The Cari Mysteries: Grandfather’s Fortune | Review

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The Cari Mysteries: Grandfather’s Fortune | Review | A young family comes to the Netherlands from the Dutch East Indies in the 1950s. One day, one of the grandchildren receives her grandmother’s diary. For years, the story has been going around that Grandpa brought a fortune back from the Indies and that Grandma’s diary was supposed to be the treasure map. The diary is incomplete. The fortune has now been a legend in the family for over 50 years. No one has ever been able to find it. Discover and experience this true story and help find Grandfather’s Fortune.

Completion Time: 70 minutes
Date Played: 30th January 2022
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Medium

Gezelligheid kent geen tijd!

Or, to those of us who aren’t Ash (the French & Dutch graduate) – time flies when you’re having fun! Our classic online escape team of us, Mairi and Tasha sat down together on a chilly January evening to see whether we could help search an old Dutch farm house, to find the family’s hidden fortune. Turns out, it was hidden in far more than a locked box, it was hidden in time itself.

So, put on your time-travelling glasses, and let’s get exploring.

A beautiful family farmhouse – so much to see!

This game begins with a wonderfully sweet introductory video, bringing you up to date with the family’s history and the mystery of their grandfather’s hidden treasure. It is a very nostalgic game, as players are reviled with tales of old family traditions and introduced to the various members of the family and their individual stories.

The first space you get to explore is the looming front door. It’s very easy to look around, and the exploration in the game feels very nature. The software itself helps to plant you in the game, as you can see the seemingly never-ending fields stretch out way in the distance from the farm house, it feels like you are really there! Ash was absolutely loving this, and wishing that she had played the game in Dutch, returning to her days living in the Netherlands as a student.

Are these…magic glasses?!

Once we managed to make it inside, we were taken into the first ‘space’ of the game: the house’s attic. Here, we found out what really makes this game special: the magic glasses! Players can click a button to put them on, and they are taken back in time! You can look around the room with a whole new perspective, new puzzles appear, people appear, the overlay of the present and the past is brilliant! It works pretty seamlessly too, so it doesn’t feel dis-jointed or laggy, which was a big relief.

We worked together to solve the puzzles, which were actually quite challenging. You have a diary which accompanies you throughout the day, acting as a handy guide/map. It’s a clever way of having a sort of ‘options menu’ without breaking the immersion – and works very well in the digital escape room format.

The treasure! Eindelijk!

This was a really fun, wholesome game. We had a great time exploring the many rooms on offer within the farmhouse, flitting between the past and the present to combine items to make our way to the family’s hidden treasure. There were a hefty amount of puzzles, and we did get a bit stuck a few times! We definitely have a new favourite kind of puzzle, one we’ve actually never seen before (which is unusual given we are now nearing our 200th game) – kudos to the Cari Mysteries!

This game lends itself well to being played online. It’s been designed with care, and with love. We would highly recommend this for a cosy Sunday evening with friends. It might be a nice one to play with family if you are all apart, it certainly made us feel quite nostalgic!

Grandfather’s fortune can be played by going to the Cari Mysteries website here.

Escape Reading: The Treasure in the Shed | Review

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The Treasure in the Shed Review | Almost everyone has a place where they store the old and strange things in their home, sometimes a cupboard, or the attic. In your house, it’s a shed.

Date Played: 17th October 2021
Time Taken: 20 minutes
Team Size: 4
Difficulty: Easy

On our weekly (or slightly less than weekly these days as the world eases out of lockdown) digital meetup, team Escaping the Closet, our friend Tasha, and myself pick a digital escape game to play together. On this date, we’d finished our first choice quickly and so looked for a short and sweet free game to try out. Escape Reading’s “The Treasure in the Shed” seemed perfect. So into the shed we went…

Whats in the Box Shed?

The story of this short, play at home escape game isn’t about escaping from anything… No, you need to solve the puzzles to break into something. Specifically, a shed. The story goes that your parents and grandparents were avid collectors of antiques. Each fantastic new item for their collection went into the shed – a room you were never, ever allowed into. Skip forward to the future, when you’ve got control of the house. One day you discover a key and immediately recognise it as the shed’s key. At last! It’s your time to finally see what is inside the shed…

So what did we find?

Well, exactly what you might expect from a shed that’s had decades and decades of collectable items shoved into them. The whole vibe of the game reminded me a lot of “hidden object” style of games where you’re presented with a huge amount of information and you’ve got to correctly identify items within to complete the puzzles.

How to Solve the Shed

Treasure in the Shed is a browser based escape game, meaning everything takes place over a series of web-pages. It’s a little more complex than your average “input password to go to next page” style of game, but doesn’t offer as much interactibility and multiplayer support as escape games built in Telescape.

For our team of 4, we all hit ‘start’ at the same time, and worked collaboratively within our own system. What this meant was that if one of us solved the puzzle, all of us would have to input it on our own screen to progress.

Each stage of the puzzle game offers several interactive elements within a puzzlescape of intriguing and curious items in the shed. It wasn’t immediately obvious which were clickable or not – but this quickly became part of the fun. Clicking around the trying to work out which items you could interact with and which were just part of the decor.

Once we found each object, these would pop out onto a new screen offering a wealth of puzzles to get digging into. There were sound based puzzles, digit codes and padlocks, some ciphers, and some very fun map puzzles. One of the great parts were that although we were all playing from our separate screens, the puzzles definitely involved more heads than fewer to solve. On more than one occasion, all four of us were working on different screens but collaboratively solving together, which was a really nice touch. It elevated the game from being a fairly average browser game to something that has had a lot of thought and love gone into it!

