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.

Ratings

Puzzled Escape Games: Professor of the Occult | Review

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Puzzled Escape Games: Professor of the Occult Review | A professor from the local collage who is the prime suspect in the murder of three of his colleagues has gone missing. It is rumoured that they were involved in occult research that has led to their disappearance. Head to the professor’s house and see if you can uncover anything about his whereabouts but be careful, I have an uneasy feeling about this one.

Date Played: 5th September 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 50 minutes

There’s nothing better than winding down on a Sunday evening to investigate some disturbing supernatural practices with your friends, and lucky for our team (Mairi, Al, Ash and I) this is exactly what we were tasked to do by Puzzled Escape Games.

With the promise of jump scares sat securely in our minds, we enter the professor’s study and I notice I’m gripping my mouse ever so slightly too tight.

It’s just a normal study, right?

What transpires is a realistic representation of the in-person escape room based in Easthampton, Massachusetts which you are free to explore using a simple click and drag method with the ability to take a closer look at certain items. You can interact with most objects, which allows you to perform tasks as though you were in the real room (and we all agreed, this would be an incredible in person experience).

The browser-based game does not update based on other players movements, which could have been frustrating but the way the game flows means that players can still go their separate ways to solve puzzles, then reunite to provide the final solutions.

The Puzzles

The puzzles range from straight forward to rather complex, and I must admit I struggled with one geography-based conundrum in particular. People always regret being landed on my Articulate team when we get stuck attempting the ‘world’ category for five rounds though, so I might be an outlier on this one.

There’s a good mix of puzzles to suit various specialities, with riddles, crosswords, map reading, logic puzzles and plenty of hidden objects to test those observation skills. For some of the more difficult tasks we came together as a team, once again learning that communication is the key to escaping!

A link to the clues was provided at the start of the game but be warned, the solutions are in the same paragraph as any hints so you may accidently see the answer.

The puzzles have been cleverly designed to compliment the narration, and we experience a slow story reveal through puzzles, letters, video messages and audio to discover the mystery behind what the professor has been up to. There are some surprises which I’ve purposefully avoided sharing, but they ensured we all had a good (nervous) laugh.

A Confession

I love the horror genre, but you couldn’t pay me enough to say Candyman in the mirror five times. When it came to the finale, I absolutely bottled it. The loudening sound made it feel so immersive, so if you’re into it I’d recommend gathering some candles, dimming the lights, and popping on your headphones to find out what happens!

The Verdict

The Professor of the Occult is a game leaning towards the more difficult side, so if you are a group of seasoned puzzle solvers this would be a great challenge.

Fans of the supernatural will love the theming, and mystery solvers will be delighted to discover the hidden secrets that lie within the room.

Don’t get too comfortable in the familiarity of the study though, things might take a sinister turn…


The game can be booked directly on their website here.

Ratings

New Puzzle Videogame ‘Escape Simulator’ launches this October!

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Escape Simulator is a first-person puzzler you can play solo or in an online co-op. Explore a growing set of highly interactive escape rooms. Move furniture, pick up and examine everything, smash pots and break locks! Supports community-made rooms through the level editor.

Set a date for your diary: there’s a new escape room puzzle game in town!

Pine Studio (creators of Cats in Time, and Birdcage) have announced today that Escape Simulator is set to launch on PC next month, on October 19th. If you enjoyed the demo during the Steam Game Festival, you’ll love the full launch with 15 unique interactive escape room scenarios, customisable characters, online co-op, and a fun level-editor to build your own fiendish escape room challenges!

Face ingenuous locks in ancient Egypt. Hack the system in an adrift space shuttle. Decipher mysterious notes in the oddball Victorian library of Edgewood Mansion.

Given the long lockdown of only seeing your friends via a screen, Escape Simulator can’t come soon enough – and just in time for the spooky season no less! With very realistic escape room mechanics and so many puzzle possibilities, it’s the perfect way to get together digitally with a friend from the comfort of your own home. Most importantly, just like in a real escape room… If it’s not nailed down, you can pick it up and move it around!

Play together in the Edgewood Mansion

Create your own Escape Room Games

One of the most exciting aspects of Escape Simulator that we can’t wait for is the escape room level editor. An integration with the Steam Workshop puts power in the hands of players and allows the community to create and share their escape room designs. The possibilities are endless and imagination’s the limit!

If you’ve always wanted to create your own escape room but never before had the tools, Escape Simulator’s creator Tomislav Podhraški sets the following challenge,

The ultimate moment for us will be getting stuck in our own game – thwarted by a player who’s custom-made room is way smarter than us. That’ll be pretty neat.

