Exitus: Tenovus Virus Tinkerers | Review


Tenovus Virus Tinkerers Review | Do you have what it takes to be a Virus Tinkerer? Welcome to the Tenovus Cancer Care Research Labs. Dr Alan Parker has been conducting ground-breaking research in the field of fighting cancer. He’s managed to change the DNA of specific viruses and train them to attack cancer cells instead of healthy cells. Dr Parker is away at a conference. You arrive in the lab and realise the electricity had failed in the cleanroom and the backup battery, which powers the incubator has been running all weekend. It now has just 60 minutes of energy left, if it runs out of fuel the retrained viruses will deteriorate and fail. It’s down to you to gain access to the cleanroom and change the backup battery to the incubator before Dr Parker returns from the conference.

Completion Time: 54 minutes
Date Played: 30th December 2018
Party Size: 5
Difficulty: Easy

Having completed most of the rooms in Cardiff by this point (barring those companies we refuse to return to), we were very excited to see a new company open, perfectly situated on the high street nearby 2/3 other companies.

As an independent company, rather than a franchise, we knew it could be hit and miss. However, I want to say now that it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had, and extremely well done. You can really see the owners’ passion in the design of the room, as well as their customer service and the whole experience. This has shot to the top of my list of the best rooms in Cardiff, and at the time was in my Top 10 of all-time experiences.



The set

I believe the company have essentially rented a large, open space, and then built all the rooms by hand. Their handiwork is very impressive, and we wouldn’t have realised if we hadn’t been told!

For the set, they’ve worked with the room rather than against it. The theme of the room is a deadly virus (sound familiar?), but rather than lots of zombie tropes they instead created this from a science perspective. Given the room was designed (and played) before the pandemic, it seems the company are psychic! The set perfectly fits with the theme, and is excellently done. It isn’t crammed with lots of furniture or objects, and feels very clean and sleek. However, there are enough ‘props’ for it to feel realistic, and act as red herrings without being too frustrating. In a way, it felt like a snowflake – simple at first glance, but complex and beautiful when you look closer.

The game

The room is not at all what you expect when you first enter, but for such a small space there is a lot to get you started. Admittedly one of the first puzzles was quite frustrating (technological issues), but once we were through the game really opens up. It is non-linear for the most part, and I believe there were different orders and methods for solving puzzles (which is extremely clever!). The hint system is a screen (YAY!), so it blends in unless you need it.

The puzzles themselves fit the theme perfectly and were an ideal level of variety and difficulty. We were a team of 5 experienced players, and we had a great time. However, I also think a team of new players would do just as well – there were no leaps of logic required, and the signposting through the room was very well done.

The only part of this game I disliked was the end. The goal of the room is to prevent the outbreak of a plague, so rather than ‘escaping’ you end by releasing the (hopeful) cure. I understand why it was done this way, but I always find these rooms can fall a little flat. That being said, what the ending lacked in drama it was made up for by the staff’s enthusiasm…

Outside the room

The staff were amazing. We had a really lovely chat with them prior to doing the room, where we were able to geek out about rooms we’d all done and how we found them. They were so welcoming and interested in what we were saying that we felt right at home. After the room we were able to discuss how we found it, things they’d noticed about how we played (and that they’d enjoyed seeing), and recommendations we had (very few). It was great to see they were genuinely invested in their room, and making sure their customers had a good time. It was refreshing to not feel pressured to get in and get out, and instead have the space to relax and take our time.

The ‘waiting room’ is a really nice touch too – lovely big sofas, food and drink and a really great atmosphere. I believe they have since added board games too, which I think is a nice touch.


Unfortunately, the room is situated up a flight of stairs with no lift, although the room itself is flat. There was nowhere in the room to sit down, but I’m sure they would be able to accommodate if required. The room itself was fairly spacious and felt pretty airy.

There is a color puzzle in the room, and a slow flashing light (the ‘plague alarm’ – like a slow siren). However, it’s not particularly bright and very easy to ignore.

Was it worth the money?

At only £12 a person for a group of 5, this far exceeded expectations. I believe the price is now £25pp, and I maintain that’s still a great price for such a fantastic experience, especially when you consider the customer service and overall vibe.

Honestly, this is so worth the visit if you’re in Cardiff. It is simple, and the theming may not be as amazing as some other companies in the same area, but it is the most enjoyable experience I’ve had.


Pros – Customer service, puzzles

Cons – Set design was pretty simple

Virus Tinkerers can be booked at Exitus Escape Rooms here

Escape Rooms Cardiff: Z & Oculus | Review


Oculus: Get into the psyche of the notorious serial killer, Oculus. Known for his obsession with eyes and scooping out his subjects blinkers, you must search his home to discover his holding room. Becky Morris, a local news reporter has been missing for some time and is feared to be his final victim. Can you come to her rescue before Oculus returns and her time runs out!?

Z: You guessed it, Zombies. You’ve managed to locate the safe house and medical unit of a zombie hunter. He’s abandoned ship and left the bunker’s defence system down. Explore his bunker and medical bay that’s in disrepair. You have 60 minutes to get all systems back up and running otherwise… You. Are. Food.

Completion Time: 65 minutes (Z), 51 minutes (Oculus)
Date Played: 2018
Party Size: 5

We completed Escape Rooms Cardiff’s original 3 rooms (Sherlock, Heist and Tomb) very early on, so when we heard they were expanding (into what used to be a Costa below) we were excited! I’m putting these two rooms together, as we did them reasonably close to each other, and had similar experiences.