The Verdict

For a free play at home escape game – we can’t fault it! The graphics were great, the puzzles were challenging and it’s an all round brilliant little escape game to play solo or in a small group, especially when stuck in lockdown and missing in-person games. Since this game first launched, the sub-genre of “at home” escape games has certainly come a long way, but Treasure in the Shed still has buckets of charm and will keep an enthusiast group busy for at least half an hour, if not longer!

The Treasure in the Shed can be played for free by heading to this link here.

The Panic Room: CSI Grounded | Review

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CSI Grounded Review | Are you ready to solve a mile-high mystery? A murder: The suspects are 30,000 ft in the air. Someone killed Avery Stone on Flight 9201! But who, and how?

Everyone on board is a suspect! The evidence you need to solve this crime is locked inside evidence packs. Solve the clues, unravel the mystery, and find the killer before the case crashes and burns around you!

Date Played: 2020
Time Taken: ~1 hour

Put your detective hats on in this high-tech online murder mystery! 

The story… A murder, a mystery. The suspects 30,000 feet in the air. Someone killed Avery Stone on flight 9201 – but who and how? Everyone on board is a suspect. Solve your way through the clues, unravel the mystery and find the killer. 

A real solid storyline gets this game off to a strong start. The depth of the story is pretty unbelievable with attention to detail which no other online game could dream of – particularly as the game evolves. 

Another major plus to this game is the level of tech involved. Numerous embedded and online videos, plus the use of QR codes add something different to this game. It really does make you feel like a detective. The video and audio quality is very strong. The use of different audio techniques really adds to the style of this game. (coupled with a tension building hour long backing track which really adds to the pressure!)

In terms of puzzles these vary vastly. There are a couple of some very easy self-explanatory puzzles which we got in a matter of seconds. On the flip-side, there were some which will test even the most experienced escape gamer. Some well places clues will certainly guide you in the right direction (and yes, we did use them!) 

A pen and paper coupled with an extra mobile phone with a camera are a must in this game. With the volume of puzzles and evidence involved, coupled with some extra downloads on clues etc it can become easy to get bogged down, so take your time, write down the clues and your will be certain to succeed. 

All round, a very impressive online experience, which uses audio and visual clues in a modern way, yet still clinging onto the traditions of a murder-mystery game. Invest your time and your patience and this is one you wont forget in a hurry! 

CSI Grounded can be purchased from The Panic Room’s website here.

Ratings

The Panic Room: Clue Kingdom: The Forgotten City | Review

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Clue Kingdom: The Forgotten City Review | Follow the glorious quest of Aldred as he explores the harrowing streets of a forgotten city lost to time where the powerful Air element awaits. It’s time to start your adventure!

Date Played: Early 2020
Time Taken: ~1 Hour

Make no doubt about, I am a big fan of the online games presented by The Panic Room. And the Clue Kingdom series is something special. But this chapter (at point of writing) is my absolute favourite of the series thus far.

For those that haven’t checked out the series, let me set the scene… The Clue Kingdom is under the control of evil magic at The Spire. In order to regain control of the Kingdom, you follow the journey of different characters in their bid to obtain a collection of different elements Think epic “Lord of the Rings”  and you have nailed it! In this chapter, we follow the path of Aldred the Apostle in his quest to secure the air element from deep within the bowels of the Cathedral of Divinity, in the Forgotten City. Yep, you got it folks, our quest continues and the series of puzzles that lay ahead will certainly get your adrenaline buzzing and the grey matter working for sure! 

As with the other chapters in this series, The Panic Room have cleverly devised them to also be standalone games. Yes, purchase on their own if you must, however I would highly suggest buying the series, so you get that little surprise in your inbox once a month! The journey certainly unfolds when combining all chapters and for families and enthusiasts alike, having that online get together once a month to see where the adventure is taking you, is well worth it!     

Although easy to compare chapters, this review will focus solely on chapter 3. So where to begin? Well, the opening video really sets the scene for the adventure that follows. An epic, orchestral, beautifully designed and animated opening provides the senses with a shot in the arm, and gets your excitement pulsing. 

The puzzles then begin, which tend to follow the well trodden path that The Panic Room have used before – page by page puzzles, accompanied by some cool download documents along the way. A great bonus on this adventure is that there isn’t the need to read through masses of text – the start of every puzzle commences with a well scripted audio opening. 

When it comes to puzzle content, this game is packed with them, all of which stick strictly to the theme. I would suggest that this game is medium difficultly – some games kept me guessing for a while however the penny dropped in most cases. Although there are a selection of hover boxes at the foot of each page where you can get some well pitched clues, and, if your really stuck, reveal the answer. 

A huge positive in this online game, is the use of more interactive puzzles. Not only does the game include beautifully designed games (and I mean really beautifully designed), which appear throughout the game series, this chapter includes games which get the user even more involved in the surroundings of the puzzle and will need you to interact with the content in front of you (that’s me being as cryptic as possible without giving any spoilers!)

This outstandingly epic adventure builds superbly and certainly utilises the strengths already seen in the previous chapters. Accompanied with a well appointed soundtrack to download, packed with superb games and beautiful graphics, this is one that all the family will enjoy. 

Yet another brilliant example of a well-rounded online adventure, brought to you by the expertise of The Panic Room. Certainly up there with our favourites. Every chapter keeps the hunger for the next – and I’m already starving for the next one! Unlike the city, this adventure will not be forgotten!   

The Forgotten City can be purchased at The Panic Room’s website here.

Ratings

The Panic Room: Clue Kingdom: The Dwarven Mines | Review

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Clue Kingdom: The Dwarven Mines Review | Follow the glorious quest of Ophelia the Mage as she explores the depths of a Dwarven City deep within the mountainside where the mighty Metal element awaits. It’s time to start your adventure!