Tomislav Podhraški

Do you and your buddies have what it takes? 🔎

Be the first to play. Wishlist Escape Simulator now on Steam and Join the Discord.

Say Hello to The Escape Roomer’s Newest Writer: Nick Battell!

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We are absolutely delighted to welcome a brand new escape room writer to The Escape Roomer, it’s Nick Battell!

Nick is not new to the escape room world, as he’s been the UK’s no.1 expert on all things Kent for the past three years over at Kent Escape Room Reviews. When the UK went into a lockdown in 2020 and 2021, Nick took a break from writing about escape rooms and turned his hand to game design with brilliant at-home adventures such as Invicta, Lost at Sea, Mainstage Mayhem, and a series of regular puzzles on the Escape Room UK Facebook Group.

Whilst Kent Escape Room Reviews may be closing, it’s fantastic reviews aren’t going anywhere – keep an eye out for them popping up here on The Escape Roomer over the next few months! 🎉

Without further adieu, here’s Nick to introduce himself!


Introduce Yourself!

Hey you guys! I’m Nick, a 37 year old, single dad based in Maidstone, Kent, UK (this is my dating profile, right?!) with an enthusiasm for escape rooms like no other. The last few years have been a mixture of enjoyments, sweat, tears and reinvention; which ultimately lead me here to this fantastically talented group of individuals. I’m a HUGE advocate for sharing positivity and inclusivity, so when the opportunity came, its was a given that I really needed to jump onboard!

As mentioned, I have been reviewing for a number of years and pride myself on providing creative, yet honest posts – but you’ll never find me focussing on the negatives, ever! When playing physical escape rooms, I’m a sucker for immersion – if you can provide me with music, sound, lighting effects and realism the second I walk through the door, you’ll have me hooked! By no means would I say I’m an expert puzzle solver either; put me in a room and I will probably take the role of searcher and king communicator (although I have been round the block a while, so I’ll also end up being the one looking for commonly known puzzles and just smashing them first!)

What was your first ever escape room?

I was invited along with a group of friends to share in their birthday celebrations. The room was called Get Out at the now sadly closed Time2Escape in Strood, Kent. It was themed around a Victorian manor house, where you’d been invited for dinner but soon discover that you are on the menu.

The room was slightly on the creepy side and, not being a massive horror fan at the time, found myself basically starring at the door, torch in hand, waiting for someone to burst through it! Although we had been told that there were no actors, I was terrified when the door actually did burst open! (I screamed, only to find that the GM had noticed that a lock had become stuck and he had just popped in to fix it!)

Short of that minor pee my pants moment, the room was absolutely fantastic, and whilst it didn’t have the tech that we may expect from a modern room, I knew from that point that the adrenaline fix I gained from that, was going to become and addiction!

…And how about your favourite?

This is possibly the trickiest thing to answer. Kent is an absolute beacon when it comes to outstanding escape experiences, and I’m pleased to say I have never played a “meh” game! It might be kind of possible to create a top five seven(!), but even then putting them into positions is hard – Dollhouse at Panic Room Gravesend, Temple Quest at Clue Cracker, Inbound at Escape Hub, The Game at Mythologic, Air Raid at Escape Plan Live and Return to Neverland at Eltham would all feature within my top list!

All are very different, but the one thing that they all have in common is that they have accessible game play, great flow and top quality immersion. Its hard to choose between any of them!

What’s your idea of a perfect day out in Kent?

First and foremost, my son comes first, so a child friendly escape room is top of the list. He is actually a fantastic puzzle solver; he hasn’t been tarnished by the thousands of puzzles I’ve played so hasn’t become and overthinker like me! Actually make that two escape rooms.

Then, whilst my ever expanding middle-aged spread may make you think overwise, I love a long countryside walk. Although I live in the middle of a very busy town, we are surrounded by beautiful scenery so I’d grab some friends, borrow their dog and give our legs a long stretch. But, only if we end the walk with some well cooked pub grub, a cold pint of lager and a roaring log fire!

What are you most excited for, now that escape rooms are reopening?

Friends! Whilst lockdown proves a massive turning point for me in my personal life and escape room life, the one thing that I longed for, was to get together with friends and experience the joy of being locked in a room and working together to escape – but you’d probably end up seeing us doing a silly dance in the room at some point!

If you were given a blank cheque to create your dream escape room, what would it be like?