The set

Z: The room is very well done – they’ve done a really good job with the set decoration, particularly given it’s not the largest footprint. They were obviously very clever in picking which theme would work well with the space they had. However, there was an element of the room which affected me, to the extent I felt unable to continue once we had got to that point, around halfway through. Technically, we ran out of time for this room, but the GM added another 5 minutes (as we were so close) and remedied the issue for me.

Oculus: Again, the set here is very well done, and a perfect balance between normal, but with things that are slightly off. There were a few bits I thought were unnecessary and/or confusing, but similarly, there were parts which caught me by surprise, and I love it when that happens! There were 5 of us, and we were stepping on each other’s toes a little, but not too much.

The game(s)

Z – As previously mentioned, I managed around half of this game before I felt I couldn’t continue. For that first half, we were actually lost pretty quickly – at one point we didn’t even know what puzzles we had to solve, let alone finding the solutions! The hint system in both of these is a screen system (yay!), but I am fairly sure the GM wasn’t watching, as we didn’t receive many hints, and when we did they were usually for things we’d already done/found.

We also found we used certain things more than once, and the use of technology in places hampered the flow. There were some interesting ideas, but for the most part, I didn’t find the puzzles particularly fun, and we found them frustrating and confusing rather than fun challenges.

The Z team – I have never been so happy to have the game over!

Oculus – This room flowed better than Z – we weren’t stumped as long here, and for the most part we either had a puzzle or a solution most of the time. We probably were stumped for longer than in other rooms, but it wasn’t too bad. There were more unique puzzles here, which were perfectly suited to the theme. The only issues we had were, again, with technology.

Outside the room

There was a real difference just walking into the venue – they’ve done it up so it looks very slick, with a screening room for the briefs, which makes things a little different. However, I do miss that human element – both times it felt very clinically when we arrived – we are asked for our names, handed an iPad to fill in and left alone. As this happened both times, with different employees, I don’t think I can put this down to an inattentive staff member.

Likewise, when we came out of the rooms we felt very rushed to leave. For Z, where I had almost the worst escape room experience ever (the worst was City Mazes), it was apparent the GM didn’t particularly care. We enjoy talking to our GMs after the game, but he was really uninterested in our opinions, didn’t appear to have even watched our game (I’m fairly certain he didn’t, as I would have expected him to remedy my issue earlier), and physically opened the door to the venue guide us out.

After Oculus, the GM was a little more chatty, and there was another GM who was also excited about how we played (I can’t remember why though!). This was a far better customer experience, but we still felt pressured to leave after having our photo taken.

Now, I’m not an idiot – I know escape rooms are still businesses, and they need to get through one customer to get to another (much like a restaurant). I’m just making the point here that I far prefer rooms where the GMs are genuinely invested in your game, willing/eager to discuss the game with you afterwards, and talk about other experiences you’ve had. I know that’s not always possible, but for this company, it is very obvious just from the venue that you’re straight in and straight out – very different from what it was like before.

The Oculus team – you can guess when we went by my amazing jumper 😉


There are 3 steps into the venue, but the briefing area is all flat. You then need to walk down a flight of stairs to get to these rooms, and through a narrow corridor, so there is no way they are wheelchair accessible. Oculus does have somewhere to sit (a rather comfy armchair), but Z does not. There are some smaller spaces in both rooms, but the general room for each is reasonably sized, although we found Oculus started to get quite warm.

I believe Z has added sound effects since we were there, and although they don’t mention an age limit I wouldn’t take someone below 13. It is a well-lit room, and it was easy to read text on a page. There is a screen that has flashing images – they were fairly fast, so would highly recommend contacting the company if this is something which could affect you.

We found Oculus had very distracting overhead music, which was both loud and disconcerting. We did ask them to turn it down at one point, and I wish we had done this sooner and asked them to turn it down further. The room is not the lightest, but you are able to comfortably read some text. Imagine a living room with a couple of floor lamps and you should get the idea. There is also a section where there is a dark room, like your bedroom at night if you leave the hall light on and the door open. However, you do not necessarily need to go into this room if you don’t want to.

Was it worth the money?

For Z I believe we paid £20pp for a team of 4, and for Oculus I believe it was £19pp for a team of 5 – it was paid for by a teammate, so I’m not certain!

Looking at the experience as a whole, Z definitely wasn’t worth the money – and I technically did it for free! We found the customer service sub-par, the flow of the room annoying, and I was literally stood in a corner for around 20 minutes before deciding to hit the panic button and get out. If you’re a fan of horror, or at least aren’t squeamish, you’d probably enjoy it more. However, for me I hated it.

Conversely, I thought Oculus was done a lot better – customer service, flow and theme were all a lot better. As my only major issue with this room was the noise, I would say it was worth the money.

It is important to point out these are based on my personal experiences. The rest of my team were fine in Z, and continued to attempt to solve the room, whilst trying their best to comfort me and find some way for me to participate. My criticism isn’t of the thing that caused me the issue, as it fits well with the theme and is very well done, but with how it was handled. I would have expected the GM to note that I was as far away as I could get from the source, and physically unable to continue playing, and remedy the situation sooner.


Z: Pros – Theming, hint system, price (to a certain extent) | Cons – Customer service, puzzles (both flow, variety and issues), price (to a certain extent)

Oculus: Pros – Theming, puzzles (particularly the way the majority fitted the theme exactly), Price, hint system | Cons – Technology, Noise, Heat

Head to Escape Rooms Cardiff’s website here to book in to play either escape room