Date Played: Early 2020
Time Taken: ~1 Hour

So, you have played part 1 and now your journey continues. More of the same? Yes please! Your epic “Lord of the Rings” styles adventure continues in part 2 as you make your way into the mines!

In respect of story line, this chapter follows on from The Enchanted Forest, however we now join Ophelia, the Mage, as she tries to locate the next element as the heroes attempt to make their way to The Spire and defeat the evil wizard who controls Clue Kingdom. 

If you enjoyed part 1, you are sure to love this too! And also, never fear… even if you hadn’t played part 1, this can be played as a standalone game (although, you’d be mad to miss it!).

Again, where this online game series sets itself apart, is with all those big budget style videos and outstanding soundtrack. It provides an epic feel to the game and gives you the feeling that you are indeed on a huge adventure. Digital animation, video clips, believable yet mystical characters, all build the tension and atmosphere of your journey. The Celtic/orchestral-styled soundtrack gives great depth and aides this epic feel.    

In respect of puzzles, these were very enjoyable. They sit perfectly on theme as you work deeper into the mines. Without spoilers, the early puzzles within this game all have a consistent theme/style around them. The common theme works really well in starting you on your mission and gives you chance to “find your feet”. However, don’t get too comfortable! Just as you find your stride, boom, the game mixes up and you find yourself with some much trickier puzzles! We may have used the well positioned clues to aide us on the journey in its latter stages! 

In a similar approach to part 1, I would suggest families with slightly older children would enjoy this game. Its soundtrack and animated elements certainly got my attention and the puzzles within this game allow everyone to be get round the screen and get involved.

The game certainly continues to build the Clue Kingdom journey, and those that have invested in the entire series will not be disappointed. The game continues to be very well rounded and demonstrate the outstanding passion and talent that the team at The Panic Room have. They continue to develop great puzzles, accompanying soundtracks, beautiful animation and a well designed platform which allow for care-free game play. Another highly-recommended online game.  

The Dwarven Mines can be purchased from The Panic Room’s website here.

The Panic Room: Clue Kingdom: The Enchanted Forest | Review

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Clue Kingdom: The Enchanted Forest Review | Once upon a time, in a far off land, was the Clue Kingdom. A truly wondrous land home to many incredible secrets and tales long forgotten. For years, the Kingdom stood tall and proud, all its subjects were treated fair, and the threat of war was only heard of in stories.

However, evil lurked deep within. Avibarin, a wizard with incredible power rose from the underworld and took control of the land in one fell swoop. He retreated to The Spire, the very tallest point of Clue Kingdom and fortified his castle, ruling the land with a terrible iron fist. Soon, monsters and beasts roamed the once peaceful landscapes and its people lived in fear, waiting for a hero to emerge and save them…

Date Played: Early 2020
Time Taken: ~1 hour

Think, Lord of the Rings meets Disney’s Tangled  and you wont go far wrong with this epic online adventure! 

In respect of story line, The Enchanted Forest is the first part of a 6 part epic online escape room. Following the journey of heroes as they make their way to The Spire to defeat the evil wizard who controls the Clue Kingdom. Within In The Enchanted Forest, you follow the quest of Sir Cadogan as he explores the enchanted forest to find the Faery Village and finally the hidden temple where the earth element awaits.

Clue Kingdom: The Enchanted Forest

Now this really is a story of epic proportions! I am a huge fan of major film franchises where good meet evils in battles, with big budgets and never ending supplies of magic, mystery and mayhem – so this escape room series hits the mark for me for sure! 

The first thing of note, is the opening video to this game. A beautifully told, animated journey to the kingdom. Now when I say animated, don’t expect some over the top “cute” Disney animation. Think more classic design, coupled with a soundtrack of huge structure which, in my eyes, plays a major role in providing atmosphere to the game. (As a musician, I get very excited by the role music plays in setting an ambience and this one smashes all others out of the park). Please – make sure you download it when prompted at the start of the game, you’ll be amazed! 

Anyway, music fan boy out of the way, moving onto the puzzles. These sit wonderfully on theme as you work your way around the Enchanted Forest. All games have an earthy feel to them and certainly pull on the theme of nature and your wonderful surroundings. The games are of medium difficulty and are all certainly achievable, if for the occasionally well placed hint, which I called on from time to time! I really enjoyed the puzzles in this one. They were certainly taxing and no walk in the park however, at no stage did I feel overwhelmed or have the sense of “I have no idea what I’m doing here!”  

I would suggest families with slightly older children would enjoy this game. Its soundtrack and animated elements will warm the coldest of hearts and the puzzles within this game are a great one to “gather the family” with – I think many hands would work really well with this game.  

As the game evolves you find yourself heading deeper into the forest in your quest to find the earth element – the puzzles seem to just keep coming which is a real plus in this game. Its a really strong start and would certainly invest me in carrying on playing the rest of the series (which The Panic Room plan on releasing monthly). As well as being great as part of a series, this is also a brilliant standalone game – however, when seeing the end of this game, you certainly get a taste of whats to come so my attention has certainly been caught! 

Its safe to say that we really enjoyed this epic adventure and if this sets the tone of whats to come over the series, I am very excited. Some great puzzles, beautiful animation and a soundtrack which captures the imagination like no other. Great fun, taxing yet achievable, I would certainly recommend this one! 

The Clue Kingdom: The Enchanted Forest can be booked at The Panic Room’s website here.