As a designer, I already have the plan drafted for the room, the theme and the puzzles all ready to go on my laptop! Whilst I really don’t want to give away the secret of what may be, I can tell you that it is a based on a hugely popular movie franchise, about a boy who is in a house on his own (I bet you cant guess!)

If anyone has a US based empty mansion house, a few tins of paint swinging from strings on the staircase and a remote control car with a video recorder attached to it, (coupled of course with the blank cheque book), be sure to call me!


A huge shout out once again to Nick Battell! You can keep up with Nick’s game design and escape room escapades on Instagram and Twitter.

Read Nick’s reviews and articles here.

Escape the Chop | Review

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Escape the Chop Review | Local men are vanishing… Someone at Burghfield Barbers thinks they know why… Do you have what it takes to work out who’s behind the disappearances and Escape The Chop?

Completion Time: 43:39
Date Played: 29th August 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Moderate

Located in the small town of Burghfield, just outside of Reading, is a small barber shop at the side of the main road. For all intents and purposes it’s a quaint and sleepy little village. But don’t let it’s appearance deceive you… This is actually the site of a string of very mysterious disappearances. Men from all over Burghfield and Reading are popping down to the barbers for an appointment and are never seen again.

About Escape the Chop

Escape the Chop is Reading’s newest escape room experience located a little off the beaten track around a 20 minute drive from Reading station. If you’re like us and don’t own a car, there are plenty of bus routes or a taxi costs around £15.

It’s born of a whole lot of love and enthusiasm from first time escape room designer, Alex – who ran our room for us! The origins story goes that Alex was having his hair cut at the barbers and thought “hey it would be really cool to have an escape room here“. The owner thought about it and after a little while said “sure, we’ve got a room back here you can have.”

The brilliant thing about this story is that I didn’t actually hear it from Alex himself, but from the next escape room in Reading we visited, where the team were very excited to hear we’d played Escape the Chop. This was then affirmed that evening by chatting on my personal account to another Reading room manager, who excitedly told me Escape the Chop was next on his list. One thing is for sure and that’s Reading has an amazingly supportive network of escape rooms who are all out to sing each other’s praises. Escape the Chop is the latest grassroots room joining this community and not to be missed if you’re in the area!

“Hi, we’re here for Pirelli’s miracle hair treatment”

From the very first moment you walk through the door, you’re immersed in Escape the Chop. The game begins when you approach the barbers and ask for Pirelli’s Miracle Hair Treatment. A nervous young barber approaches and takes you to the back room as if preparing you for a hair cut. It’s only when the door closes behind him that he explains why you’re really here: to help get to the bottom of the disappearances. Wait, that IS why you’re here, right?

Between the front room (a real life barber shop) and the back room (the escape room in disguise) there’s very little thematic difference. It’s only when you look closely you realise that all the cupboards are locked shut and not everything is quite as it seems here.

The ‘briefing’ is delivered completely in character as your GM cautiously explains that his boss (the kindly looking barber who we’d just walked past) is up to something really sinister and he fears for his life. As a player you’re not really sure what you’ve stepped into, but whatever it is you don’t have a lot of time before the barber’s next appointment. A nervous ‘good luck’ and out the GM steps leaving you alone!

A Modern Day Sweeney Todd

In terms of the storyline, it loosely follows the classic horror tale of Sweeney Todd but with a modern twist…

…Or at least, that’s one way of looking at it!

It could also be seen a heartwarming story of a Turkish barber assimilating into the local Reading society and taking a particular interest in British cuisine! Pies! The speculation that they may or may not be made out of people is neither here not there.

What you actually experience is a very classic two-room escape room that goes from a “oh what a cool barber shop setup” to “oh my god what have we discovered?!”

Despite the theme, the room isn’t too scary. According to the website it’s recommended for players aged 10 and above and apart from one quite funny jump scare, the room is more creepy than scary. There’s a little bit of ‘light gore’. If you don’t mind the occasional fake squishy body parts here and there, you’ll be fine.

√-1 2^3 ∑ π …And it was delicious!

In terms of puzzles, there was a good mix and at a good level of difficulty throughout the room! We were told, in full character, that if we needed hints our GM may be able to tell us some more about the barber as a person. We did end up needing one or two hints which were offered freely when we strayed too far down the wrong path.

In terms of what to expect, the goal of the room is to find proof of who is behind the disappearances. With this in mind, you must find out everything you possibly can about the people who work at the barber shop. You can do that by unlocking all the cupboards and rummaging through their stuff, but this is where it gets tricky… A lot of locks for a lot of cupboards!

