You and your team are trapped on an abandoned, crippled boat. Your mission is to gather information, repair the boat and escape – before it’s too late! // You and your team are convicts, imprisoned on the good ship Zorg Ella. Using your wits, intelligence, and teamwork, can you work together to escape before the ship departs for the colonies?
Completion Time: 30 mins // 62 mins (out of 90)
Date Played: March 2023
Party Size: 2
Whenever I go to a new country, or even city, I love to find a local escape room to do, as it’s often very different from what is available near me. Usually, this involves a lot of research on blogs, travel sites, and Facebook, but for our recent trip to Dublin, I immediately knew where I was going to book – Escape Boats. It has been on my list for a while as I’d heard it was an escape room…on a boat…that really utilised the fact it was on the boat.
Luckily for me, since first learning of ‘Escape Boats’ they’ve introduced a second room, so we booked both for the same morning.
We started with their original room, the one I heard so much about. We were first lead to the steering cabin (probably not it’s technical name), which is where the GMs monitor the games from, before a door was revealed, leading us to the belly of the ship. This is where we began the game, so right from the start you are fully immersed in ‘boat’ aspect. The concept of ‘SOS’ is that you wake up on a sinking ship, so it was particularly cool that we started next to the actual engine of the boat!
From there we really raced through the room (completing it in half an hour!), as it was totally linear (one puzzle led to the next). For the pair of us this was absolutely fine – we worked on everything together, but for a larger team I can see this being a little frustrating. However, the puzzles were all well thought out and fun to solve, and fit in perfectly with the theme and story. The room really did feel like it was progressing throughout in a natural way – first we had to turn on the electricity, then find a way to communicate and send an SOS message, and then find a way out. It also felt pretty spacious given we were just on a boat, which actually fit two separate escape rooms – they’ve done a really good job of giving you the impression of size via clever tricks and sparse (but still relevant) set dressing.
It’s the final room that really sets this experience apart though. If you don’t want a spoiler I’ll just say…think boat. For those of you who do…
To solve the final room you have to flick a lever…which starts filling the room with water! Luckily I had already spotted a couple of pairs of wellies conveniently placed as we had progressed through the room, and made sure we put them on before entering this room!
I was actually very impressed and excited by how quickly the water came in – the room is probably larger than it seems, as although the water appeared to flow very quickly it only made it up to our ankles before we managed to stop it.
Not only was this every exciting (and the reason I had heard about this room in the first place), but it just shows how well this company have designed the room and taken on feedback. Apparently, many early teams had managed to solve the puzzle before, or just after, flicking the lever to trigger the excitement, so didn’t get the full experience. They have therefore modified the puzzle to stop it to only be ‘active’ once it has been triggered, and completely randomised so you can’t figure it out beforehand!
Overall, although this room was a very quick experience for us, we enjoyed it a lot. It was on the easier side, as we didn’t need help at all and only used half the time, but this also meant we were never frustrated. All the puzzles made logical sense and were fun to do, and the room itself was fantastic.
It was only natural to book both rooms at the same time, so after a quick coffee break at a nearby cafe we returned for their newer game. This is designed to be a head-to-head game, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do 1-v-1 as I had hoped due to the nature of a couple of the puzzles, so instead we did both sides…one after another. I think this is fairly unique – most head-to-head rooms tend to be mirror copies of one another, but in ‘convicts’ the two sides were similar, with a couple of the same mechanisms used for a different puzzle, but different in a lot of ways. We didn’t feel like we were repeating ourselves at all when we were into the second half – we were still experiencing new things and having to think how to solve certain puzzles. This was also a fairly unique aspect – rather than playing one side through, then the other, the first half lead to the second half before leading to the common final room.
Once more, this room does a fantastic job of feeling big and spacious, when actually it covers any space at all. This was partly achieved via the small rooms packed with puzzles, but also the method of moving between rooms – tunnels. These were great fun for us, but I can see this being a real issue for anyone with mobility issues or spacial concerns. However, I thought it was a really novel idea that meant the rooms themselves could capitalise on more space, and surprise you with your route to the next step.
This room was definitely harder than the last, and we were stuck a few times. There were more puzzles, which were a little trickier but this also meant they were more interesting. Once again, everything was themed really well, and there was less linearity at the start.
We escaped in 61 minutes – I believe we had 90mins available as we were playing both rooms. Technical issues hampered the ending slightly, but this is easily forgiven and explained by a very quick turn around to get us in early after the previous team had finished.
Overall, I’d probably still recommend ‘SOS’ over ‘Convicts’ for the novelty aspect, but why not do both?!
Vision: Convicts starts in the dark, with near to no light until you complete the first puzzle. There are also a couple of puzzles that are done in low lighting, and one requiring colour recognition. SOS is a little dim, due to the nature of the room.
Sound: Hints are delivered via a speaker, so there will need to be someone who is able to hear to utilise this. There is an audio puzzle in SOS, and a puzzle requiring communication between two (or more) teammates in Convicts.
Physical: This may be one of the least accessible rooms I’ve done! The spaces are very small – it felt crowded at times for even two of us. I could see it easily becoming too cramped and warm with more! There was climbing required for all teammates in both rooms, as well as crawling required for Convicts (for all teammates). Convicts also starts with very low headroom (I am 5ft3 and had to crouch to start), and to access and exit both rooms you need to climb up/down ladders. I would advise against doing this room if you have claustrophobia, mobility issues, or are unable to fit into small spaces for any other reason.
Location and overall verdict
The location was fairly easy to get to from central Dublin, although we got a bit lost trying to find the boat itself (both
Google and Apple Maps were sending us to the wrong part of the canal). It is based just over the bridge from a handy Caffè Nero and independent cafe, which also have toilets for use.
I think this was a fantastic pair of rooms, clearly designed and ran by people who care. Our GM was really friendly and welcoming, and did a great job of hosting us. We had a lot of fun, and I highly recommend you visit if you are going to Dublin! I am also awarding this our ‘Wow award’ as a I think what they’ve created for both room is very unique and innovative!
SOS and Convicts can be booked on the Escape Boats website here
The Escape Room Adventures take you on a journey of discovery as you puzzle your way through the gameplay and unlock the many secrets within. The easiest room is Mutiny, our pirate-themed room, which is ideal for beginners, families, or a group with mixed experience. Our most challenging adventure room is Nethercott Manor – our haunted manor, which is a fast-paced challenge. We would recommend Dodge City, The Outfitters & our newest room SpellCraft for teams that have some previous escape room experience.
Date Played: December 2022 Number of Players: 5 Time Taken: ~40 Minutes each Difficulty: Expert!
