Locked In Games: Rags to Riches | Review

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Rags to Riches Escape Room Review | The two coins clinked together in your pocket as you stumble down the cold pavement. Yesterday, you were sleeping on the cobbles of Museum Gardens, icy winds smashing against your face. Today, you’ve been told you’re the heir to a huge inheritance, left to you by an old lady across the road. This may sound like a rags to riches fairytale, but before the celebrations begin you must prove yourself worthy. There’s just one catch. The court has authorised the demolition of the property. You have an hour to find the riches before the house and your dreams are reduced to rubble.

Date Played: 20th December 2021
Time Taken: 59 minutes
Number of Players: 3
Difficulty: Tricky!

Previously, I’d said that my favourite escape room in York was Operation H.E.R.O. at Can You Escape York… And then on our very last day of the York trip, right before our train was due to leave for London, we booked one more room. Rags to Riches at Locked In Games. Can it be that this might be our new favourite escape room in York? Why yes, it might just be!

About Locked In Games

Tucked away opposite Lendal Tower and the Yorkshire Museum Gardens is Locked In Games – the York branch of the popular Leeds escape room. Initially, despite our party staying in accommodation on the same street, we hadn’t noticed the escape room company there. Then, when deciding which rooms to play in York we’d overlooked it again when we couldn’t find any enthusiast reviews. Big mistakes!

It was only after we’d found a couple of Geocaches in the area that we noticed the company and thought “Hey, they’ve got availability – let’s give it a go!” My only regret? Leaving it to the last day of the holiday and not booking more of their rooms!

We booked in for the next available slot and were greeted by the enthusiastic Games Master Chester, who led us past the other businesses in the building (a few lawyer firms) and down the stairs into the lobby of Locked In Games. Chester explained that there was one prop that had been recently broken in the Rags to Riches room, for which he apologised profusely and went above and beyond to make the game work seamlessly without this prop. In hindsight, we may not even have noticed it, but since everything else in the room worked flawlessly and was in great condition, it was good to be given the heads up.

“I know I’d go from rags to riches…”

The story behind Rags to Riches follows Tony Bennett confessing his love- haha, just kidding!

The actual story of Rags to Riches follows you and your quest to claim your inheritance. With just a few pennies in your pocket, you suddenly get excellent news – you’ve been left a fortune and it’s hidden in this old woman’s creaky apartment. The problem is, the apartment is scheduled to be demolished in 60 minutes, taking the inheritance with it!

In our team of 3, we ventured into the room on the look out for anything our kind benefactor may have left us. What we found were a lot of cryptic puzzles. Good job we’re the right team for puzzle solving, eh?

Rags to Riches (c) Locked In Games York

Granny’s Crumbling Apartment

One of our favourite things about Rags to Riches was the decor. It’s your classic “old lady’s house”, but completely fallen to disrepair and a layer of dust on anything. I’m not sure exactly when this particular granny passed away, but it was a while ago and it feels like it in the best possible way.

It’s easy to argue that ‘crumbling and slightly dilapidated’ is a very easy theme for an escape room interior designer to create, but I just really like the effect when it’s done well. Rags to Riches reminded me of how much I enjoyed (yes, enjoyed!) finding dust in Leicester-based room, Operation Magnus. To add to the effect, the walls had been painted with peeling wallpaper, vintage furniture, depressingly beige carpet, antique looking china, and a very cool (and hefty) wall safe.

At the start of our escape room, our Games Master informed us that you can choose to be locked in, or not locked in, as you please. In the event of a fire, all the locks automatically unlock. Conveniently, this room is also located right next to the fire exit. So we opted to be officially ‘locked in’ – very exciting! But in this case, even the lock felt authentic. It’s one of the very same locks my own granny has on her door. Extra points for that.

Where’d She Hide It, Then?!

In terms of puzzles, the game was themed really well. Every puzzle was contained within some object that you’d reasonably believe could be found in an old lady’s apartment. With some added high tech here and there.

As mentioned, in our playthrough one of the props was broken – so instead of physically interacting with it, we solved it from afar and called our the answer to our Games Master who then triggered the result. It was one of those happy moments when one of our team made an educated guess – one we might not even have put into the prop, and received the satisfying “that’s correct” relay call to proceed.

Besides this puzzle, the game was a solidly challenging romp across the various rooms within the old lady’s apartment. We encountered a range of puzzles including plenty of search-and-find, a few padlocks, a really fun puzzle involving a board game, and a couple of listening puzzles too.

Being a room on the slightly harder side- or perhaps we simply hadn’t drunk enough coffee yet- we were offered a fair few clues. This was for the best, as we managed to escape with a thrilling 40 seconds left on the clock.

Oh my god I’m not smart enough to solve this in 60 seconds!” I called out, before my brother half my age solved it in just 20!

The Verdict

Any escape room with a picture perfect finish with less than a minute left goes down in my personal hall of fame. It’s only happened around four times, but it just shows that it’s a perfectly paced escape room… For me, anyway! No two players are the same.

Of our team of semi-enthusiasts (with between 5 – 100 escape rooms between us), we all agreed on one thing – that we had a fantastic time. Plenty of puzzles we’d never encountered before, and lots of very cool props used in interesting ways. Add in some bonus points for how much we enjoyed the theme and the decor, and it’s a winning formula. Rags to Riches is definitely a hidden gem escape room in York. Not a lot of enthusiasts have played it (or even heard of it), but it goes right up to the top of my “you must play when you’re in town” suggestion list.