Ratings

Fast Familiar: The Curse of the Burial Dagger | Review

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The Curse of the Burial Dagger Review | When everyone is a suspect, and a killer is on the loose, is anybody safe? A mansion near Dundee, 1923. Susie Sato finds herself investigating a murder when her great-uncle and host Lord Hamilton is found dead in his private museum, an ancient Egyptian burial dagger protruding from his back. Could it be the curse of the dagger, an object Lord Hamilton was warned not to remove from the tomb? Or could something else have caused his death?

Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 20th October 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Narrative Driven (aka easy-ish)

Fast Familiar are one of those ‘experience creators’ who I have all notifications switched on for. When they create a new game – whatever it looks like – I’m first in line in the metaphorical queue at midnight to get my hands on it. The Curse of the Burial Dagger was no different. Even though it’s not quite an escape room (technically it is a forensic science game), it’s got buckets of that light hearted comedy, fun puzzles, and rich diverse characters I come to expect of all Fast Familiar games. It’s also been developed in collaboration with the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science. Meaning, it’s also educational.

How quickly can I press play?! Will I be judged if I play twice, or even three times?

Another huge fan of the Fast Familiar series, Rebecca and I teamed up together to take on the new, murder mystery challenge on a Wednesday evening in October where the stars were out outside and murder was afoot within!

An Introduction to Forensic Science

Our main character, the lovable Suzie Sato (who I may have a slight crush on) is a forensic science student. In this adventure, she’s walked right into a murder scene – the perfect opportunity to put her skills to the test! This is where you, the players come in. Suzie talks directly to the camera in a series of graphic novel style panels and its up to you, the players, to draw conclusions from the evidence presented and the interviews she conducts.

This is what I mean when I say it’s not exactly an escape game. No, this is a visual novel game which is occasionally broken up with a puzzle or two, and at the end you must make a judgement on who you think the killer truly is. There are two things you want to watch out for when solving this game:

  • What the characters say – hidden among the jokes and humorous encounters are some real nuggets of truth. Who said they were where, when, and why?
  • The conclusions from the scientific and mathematical puzzles you solve with Suzie. What do they really tell you about the scene?

Science is Fun

In terms of those mathematical and scientific puzzles, these are rooted in real life forensic science techniques, and players can expect to grapple with a number of styles including mathematical puzzles, chromatography puzzles, fingerprint analysis, and so on. There are also more ‘traditional’ escape room style puzzles, including jigsaws and spot the difference and cross-referencing data.

Since The Curse of the Burial Dagger is recommended for players aged 10 and above, it’s not too difficult. Yes, we did get very hung up on the maths puzzle, but so did I when we played Bad Altitude earlier this year.

In addition to traditional puzzles, there’s a really interesting murder mystery deduction mechanic to the game which really sets this game apart from others in the genre. Along the way you as players can make deductions and assumptions by ranking different statements as “likely” or “not likely”. At any time you can go back and alter your statements if you change your mind or make a mistake. This was really cool and unlike anything else I’ve seen in a murder mystery game, but it just worked so well! It also set up the premise of what you need to be looking out for.

A Lesson in Brilliant Storytelling

If you took out all the interactivity and just made this a graphic novel book, heck I’d still buy it. If you turned it into a TV show, I’d binge it. If you did this experience in any other medium it would still be excellent – and that’s good storytelling! One of the best things about Fast Familiar is that they always get this spot on.

For starters, there’s the characters:

  • Suzie, played by Ami Okumura Jones
  • Syed, played by Jamie Zubairi
  • Lady Hamilton, played by Rachel Donovan
  • Struana, played by Sarah Waddell
  • Hywel, played by Delme Thomas

Then, there’s the humour. With excellent writing from Dan Barnard, Delme Thomas and Rachel Briscoe I’d expect nothing less – but The Curse of the Burial Dagger is particularly amusing and jsut enough twists to keep us hooked right until the end.

The Verdict

The Curse of the Burial Dagger is a fantastic experience. Unmissable if you’re a fan of murder mysteries, and something a little outside of the box if you’re more of a traditional escape room audience. Once again Fast Familiar have nailed it and their new game is perfect for all audiences.

The Curse of the Burial Dagger can be booked on Fast Familiar’s website here.

Ratings

The Best UK Escape Rooms to Play This Halloween (2021)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas? Pfft, it’s all about HALLOWEEN! We’re calling it – spooky season is upon us and the perfect way to get into the ‘spirit’ is to play as many ghoulish, creepy and downright terrifying escapes! And lucky for you, we at The Escape Roomer have pulled together a roundup of the most spook-tacular escape games out there so you don’t have to.

Our list covers spine-chilling games from across the UK, as well as some to give you the creeps from the comfort of your own home (we know, we know, there’s nothing better than settling down with a classic PSL for a rainy autumnal afternoon escape at home, before getting the willies watching scary movies all night!).

But we also know that being scared WIT-less doesn’t work for everyone (and their puzzle solving capability). Never fear! You can still enjoy spooky season; we have included some tamer escapes that are guaranteed not to scare, but that fit in perfectly with the Halloween season.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find your perfect Halloween escaping plans!

Disclaimer: These scares levels were accurate at the time of writing, but we know some companies like the ramp up the scare for Halloween, so if you are a bit nervous, please check with the company directly if they’ve snuck in an extra scare (or a live actor, no one wants a surprise live actor!!)

😱 Hardcore Scary Escape Rooms 😱

Want to be scared out of your mind? Try one of these escape rooms for an extreme scream…

The 13utcher – Escapologic, Nottingham

If you know anything about scary escape rooms, you will have heard of Escapologic’s the 13utcher! This game is notorious among the escape community for being one of the most terrifying escape experiences in the UK. You accidentally get trapped behind the shutter of what turns out to be the Butcher’s lair and there’s no saying when he will return (it’s definitely during the hour!).