Tulley’s gained its reputation for being one of the best companies in the country a few years ago and has managed to retain it when many others failed to move with the times, or unfortunately closed due to the pandemic. It had long been on my to-do list, but I had been prevented from trying any of their 5 games for a number of factors – namely location, cost, and the necessity to have an expert team to even attempt the rooms!
Luckily for me, the stars aligned at Christmas (well, boxing day) last year – my parter was gifted the day as part of a brand deal, my mum happened to be visiting us (as it was Christmas) and had a car, making transport that much easier, and I had confirmed the availability of the final two members to make us up to a team of 5 experienced players! It may not have been most people’s choice for how to spend their boxing day, but for us it was magical…
Tulley’s has 5 rooms, ranging in theme and complexity, so this is really going to be a whistlestop tour! I also want to highlight their amazing GMs who looked after us throughout the day – Adam, Dan, Ellie, Ed, Jamie, and Tyler – and of course their boss – Sooty the cat.
Dodge City in 2127 remains a stronghold of the wild west. The constant tussle between the Sheriff and local gunslingers means there’s opportunity abound for some creative bank robbery for those with wits and courage. As a member of the Notorious ‘Barn Door’ Gang you’ve been caught by the local sheriff breaking into the bank. Locked away with little hope, hired by an unnamed outlaw and facing the ruthless justice of the old west you’re left with only one option. As the sun sets the race is on to break out, reclaim your supplies, pull off the bank job of the century and get out of Dodge City.
Dodge City was our first room…and one of their hardest! Immediately on entering it’s obvious how Tulley’s have earned their reputation – the set design is amazing and extremely immersive, and there are surprises throughout the game. Even as a hardened spotter of fake doors and moving bookshelves, I soon gave up trying to anticipate what was coming next.
This room started with one of my favorite tropes – being separated! We were placed in separate cells, and this obviously required good communication from our newly assembled team, as well as a neat form of contact between us. We then progressed to all things cowboy and outlaw related. I don’t want to give away too much, but the set design and theming were amazing and definitely felt like you were progressing through Dodge City as you progressed through the room. There was only one point in which we were truly stuck, and this was largely due to a breakdown in communication and confusion over who a hint was intended for. Otherwise, this room was one of the most fun rooms we did all day, with some unique puzzles I’ve not seen before (or seen used in a different way), really appealing to different skills. As a team of 5, we only made it out with 4 minutes to spare, which was a great way to get the adrenaline going for the rest of the day!
It’s 1926 here in Chicago, and depression is still rife. Jobs are few and far between and the Prohibition has been in force for six years now. Everyone still drinks, nothin’ has changed. But now the mob control the streets, the supply and the money. The influence of the Outfit is far-reaching. Most of the cops are even under their control. Who can put them in the joint? You can, that’s who. The Commissioner has put together a special task force of straight, trusted cops and you’re on the team. You’ve spent the last few months infiltrating their network and now tonight is the night to get the evidence you need to put them away forever. But it won’t be easy, your cover might be blown! Do you have what it takes?
The natural progression from ‘cowboy’ is ‘mobster’, right? We moved almost straight from the Wild West into a mafia front in Chicago. We entered into an unassuming tailors shop, before discovering all was not what it seemed… The use of space at Tulley’s continued to be a lovely surprise, although the set felt a little more tired and rough around the edges in this room. That’s not to say it wasn’t good though – hidden information was the name of the game for Outfitters (what more could you expect from Gangsters), with themed puzzles and ’20s mechanisms running the room.
In this room, there were a few moments where mechanisms didn’t trigger or triggered when they shouldn’t have, and we were much less active than we had been in Dodge, with only a couple of us solving puzzles at a time. We managed to escape with a respectable 19mins remaining and an eagerness to sink our teeth into the next one (after lunch). Although this wasn’t a bad room, I’d say it was fairly average, and if this was the only room we’d done…I would have been disappointed.
The SpellCraft twins, Evilinda & Spellinda, two witches, two paths, two shops, two worlds, two journeys, their two magical worlds collide, and you find yourself in the middle of their story. SpellCraft will take you on a magical adventure, you’ll need to work together, but in the end there’s always a battle, will you escape and who will win?
Our next room was the newest room at Tulley’s, and the room that has quickly become a favourite of most players (myself included) – Spellcraft! When I first heard it was a magic-themed room my reaction was probably similar to many other enthusiasts – “not another one!”, “How is this going to be any different from all the other magic rooms?” , “why do people love this so much? What’s so good about magic?”
However, it was unlike any magic room I’ve done before, and has truly earned its place at the top of many lists. Firstly, you can tell from the waiting area that the set and story are going to be completely different from any other magic room. There are no “wizard school” or 4 “magical houses” that happen to be primary colours…
Instead, we were once more split into teams – this time “good” and “evil” – and given wands, which stayed with us and were used throughout the game. We were also given cauldrons to collect/carry things with us, which was a nice touch I’ve not experienced anywhere else. Inside the room, the set design was once more delightful and surprising. The set is huge, but of course, you don’t realise this at first. However, there is a truly magical mechanism within the room and we were transported again and again to extremely different settings and places. There were a lot of fun puzzles here too – some familiar, others less so, and the climax of the room brings together the two teams in a fierce battle of good and evil, which we obviously won.
Overall, while I can’t remember (or didn’t see) quite a few of the puzzles the experience itself blew me out of the water with the magic and joy I felt. As a team of 5, we escaped with 16 minutes remaining, and I enjoyed every second. This is an amazing room, one of the best in the country I’d say, and makes me excited to see what they do next.
It’s the year of our Lord 1672, and you be right in the height o’ the golden age o’ piracy… After years of sailin’ the high seas, you and your crew have succeeded in your fair share of ambushes, and as a result – your ship is teemin’ with bounty. Yet you’re still suffering beneath the cruel wrath o’ Captain Starling – a notoriously bloodthirsty buccaneer, and your shipmates have decided you all shall take matters into your own hands. After all… you fought for the gold, so the gold is yours for the taking, aye? Once the old seadog has retreated to his berth for the night, you make your move. Get in, get the treasure and get out. You won’t have long before he starts to stir – and Starling shows no mercy to ANY soul…
After that amazing experience we needed to calm down a little, so found ourselves upon a ship in the easiest room. This was again misleading – although our initial perception was that of every other pirate game I’ve played (as we solved it as such, by guessing digits in combination locks and skipping steps), once we were out of the cabin we had clearly been played.