Players can expect to encounter a wide range of puzzles. Everything from searching and finding, to tracking down codes, some physical manipulation, some maths, some black light, plenty of number and colour puzzles… There’s a lot! One puzzle in particular we loved was one of the ones we needed a clue on. It was also the puzzle most true to the barber shop theme – safe to say I’d never seen a puzzle quite like this in any other room – but then again, I’ve never done a hairdresser or barber themed room before!

The Verdict

Escape the Chop was a real hidden gem! It’s built with buckets of love and it really shows in every little detail from how fun the game was to how brilliant the customer service is from start to finish.

It’s also just such a brilliant little room – well balanced with fun puzzles and massively immersive. If this is creator Alex’s first room, I cannot wait to see what the future brings!

If you’re living in, or visiting Reading, you have got to put Escape the Chop on your list… It’s a must play!

Escape the Chop can be booked by heading to Escape the Chop’s website here.

Ratings

clueQuest: cQ Origenes | Review

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In order to stop the Professor from breaching our firewall, you and your team will have to access Mr Q’s old base. The only way in, however, is to shrink down to the size of a mouse with the help of the Shrink’o’Mat. Word of caution, agents: the technology you’ll be exposed to is…a bit unstable and still experimental. You’ll have only 60 minutes to counteract the cyber attack and secure the mainframe before the Shrink’o’Mat’s effect wears off and things get messy.

Image (c) clueQuest

Battling the storm en route to escape!

We played cQ Origenes back in February 2020, just before the pandemic began, which must have been the last time we were in London (wow that feels like a long time ago!).

Our first mission however was actually getting there, as this was during the ‘Storm Dennis’ weekend… Luckily, escape rooms are literally the PERFECT rainy day activity! Although, they are also ideal on: sunny days, snowy days, windy days too.

This trip was our second time at clueQuest. We had previously taken on Operation Blacksheep with the same team and thoroughly enjoyed it, so were very excited to be back to face the slightly more challenging cQ Origenes room. cQ Origenes is one which is always recommended as a top room in terms of the capital’s offerings, and it’s easy to see why. Even clueQuest’s reception area feels special, bustling full with teams. It makes for a very lively pre-escape atmosphere!

It’s clear clueQuest would be so great to host a big party with lots of people taking on different rooms and all coming back together to discuss times, and inevitably, searching fails!


…Hm, maybe this is something we would do for the big 3-0…?

The Mission Brief

Back to the mission: the briefing for cQ Origenes was consistent with the overarching CQ storyline – our group of ‘spies’ have to break in and retrieve an SD card. However, this is more challenging than it first appears! The first step of the two stage mission requires you to operate the shrink-o-mat to infiltrate the lair – making everything after this point ‘larger than life’!

Beyond this, the room is split really well, with the decoration tying into the storyline allowing for a super smooth puzzle flow. 

Image (c) clueQuest

The cQ Origenes rooms are decorated brilliantly, which is no surprise as the production value on clueQuest’s rooms is SUPER HIGH. This really pays off to create an immersive atmosphere with a humorous twist.

The mission offers great interactivity and clever puzzles to solve: varied, challenging, logical and original… There was plenty to get on with. We were glad that we went in with a strong team of 4, Tilda and Johnny are always super on it for escaping (our favourite kind of friends haha!).

There was even one very special padlock in the room – we’re sure even the biggest padlock-phobe would enjoy opening. 

Good things come in small packages

We absolutely loved the concept of this room, it was so simple but designed incredibly well. We had so much fun exploring all the props and clever, special touches in the space. The props were well designed and pretty much everything really ‘worked’, meaning a great deal of exploring the room pays off, not only for progressing the story, but also for the wow-factor of discovery!

We were particularly blown away by the final puzzle: this really impressed us with its design… But you’ll have to go and play to see what we mean!

Image (c) clueQuest

Alas, we did hit a hiccup at the end and spent around 10 minutes stuck on one (tiny, tiny…) piece… However, our overall escape time came in at just over 56 minutes, successfully returning to full size! That said, looking at the photo it looks like Johnny is full size and the rest of us are still slightly shrunk haha! 

cQ Origenes is great for enthusiasts or large groups of newbies looking for a challenge! We definitely hope to return to help Mr Q face Blacksheep again next time we return to London.

Which room would you recommend we try our hand at next?! Check out our reviews for clueQuest’s other games here.

cQ Origenes can be booked on clueQuest’s website here.