We haven’t yet played the 13utcher (we’ve been working our way up to it), but we have heard amazing things- including overhearing a lad scarred by the fact that the butcher stole his shoes! If you like hardcore scares, this is the game for you!

Please note this game is advertised as 18+. You can book to play the 13utcher at https://www.escapologic.com/nottingham-escape-rooms/butcher/.

Edith – Unescapable, Derby

So Unescapable aren’t really an escape room company- they’re a super secret time travelling facility masquerading as an escape rooms company, but we’re sure they won’t mind us telling you that! When they open a time portal they send one of their scientists back to make sure everything is ok, and Edith was just the lady for the job… only things went awry when they lost communication with her. She should have shut down the portal but something stopped her. It’s your job to go back and get that portal closed!

We can vouch for the scare levels of Edith- there’s plenty of opportunities to get the adrenaline flowing! Something evil stalks you on your mission and takes every opportunity to make you jump, scream and, at times, get separated from your team mates. There were certainly a fair few nervous giggles among our team when we played, but we loved every heart racing moment of it! If you like a scare, this is one not to miss!

Please note there is an element of crawling required by all players in this room. You can find out more and book to play Edith at https://www.unescapable.co.uk/#rooms1.

Operation Clearsafe – Project Breakout, Brighouse

You’ve infiltrated a top secret facility rumoured to have been undertaking unethical tests on humans and animals to expose their secrets. Unlucky for you, these test subjects have broken free. Can you avoid the creatures to escape the compound with your life?

Operation Clearsafe can be run on scalable levels of scary. So if live actors and jump scares just really aren’t for you, you can still enjoy all the fun this game has to offer without the fear (fun) factor.

You can find out more and book to play Operation Clearsafe at https://www.projectbreakout.co.uk/escape-rooms/.

Phobia – Paralysis Escape Rooms, Stoke

Local people have been going missing and you believe Riser Kane, a creepy psychologist known for his boundary pushing experiments, is to blame. So, of course, while he is detained, you choose to head down into his cellar (shudders) to find out what has truly been going on. Can you manage to overcome your phobias and make it out with the crucial evidence before Riser Kane returns and takes you as his next ‘patient’?

You can find out more and book to play Phobia at https://paralysisescaperooms.com/rooms/phobia-escape-room/.

👻 Escape Rooms That’ll Make You Jump 👻

Scary, but not “scarred for life” scary. These rooms will make you jump!

Sleepover – Escapologist, Cleethorpes

Breaking into the abandoned house of the infamous murdered family is a great idea right? What about planning to sleep over there? Easy Peasy! But when the door locks itself behind you, those rumours of the place being haunted start to make you worry a little more…

Sleepover is a jam-packed 80 minute game that you really get your money’s worth from! If you enjoy a good jump scare, you’ll be sure to have a great time!

You can find out more and book to play Sleepover at https://escapologist-cleethorpes.co.uk/sleepover/.

Cabin in the Woods – Stuck in the Riddle, Huddersfield

Memory implant technology sends you back into the memory of serial killer the silent slayer’s last victim. You find yourself in a remote cabin in the woods. Well of course, what could be more appropriate as a killer’s lair?! Your mission is to find out the identity of the killer and get out of the memory before he comes back to kill the person whose memory you are inhabiting.

We had a great time playing this as a pair and can safely say there were lots of nervous giggles following being made to jump.

You can find out more and book to play Cabin in the Woods at https://www.stuckintheriddle.com/cabin-in-the-woods/.

Scarytale – Deception, Matlock

Not all fairy tales have happy endings… as the Millers found out when the price of a game they played with a wicked little man was their daughter Olivia, who was taken by him. They’ve spent years trying to find him to have a second chance at the game, and now that they’ve found the man with no name, can you help them defeat him?

A brilliant, dark and unnerving twist on a well-known fairy tale! We loved this room and enjoyed just how cleverly the elements are woven together.

You can find out more and book to play Scarytale at https://www.deceptionescaperooms.com/book-now

Seance – Enigma, Wakefield

Rated 18+, Seance is a chilling game including genuine arcane artifacts, demonic symbols and rituals. You enter the home of Tabitha, a sickly child who was lost when her mother did a ritual to try to help her. Expect a couple of jump scares incited by Tabitha popping to see what you’re up to. Lots of creepiness in a relatively small space, this is a really fun room!

You can find out more and book to play Seance at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-wakefield/seance-escape-room/

Howitz – Escapologic, Nottingham

Escapologic again?! Yes! And while this is a significant step down in terms of outright terror from the 13utcher (no live actor for a start), it is still a creepy room set in a disturbing toy shop with the ability to prompt some good jump scares! Escapologic have really thought about the *special* touches to send a shiver down your spine in this game. We absolutely loved this game, in particular the amazing clue system they use, which lends itself completely to the theme and fans of spooky stuff will LOVE!

There is a section which will require the group to separate, but we managed this as a pair and while unnerving, no one comes into the room so you’re as safe as you can be in a creepy toy shop!

You can find out more and book to play Howitz at https://www.escapologic.com/nottingham-escape-rooms/howitz/

Sacred – LetsXcape, Newark

Father Frederick has asked you to enter the Monastery at Kelham Hall to search for Novice Tobias who has gone missing. Your Sacred mission is to search for his whereabouts and discover the truth… A really atmospheric game set in the grounds of Kelham Hall. Who knew that monks could be so creepy?