As you might expect for a ship, this game required more physicality than others, but these were more to reveal/solve puzzles than being the puzzle itself. There was one particularly unique feature of this room, which was fun to build and use, but otherwise, this was your average pirate room, just more polished and better executed. Ultimately we escaped with 22 mins left, and we had fun doing so, but we were looking forwards to the final room.
The old manor house is entwined with local legend, the living don’t remember the Nethercott’s, the family’s hay day was long ago. Local folk talked, whispers were heard, rumours began, lights were seen within. The Nethercott’s are long gone but something remains, an essence, a smell, a feeling, it’s in the fabric, in the walls, under the floor boards … it ticks, it creeks … take a trip into the past, uncover the family’s many secrets and glimpse their fleeting souls?
Finally, the room that put Tulley’s on the map (for me at least) – their largest and hardest (I think), as I didn’t even see half of the room – more like 1/3! It was also the one I was most nervous before, being a massive wimp and this being a haunted house. Nevertheless, I couldn’t pass the experience up, so I steeled myself and forged ahead.
The atmosphere is obvious from the start, finding ourselves outside the front door of an abandoned house, with an atmospheric soundtrack doing nothing to ease my nerves. The immediate puzzles were fairly easy, clearly luring us into a false sense of security before we entered the manor itself. Once inside, the set is appropriately dimly lit (until you’re able to find the fuse box at least), with many old-fashioned items of decor and themed puzzles attached. This is also when you get your first taste of the spirits that haunt the house, and it became clear that I was an easy mark for the GM.
For those of you of a similar disposition to me, I will just reassure you that nothing physically jumps out at you, but there are a lot of loud noises, which the GM can, and will, trigger whenever they feel like – especially if you are an obvious target stood next to the item in question.
This first room had the most frustrating puzzle I’ve seen in any room…ever. We found out afterwards that even the GMs will struggle to complete it, so usually, they take pity on the players and allow them to bypass it (ourselves included). Usually, this type of time sink would annoy me, especially in a room as large as this, but we actually addressed most of the room at the same time as this ‘puzzle’, and the GM clearly knew the right time to give us a nudge that gave us a chance of solving it, without feeling frustrated.
From this point, we barely saw each of our teammates again until close to the end of the room. I found myself with my mum solving a series of logic puzzles while being terrorised by the GM ghost. We also encountered a smell test, which worked well given we were in the kitchen. From what we saw afterwards, our teammates were working through similarly well-themed puzzles for their respective rooms, across a large variety of skills.
The final puzzles were once more of the deductive style (my favourite), before quite a fun/creepy ending (depending on your perspective). We managed to escape with 9.34 left, which is quite an achievement given they used to sell this as an 80-minute room, and I know many people who didn’t manage to escape! This was definitely a great way to end the day, and almost my favourite room.
The team at Tulley’s were fantastic, and the rooms were large and immersive, while still delivering high quality puzzles. We appreciated the drink offerings, and usually they serve food on the farm too. The introduction videos are also worth mentioning – very entertaining, and slightly unhinged, but they weave into an overall lore, which I’ve only seen a handful of other rooms do as effectively.
This is definitely a must-visit for any enthusiast. Although we could award this nearly all of our badges, we definitely think they’re most deserving of our “I believe” badge, for just how immersive and expansive their rooms were.
Audio – nearly all the rooms require some form of communication between players. Spellcraft, Nethercott and Dodge also featured audio puzzles/prompts, although not everyone will need to do these.
Vision – Nethercott, Mutiny and Outfitters all had fairly low lighting at points. Dodge required a small amount of colour identification, as did Nethercott and Outfitters.
Smell – Nethercott has a smell puzzle!
Spatial – In Dodge you start in a small cell, so if you have issues with space I recommend being the only person in yours. There are also some small spaces in Nethercott, Outfitters, Mutiny and Spellcraft, but none require all team members to enter. There are some smoke effects in Spellcraft, as well as Nethercott.
These rooms can be booked on the Tulleys website here
Prophecies Quest Review | As the last hope for the magical world you must collect The Prophecies and use them before it’s too late. The Dark Lord has hidden The Prophesies so you must find them in The Department Of Mysteries before using them to defeat him. You need to hurry, The Dark Lord is on his way and only you can stop him.
Completion Time: 32 minutes (out of a possible 50) Date Played: January 2023 Party Size: 4 Difficulty: Easy
Having moved to Edinburgh a little over 6 months ago, you’d have thought I’d have played all of the rooms here by now? Well, not quite. There are a few that have been on my radar that I’ve been saving for a special occasion. Department of Magic was just one of those places, and the occasion of two of our loveliest escape room friends from home in London coming up for a weekend to visit was just the ticket to finally book it.
Sandwiched between the potion mixing cocktail experience at the bar portion of Department of Magic, and a trip round the corner to Cocktail Geeks (currently running a Lord of the Rings themed experience), we had an hour to spend. Without haste, we got ourselves booked into to play the more popular of the two games at this hidden wizard-themed speakeasy: Prophecies Quest.
Wands at the ready, witches and wizards…
Let the Magic Begin!
If you think of Edinburgh escape rooms, the chances are Department of Magic isn’t on your radar. But let me tell you why it should be. Located a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle is a mysterious little black door located at the bottom of a little rickety iron staircase. Behind this door is a tavern lifted straight of a storybook. The walls are lined with peculiar magic trinkets, and on each table is a gaggle of magicians brewing the most brightly coloured, bubbling, fizzing and smoking potions- I mean, cocktails.
This is the Department of Magic. It’s best known for it’s ‘pub’ portion. With advance booking, you can grab a table for normal drinks, or one of their special brew-your-own potions, which are fairly reasonably priced for how exciting they ended up being. We did book ourselves into one of their sessions in advance, but it ended up being about the same price as if we’d have just booked for a normal table and ordered off the menu. But in truth, we weren’t really here for the cocktails… We were here foe the escape room out the back.
When your game session begins, a mysterious wizard in a long dark cloak approaches you and asks if you’re the chosen ones here to save the world.
“Yessir!” we exclaimed, before following her through the door in the back and into the briefing area.
Fortune Favours the… Wise!
Before entering the escape room, we allocated a captain, and that captain looked at four great wizarding traits – Wisdom, Bravery, Cunning, and… Well, I forgot the fourth one, as people often do. We chose wisdom, and were given a special item for it, which would come into use later.
Them, in a flurry of magic, the bookcase swung open and we were off to a flying start!
Prophecies Quest is an unusual escape room for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a multi-room experience, but you have full run of the area. You don’t need to complete any particular room in order. Secondly, there are no locks. Everything is done with magic. Impressive – but probably a lot of work for our games master listening out for us saying the exact correct spell, or performing the exact correct action!