Ratings

Escape The Past Edinburgh: The Anatomist | Review

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Escape the Past Edinburgh The Anatomist Review | The year is 1829, and the City of Edinburgh is shaken after the grim discovery of the Burke and Hare murders. Demand for corpses to aid medical research remains high, and questions are starting to surface about how distinguished anatomist Dr Malcolm has been acquiring his bodies for dissection.

We’ve heard a whisper of a terrible incident occurring in Edinburgh’s old surgical district, and it’s up to us to infiltrate Dr. Malcolm’s study to find his journal and discover what is really going on. Time is short, his lecture in the nearby Surgeon’s Hall finishes in one hour and if the rumours are true, we don’t want to be caught sneaking around!

Rating: A must visit!
Completion Time: 32 minutes
Date Played: 3rd August 2021
Party Size: 5
Recommended For: Immersive experience seekers

Travel back in time…

Escape The Past have created an incredible game combining Edinburgh’s dark history with an exhilarating escape room. Our team of five were completely immersed in our surroundings, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the room was designed by Chris Wood, an Edinburgh University History graduate and Zahra Chaudhri, a doctor. The attention to detail is seriously impressive and offers a full sensory experience, which is a rare find.

Plenty of hidden surprises await if you book The Anatomist. I’m sure our games master, Sophie, was relieved to hear the squeals emerging from the room were that of excitement rather than our team succumbing to the perils that lie within.

A 19th Century Crystal Maze

A few times during the game we commented that we’d stumbled upon a 19th Century Crystal Maze. The puzzles were a great mix of observation, riddles, cyphers, maths, and physical challenges, all of which used the props around us cleverly. They flowed seamlessly to slowly reveal the story, concluding with a brilliant finale. One of the puzzles was unavailable due to COVID restrictions, but an alternative way to solve it was offered and didn’t take away from our enjoyment at all.

Clues were available if requested by ringing a bell, but our team were on a roll and completed the game in 32 minutes and 13 seconds so we didn’t end up asking for any help. The team were extremely approachable though and would have provided instant support with some dark humour for good measure.

The Verdict

Whether you are new to escape rooms or a puzzle enthusiast, Escape the Past is a must visit. Immerse yourself in the history of Edinburgh and discover the secrets of Dr. Malcolm before it’s too late! We’re top of the leaderboard this month, so why not try take on the challenge and beat our time?!


The Anatomist can be booked at Escape The Past in Edinburgh.

Rogue Immersive: The Perfect Crime | Review

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In 1990, Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. They have remained missing to this day. With the FBI offering a reward of $1 million, and an estimated black market value of $100 million they are the most valuable stolen paintings in the world. And we know where they are.

Rating: Enjoyable
Completion Time: ~60 minutes
Date Played: 18th July 2021
Party Size: 6
Recommended For: Aspiring Art Thieves, fans of the Netflix Show ‘This is a Robbery’

Everybody loves a good heist documentary… Right? OK maybe just me.

*quietly closes Netflix watch history*

During a long lockdown of me sitting at home in my pyjamas watching heist documentaries (such as This is a Robbery – which The Perfect Crime is a loosely based sequel to), Rogue Immersive have been hard at work planning a heist of their own. What they’ve launched this summer is an experience that puts you, the player, at the centre of your very own art heist.

So for each time you’ve watched a thief accidentally leave their fingerprint at the scene of the crime and thought “hah! amateur”, you now have an opportunity to see if you can do any better. It’s a realistic heist simulator in the centre of London and not for the faint of heart.

Stealing Vermeer’s “The Concert”

On the day we arrived bright and early and got chatting with one of the team. Since both rooms were available, despite having booked for The Storm, we got the choice of either:

  • The Concert
  • The Storm

“Which do you recommend?” we asked. After some careful thought, our host recommended we give The Concert a go instead. This suggests there are some differences between the two experiences. Although the puzzles are the same, the rooms you’ll have to navigate through vary in layout which is worth considering before you book.

In both cases you’ll have around 60 minutes to get in and get out. Unlike a traditional escape room where the goal is to escape, The Perfect Crime is more focused around breaking into the room undetected.

Break In, Steal the Painting, Get Out

Our experience started from the moment we entered the Theatre Deli on Broadgate Circus. What seemed like an unassuming bar from the outside was actually the site of several long lost paintings that would fetch millions on the black market. Who knew?

From here, you get your team briefing inside the bar – plenty of time to grab a drink, go to the bathroom, and use the lockers too. We were given a walkie talkie to communicate with our handler – someone on the inside who could act as the eyes and ears, remotely monitoring CCTV to tell us when guards were on their way. We were also given a blueprint of the first room and gloves to wear. Wouldn’t want to get fingerprints on anything, of course.