Rags to Riches can be booked at Locked In Games York on their website here.

Ratings

Kingston Escape Rooms: Rob the Bank | Review

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Rob the Bank Review | Angie knows who stole the family gold – it’s midnight and she backs her Ford Transit into the side of Harman’s Bank. You and your team have one hour to jump out and get the gold back. Will you find it? Will you make it out in time?

Completion Time: 51 minutes
Gold Bars Stolen: 59
Date Played: 21st November 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Tricky!

Think you know heist rooms? Think again!

Confidently, after playing a lot of heist themed escape rooms together, I teamed up with my good friend Bianca to take on another. By this point, we’re debating putting “expert bank robbers” on our CVs. But Rob the Bank at Kingston Escape Rooms proves how unexpected (and delightful) even a familiar theme of robbing a bank can be!

Grab the Cash, Get Out

Rob the Bank is an escape room that is available at a number of sites within the Know Escape franchise including at Gatwick, Bishop’s Stortford, Maldon and Chesterfield Escape Rooms respectively. In many cases the rooms are similar but each site has the freedom to get creative and Rob the Bank is a perfect example – so expect the unexpected.

At Kingston Escape Rooms, your experience starts in the back of a van- yes, literally! A short introductory video later, a wild ride and BOOM! You crash the van into the side of the bank! From here it’s up to you to sneak in and steal back your family gold. Emphasis on the word ‘sneak’, as it’s imperative to be quiet. Amusingly the bank security guards we were hiding from didn’t hear the van crash into the wall but they did hear me giggling a few times.

So, How Do You Rob a Bank?

What sets Rob the Bank apart from other bank heist escape rooms are the puzzles. They really ask the question: how do you rob a bank? This escape room’s answer is… Dare I say it, quite realistic.

Photo: Bianca / Shiny Life

In terms of puzzles, you can expect a lot of interaction with actors. This sort of thing always makes me nervous. I’m rather heavy and noisy, so you can imagine I get caught by security guards often. But, did we expect to be in fits of laughter and have to sing and cry our way out of puzzles? Certainly not!

The level of theatre that has gone into the room is absolutely fantastic, and our brilliant live actor Braedyn should be given an Oscar for her equal parts thrilling and comedic performance as the security guard (and a pair of glasses – these guards are not the most observant!).

To explain too much more would be inching into spoiler territory, so we’ll just leave with these words of wisdom if you’re planning to book the room yourself: expect the unexpected, think outside the box, and most importantly: have fun!

The Verdict

With so many exciting twists and turns in this room it’s possibly one of the most “fun” escape rooms I’ve done in a long time. Considering the fairly large space, we’d recommend this room would be perfect for a team of 2 – 4. I counted an impressive 6 separate ‘areas’ you’ll end up exploring over the course of the hour. Within that there are a few tight spaces and a few moments where only one person is playing an active role in solving a puzzle and the rest are watching, but it’s an otherwise well balanced and fast paced, exciting experience.

In the end, this room isn’t about the fastest time to escape – it’ll take all teams a fairly similar time to escape. Too fast and the games masters will slow you down a little, too slow and a friendly nudge will keep you on track. It’s also not about stealing the most gold, though again that’s another thing your team will be measured on at the end. Nope, the real winners are any team that got stuck in and enjoyed themselves to the fullest. It’s a game you’ll really bond with your co-players (or ruin friendships for life – as our host recounted a very funny team story from a few weeks earlier), and excellent for beginners and hardcore enthusiasts alike.

We’ve chosen to award this room our ‘Best in Genre’ badge. What does this mean? It means it’s one of the best bank heist themed room we’ve played. A special shout out to our hosts Dave and Braedyn, and Frank for inviting us to play!

Rob the Bank can be booked at Kingston Escape Rooms by heading to their website here.

Ratings

Escape Kent: Prison Island Maidstone | Review

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Prison Island Maidstone Review | Gather your friends, form a team and solve exciting logic or physical challenges in themed prison cells. Play amongst yourselves or choose to compete against other teams, the choice is yours – all that matters, is that you can escape the island.

Date Played: August 2019
Time Taken: 1 Hour
Number of Players: 2
Difficulty: Easy

So you think you can beat the bars?

Based on Maidstone High Street, Prison Island is a huge experience and is a combination of escape room and the Crystal Maze!

The first thing that hits you as you walk through the door is the sheer attention to detail, with even the welcome desk being designed to look like its in a prison! We were politely greeted and advised about the set up of the game. From there, we were escorted to a briefing room, provided with our room key and then set to work on the epic hour long experience.

Prison Island Maidstone Exterior

This isn’t a traditional escape room – its basically a Crystal Maze style adventure where you have 1 hour to score as many points as you can within the 25 different cells. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team is key, as you don’t wan to get bogged down in rooms and waste your time!

Each room is brilliantly themed and the tasks range from physical, mental and technical. WE quickly found out that the mental rooms weren’t our strong suit so we set to work on the more physical challenges.