Beyond those two details, the room was your standard magical room. Players can expect potions, spell casting, dragons, dark wizards, the whole shebang. Just like in a pirate room I hope to see treasure maps and chests and the odd skull here and there, by now we’re familiar with rooms set in the wizarding world, and Prophecies Quest was a classic, well executed example. Notably, one that took good care not to tread too heavily on any particular well known IP. Kudos to them!
A celebratory drink for afterwards!
A Spellbinding Escape?
The room’s uniqueness was also it’s strength. We were very, very fast out of the room (almost record breaking in fact, there were just a few seconds in it), but I think on reflection it wasn’t really a room designed for competitive folk trying to break a record. It was a room all about fun. And on that note, it succeeded.
I absolutely love rooms that make you hop around on one foot and hum your favourite song, or make you flap around like chickens and crouch down on all fours. I love rooms that make you roleplay what you’re actually doing, so that you live and breathe and feel what you’re doing. Prophecies Quest did that really well, and it’s a shame it’s an 18+ room (well, the whole venue is) because this would be an excellent one for families.
Ultimately, this escape room is best played between a round of cocktails. I would expect 99% of players to go into this room having just come from the bar, so none of the puzzles are incredibly puzzling. Many of them require physical actions and working together in a silly way. So whilst it won’t necessarily challenge the most hardcore escapers, it will encourage you to have fun, and that’s a double thumbs up from me.
Well worth visiting! I’m surprised Department of Magic isn’t more popular. Not that it isn’t, just that I hadn’t heard any other enthusiasts recommend it on a visit to Edinburgh – but I want to change that right here and now. Add Department of Magic onto your trip, and for extra fun, book yourself in for their cocktail brewing experience for a perfect, photo finish to your evening.
Finally, a shout out to our host for the escape room, who was the fantastic Hannah. She let us know that she usually runs their other room (which we’ll definitely be returning to play), but today she ran our room instead and never once broke character, providing fantastic help, encouragement, and a thorough brief and debrief after. Escape rooms can sink or swim by their team’s hosting ability, and Hannah did a superb job!
Compendium UI-55 Review | A German U-boat named UI-55 was found in the river Thames. Have you and your team got what it takes to sneak aboard and retrieve all of Britain’s wealth before the German soldier’s return?
Date Played: March 2022 Number of Players: 2 Time Taken: ~50 Minutes Difficulty: Expert!
When we were planning our mini-break to the North we chose Manchester due to the escape rooms. I had heard such fantastic things about UI-55 that it was a bit of a no-brainer. This room has actually won multiple awards, and (spoiler alert) is one of the few rooms I’ve done that I think is well deserving of the hype!
All Aboard UI-55!
The premise of UI-55 is that you have discovered a German U-boat, hoarding plenty of British treasure, and you only have an hour to recover as much as possible. The first thing you’ll realise upon ‘boarding’ is just how massive this room is. For context, it fills an entire floor and is apparently the size of two normal escape rooms put together! However, if you’re worried that this looks like a big rectangle, don’t be! It’s very much structured as a submarine, with long corridors and windy passageways to traverse. I loved the general size, and the attention to detail in that every nook and cranny reads as ‘submarine’. I had great fun running up and down, as the puzzles absolutely cover the space, and you will need to get elements from each area to complete some.
The other thing to be aware of is the sheer amount of puzzles, especially given the 60-minute time. In a normal room, you might expect to complete 10-15. Here there are nearly 30 to complete alone, which each give you a task to complete and then a key to use to retrieve some loot (depending how quickly you locate the right locker). Luckily, you don’t need to complete all of the puzzles – from memory, you only need to complete 21 within the time, with a very clear (and very fun) indication of when you should really move into the final phase of the room (the loot grabbing).
As you might expect in a room with such a large variety of puzzles, they are all completely different with a fantastic variety. If one puzzle isn’t your forte (*side eyes the dexterity puzzle*) that’s ok! There is always another puzzle to do instead. Some of these puzzles are available upfront, some require you to complete others to gain the materials you need. It’s fairly obvious which bits go with which puzzles, and what you need to do. There are also clues scattered all over the place in the decor, and even some answers which are available to you right from the start! Completing a puzzle gives you a code, which you use to get some tokens, which are then used to gain keys, which are then used to unlock lockers. Luckily, as a duo the ‘gaining keys’ stage can be skipped, as I can see that this would take quite a bit of time, and personally, I feel is a step too far for any team.
I can only remember what a few of the puzzles were in the game, as I was very much running around like a headless chicken, completing one puzzle and then moving on, but I know I’d love to redo the room just to have the same experience again! I also know I only saw around half the puzzles, with my mum clearing half the sub by herself and me clearing the other half. If you or your teammates are the sorts of people who want to know what everyone has done so far or how they’ve reached their conclusions…this is not the room for you. We had to trust that we each had a grip on what we were doing and that we would call for help if needed, or if there was a puzzle we couldn’t figure out. Even when it came to the co-op puzzles we were so aware of the time we just trusted each other’s instincts, and if we ever found objects we weren’t sure of we checked in with each other to see if they had an idea. Honestly, it’s probably the best teamwork we’ve ever had as we didn’t have time to argue!
Normally I would talk about flow, but honestly here there is so much to do in so little time we were never stuck, bored or frustrated. The team are so slick with their clues too – they know exactly when to give us a nudge, what sort of nudge we needed and clearly could tell what we were each working on.
This room is also an example of my favourite type of room – the type where you don’t need to 100% complete it, but if you have the time and skill you can. This meant we were determined to grab all the loot, so really pushed the time at the end to get all the lockers unlocked and money in the bags.
I could go on and on about this room, but it’s honestly the best room I’ve ever played, and I could easily go and replay it (especially as I know there are a lot of puzzles I didn’t even see the first time!).
As I mentioned in my previous review for the other Compendium rooms, there are some steep stairs to reach the room. However, there are chairs to sit on inside the room itself. It’s a bit dim in places, with lots of reading and colour requirements. There are a couple of puzzles requiring hearing, and some requiring dexterity. No crawling in this one though! You should also be fine if you’re concerned about claustrophobia, as although this was set on a submarine it was actually pretty spacious.
This is a short review because the verdict is simple. This is a must-play room, and we are awarding it our highest award; The Badge of Honour.
I’ve played many of the top rooms in the TERPECA and ‘Escape the review’ lists, but this is hands down my favourite. It’s going to be a long time before this gets knocked out of number one for me!
