a quick telegraph puzzle and one or two riddles hiding locations within their words – but nothing you can’t Google, making it super accessible to the non-escape room audience.

What Swamp Motel do really well is immersive theatre, so if you want to feel immersed in this vast world, not sure who you can trust, and with an itching feeling like you’re being watched- then it’s a good one for you! Our tech issues meant the game didn’t completely flow as well as it might have done, but there are still some real wow moments throughout the game.

I particularly enjoyed having to use my mobile phone – not only to dial out numbers but also as a medium for being contacted by unknown numbers and players in the game. Another delightful aspect of the game was when we needed to use CCTV, but the less I say on that the less spoilers I’ll give away!


We played as a team of 3 from different locations and I think this would be the perfect number to play an experience like this! It’s an exciting game with some really impressive storytelling to boot. Of course, our tech issues were a major shame, but I wouldn’t hold it against the game because nobody can control the variable of internet / microphone / general computer problems – it just meant our personal experience wasn’t as awesome as it might have otherwise been.

Screenshot by Shiny Life

Mermaid’s Tongue can be booked for £55 per team on their website here.

Swamp Motel: Plymouth Point | Review


Ivy has gone missing. The residents of Plymouth Point are concerned. Gather your team, and get your ticket to join the Residents Watch emergency meeting.

Rating: Dramatic!
Completion Time: 43 minutes
Date Played: 27th March 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: Folks who enjoy ARGs

If you’ve been following my progress with the Swamp Motel series, you’ll know that whilst this is the first game in the series, it’s the second one I’m playing! Yep, we (shout out to Shiny Life and Me) kinda-accidentally booked ourselves in for The Kindling Hour two weekends ago and whilst it worked fine as a standalone experience, the series makes a lot more sense now I’ve played Plymouth Point. Oops!

As such, you’ll probably hear a lot of comparisons between this game and The Kindling Hour. Confusing, but it makes sense in my head!

So to start, unlike The Kindling Hour, Plymouth Point is set in Zoom. It makes sense, in a kind of proto-Handforth Parish Council Meeting, you join your neighbourhood’s local watch. The Plymouth Point Residents Watch, where the chair raises concern for a missing girl: Ivy. Up until now, Ivy had been diligently checking in with her every day then suddenly *poof* vanished. You’re set the task of finding out what happened to her.

From here, it’s very self driven. You aren’t actually given a lot of direction (unless you need it of course – there is someone on hand for hints). Your goal is simply to ‘find out what happened’. Just keep digging, just keep digging *la la la*. If you were going to look for an actual missing person, where would you start? Her Facebook page of course! Who do they talk to, where do they live, where might they have gone? Second place to look – their email account. And, with a cheeky password ‘hint’ on her Facebook, the game is afoot.

From a typical missing person case to a large and unfurling conspiracy centred around the London Stone Consortium – a shadowy organisation tasked with protecting the mystical London Stone. It seems as if Ivy has somehow become trapped within it’s web, and that’s where the real thriller unfolds. But, that’s not all! It also dips fairly interestingly into history. I now know a lot of local history of this small town in England and more about witchfinders than I ever knew possible! Woah, pretty neat!

There aren’t puzzles per se. The whole game is much more of an ARG (alternate reality game) that takes place on the internet. Your stage is Youtube, Facebook, email clients, password protected pages and more. In fact, the only time we really needed a hint was when we mis-Googled, rather than been unable to solve a specific puzzle.

The game recommends that one person share their screen and everyone follow along either on screen or by clicking through the various steps of the game in the background on their own devices. We played as a team of 3 and this was a pretty optimal number to make sure everyone had something to do, I think any more and it would be a case of a lot of folks watching along.

We did have some minor technical hiccups – not as many as the Mermaid’s Tongue (I’ll add a link here once I write that review!), but nothing that was game breaking. At some points in the story the actors and characters drop in and out of your Zoom call – but I’ll chalk up any difficulties to the *gestures vaguely* new digital world we find ourselves in, post-pandemic.