I would hate to spoil some of the surprises so wont go into detail about what’s inside the rooms, but some real highlights for escape room fans would be Burglar, The Joker and The Prison, so be sure to try those within your allotted time!

An experience that I will never forget and certainly one you could do over and over again – in fact we are putting the team together for another try here very soon! (Update – we returned a few months later and had just as much fun the second time around!)

Nick & Team Escaping!

Would I recommend this room?

Yes, for sure. An adrenaline fuelled, exciting adventure you will never forget. 

Who would I recommend it to? 

Everyone! Groups of friends, families and work outings! 

How many players would I recommend?

3 players is perfect – we did it as a 2 which proved tricky in some rooms. When we returned as a four, this 1 person too many!

Suitable for Children?

Yes. Over 5’s would be fine. Some of the challenges would still be tricky for young members of the team, however you can always leave them rooms if you want! 

Image (c) Prison Island

Ratings

Enigma Quests: The Million Pound Heist | Review

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The Million Pound Heist Review | Your team is breaking into the safehouse of London’s most notorious criminal gang. You will have to analyse highly confidential information, navigate your way through top level security and all this before you can even attempt to enter the vault. Of course there is money involved, but the challenges along the way will be tough and efficient teamwork will be absolutely essential to get you anywhere. Only the top scoring teams will make it to the leaderboard. Do you have what it takes to make the top ten?

Completion Time: 40 minutes
Date Played: 3rd October 2021
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

If the name The Million Pound Heist evokes images of a similarly named TV show from a decade ago… You’re not alone! But there’s something so exciting about knowing there’s a whole million pounds (that’s $1,362,345 USD for our American readers) up for grabs and you’ve got 1 hour to get out with as much as you possibly can.

Bring on the challenge!

About The Million Pound Heist

The aim of The Million Pound Heist isn’t to escape in the fastest time, it’s to escape with the most money. This is for the best, as we actually missed a vital clue at the end of our game, and walked out of the room thinking we’d finished with a whopping 35 minutes left on the clock. Our Games Master came rushing out to tell us we’d missed something and that we could go back in if we wanted and try to get some more money with our remaining 35 minutes… Oops!

This seems to be a recurring theme with Enigma Quests, as the only other game we’ve played (so far) was Witchcraft and Wizardry, in which the aim of the game wasn’t to escape the fastest, but to pass all your magical tests.

Since a friend I used to escape with frequently was back in down for one day (and one day only), of course we had to book ourselves in for old time’s sake. For this reason, we found ourselves on a bright and sunny Sunday morning locking ourselves in a safehouse and scrambling to get as much cash in a briefcase as possible. Typical Sunday, eh?

We set off ALL the alarms…

One of the things I loved the most about the Million Pound Heist was the decor. For a Heist room, it’s pretty good! When you first open the door you’ll be greeted by a pretty cosy looking safe room. If I were a super thief, I’d want to hang out here too… But no time to sit down! We were immediately on our toes rummaging around trying to open cupboards and look behind plant pots figuring out what to do.

The game gets off to a slow-ish start with some paper-based puzzles, but we found there was just enough to do for our little team of 3 to keep us all busy and occupied in that first space before the exciting part of the game begun: Breaking into the vault!

The second (and third, and fourth) spaces in the escape room are the exciting part. It’s not too much of a giveaway to mention that there’s an exciting laser maze. By this point, I feel like it’s a given in a heist room, but Enigma Quest does theirs pretty well.

Unfortunately, we barrelled straight through the laser maze setting off all the alarms… Oops!

But more than your standard laser maze room, what I enjoyed even more was a very creative pressure plate puzzle that forced us into a hilarious gymnastic-like round of Twister! Good job we’d had our morning coffees.

How fast can you count money?

In terms of puzzles, there’s an interesting mix of puzzles that ranged from the “we loved it” to “ehhh, not a fan”. So really… The puzzles were like marmite! Some we loved and some we didn’t like at all. As mentioned, one of the first puzzles players will encounter takes place over a piece of paper which is a little hard for a bigger group to crowd around. Similarly, the last puzzle which, if you choose not to bypass it, quickly reveals itself to be a repetitive exercise which could (and did) take a team a very long time to complete. There was a lot of maths, and counting, and looking for things which are so cleverly hidden we had to search and re-search spaces several times to find them.

Thankfully we had a maths graduate, an accountant, and someone who is quite short and doesn’t mind crawling around looking for things (me!), so it worked out alright.

By contrast, there was a delightful number of very tactile puzzles that involved moving, stepping, jumping, pushing, pulling, and sliding around the room. Any room that makes me jump around like a headless chicken with a big grin on my face is a double thumbs up.

We didn’t ask for any clues as none of the puzzles were particularly difficult, so I can’t comment on the clue system. However I will mention that every clue you ask for will deduct 10% of your total earnings from your ending. This means that if you ask for 10 clues or more, you’ll walk away with nothing.

Crack the Safe, Bag the Loot!

We scored £620,535 in winnings out of a possible £1,000,000. Apparently, this is above average. Our GM informed us that most teams escape with around £250,000, and because we escaped with no clues we also all took home wristbands to proudly show off our success. It was a really nice touch, and it was enough to get us a spot on the leader board!