The Curiosity Room London Review | Sparking curiosity from the start, guests embark on the adventure immediately upon entry to the room. The entire room is a puzzle box waiting to be solved. Puzzle elements have been seamlessly hidden within the décor; solving them all will lead guests to a grand finale and series of surprises and rewards. The puzzles have also been customized to the three destinations, featuring and celebrating local landmarks, culture, and more. Guests will uncover hidden messages, hunt for puzzle pieces, and experience elements of the room in unexpected and delightful ways. The room’s Curiosity Journal serves as the guide and connection to the one-of-a-kind in-room journey, with hints available in case guests need a helpful hand. When the final challenge has been completed, guests receive a certificate of completion and can celebrate with a complimentary dessert in the hotel’s restaurant.
Completion Time: 1 hour Date Played: 2nd October 2022 Party Size: 6 Difficulty: Easy
As escape room enthusiasts we often travel to experience the escape room scene in other cities. Escape rooms and travel go hand in hand… So its surprising that no one had really capitalised on this until TED teamed up with Marriott Hotels to bring a unique escape room twist to their hotel rooms. “The Curiosity Room” is the first of these experiences, a collaboration of immersive experience and physical, in-person hotels and is popping up at the Marriott Hotels in San Francisco, Bangkok and right here in London. We couldn’t wait to try it!
Our First Impressions of the Curiosity Room
When we arrived it was very clearly the 5-star service you would expect from London Marriott Hotel County Hall. The staff were all very polite and welcoming, and once we entered the room it was so immaculate and beautiful. The initial starting point was immediately obvious, in a very tantalising way, so we were soon off searching the room for further clues and admiring the beauty within.
TED X Marriott on Puzzles
In terms of puzzles, those in The Curiosity Room were quite linear, but this worked fairly well given this is very much a self-guided room. Clues were given via a journal and a web page, which provided an increasing level scale of hints until finally giving the answer. We found many ‘wow’ moments throughout but often realized we had come to a puzzle too early, so put it back until that point arose.
For traditional escape room players, this was one of the slight negatives in the room. All escape room players know how to search for clues, but this proved detrimental here (despite the first puzzle requiring you to search), as often it meant jumping ahead, potentially confusing the story or ruining the surprise of a later puzzle.
That said, many of the puzzles themselves were actually quite unique and exciting to discover. There weren’t too many jumps in logic, and even as a team of experienced players we still found ourselves excited by many of the techniques used. It was certainly more puzzle-y than I had anticipated going in, which was a bonus! They clearly put a lot of thought and passion into these puzzles, which were all varied and interesting; mixing physical, hands-on puzzles with wordy brainteasers. The fact this room isn’t timed is also a nice touchs – we were able to slow down and really enjoy each puzzle together as a team. This will also appeal to families staying in the room, as many of the puzzles used physical elements to trigger/solve the puzzles.
A ‘Hotel’ly New Escape Room
In terms of the room itself, The Curiosity Room is first and foremost a room to stay in. It was beautifully decorated with a large mural of London (by artist Caleb Morris) on the wall, which was a nice touch to the theming and almost outshone the amazing view from the window. The use of space was really well thought out, although the puzzles were largely contained to the sleeping area. It may have been nice to see the puzzles extend to more of the physical space. But we understand the physical limitations.
On the other hand, we felt that although it’s called ‘The Curiosity Room’ there weren’t that many elements that played with this theme. There were a few books about London and one or two puzzles which might have been fun for younger players to figure out, but otherwise not too many things that taught us new things or sparked our curiosity about London itself.
A Note on Technical Issues
In our particular playthrough, there were some technical issues which stopped us for over an hour. Not the worst thing in the world, as we enjoyed the opportunity to simply relax on the very comfy beds and have a chat to each other while the staff fixed those issues. But in general, technical issues like the ones we experienced do hamper an escape room’s flow.
As we were amongst the first teams to play the room, it’s not surprising that there were issues or that it took time for them to be fixed. We imagine, or rather we hope it will be much smoother in the future!
When everything did work the technical elements were impressive and would have thrown up some sweet little surprises if our mechanical issues hadn’t pre-empted them. Teething issues aside, we think it’s clearly a high-quality room and high-quality production.
The Curiosity Room: The Verdict
Before discussing the verdict of the room, we need to mention the elephant in the room. The price, which will likely be the biggest barrier for any escape room enthusiasts interested in playing. One night at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall is a minimum of £405, and I believe you have to book this room for at least 2 nights. It does sleep 4 (and it’s a very high-quality room with a glorious London view), but that’s obviously quite a bit of commitment, especially as you can’t pay to play the game element of the room alone. To reiterate, you do have to book to stay overnight in order to experience The Curiosity Room.
If you remove the price element, this was a really fun and special room. The Curiosity Room is targeted at families, so the level of puzzling isn’t overly challenging but the combination of quirky interactions with the room itself and some lovely ‘wow’ moments it’s definitely a great overall experience. And if you’re an escape room player with a sweet tooth there’s an added attraction. Solve the puzzles and you’ll win a sharing dessert from the London Marriott Hotel County Hall’s restaurant, Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar, where you can also indulge in locally sourced steaks and, if all that puzzling has left you with a thirst, choose from over 100 gins.
If you were considering staying somewhere for a similar budget anyway then we’d definitely recommend this. Similarly, we would recommend checking it out if they ever opened any slots for just the escape room alone, but otherwise, I count myself lucky that I had a chance to play!
A few months ago, I completed the DecodeXP teambuilding day with my workplace. Throughout the day I spent quite a bit of time discussing all things escape rooms with Jamie and had such interesting discussions I knew I had to interview him! It took a few months, but we managed to grab a coffee together and he gave me a chance to pick his brains.
Hey Jamie! Great to see you again. One of the things that struck me before was your interesting background. Could you remind me about it?
I was an army officer for about six years, and I still do some things with the reserves. When I was about 25 a group of us took a trip to Budapest and we did three or four more advanced escape rooms there. It made me realise three things – firstly, the complexity of the build in Budapest was way ahead of what there was in Europe at the time, which meant there was the opportunity for the tech to be used better in the UK. Second, we picked up on the fact that the team in the escape room really reflected what we were like in real life, and I was especially interested in the dominant and less dominant characteristics coming out in that environment. Finally, the time you’re in an escape room is completely unique and personal to you, which is an incredibly powerful time that has relevance in the corporate and business world. Earning a free sample or a team photo, rather than buying it or just being handed it, is a massively profound change on the way you think about that.
