TED X Marriott: The Curiosity Room | Review

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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!

 

The Curiosity Room can be booked on the London Marriott Hotel County Hall website.

Interview with Jamie from Challenger Escapes

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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!

 

Sound interesting? You can contact Jamie Pollard-Jones via the Challenger Escapes website

Compendium: UI-55 | Review

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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).

 

Baffles

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!).

Accessibility (spoilers!)

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.

The Verdict

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!

UI-55 can be booked by heading to Compendium’s website here.

Extremescape: Viking | Review

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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.

Viking can be booked by heading to the Extremescape website here

Exitus: Tenovus Virus Tinkerers | Review

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

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

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

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

 

 

The set

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

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

The game

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

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

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

Outside the room

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

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

Accessibility

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.

TL; DR

Pros – Customer service, puzzles

Cons – Set design was pretty simple

Virus Tinkerers can be booked at Exitus Escape Rooms here

ClueAdventures: Jet 2 Space | Review

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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.

Bumping uglies

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.

Accessible boarding

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.

The Verdict

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.

Jet 2 Space can be booked at Clue Adventures Leyton here

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

Travelling Escape Room Experience “The Lost Librarian” Visits Cullompton, Tavistock & Okehampton

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Following a sell out first run at Exeter Library this July, their pop-up escape room experience “The Lost Library” is back this October – November touring around three more libraries in Devon. It uses mechanical books in a 60 minute journey for 6 players to tell the story of the last witches in the UK.

Six people, ten books, sixty minutes, one mystery… Can you solve it?

The Lost Librarian

The idea is to delight and inspire teenagers and young adults in Devon with local history mixed with fantastical storytelling through the medium of puzzles. The story follows the Lost Librarian herself, Molly Allison. Molly has been researching the Devon Witch Trials, but hot on the trail of a breakthrough (and treasure!) she’s had to hide her research within a series of mechanical books, hidden within the library.

The types of puzzles that players will be able to engage with include touch sensitive mazes, logic puzzles, word searches, as well as some quirky puzzles that require certain hand gestures to unlock their secrets!

Image (c) The Lost Librarian

The Lost Librarian By Evolve

The Lost Librarian is part of the Exeter, UNESCO City of Literature Programme and designed and produced by Evolve. The two designers on The Lost Library Project are Elizabeth Johnson, a resident artist at Puppet Place and Matt Gibbs a WGGB Award nominated writer and editor, of games such as Battlefield 1, Total War: ROME II, and Driver San Francisco. Evolve is a part of the Libraries Unlimited programme and brings to life the worlds hidden on the shelves of libraries through playable artwork.

Image (c) The Lost Libraries

Where and How to Play The Lost Librarian

The Lost Librarian will be touring around Devon throughout October and November. Tickets cost £12 per person and can be booked via the Libraries Evolved website here. The experience is recommended for those aged 12+ unless accompanied by an adult.

Here are some dates for your diary:

2nd – 16th October | The Hayridge Library in Cullompton

23rd October – 6th November | Tavistock Library

13th – 27th November | Okehampton Library

Don’t see your local library yet? Fear not! The Lost Librarian will be returning in Spring 2022 for it’s third tour. Keep an eye on the Libraries Evolved page for more news.

Wild Hare Escapes: Legend of the Labyrinth | Review

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The Legend of the Labyrinth Review | Some may have heard the legend of Theseus—the brave warrior who entered King Minos’ labyrinth, found his way to the vicious Minotaur, fought and killed the creature, and then emerged from the maze victorious​Baloney. The guy just has a killer press agent!

In reality, Theseus (a close personal friend of yours), has always been a total screw-up. One night recently he got hammered and volunteered to go into the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur. Classic Theseus.

Date Played: 20th September 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 43 minutes

An escape room tournament based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur… AND there’s a prize for the fastest escapist? Don’t mind if I do!

Actually, in honesty I picked up Legend of the Labyrinth with two colleagues after being very intrigued about how they’d used their online gaming platform – Telescape. Rather than the traditional point-and-click, or 360 degree views of real life rooms, Wild Hare Escapes have quite literally built out the whole Minotaur’s labyrinth for you and your team to explore.

It’s got stylised graphics, clever puzzles, and buckets of humour. It’s their fourth game of this time, and an all round brilliant and unique play-at-home experience!