Overall, its a really fun room with some nice, unique heist mechanics. It wasn’t always clear what to do and the fact we did walk out of the room accidentally early thinking the game was over, only to be told to go back in was a bit of a hiccup in an otherwise fun experience – but on the other hand I suppose it’s our fault for not noticing some small details which may have hinted that no… The game was far from over!

The Million Pound Heist can be booked at Enigma Quest by heading to their website here.

Ratings

Escape Hub: The Laughing Lair | Review

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Escape Hub: The Laughing Lair Review | Locked away in ‘The Laughing Lair’, you have been given the chance to escape, but you will have to work together to get out before he changes his mind. Can you escape this villain’s lair?

Completion Time: 52 minutes
Date Played: 2018
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

Escape Hub is located within the Royal Star Arcade on Maidstone High Street. Conveniently situated in the town centre, easy to get to yet a real hidden gem.

Occupying much of the upper floor of the shopping arcade, Escape Hub’s large glass frontage gives a great first impression. It comfortable seating area and friendly staff put you right at ease. For the competitive escape room players among you, the reception area also sports a leader board for each of the room – so time to get your competitive juices flowing before the game!

Photo (c) Escape Hub

We’ve always found that all members of the Escape Hub team are very welcoming, and it’s clearly evident that they care a lot about their customer’s needs. Players will be escorted to the entrance of their room, and from here the friendly host will give you a quick briefing on what is about to begin.

In our case that was…

Creepy Clowns & Funfair Lights!

I can fully understand people’s worry when I say it’s a “clown and funfair” themed escape room – I know a lot of people who suffer from coulrophobia (phobias of clowns). By contrast, one of the many joys of The Laughing Lair escape room is that you don’t need to worry about them!

The theme of The Laughing Lair is that you and your team have been captured by a clown-like villain, but after waiting in it’s lair long enough, you finally see an opportunity to escape. The villain will be returning to it’s lair within an hour… Giving you and your team just 60 minutes to solve all the puzzles and escape!

Clues are delivered via a speaker system by your Games Master, who is on hand for any hints should you need them!

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

I would suggest that my overriding hint for this whole room for all players would be “TEAM WORK”. Particularly at the start of the game team work and communication are vital. It’s worth mentioning that The Laughing Lair is a room that starts unlike any other and it’s brilliant!

Overall, a hugely enjoyable room and every moment of your experience sticks to the funfair theme. Players can expect a combination of fast-paced puzzles, logic riddles, and physical challenges, all mixed together to form this masterpiece of a room! Fans of padlocks will also be pleasantly surprised in this experience, as there was quite a few to be grappled with. Players will be provided with a torch to get them started, but from there it’s all up to you to escape with your wits!

The sense of tension, brought on by such a strong theme *shudders*, is fantastic. It all adds up to a very eerie feel.

This room is a must for all!

The Laughing Lair can be booked at Escape Hub by heading to their website here.

Escape Hunt: Escape the Wild West | Review

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Escape Hunt: Escape the Wild West Review | You’ve struck gold but word got out and now the vultures are circling. Step into the Wild West, where the tiny frontier town of East Victoria is celebrating the discovery of gold.But the celebrations turn sour when news arrives that the bloodthirsty Bill French Gang are on their way to claim the gold – and kill everyone in East Victoria for good measure!

With no sheriff around and no cavalry riding to the rescue your only hope is a rusty old locomotive that hasn’t worked in years – but with just one hour to get it going and escape with your lives, you need to think fast and work even faster.

There isn’t a second to lose.

Completion Time: 53:21
Date Played: October 2019
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Easier

Once upon a time, if you can believe it, the thought of going into a global pandemic was unimaginable! It is back to these innocent days I’m casting my mind to, in order to write about Escape Hunt’s Escape the Wild West. A day trip to Oxford in October 2019 with two colleagues and we were off to try out the Oxford equivalent of Operation Mindfall, the escape room The Fourth Samurai and to round off a perfect day – Escape the Wild West too.

Finding Escape Hunt Oxford

Whilst Escape the Wild West is available at many of the Escape Hunt sites across the UK, we chose to play at Escape Hunt Oxford due to it’s convenience from London – just a short train trip away, and an even shorter walk up from the station. Escape Hunt Oxford is located within the Westgate shopping centre and surrounded by delicious restaurants and things to see and do.

A Classic Non-Linear Escape Room

On the day of the escape, I felt a little unwell (hey, probably ate too much for lunch! In any case, not recommended!), but the non-linear nature of the escape room meant that I could take a little bit of a step back and root around for clues in amongst the cowboy memorabilia whilst the meatier puzzles were solved by my team mates! We took on this whirlwind wild west adventure in a team of 3 puzzlers with varying escape room experiences under our belt.

Essentially, your goal is to escape on a steam locomotive! However, along the way you’ll find plenty of hidden gold bars. You can collect these as you go for an even more spectacular escape, or you could flee the scene of the crime with nothing at all. Collecting gold bars comes with a price however. The more gold bars you collect, the heavier the train is and the more coal is needed.

In short – its a delicate balancing act, and how you choose to escape is up to you! If you find yourself with too much gold and aren’t able to power your train, you can always throw them out. This means the escape rate, practically speaking, must be very high. Thankfully we found 100% of the gold bars, and 100% of the coal to fuel our train. All in a days work for these cowboys, eh?