Long story short we decided to test these theories and we created the first room in the UK to be built in a shipping container! It was 40ft long, called “Heist”, and it allowed us to learn how to build experiences. From there, we kind of wanted to focus on not just commercial experiences, but whether we could get brands to offer this to their people as a retention or internal marketing strategy. We tested this with Dyson, who was our first big client, and I worked with their engineers to build a room harnessing different bits of Dyson technology.
There’s a really cool YouTube video you can watch here!
I saw the video of that! I think it was amazing how you worked the Dyson technology in, and I think it was Dyson’s most popular social media campaign that year? That was pre-covid though – I imagine the pandemic affected your business quite a bit?
Yeah, during Covid we obviously couldn’t run these in-person rooms anymore, but it gave us the time to focus on creating DecodeXP. We took the best we could find in the industry and the army and brought this team of behavioural analysts together to create a product we knew would be valuable once we came out of Covid.
Your experiences are always unique. Do you have a philosophy or method for designing your rooms?
We’re continually iterating on how to make problem-solving a learned skill, rather than just something we do day-to-day but don’t practice. We basically want to focus on the needs of the client first; understanding that and then developing the experience afterwards, which is a bit different from how others maybe do it. Our Samsung room was a great example of this – the initial brief mentioned that it was for an influencer campaign, but it was only after spending time talking to Samsung that we realised the intention was to livestream the room, which meant we wanted to have lots of puzzles which were quick and easy to solve (no one wants to watch someone sat there thinking for a while), and make sure there were lots of flashy effects and wow moments that would look great on camera and make great content.
Of all the experiences you’ve created, what is the most fun or satisfying puzzle you created?
We’re about to launch an escape in the Aviation Gin distillery, which I think is unbelievable. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Ryan Reynolds, but the marketing agency had a very clear vision which we’ve replicated in the escape room. There are some really fun things in that room, like having to make a cocktail. It’s definitely the most satisfied I’ve been with a room.
Assuming you enjoy escape rooms yourself, what is your favourite trope to see?
The element of surprise. Anyone who has done a few rooms realises there’s an element of continuity, so anytime I’m genuinely surprised by an outcome it’s really cool. There are some great moments in the latest ClueQuest room that kind of completely flip what it is to be an escape room on its head. I think that’s the next stage for more traditional escape rooms – finding ways to break off the narrative. There’s a need to continually innovate now, especially in bigger towns and cities.
What would be your dream escape room to play, and what would be your dream room to design/build?
Before Covid we were talking to Darren Brown for a while. I’m also a fan of how immersive ‘The Crystal Maze’ experience is and the way the actor and set are used there. I think there’s a market for an escape room that offers multiple endings, that you can do more than once as an individual and have different outcomes. We’ve got some rough designs for this already, but I’d need to get funding for it.
Do you find there’s much difference between UK and US rooms?
I think we’re probably still slightly behind America. In America, some of the rooms we did were just next level. Not necessarily in terms of puzzles or narrative, but in terms of set design. The stuff that these guys do is awesome and really immersive. There’s no need for reliance on padlocks anymore – you can get electronic locks and even full puzzles fairly cheaply, so there’s not really any excuse anymore.
What about theme? Is there one theme you haven’t seen that you think is being missed/slept on?
I’ve not yet done a space-based room, certainly in the UK, that I can look back on and go “That was really, really cool.” So maybe a cool space room.
(We here at The Escape Roomer recommend Spacescape at Ctrl, Alt Escape. We’ve also heard there’s a new space room at Co-Decode, and although we haven’t done it their other rooms are great!)
What’s your favourite room you’ve done? Or what is a room you’d recommend?
I hate this question! I always recommend ClueQuest – they’re the only rooms I’ve done in London that have the same standard as I see elsewhere. Other rooms I’ve done in London have unique narratives but are let down by the puzzles. Galactic Warriors in Prague was unbelievable and was probably the most immersed I’ve been.
When it comes to building puzzles, is it always solution first, or do you sometimes immediately know what you want to do?
I think we always have immediate inspiration about the types of puzzles we’re going to use, but there’s a lot to be said for not pre-empting what we’re going to design. Sometimes companies already have ideas, and then we have to explain why they won’t necessary work which obviously isn’t a great foot to start on. We spend a while in the workshop and have a relatively similar structure each time, where we try to understand what the client wants and then sometimes the solution presents itself, rather than needing us to engineer it. Often requirements like certain functionality or results, or time and budget, quite quickly narrows down the options.
After running so many sessions you must have some great stories! Anything you can share?
I think we’ve had a few storm outs. I think people tend to see it as a challenge of their cognitive ability, which it really isn’t – none of the puzzles are that complex, and they’re more designed to generate teamwork, or see where the natural teamwork comes to the fore. Often, we have people inadvertently leaning against clues or completely missing something. I’m a terrible watcher though – it’s hard not to jump in and I have to force myself to be more passive. It’s also interesting seeing how a room of officer cadets might behave versus a team of accountants. The more rooms we do, the more data we get, so we’re redesigning the programme to focus more on different types of puzzles solving, so moving the escape room to later in the day and focusing on individual puzzles and escape room boxes to start with.
Has there ever been a case where someone has behaved completely differently in an escape room than you thought they would be, or afterwards seemed completely different?
We actually ran a session where my ears pricked up because one of the girls in the room had found the perfect solution but just as she was speaking someone else spoke directly over her and said “we need to go and do this”, so I started a stopwatch. They carried on and around 18 minutes later they got back together and said “we can’t solve this puzzle”, to which the girl said “yeah, here’s the solution”, and I paused the stopwatch. In the debrief session (which we always do after a room) we pointed out that she’d had the answer way before and that it had cost them 18 minutes. That sort of thing is fine in an escape room context, but you take that into a meeting room – how many times have you seen someone’s idea in a meeting spoken over and ignored? What if that’s the idea that gets you to the solution?
What’s the spark that keeps you going? What do you really love doing?
Such a good question. I really like the creative phase. I’m really selfish and like the fun bits. My brother Sam, our Operations Manager, very much deals with delivering the product, the setup, making sure the right staff are there and that everything actually works. I’m not very good at that bit, but I like taking a new concept and working out how to get to there. That’s the bit that I really enjoy.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I’d probably still be with the army, or like a manager or consultant. I don’t know – maybe I’d start another business. I like the idea of getting up and being accountable for what I do each day, and if we have a good sales meeting we go out for a nice meal, and if we have a month of bad meetings we go to McDonalds. It’s kind of fun and a more interesting way of doing our day-to-day. We’re lucky – we work with some really cool clients, on numerous different projects, and the longer we keep going the easier it gets from that side.
Who’s been your favourite client?