This game is rated 12+ with parental advisory. You can find out more and book to play Sacred at https://www.letsxcape.co.uk/sacred/

The Orphanage – Lucardo, Manchester

Lucardo provide a PG rating for this game which is sure to give you the creeps. The derelict St Josephine’s Orphanage for Girls is up for auction so you’re headed there to take a look at the site and its redevelopment potential. Upon entering the building, the previous residents have left eerie signs of their unhappy time in the Orphanage and you get caught up in the history of the place. Just try not to get singled out by the cruel woman who ran the place, and try not to get locked in the Keeper (we thought this was veeeery reminiscent of the chokey from Matilda!)

You can find out more and book to play the Orphanage at https://lucardo.com/manchester

Run – The Great Escape, Sheffield

You may recognise this as the game Ariana Grande played on the Late Late Show with James Corden (just at a different branch, somewhere in the USA, rather than Sheffield). Set in a dilapidated ex-children’s home, local urban legend claims that many moons ago the home’s Headmaster used to pay for his own immortality with the souls of these poor unfortunate children. Of course this means that exploring the place you uncover unnerving items, things that go bump in the night and downright creepy goings-on. IF you want to break the curse, set these poor children’s souls free and make it out of the derelict building unscathed, you may have to RUN!

You can find out more and book to play Run at https://thegreatescapegame.co.uk/games/run

Abigail – Trapp’d, Kettering

An innocent little girl called Abigail whose life was stolen by her cruel parents who locked her away in her bedroom for years. Tragically she was taken by the flames of a blazing fire, burnt and alone. Some say they still see a little girl walking the hallways of the now derelict Hallows House. Since Abigail’s death in the early 1940s, there has been a terrifying amount of disappearances and accidents within the walls. 

You’re part of a paranormal team investigating Hallows House when things turn sinister. A haunting looking doll has been watching you and you realise the uncanny familiarity the doll has to long gone Abigail. This is really exciting game spread over a large space giving you plenty of chances to get the willies as you go off exploring the house, and with a few opportunities for jump scares thrown in for good measure.

You can find out more and book to play Abigail at https://trappd.com/book-now/kettering/abigail/

💀 On the Creepy Side of Tame 💀

More creepy than spooky, these are perfect for those dark October nights.

Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse – Escape Quest, Macclesfield

If you are a longstanding fan of scares and escape rooms, you may remember Bad Clown. Unfortunately we missed out on playing this as we have heard that it was SCARY- in fact, owners Elaine and Mike said that so many teams would refuse before the beginning was over! As a result, a tamer version, Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse, emerged and we have had the pleasure of playing this!

You need to outsmart Mr Chuckles and his puzzles to escape his creepy funhouse. To do this, each player needs to win a ticket. The catch? The time ends as soon as the first golden ticket holder exits the game, sabotaging the rest of the team’s chances of exiting the creepy funhouse, so you need to decide what’s more important – A fast time or for every member of your team to win the game? Will you come together as a team to overcome Mr Chuckles and his games or will it be every player for themselves?

For teams unlucky enough to still be inside without a ticket or too slow to get out as the final seconds tick by, Mr Chuckles has one last surprise up his sleeve…

You can find out more and book to play Mr Chuckles’ Funhouse at https://www.escapequest.co.uk/mr-chuckles-funhouse.html

Jilted? – Deception Matlock

A missing bride is never a good thing…. Jilted? Or is something more sinister at play?

Can you go to hell and back to find out what really happened after the bridal party left the bride? Jilted offers plenty of puzzles in an impressive and interactive set that really immerses you in the unorthodox rituals the bride got involved in during her preparations for the big day. While there are definite creepy vibes and a darker story line at play, this game won’t scare your pants off (well not too much anyway!)

You can find out more and book to play Jilted? at https://www.deceptionescaperooms.com/book-now

Hellevator – Clue HQ, Birmimgham

A very dramatic (and black mirror-esque) introduction sets the story line for the Hellevator: your torturous ascent will be live streamed to the general public watching your every move as you try to solve the series of trials to make it up to floor 13 successfully! The drama and tension escalates exponentially as you ascend towards the final level, creating an intense and exhilarating finish, and feeling a rush of adrenaline followed by relief to have completed the Hellevator!

You can find out more and book to play the Hellevator at https://cluehq.co.uk/birmingham/escape-games/#thehellevator

Murder Motel – Enigma, Wakefield

Sam has been sticking around in your Motel for longer than the average guest. To add to that, something doesn’t feel quite…right…about him. He gives you the creeps and you want to know what he’s hiding. So, opportunity strikes when he heads out one evening and you take your chance to snoop around his room and find out who Sam really is. Just try to be quick and make it out before he returns to discover you in his dingy motel room, otherwise things could get really nasty!

You can find out more and book to play Murder Motel at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-wakefield/murder-motel-escape-room/.

The Night Watchman – Eskape Whitby

Out on the docks of Whitby, people have been disappearing. These are dark times, and there are rumours of things being spotted in the shadows. The locals have grown fearful, but the night watchman might have uncovered the secret. He’s the next person who has gone missing, but managed to leave a trail of clues. As the top detectives in Yorkshire, you have been called in to help. Can you follow in the night watchman’s footsteps find out what is wreaking terror on the town. (If you know anything about what Whitby is famous for, you may be able to hazard a guess at what or who that might be…)

You can find out more and book to play The Night Watchman at https://www.eskapewhitby.co.uk/rooms.html

🎃 Halloween Escape Rooms for the Family 🎃

These rooms probably won’t scare you, but they scratch the Halloween itch just nicely!

Frankenscape – Ctrl Alt Esc, Margate

You might be able to guess what the theme of this room is from the name! Professor Alec Smart has been working on a groundbreaking experiment that some may think is controversial. The key to its success is lightning and a storm is a-brewin’. Ctrl Alt Esc has gone all out on a thrilling room, and the end sequence is unforgettable!