Photo (c) Escape Hunt

Welcome to the Wild West

One of the room’s most redeeming features is how well it’s been themed! Escape hunt’s rooms are nothing if not well themed to their genres, and Escape the Wild West is no exception with it’s 3-room space. First players must break into the station, and finally must break onto an old rusty locomotive.

Yes, you heard that correctly! There’s a whole train in this escape room that from the very first moment you look at it, you can’t help but want to beak into it.

I’m not familiar with what the actual Wild West is like, but I reckon it’s a lot like this. There are barrels and boxes scattered everywhere, and of course a lasso and several cowboy hats hanging on the walls. With real wood walls, it felt authentic. Musty and full of life and tension.

Plenty of Padlocks to Keep the Gold Locked Up!

In terms of puzzles, Escape the Wild West involved a lot of padlocks. This is not common for Escape Hunt games, which largely involve more outside the box puzzle solving and remote GM activation. But the number worked really well in the Wild West setting. I mean, why wouldn’t the Bill French gang have locked up their gold behind padlocks? I believe it.

Besides the padlocks, there’s a range of fun puzzles to do and they can be done in any order. These include some physical dexterity puzzles, some switchboard puzzles, and one slightly frustrating logic puzzle inside the train, the solution trigger for which needs to be triggered by the GM. But overall, each puzzle made sense within the Wild West. Nothing felt too contrived, and there was a good mix of things that each member of the team could work on separately or collaboratively!

Photo (c) Escape Hunt

The Verdict

At the time of writing, I’ve played every one of Escape Hunt’s escape rooms and I can safely say that Escape the Wild West is my favourite, followed by Blackbeard’s Treasure. If you’re looking for a family friendly day out and are in one of the many cities Escape Hunt is located in, Escape the Wild West is worth checking out.

Finally, a shout out to our Games Master Chris who provided a fantastic American accent to get us into the theme of the game up front. Yeeehaw!

You can book Escape the Wild West at a number of Escape Hunt venues.

Ratings

Quest: Mission Impossible Breakout | Review

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Quest: Mission Impossible Breakout Review | It’s present day Egypt, your mission should you choose to accept it, is to locate and disarm a dirty bomb targeting the nation and its ancient past. The clock is ticking to save yourself, save Egypt and save History.

Completion Time: 45 minutes
Date Played: 16th August 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Medium
Recommended For: Everyone!

The number of people I’ve met that have visited Jersey, even fewer of which who have played an escape room on the island, I can count on one hand… Which is why I couldn’t wait to book ourselves into Quest to try out their games!

No, literally… I couldn’t wait! We flew in at 9pm and after receiving the “All Clear” from our COVID-19 PCR tests, we booked in for the very first slot to play Mission Impossible Breakout the following morning. It was all the more special that our games master Steve turned out to be the designer of the Mission Impossible Breakout room at Quest himself.

*excited escape room noises*

Whenever travelling somewhere ‘off the beaten track’ in escape room terms, you have to ready yourself to either find an incredible hidden gem, or be disappointed. I’ve had both.

About Quest Jersey

Quest is located near the waterfront in St. Helier, Jersey’s capital. It’s located in the same building as Arcadia and can be found by following the signs for the arcade. I mention this as it did take us a few times to actually find the correct entrance, but once you’ve figured it out you’re golden.

It’s home to three escape rooms:

  • Mission Impossible Breakout
  • Space Quest
  • The Secrets of Horus

The first two are standard, 50 minute rooms and the latter is a shorter 30 minute game aimed at a younger audience.

Photo (c) Quest Jersey

Ancient Egypt Meets Mission Impossible in this Escape Room

Mission Impossible Breakout has a really unique theme! It’s Mission Impossible, with an Ancient Egypt twist. Now I’ll caveat and mention I’ve never seen any of the Mission Impossible films, but I’m 99% sure they aren’t set in Ancient Egypt.

When you first open the door to Mission Impossible Breakout you enter a dusty old Egyptian tomb complete with hieroglyphs, ancient mummies, sphynxes and dusty old research tomes piled high. The idea is you’re deep underneath Cairo in a site of historical importance and your mission is to find and locate seven bombs hidden around the world. If you get them correct it’ll reveal the location of the final one – here in Cairo! It’s primed and ready to wipe out the pyramids and all this history, so you’ve got just 50 minutes to find the bombs, disarm them, and make it out alive!

It’s a pretty unique twist on two common themes and despite my doubt about how such a theme could work, Quest really do nail it with a beautiful and realistic theme of both the ancient and modern aspects. The whole thing works together well, allowing for a difference pace and completely different vibe to each section of the game. Whilst you may have time to rummage through some old books and decipher hieroglyphs in the first part, you’ll have to quickly disarm a beeping bomb in the second!

Photo (c) Quest Jersey

Crack the Code, Disarm the Bomb

In terms of difficulty, Mission Impossible Breakout felt really well balanced. It’s a 50 minute long room and we tackled it as a team of two (one of us experienced, the other less so) and managed to escape with less than 5 minutes on the clock!

Clues were available by speaking with the Games Master, and we used one or two… Plus a couple of nudges in the right direction when we strayed way off the ball. In hindsight, we probably didn’t need the clues we asked for, but it’s better to escape with clues than not escape at all!