It has to be Dyson. We were just two guys with a shipping container and they trusted us with this massive campus and project, despite not really knowing how we were going to do it. We got to work with their comms teams, and my fondest memory has to be explaining how to engineer a puzzle to a room of 200 Dyson engineers!
What’s next for DecodeXP/Challenger escapes?
For DecodeXP we’re about to launch residentials – 48 hour-long, more immersive experiences that really test people and take them out of their comfort zones.
For Challenger escapes we’re working on a big project which I can’t talk about yet, as well as launching a video game room at ComicCon and the Aviation Gin room that I mentioned before. We’re also expanding our work with Savilles to do more building-based rooms in the next six months. I don’t know what else we’ll do, but we’ll keep going!
Extremescape: Viking Review | You have entered the Kingdom of the Viking Gods & you are sat in the House of Thor. In an attempt to prevent Thor’s succession to the throne of Asgard, Lowki, Thor’s menacing brother, has stolen & trapped Thor’s weapon in the golden rings of Aesir. The ice giants have got word of this, and they know Thor is helpless to protect the human race without his enchanted war-hammer. The giants are on their way, their mission to defeat Thor and destroy earth. You must find the Gods and return them to Asgard as they will help you in your quest. You must find the thunder hammer and put it in the sacred place to create a storm like no-one has seen before. You must release Thor’s Hammer from the golden rings and return it to Thrudheim where it belongs
Date Played: 24th March 2022 Number of Players: 2 Time Taken: ~50 Minutes Difficulty: Medium
After a hearty lunch in the sunny countryside air, we returned feeling invigorated for our final game of the day. The Viking room is the most recent addition for Extremescape, and you can definitely tell in the step up from the previous two. It’s also so impressive, given just how much they’ve used the space!
Welcome to Valhalla
Walking into the room definitely feels like walking into a medieval feast hall, with a large wooden table and benches lined with furs. The whole room is within this single room, and it’s amazing just how much they manage to fit in. There are many hidden elements in this room, and I was surprised by almost all of them. It’s honestly amazing how seamlessly they’ve integrated quite large surprises into such a small space, and it’s clear they’ve paid just as much attention to set design and how it drives the story as the puzzles themselves. I also loved how Norse this room was – there was no Marvel cheese here, just good old-fashioned Vikings.
Watch out Loki
The puzzles in this room were just as subtle and intriguing as in the other rooms. Although we tackled them fairly linearly, there were enough clues to be finding that we didn’t feel chained together or hindered. The puzzles themselves were all fun to figure out, and definitely felt like Norse puzzles – most were centered around riddle-style/deduction puzzles, which are my personal favourite. We also had no idea what was coming next on more than one occasion, but this added to the excitement! It’s not often that you’re unsure what a puzzle will open, but this room handled it beautifully.
The finale stage itself was also spectacular and so unexpected. Extremescape have done an amazing job of incorporating effects into the room in a way that feels very natural and adds just the right amount of drama. They also introduce this ‘early’ enough that it really feels like a climax, but you have enough time (and gameplay) left to really enjoy it and make the most of it.
By Odin’s eye
The only negative I would say about this room is that it may not be the most accessible. There is a small step and low door into the room, and as the game play takes place within the room there isn’t a lot of space to manoeuver for a wheelchair user. There are plenty of spaces to sit, but there are puzzles and clues beneath knee level so at least one person will need to crawl. There is a minor physical element, so having at least one able-bodied teammate would be a good idea, as well as one point where someone will need to be within a slightly confined space.
For me, I found there were some sensory issues – there were points where the music was a bit too loud for my comfort, the light a little too dim, and room a little too warm. However, these are all minor issues that could be easily remedied (and in fact, they turned the volume down when I asked). If you have sensory issues I advise getting in touch ahead of time too.
In terms of puzzles, there were a few reliant on colour recognition, as well as being able to read something in slightly dim light.
Man the longboats
Overall we had a fantastic time, and the experience continued after we left the room. We spent quite a while talking to the owners and had plenty of cuddles with the resident dog (who is a rather large, but beautiful, Rottweiler-style boy). It’s obvious the passion that has gone into these rooms, and it’s well worth the visit.
Tenovus Virus Tinkerers Review | Do you have what it takes to be a Virus Tinkerer? Welcome to the Tenovus Cancer Care Research Labs. Dr Alan Parker has been conducting ground-breaking research in the field of fighting cancer. He’s managed to change the DNA of specific viruses and train them to attack cancer cells instead of healthy cells.Dr Parker is away at a conference. You arrive in the lab and realise the electricity had failed in the cleanroom and the backup battery, which powers the incubator has been running all weekend. It now has just 60 minutes of energy left, if it runs out of fuel the retrained viruses will deteriorate and fail.It’s down to you to gain access to the cleanroom and change the backup battery to the incubator before Dr Parker returns from the conference.
Completion Time: 54 minutes Date Played: 30th December 2018 Party Size: 5 Difficulty: Easy
Having completed most of the rooms in Cardiff by this point (barring those companies we refuse to return to), we were very excited to see a new company open, perfectly situated on the high street nearby 2/3 other companies.
As an independent company, rather than a franchise, we knew it could be hit and miss. However, I want to say now that it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had, and extremely well done. You can really see the owners’ passion in the design of the room, as well as their customer service and the whole experience. This has shot to the top of my list of the best rooms in Cardiff, and at the time was in my Top 10 of all-time experiences.
I believe the company have essentially rented a large, open space, and then built all the rooms by hand. Their handiwork is very impressive, and we wouldn’t have realised if we hadn’t been told!
For the set, they’ve worked with the room rather than against it. The theme of the room is a deadly virus (sound familiar?), but rather than lots of zombie tropes they instead created this from a science perspective. Given the room was designed (and played) before the pandemic, it seems the company are psychic! The set perfectly fits with the theme, and is excellently done. It isn’t crammed with lots of furniture or objects, and feels very clean and sleek. However, there are enough ‘props’ for it to feel realistic, and act as red herrings without being too frustrating. In a way, it felt like a snowflake – simple at first glance, but complex and beautiful when you look closer.
The room is not at all what you expect when you first enter, but for such a small space there is a lot to get you started. Admittedly one of the first puzzles was quite frustrating (technological issues), but once we were through the game really opens up. It is non-linear for the most part, and I believe there were different orders and methods for solving puzzles (which is extremely clever!). The hint system is a screen (YAY!), so it blends in unless you need it.
The puzzles themselves fit the theme perfectly and were an ideal level of variety and difficulty. We were a team of 5 experienced players, and we had a great time. However, I also think a team of new players would do just as well – there were no leaps of logic required, and the signposting through the room was very well done.