Theseus’s Story so Far

Legend of the Labyrinth is a modern retelling of the classic Greek myth. It takes the legend of Theseus – a brave warrior who journeyed to the centre of the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur. The problem is, this legend isn’t strictly true. Theseus is your friend and he’s just gone in there to drink with his girlfriend and got lost along the way. Its up to you to journey into the maze after him and rescue him.

If you come across the Minotaur while you’re in there, well you’ll just have to deal with it as best you can! But the Minotaur isn’t the only thing to worry about. In our game we also encountered nymphs and cyclopses and all manner of familiar faces from the legends.

To navigate (and escape) the maze, you’re armed with only your wits… And of course anything you manage to find along the way too!

How to Escape the Labyrinth

The puzzles in Legend of the Labyrinth are varied and unique! For starters, you need to first navigate the maze itself! I counted at least three separate areas of maze, each hidden door unlocking a whole new area to explore (and get lost into). Telescape is very handy in that it allows you to see the mouse pointers of your team mates. However, in Legend of the Labyrinth you’re encouraged (and will need to at some points) split up and look at different areas. Being spatially aware and about help your team mates navigate to your position after finding something exciting is the first part of the puzzle!

In the live environment, the whole game could probably be solved by one player – but there are clear moments when two or three players at different points in the map are more helpful than not. After all, team work makes the dream work.

There are also fun moments where different players need to be in different locations at once, working simultaneously to solve riddles, or logic puzzles, and so on. It also helps to keep an open mind and click everything – you’ll never know when it’ll be interactable! And if nothing else, clicking everything reveals the humour!

I mean, I definitely clicked on a statue’s butt because the caption made me laugh about 30 times

*cough cough*

Where there’s a labyrinth, there’s a Minotaur!

As a whole, journeying through Wild Hare Escapes’ labyrinth was a joy! It’s a very funny game and packed with fun puzzles and moments. Our team of three would often spend a long time looking for a certain item, expecting one outcome – only to have the game turn it on it’s head with a very humourous twist.

At launch, Wild Hare Escapes announced a competition to win an exciting $300 USD to the fastest team to escape. In September this team was announced as Burning Prospects. Kiss Babies came in second place and took home $100. It’s a really cool touch, I just lament playing a few days too late to take part in the competition!

The icing on the cake of an already great game however had to be the illustrations! There’s this distinctive style that’s a cross between hand illustrated drawings, photographs, and video game 3D renders. Added together lends an iconic style to the Legend of the Labyrinth game.

The Verdict

Overall, great fun! It’s a light-hearted retelling of a classic Greek legend, through the medium of an hour long point-and-click adventure. For the best experience, play with at least a team of 3.

The Legend of the Labyrinth can be booked on Wild Hare Escapes’ website here.

Hourglass Escapes: Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Official Remote Escape | Review

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Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Escape Room Review | Seems your leader decided to break into the old Knowby cabin and can’t escape…You and your team must guide him via his ghost gear technology through this misadventure so he can escape and find a way return the evil dead to their realm and escape before the cabin is sucked into the time-space vortex forever.

Date Played: 19th September 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 55 minutes

The nights are getting longer and there’s a definite chill in the air… You know what that means? Spooky season is almost upon us! 💀

I’ve had Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn: Official Escape Room on my to-play list since way back in Spring. But somehow playing a game based on one of the most iconic horror movie franchises in the world didn’t feel right on the eve of summer. So here we are, kicking off the beginning of autumn as we mean to go on: playing a brilliantly chilling game!

Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Official Escape Room is real life room converted into a remote avatar hosted escape room by the creative geniuses at Hourglass Escapes. One of the common threads in other reviews of the two versions are along the lines of “this was amazing but it would have been even better played in person”. Honestly? I agree! But since we’re not likely to visit the United States any time soon (thanks global panini!), playing wonderful escape rooms from all corners of the globe via Zoom is the next best thing.

The Story of Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn

It is highly recommended you watch the film(s) before playing this escape room! Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely can be played as a standalone spooky experience, but you’ll get so much more out of the experience – such as spotting all the brilliant Easter Eggs – if you watch the film first.