There’s a good variation in puzzles in this room, and players can expect to encounter a number of locks requiring 3, 4 and 5 digit codes or keys, a few logic puzzles, many search-and-find, and an element of geographical knowledge too. Though on that last part, don’t worry! Everything you need can also be found within the room. Overall, there were plenty of things I’d never seen before in any other room, and plenty of puzzles powered with some clever machinery.

Personally, we loved how much rummaging around there was in the room. It felt authentic – so much to discover! It was the type of room where you thought you’d found everything then suddenly spotted a secret compartment, or an object out of place. I love a room with plenty to do, and Mission Impossible Breakout had it all. As a team of two we escaped just in time, but a larger team would likely zip through this game faster than we did.

After exploring the ancient Egyptian area, we finally unlocked the ‘ending room’. I don’t want to give too many spoilers about what to expect in this room, but here we found the bomb and a rather brilliant laser maze you’ll definitely want to get down on all fours and try to navigate.

The Verdict

We spent the rest of our Jersey trip telling everyone who would listen how great Quest was – the hotel attendant, waiters, the captain of a boat..! I stand by this verdict even now, a few weeks later once we’ve returned to London. It was a real hidden gem of a game and any escape room enthusiasts visiting the Channel Islands must visit Quest.

Not only a brilliant room, but fantastic customer service too. On finishing the game we were walked around the room and several Easter Eggs and fun details we may have missed were pointed out. It was a joy meeting the creator, someone so passionate about escape rooms himself, and we both walked away smiling to celebrate in style at the local waterfront pub.

Mission: Impossible Breakout can be booked on Quest’s website here.

Ratings

Mystery Mansion Regina: Night Terrors | Review

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After finding one of his childhood drawings, Alex is suddenly plagued by nightmares of the “Sleepyman”. Seeking to rid himself of these nightmares, Alex turns to a hypnotherapist. Playing the role of his subconscious, you will need to help Alex figure out what is causing his nightmares… before it’s too late.

Ratings

Theming: 5/5
Puzzles: 4/5
Decor: 4/5
Immersion: 5/5
Difficulty: 3/5

Overall: 4/5 ⭐

The Scariest Sunday of the Summer…

So, it’s one of the HOTTEST Sunday afternoons we have had in the UK for a while. Outside is bright, sunny and warm. But inside, we are just beginning our 5 hour escape room adventure with Mystery Mansion Regina, an escape room company based in Regina, Canada. Night Terrors is the first part of the ‘Sleepyman’ trilogy (click here for our review of D’Viles Curio Shoppe and Sleepy Man). Players are introduced to Alex, a boy plagued by mysterious nightmares, and your mission is to find out what is causing these strange disturbances. 

The Game

You are tasked with playing Alex’s subconscious, guiding him through the room to solve puzzles and riddles, each taking you a step closer to discovering what is going on, and finding out who is the mysterious figure plaguing Alex’s dreams. This works particularly well on the online platform, with the first-person view of the gamesmaster tying in nicely with the idea that you are in Alex’s mind. Mystery Mansion Regina have cleverly set up the game to really play on this idea, with special catchphrases and an ingenious clue system: it’s definitely unique! 

The room is pitched at a solid ‘creepy’; there are unsettling stories of children disappearing, and allusions to a slenderman-style villain tip-toeing behind every locked door. We really enjoyed the atmosphere created in the room – the background music supplied in the Telescape software worked really well alongside the live zoom call (this is definitely a game to play in headphones!). The puzzles themselves are spread across the live call and the Telescape software, with parts that players can manipulate and other parts that you rely on Alex putting together for you. We liked this – the combination of the two platforms is quite seamless, it certainly didn’t feel clunky switching between the two. 

Image taken from Mystery Mansion Regina (https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/)

The puzzles themselves were the right level of challenging and there were plenty of them! We love a room with variety, and we were not disappointed with what Night Terrors had to offer. We are particular fans of puzzles that appear to players at the start of a room (almost teasing you to solve them!), but do not become clear until later in your gameplay. This leads you to some proper A-HA moments, as you finally realise what it is you’ve been looking at for so long!

There was one particular puzzle at the end of the game that really stood out to us all. The interaction between Telescape and the Zoom call is used wonderfully, to create an intense and extremely immersive atmosphere, which can be difficult in a virtual room. It certainly had us looking over our shoulders to double check that no-one was creeping up behind us.

The Story

The storytelling across the trilogy is immense, we got thoroughly pulled into the ‘Sleepyman’ saga. Night Terrors does a good job at introducing you to the Sleepyman universe, channeling some strong Buffy vibes. One of our party ,Tasha, noticed a niche reference to ‘Sabrina’ during our gameplay, which the host informed us was the first time anyone had noticed the link! We think this says more about Tasha than it does about the room (haha!) – although it did make it it feel more ‘real’. Always good fun in a horror themed room.

The end of Night Terrors leads very nicely onto the second and third games. As a side note, we strongly recommend that you play all of these in order as it makes it SO much better. In fact, doing them all back-to-back, as we did, is definitely the optimal way to experience the trilogy.

Of the four of us, two of us had nightmares after this game, which I think says a lot about the experience that we had!