The only part of this game I disliked was the end. The goal of the room is to prevent the outbreak of a plague, so rather than ‘escaping’ you end by releasing the (hopeful) cure. I understand why it was done this way, but I always find these rooms can fall a little flat. That being said, what the ending lacked in drama it was made up for by the staff’s enthusiasm…
Outside the room
The staff were amazing. We had a really lovely chat with them prior to doing the room, where we were able to geek out about rooms we’d all done and how we found them. They were so welcoming and interested in what we were saying that we felt right at home. After the room we were able to discuss how we found it, things they’d noticed about how we played (and that they’d enjoyed seeing), and recommendations we had (very few). It was great to see they were genuinely invested in their room, and making sure their customers had a good time. It was refreshing to not feel pressured to get in and get out, and instead have the space to relax and take our time.
The ‘waiting room’ is a really nice touch too – lovely big sofas, food and drink and a really great atmosphere. I believe they have since added board games too, which I think is a nice touch.
Unfortunately, the room is situated up a flight of stairs with no lift, although the room itself is flat. There was nowhere in the room to sit down, but I’m sure they would be able to accommodate if required. The room itself was fairly spacious and felt pretty airy.
There is a color puzzle in the room, and a slow flashing light (the ‘plague alarm’ – like a slow siren). However, it’s not particularly bright and very easy to ignore.
Was it worth the money?
At only £12 a person for a group of 5, this far exceeded expectations. I believe the price is now £25pp, and I maintain that’s still a great price for such a fantastic experience, especially when you consider the customer service and overall vibe.
Honestly, this is so worth the visit if you’re in Cardiff. It is simple, and the theming may not be as amazing as some other companies in the same area, but it is the most enjoyable experience I’ve had.
If Space is the final frontier then Jet2Space is a full-frontal fictional frenzy. It’s 2199 and you and your game partner have made the mistake of buying the cheapest tickets to space on the market. Not long after takeoff, you’ll realize that WheezyJet have cut every corner on Flight 069.
Completion Time: 40 minutes Date Played: 3rd February 2022 Party Size: 2 Difficulty: Easy
If you’re anything like me you tend to save escape rooms until you have friends visiting, or until you can do them with someone who will really appreciate them, or even just feel a little bit of guilt in doing one as a pair. However, ClueAdventures has noticed this niche and created not one, but two two-player only games! I played their first game, “2 Tickets 2 Ride”, at least 3 years ago and it was great, so I was very excited when they announced ‘Jet 2 Space’! I did decide to save it for a special occasion, so moving flat seemed like as good a reason as any!
On a mission to Uranus
When we booked this room we didn’t realise we had actually booked a trip to space, although as this was with the budget space company “WheezyJet” we probably should’ve known what we were getting into. It doesn’t take long before things go wrong, and thanks to certain economies we were left in charge to figure out how to take control of the ship and find somewhere to land safely.
In general, the set was very tactile – there were lots of things to see, do and interact with – any areas that seemed shabby felt purposeful, and I was able to feel immersed in the experience. The decor of the room was a hybrid between an airplane cabin and a rocket ship, with plenty of easter eggs sprinkled about. If it isn’t obvious from the fact you are on flight 069 to Uranus, this game has quite a few adult themes, but I’d describe them as loving and silly, rather than trying to be actively dirty. They also have plenty of very geeky references spread everywhere in a similar style, making this the perfect mix of not knowing whether you’re about to be excited over a Sci-Fi reference, or groan over some sort of phallic pun.
Use the force…(or don’t)
We all know the first rule of escape rooms is that usually force is not required. The same applies to this room, although you are encouraged to “use THE force”…brain force that is!
*insert groans here*
Seriously though, I love the geeky aspect of this room, and it shines through everything they do. The puzzles in the room were all fairly simple and linear – following one after another – so the challenge came not from figuring out what the puzzle was, but from figuring out the solution (imagine a Suduko – you know what to do, but you still need to work to find the solution). Fortunately for us, there was an onboard magazine available (for a small fee) that contained quite a few valuable pieces of information.
Being a small space there were very few hidden objects, so our powers of observation and attention to detail were testing more than our hide & seek skills. There were also no keys and only a very small amount of number locks, because of course, they won’t exist by 2199.
Being quite a small space we found ourselves bumping into each other quite a bit, so teamwork and communication are an absolute must. There are a few puzzles that require overt teamwork, and ClueAdventures do a great job of making sure you are switching positions so you don’t get one person doing all the grunt work. I would have liked to see more of this though – many of the puzzles were solved single-handedly, which I think is a shame. Perhaps if they release a third 2-player room they could make it entirely based on teamwork!
We managed to navigate most of the room without incident, which is a shame as I was looking forward to using the help phrase (“Obi Wan, you’re my only hope!”). The hint would (apparently) pop up on the on-board monitor, but otherwise we were left to fend for ourselves.
ClueAdventures is based above “The Coach & Horses” pub in Leyton, so while it is great for a pint it isn’t great for accessibility needs. Stairs will need to be navigated to reach the room, and once inside it’s quite a small space, so please check before booking if you have any claustrophobia or concerns about space/temperature. It was well lit, with no loud noises. Hearing and colour perception are both necessities for this journey, although as someone with hearing impairments I coped fine as you just need to be able to communicate with your fellow passenger. There were a few puzzles that required physical dexterity too, although only one team member needs to take on this burden.
The price of a good time
We know that escape rooms can be expensive, and it’s a question within our community about whether it is fairer to price per player or a flat rate per room. Unfortunately, teams of 2 are often disadvantaged by either model which is what has put me off booking a room for two previously.
Despite the fact this room was designed for 2 players only, the price of £35 each still felt quite steep, given most times I’d expect to pay less than £30 when playing with a larger team. It was also a little disappointing as I might expect that from larger rooms with a flat rate (e.g £70 a game regardless of team size), but not one which has been specifically designed for a smaller team.
Even taking away the monetary side and thinking about value…it still feels a little steep. We had a really fun time, but ultimately it was very linear and I didn’t feel I had my money’s worth.
Overall this is a fun and entertaining room, but not complex or engaging to those who are more experienced. I think if you’re still embarking on your escape room journey this is a great room for you, and possibly cheaper and more manageable than other London rooms not designed for 2. However, in the future I would probably suck it up and pay for other rooms in London, knowing I’d feel more challenged and the price would be justified a little more.
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!
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!
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.
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’?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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 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!
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.
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…
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!)
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!
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!
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…)
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!
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.
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’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!
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!
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.
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!