You can find out more and book to play Frankenscape at https://ctrlaltesc.co.uk/index.php/en/games

Carfax – Cave Escape, Nottingham

If you’re a fan of gothic classic Dracula, you’ll love Carfax! You are called upon by Van Helsing following some strange goings on, to find out what is going on. In Carfax, you follow the story of Dracula from arrival in the dockyard, through to overcoming the infamous vampire himself. And to add to the gothic atmosphere, Carfax is built within Nottingham’s underground cave network. Does it get more spooky and atmospheric than that?! But rest assured, this is not a scary game, just based around a Halloweeny theme.

You can find out more and book to play Carfax at https://www.caveescape.co.uk/carfax

Carfax – Cave Escape

Afterlife – Cryptology, Sheffield

Can you beat Death himself? Find out in this adventure through Purgatory, Hell and into the pearly gates of heaven. If you succeed, you get to add your name to the Book of Life. Fail, and I guess you’re…well…dead.

You can find out more and book to play Afterlife at https://cryptologyrooms.co.uk/sheffield/afterlife

Ward 13 – Enigma, Doncaster

You’ve been mistakenly put on Ward 13, and that is a place you do NOT want to be! Can you manage to work out how to sneak your way out before you end up in the same position as the patients before you? If you know Pretty Little Liars, think Radley vibes… A creepy theme, but rest assured that you can enjoy this safe in the knowledge that there aren’t going to be any jump scares to throw you off your puzzling!

You can find out more and book to play Ward 13 at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-doncaster/ward-13-escape-room/

Sweeney Todd – Enigma, Lincoln

I’m sure you know the story of Sweeney Todd. Barbershop… people going missing… plenty of delicious pies in Mrs Lovetts’ shop downstairs. Enigma have created a magnificent recreation of the Victorian tale in this game, with an amazing centerpiece that sets this off perfectly! Despite the dark tale, you won’t be too scared, just make sure you don’t try any of those pies!

You can find out more and book to play Sweeney Todd at https://enigmarooms.co.uk/escape-rooms-lincoln/sweeney-todd-escape-room/

Salem – Trapp’d, Leeds

While visiting Salem, you hear stories that supposed witch Marjorie Sutton can still be seen prowling around in her old stomping ground and you want to know the truth, so you head to her abandoned shack in the woods to explore. But while you are there, the witching hour strikes. Transported into the world of Salem Witch trials, you must find and destroy the book of the damned and escape the cabin before you are trapped in the Salem forest forever. A great game to enjoy the atmospheric witch-y theme with no scares to freak you out.

You can find out more and book to play Salem at https://trappd.com/book-now/leeds/leeds-salem/

Spellbound – Make your escape, Derby

What a magical game! We’d recommend bringing a big group to this game as the room is jam packed with puzzles and is quite the challenge. In fact, with this game- the more, the merrier as it is a spacious room and can accommodate up to 10 players. Based on a real tale of witch trials that took place in Derby in the 1600s, you enter the cabin of these two accused witches, centuries after their conviction for witchcraft, to explore their cabin, find out the truth and become part of the legend. A perfect way to celebrate Halloween with all your fellow spooky season connoisseurs!

You can find out more and book to play Spellbound at https://www.makeyourescapederby.com/spellbound/

Stuck at home?

Here’s our list of the best at-home Halloween Escape Rooms

Ultimate Quest: The Last Pyramid Sands of Time | Review

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The Last Pyramid: The Sands of Time Review | Your guide will send you and your team deep into the heart of an ancient pyramid floating in space in order to solve a plethora of puzzles, stop the clocks and bank time that you will use to break out of the pyramid’s vaults and search for the treasures within. Once your adventure is complete, your host will trade your treasures for Earth-based physical and digital prizes which will be delivered to you in the real world!

Date Played: 6th October 2021
Time Taken: 1 Hour
Number of Players: 3
Difficulty: Medium

Prepare to go on a journey like no other

We certainly weren’t!

But this adventure is certainly one which you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

So we saw the words “pyramid” and “sands of time” and ultimately thought that it must be some kind of online Ancient Egyptian style escape room… Ahh, but how wrong we were! Sure, there is a pyramid and yes, the sands of time are ticking. Instead what we played was about as futuristic as online escape room experiences get!

Floating through space, many years in the future, we found ourselves inside The Pyramid. Here we encountered a series of strange catacombs and eerie laboratories, packed with innovative (and often highly pressurised) games! The aim of the adventure is to bank time by completing these games in as quick as time as possible, which will ultimately lead you to the vault where the banked time is used to answer a series of quick fire puzzles. As you do so, you actually get real life gifts as a reward!

So not only do you have a great hours worth of entertainment, you get something as a keepsake to remember your journey! We loved this as it’s a really clever way of having something tangible to remember your experience. So far in lockdown, such a nice touch has been greatly lacking for online escape room games!

How does The Sands of Time work?

Jumping aboard a Zoom call, the three of us (Mairi, Rebecca and myself) were met by a clever holding screen giving us a countdown to our adventure. At the end of the countdown, our enigmatic host, Ee, joined the call. Ee was a slightly haphazard agent from the far-far future, who kept us on track throughout the experience as we explored this labyrinth of mini-games. Despite our obvious frustration at some of the puzzles, our GM kept us thoroughly engaged!

Screenshot (c) Ultimate Quest

A Live Avatar… Or a Video Game

One of the most unique things about The Last Pyramid: Sands of Time is how much the game looked and felt like a video game. From the cracking audio and visual elements, to our host guiding us around the maze of rooms to take part in mini games such as a modern version of whack a mole, or remembering sequences, or solving rapid maths puzzles.