The horror, the decoration, the technology… It all clicked together so well! Night Terrors does a brilliant job of sucking you in, and leaves you eager to find out what happens next. When we think back to this Sunday, it’s been one of our favourite online experiences and definitely scratched the escape room itch: we were thoroughly immersed! If you get the chance, it is so worth giving these a go. 

After all, it’s only a dream, right?

Image taken from Mystery Mansion Regina (https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/)

You can play Night Terrors with Mystery Mansion Regina for a cost of $25.00/person (plus tax). They recommend 2+ players, aged 14+. You’ve got 75 minutes to find out who is haunting Alex’s nightmares…

https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/

Escape Plan: The Adventure Begins | Review

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Set in the barracks of a P.O.W camp, you and your comrades quickly discover the legend of Bob Hails – the only prisoner to have successfully escaped the camp. And what’s more he’s left you his journal to help you and your team evade the enemy and make your own great escape. But do you have what it takes to earn your freedom?

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 49:48
Date Played: 5th June 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Adventure Seekers! Larger groups, teambuilding, beginners

After playing Roll out the Barrel (Escape Plan’s brilliantly light hearted ‘steal all the booze from your boss’ game), we travelled back in time to the height of 1941 and into a POW camp for their most cinematic escape room game yet: The Adventure Begins!

Our second game at Escape Plan (this one) was slightly more serious than the first, but no less brilliantly themed with a great (if menacing at times) atmosphere. In fact, my team and I spent the whole walk home arguing about which was our favourite. It just goes to show that the two games on offer at the moment are both consistent and well worth checking out.

Escape Plan is located inside Rich Mix in Shoreditch – an indie theatre venue well known for showcasing media by diverse groups and ironically one of my regular stomping grounds. How on Earth it took me so long to actually book Escape Plan, I’ll never know. But better late than never, eh? And no better time than on a sunny Saturday morning the day before your birthday. I love escape rooms but I love birthday escape rooms even more.

The Host

We were hosted by Games Master Django who played both a passive guidance role at some points in the game, nudging us along via a speaker in the room, and other times an active role frightening the living daylights out of us as the base commander coming to inspect the prisoners.

We were told at the start of the game to make sure we “lock the door behind us” but we took that very very literally and actually locked our GM out with a series of barricades. This might have robbed us of one ‘surprise’ towards the end of the game, but even if I played it again I think I’d still do the same thing. Well, better to be safe than sorry eh! Can’t take any chances against the enemy running the POW camp!

The Atmosphere

What Escape Plan does really well is create an atmosphere inside their escape rooms. Note that I’m calling it atmosphere and not simply theming, because it’s so much more than cool props. Everything is immersive from the waiting space outside the room, to the background noise, to items from the era. It’s easy to believe you’re actually there, in 1941, hiding from the enemy

…Which if it really were my 25th birthday in the year the room is set, would make me in today’s years: 105. Niceeeee! Not looking too bad for my age.

*hair swish*

In The Adventure Begins you have two rooms to explore. Better than the sum of both rooms however is what connects the two. When you first walk into the space there’s absolutely no clue that it’ll open up into two – and I’m not going to give any spoilers as to how this happens, only that it’s absolutely delightful!

The first space is themed around a POW bunker complete with a bunk bed, a couple of chests, and some exercise equipment to keep us prisoners fit. I’m not overly familiar with WWII but it seemed perfectly themed to the era. The second space gave us access to the commander’s office where the theming changes once more. Clean, organised and hugely foreboding with a large red, black and white flag on the wall.

The Puzzles

There’s a unique aspect to The Adventure Begins which links back to the story. The story goes that only one prisoner has ever made it out of the POW alive – a man named Bob Hails. Bob Hails has left you his notebook which details how he escaped. Too bad it’s quite cryptic, but there in lies your puzzle. What Bob has put in his notebook is vital to solve the the room and make your great escape!

It’s recommended players start with page one and work their way from there, but I’m fairly sure we were quite cavalier about the notebook. There’s plenty to do in the rooms that don’t rely on the notebook to solve, meaning you won’t have 6 players all crowding around one A5 notebook. The rest of our team powered ahead with ancillary puzzles.

Other than the cryptic clues in the notebook, we encountered a range of other delightful puzzles, each one forcing us to interact with our environment and truly understand the greater plot in order to escape the room. In particular, I’d mention the signposting as being particularly good in this room, which greatly helped with the flow of logic and never once did we need to pause and think “ok what next?”

As a fairly non-linear escape room, the whole thing just worked together so well and felt like an absolute joy to play.

Overall

A very happy birthday indeed and I’m quietly confident when I say that Escape plan might well be one of the best escape room companies in London. The care and effort that’s gone into not just The Adventure Begins, but also Roll out the Barrel before it is second to none.

If you’re thinking of introducing a skeptical friend to escape rooms, or a group of work colleagues who just want to have fun and forget about the office for an hour – then Escape Plan is PERFECT. Seriously! Go book it now! And let me know what you thought in the comments.

The Adventure Begins can be played in Escape Plan Shoreditch for £79 – £120 per team by heading to Escape Plan’s website here.

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Mystery Mansion Regina: Drag Task Force | Review

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The devious Ruby Hymen has betrayed the Drag Task Force and has stolen all of their powers. The leader of the DTF, Flo Mingo, has selected you and your team to help the DTF infiltrate Ruby’s secret lair. You must find a way to stop Ruby and help the members of the DTF get their powers back!