No time? No worries! Here’s a 5 minute version to catch you up:

Unfortunately none of us had watched the films beforehand (heyy, I’m no good with horror!), but this didn’t hinder our enjoyment of the experience in the slightest. Our host, Seth, was kind enough to give us the full run-through of every hidden detail after the game. It’s evident a lot of love and care has done into making Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Live Escape Room as true to the original film as possible. Speaking of the story…

Way back in 1987, Ash Williams and his girlfriend visited an abandoned cabin and accidentally summoned a troupe of Kandarian demons (of course!). After one of them swallowed the soul of his girlfriend, Ash went to awesome lengths to defeat the demons using the Book of the Dead. Unfortunately this obliterated the whole cabin and himself…

…Until now! The cabin mysteriously resurfaces in Hourglass Escapes. It’s up to you to help Ash get home. Remotely. Via Zoom of course. It’s Shemp, our funny yet slightly clueless ghost-busting host, doing all the heavy lifting.

Image (c) Hourglass Escapes

Welcome to the Gnostic Research of the Occult, Omens, Vampires, and Yetis… GROOVY!

To get ready to play the Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn live game, you first need to get into character. Yep, just like in The Rise of the Mad Pharaoh, your booking email will contain a link to some character sheets for you and your team. It’s up to you to decide who you’d like to play as, get all dressed up, and perhaps even mix a cocktail or two (yep, your handy pre-game cheat sheet also has some recipes and drinking games to play).

For this challenge, we went as the following:

The Kandarian Historian – Played by Grace, the Kandarian Historian has discovered some information on the Cult of Kandar in her most recent archaeological dig. However she was contacted by G.R.O.O.V.Y. Ghost Hunting company to deal with some Kandarian demons before she could take her research further.

The Psychic – All week the cards were telling me (Mairi) about a foreboding future of hellfire and undeath- but tbh, when aren’t they?! This morning I felt a chilling shift in the integrity of the veil between the worlds. Being a certified medium, of course I followed the trail and discovered a team of ghost hunters.

The Skeptic – Whilst bored at work, Nick found himself scrolling through Craigslist. One day he discovered a job posting that claimed to guarantee interaction with the paranormal. “This ought to be good for a laugh”, Nick thought!

The Ghost Hunter – It’s been three weeks since Rebecca informed everyone online whom they should call if there are preternatural happenings within their community, and yet the business’ phone has never left the proverbial hook. After investigating, Rebecca realised she was being outshined by G.R.O.O.V.Y. ghost hunting company… But hey, they are hiring!

There were two further roles that were available, but since we played as a team of 4 we left them un-claimed: The Detective and The Realtor. Whilst there are 6 characters available, it’s worth knowing that you do not need to play with a party of 6. The benefits each character gets (such as specialist equipment) will actually all be handled by your trusty host, Shemp. So really, these are just for fun!

An Escape Room for Halloween

In terms of scenery, no attention to detail has been spared in the construction of this room. It takes place over several large spaces, closely mirroring (though slightly smaller) the original cabin from the movies. I counted at least 4 unique spaces, and that’s not even including puzzles hidden inside walls, beneath floorboards and so on! Impressive all round!

Since the game unfolds in a non-linear way (meaning any puzzle can be solved in any order), you’ve ample time to explore your surroundings. Supporting the live avatar in Zoom is a simple online interface that allows you to take a closer look at any object. When our avatar found something of interest, he instructed us to input a code, allowing us to view (or manipulate) the object further.

It’s fairly clear the game has been built for a real life audience – so if you ever get the chance to visit in person, you absolutely should! However it’s been converted well for the at-home audience. The more tactile puzzles have largely been simplified to make sense in the virtual world, and any jump scares were slightly numbed by playing the game over Zoom. Despite the changes, it’s still a brilliantly immersive experience and a must-play for any Evil Dead fans.

Photo (c) Hourglass Escapes

The Verdict

It’s a real stand out in the escape room world! With October just around the corner, I expect this one to book out quickly – so if you’re planning on a spooky night in with friends from afar, definitely include the Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn room in your plans and book early to avoid disappointment!

We escapes with around 15 minutes left on the clock and no hints used – though our host’s gentle nudges were greatly appreciated!

If you’re not a fan of horror, check out Hourglass Escape’s Rise of the Mad Pharaoh, or The Navigators and the Call From Beyond games instead.

The Evil Dead 2™ Dead by Dawn Official Remote Escape Room can be booked directly from Hourglass Escape’s website here.

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