Regular readers will note that I have a real soft spot for audios and visuals to help increase immersion, and this game has this in abundance! Luckily there are no videos of our collective dancing in some of the cut-scenes of this game!

The puzzles of the game were very intriguing; don’t expect tradition cypher or combination code style puzzles here. You are met with fast-paced punchy games, which could be easily accessible to gamers both new and experienced!

The designers have cleverly acknowledged the the purpose of this game is to gain time to get into the vault, so everything is generally quite snappy. At the end of each mini game – no more than a minute or two long, you bank a number of seconds added onto your end score. It adds a lot of excitement and pressure, but it also means that if you fail hard at some of the mini games, you’ve plenty of time to redeem yourself later.

The main thing? It’s so much fun! The hour absolutely flew by, aided by the 25-ish puzzles we packed in. But they weren’t all puzzles and the game required a lot more from us than just sitting on our backsides for an hour. Have a phone, pen, Google, and be ready to jump up from your seat at a moments notice to look for items in your area or hide from a Squid-game-esque enemy.

Screenshot (c) Ultimate Quest

The Verdict

When all was said and done, with our brains every so slightly frazzled, its safe to say that we had an absolute blast and left with smiles on our faces. The combination of a great host, some very innovative games, some cool use of audio and visual elements, all add up to experience which we will not be forgetting in a hurry! 

The Last Pyramid: The Sands of Time can be booked at www.ultimatequest.co.uk

Ratings

Wizards Against Lizards Online | Review

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Wizards Against Lizards Review | You are invited to join the Wizards Against Lizards Remote Intelligence Agency. Teams of WALRIA agents are working together online to investigate, infiltrate and finally defeat the Annunaki Menace! You are welcome to join WALRIA as a passive observer but your team will require at least one active agent, as there are mysteries to be solved, and challenges to be met.

Date Played: 23rd August 2021
Number of Players: 13
Difficulty: Easy
Time Taken: 1hr 45 minutes

I absolutely love finishing an immersive experience and thinking “Woah, what the heck was that?!”

You know the ones I mean… Those once in a lifetime experiences that are met with blank expressions from your friends after you confusingly try to explain them the following day.

“Well err, you know how so many world leaders are actually Lizards hell bent on human suffering, well last Saturday I teamed up with some Wizards on Zoom and we basically infiltrated the Lizard HQ and…”

Okay so maybe it’s better I let the trailer do the talking:

I couldn’t wait to play the cult classic Wizards Against Lizards after picking up a Play Pass at RECON 2021. As part of the fun of the annual Room Escape Convention, there’s an optional Play Pass upgrade which gives you access to a number of live escape room events. Honestly, it was worth it for Wizards Against Lizards alone and I’ve still got heaps more games to play on the Play Pass!

Absurdist, Surreal, Immersive Theatre… On Zoom!

How to describe Wizards Against Lizards? It’s totally bizarre. In a good way. For sure it’s not your typical escape room game, but in amongst the conspiracy theory fun are plenty of puzzles to keep you on your toes. There’s also one theatrical sequence that is very close to an escape room at heart, making it a pretty well balanced game for all audiences.

The story goes that you join the ancient secret wizard organisation WALRIA (Wizards Against Lizards Remote Intelligence Agency) to go up against an equally ancient, but very evil lizard enemy: The Annunaki! Since you yourself are not a wizard (awwww), you’re able to successfully go where wizards cannot and infiltrate their top secret organisation. The first plan of order, pitch a brilliant business idea to one of the lizard leaders and get them on your side. Once you’re in, stop the sacrifice!

Sounds simple? Well, not so fast. Our team ended up with a little more danger than we bargained for – but a no less hilarious and fantastic experience nonetheless.

Our Wizard guides Mildred and Leanne

How to Stop the Lizard People

To stop the lizard people, you have three easy tasks:

  1. Complete your training
  2. Infiltrate the lizards
  3. Stop the sacrifice!

In terms of how the game plays out, it’s all drive via a series of actors (shout out to our host Leanne) on Zoom. The game requires a lot of active audience participation – so many not be the best for a smaller team who prefer to keep quiet. Have at least one person on the team who loves improvising, or some Dutch Courage to help. You never know when being able to talk yourself out of a stick situation with the lizards will come in handy!

In terms of puzzles, hardcore enthusiasts probably won’t be challenged by the game. There are a few very puzzle-y moments in the story but they’re there to serve the narrative and won’t take too long to crack. With the exception of one part that felt very close to a remote avatar escape room, largely players can expect to scour documents and read source material in search of clues.

I particularly enjoyed the moment where we took to Google Maps to discover something new. There’s also one meaty logic puzzle that our sub-team didn’t quite crack in time, but overall nothing too challenging!

The real Fun Factor to Wizards Against Lizards isn’t the puzzles, but it’s those moments of brilliant improvisation and how the actors react to what you say! Early in the game your team needs to come up with a suitably lizard-y pitch to get you in their good books. We got to think of the worst possible business idea, create a presentation, and then pitch it on the fly. Hilarious!

Wizard Training: Perform our best “Lizard Awkward Waving” impression…

The Verdict

Wizards Against Lizards is such a hidden gem and an all round hit escape room experience that’ll go down as a cult classic for sure. What started as a real life adventure played in and around the UK can now be played online via Zoom and the world is a lot better off for it.

It plays on pop culture with just a dash of light-hearted conspiracy theory to create a surreal romp around the lizard world, hosted by several fantastic wizards (and one sinister lizard).

We’ve decided to award it the Badge of Honour (right) for ticking so many boxes and is an absolute “must play” while you still can!

Wizards Against Lizards can be booked directly on their website here.

Ratings