Rating: Hilarious!
Completion Time: ~83 minutes
Date Played: 6th April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: 16+, a light-hearted laugh

This week I found out about the ‘comedy’ escape room DTF *pause* which stands for Drag Task Force, not whatever else you might be thinking. Excited to give it a go, I invited a new team of three of my closest ‘IRL’ friends*

* isn’t it funny how lockdown has now split all the people I know into ‘IRL’ (or people I knew before the lockdown) and online escape room friends… I.E. Most of the folks I play online escape rooms, who I’ve never even met in the real world!

…And we could not be more thrilled by how light-hearted, funny and unique the experience was!

The Story

The story is… Very silly! But heck, why not?! The world needs a little more humour. A self-styled ‘comedy’, the story goes that after a freak accident the five members of the Drag Task Force gain super-human powers. Abilities such as Super Seduction, or Super Strength! Woah! But one of their member (the devious Ruby Hymen) turns against them, and starts taking down the super Queens one by one.

Flo Mingo, the last left, sends her secret FloBot into Ruby’s dressing room to try to figure out what the plan is and give the Drag Task Force their powers back. This is where you come in, you’ve got to control the FloBot and guide her to success all the while solving the mysterious puzzles Ruby has left for you and avoiding the glitter bomb she’s rigged to explode in 60 minutes!

Photo (c) Mystery Mansion Regina

I can’t say I completely understood the plot, but I’m 99% sure we saved the day in the end. I was too busy laughing to pay complete attention, but it all ended well.

The Experience

Drag Task Force takes place in both Zoom and Telescape. Specifically, we started with a Telescape link and within that found our Zoom link to connect with our fabulous host Mitch. The experience itself starts in Telescape with a fun introduction video and only by solving a couple of preliminary puzzles could we then activate the Zoom portion of the experience.

From here, Telescape becomes your point and click 360* view of the room and inventory storage system, whereas Zoom is where the ‘real action’ happens: Controlling Flo Bot (don’t do as I did and accidentally call her Ruby – she won’t like that!!). By a series of voice commands, Flo Bot explores the room on your behalf, interacting with the environment and responding to your wishes (if you ask her nicely).

The cool thing about the Drag Task Force room is that it’s an online only room, which means it isn’t a real life escape room shoehorned into an online experience, it was designed to be online from the start. This means the creators can do some create things with it. The space is small – but just the right size for one person, for example. Secondly, another aspect of the game is that you can upgrade your Flo Bot as you go along. For example, we discovered an item that allowed her to use UV vision, or x-ray vision, or other technological leaps that a ‘real life’ team wouldn’t be able to do. Pretty cool, pretty cool!

The best part about the ‘experience’ by far has to be the host! We were hosted by Mitch and I’m still (days later) in awe as to how he managed to run the room without laughing or breaking character once. It’s great acting and they really brought the whole thing together.

The Puzzles

In terms of puzzles, I found DTF ever so slightly harder than expected! Of all the reviews I read before we played, a few of them mentioned needing extra time (which to be fair, we did also! We overran by 8 minutes to be exact), and a further few mentioned the puzzles being easy enough, but there are a lot of them!

I think both cases are correct! It’s good to know that the time limit has actually been increased from the original 60 minutes to 75, and never fear – if you do run out of time Flo Bot has a very handy secret ability… She can hack the glitter bomb from exploding in your face, giving you a little extra time.

Players can expect to encounter a good mix of puzzles. A few puzzles centre around finding a code to unlock a lock, or a key for a padlock – but many more are multi-step and require a great deal of logic to decipher. You’ll need to think outside of the box… And when I say that I REALLY mean it. This is the second escape room I’ve encountered that involves singing – but no spoilers on exactly what this means. You’ll just have to go play it yourself to find out!

Another thing to mention is that some of the main ‘puzzles’ also involve you- or more specifically, how you interact with FloBot. FloBot can do a lot of awesome things but only if you figure out how to correctly address her. It’s a nice human touch, rather than a mag lock or a key, you’ve got to solve it by saying the ‘right thing’.

We used (if memory serves correctly) 2 or 3 hints on a few of the puzzles, and one puzzle involving seduction we solved in record time. *hair flick* what can I say, we’re just so seductive.

Other, Cool Stuff

I couldn’t finish a review of DTF without mentioning a couple of interesting, extra cool things about the game that don’t quite fit into the headings above:

  • A percentage of your ticket cost is donated to a local LGBTQ+ charity, Lulu’s Lodge. What’s more, Mystery Mansion Regina often run hosted events featuring the fantastic Flo Mingo herself.
  • All of the drag artists in the game are real life, local artists. They’ve also all got excellent names.
  • There’s a LOT of adult humour, but the game is advised for players 14+ – I reckon (and this is just an assumption) that the host can dial the innuendo up or dial it down depending on the audience.

Overall, a brilliant experience and a fun way to spend an evening with friends. I’d recommend this one for anyone up for a laugh, and for such a good cause, why the heck not?!

DTF can be booked for $25 CAD per person on Mystery Mansion Regina’s website. A portion of your ticket cost is donated to Lulu’s Lodge, a local LGBTQ+ charity.

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