Overall, a fun and exciting experience with just enough of a dash of drama to keep us all excited from start to finish. If you’ve ever wanted to take centre stage in a digital mystery, this will be right up your street. But be careful… Somebody’s watching you!

Plymouth Point can be booked for £55 per team on Plymouth Point’s website.

Swamp Motel: The Kindling Hour


Beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing. You and your team must use all your skill and guile to evade capture, infiltrate the dark heart of a powerful organisation, and bring it down from the inside. But who is the anonymous source trying to recruit you? How can you identify the true enemy? Who can you trust?

Rating: Dramatic!
Completion Time: 45 minutes
Date Played: 13th March 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: 16+ people who enjoy ARGs

Okay we might just be the first team to accidentally book the ‘conclusion’ game first. That’s right, The Kindling Hour is the final game in a three part trilogy. Whilst the website says each game is a standalone experience, there’s definitely a narrative flow between the three… Oops! Brb, off to play Plymouth Point and The Mermaid’s Tongue!

There’s a lot of hype around the whole Plymouth Point series, but I’ll only be commenting on my experience with The Kindling Hour for now. That said, for all that hype I expected a little more- whether in length, or content, or exactly “what” more, I’m not sure. But it did seem a little quick and a dash confusing… But let’s get into it!

The Story

The Kindling Hour is your typical “super shady organisation taking over the world” game, in which there’s a mole deep within the structure that you’ve got to help. In an unusual ‘Arthurian Legend’ twist, the aim of this game is to take the sword (which I believe is the central plot of Mermaid’s Tongue – again, this connection was a little lost on us) and put it back into the stone from whence it came.

The game parkour jumps between “ancient legend” and “modern spy stuff” but plays out on the stage that is the ‘real world’. By this I mean you have to go onto the internet to look stuff up – you’ll be scouring Reddit, Instagram, old blog posts, and even real life museum websites. Want to crack someone’s login? You’ll have to hunt down what their ‘memorable information’ is and to do so the whole internet is your oyster.

The Tech

The one really, really cool thing about The Kindling Hour I’d love to mention is the technology. The whole game took place within a web browser, including both our own video communication with each other and interaction with actors. I say ‘interaction’, it’s actually very cleverly pre-recorded footage designed to feel like a live experience. Character drop in and out of your video call seamlessly and despite one technological hiccup, the whole experience feels pretty slick.

In particular, there’s a part in the game where you’re hooked up to CCTV tracking a character live around a location. Whilst of course this is pre-recorded, it was just such a nice addition to heighten the tension of the game! Will they make it in time? Are they being followed? *eek*

It’s encouraged that one user share their screen for everyone to see and yes, I’d agree with that for sure. As most of the ‘puzzles’ take place on the internet it’s very easy to get lost quickly. For example, a link might be offered by an in-game character, but that link contains several more links that different players can fall down rabbit holes into before they figure out the correct route.

The Game

Overall, we did enjoy it a lot! Definitely not as scary as it’s advertised. Perhaps it’s because we played at 3pm on a really sunny day, or perhaps I’m just hardened. The trailer shows people screaming and there was one “Oh my god what” moment, but overall more dramatic than scary!

I loved the parts where we were able to hack into things and see behind the scenes, and there’s excellent pacing throughout the game to keep the adrenaline high. Countdowns and time sensitive moments combined with having to make phone calls, text mysterious numbers, and rifle through secret email exchanges. As such, it’s also not your typical escape room. You’re not escaping, and the game is built on narrative rather than puzzles. So consider this when booking!

It’s pretty good value for money considering how high the production value is, and especially with a large enough team to split the cost! One of our 4 team members has decided not to return for Part 1 and 2 which means we’ll be paying slightly more per head next time, but really worth it compared to a lot of other experiences out there.

The Kindling Hour can be booked for £65 per team on The Kindling Hour’s website here.