Once we were kitted out and clues up, we were led to a very small storage cupboard and from there the adventure began!

Including the storage room, it’s a 4-room experience. 5, if you could the bar outside as well! At the risk of giving any spoilers, I’ll just say that each room had it’s own unique flair and personality and felt well suited in the world Rogue Immersive have created. The whole experience felt very real.

Photo (c) The Perfect Crime

Heavily Guarded

One of the unique selling points of The Perfect Crime were the live actors. By this, I mean the guards. If you’re caught on camera or set off too many alarms, a guard will come running. When this happens you have two choices:

  • Hide as fast as you can!
  • Come up with a brilliant cover story

I think, despite the fact you’re trying not to get caught, the game is best played when you have to do both of these things.

In the first case, we had to hide from guards several times. Mainly, I hid under a table, which worked fine until the guard came to sit at a chair, her boots just inches from me. Eek! In the second case, we were caught once towards the end of the game and had to quickly make up a cover story of why we were in this room. Our story definitely wasn’t believable, but acting out a part and looking as nonchalant with fistfuls of cocaine in our hands felt thrilling.

So how DO you steal a painting?

By solving puzzles? Kinda. In terms of getting that ‘escape room fix’, The Perfect Crime is quite light on puzzles. But in hindsight I think that’s okay. Rogue Immersive have leaned more heavily on the ‘immersive theatre’ genre and the fewer the puzzles, the broader an audience they’re able to attract.

In each room the ultimate goal is to get to the next one, but before we could do that there was always one or two things to solve. It might be a safe that needs cracking, or a sneaky “what can we place on this pressure plate as not to trigger the alarm” device that felt right out of a Hollywood film. The only unfortunate part was that this made for a fair amount of standing around watching someone else do all the fun stuff. It’s true, on multiple occasions the ‘security measures’ meant only one person at a time could cross, leaving the rest of us watching from the sidelines.

For this reason The Perfect Crime would be best played with a smaller team. I think 2 or 3 players might be the sweet spot. Plus, it’s easier to explain away just two intruders when the guards come crashing in, right? But the six of us?! Haha. No way.

Concept Art (c) The Perfect Crime

Escape Room with a Bar

My favourite part of the whole experience? The bar. I think the location and the addition of a fully functioning bar with heist themed cocktails really elevates the experience from ‘escape room’ to ‘lets hang out here for half a day’.

The day we booked was a beautiful (and rare) sunny Sunday. Being able to sit down for a celebratory cocktail or two at the end was an wonderful added touch. Why don’t more escape rooms have bars, eh?

The Verdict

I’ll admit I was a little hesitant in the weeks leading up to The Perfect Crime. For us, the booking process was a little rocky (read as: our original booking on opening day was cancelled last minute and getting a response from their customer support team very difficult), but I think an experience can’t be judged on a couple of misplaced emails when the interaction we got from the team on the day was fantastic. Seriously, a huge shout out to our unnamed eyes and ears at the other end of the walkie talkie, the brilliant acting from the guard, and our host!

For the right team of would-be thieves, The Perfect Crime will be a huge hit! For the best experience, bring a smaller team and be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy a drink or two on the terrace outside after.

I’m just glad that after watching the Netflix documentary I finally know what actually happened to Vermeer’s The Concert!

The Perfect Crime can be booked on their website here.

** Note: Since writing this review, The Perfect Crime has announced that as well as group ticket for up to 6 (what we purchased) players will be able to purchase individual tickets which, depending on availability, will place players in groups with strangers.

Modern Fables: Hypersomnia | Review

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Your dreams have been getting stranger and more vivid lately. In your dreams, you play yourself but there’s something different about you in some way. Something you can’t quite put your finger on. More recent dreams have also featured a strange symbol that keeps appearing in the strangest of places. One night it might appear as a tattoo, another night it might be the pattern on some wallpaper. One afternoon, a card with the very same symbol was slipped into your pocket. You didn’t see who left it but you have a strong feeling enticing you to investigate…

Rating: Narrative
Completion Time: 50:00
Date Played: 10th July 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Folks who want a puzzle-light, theatrical 80s experience

*cue rad 80s music*

London’s only 80s themed escape room? Don’t mind if I do! Well… I suppose now I’ve played it I’d actually have to classify it as a sci-fi escape room. Think interdimensional space travel but with tape cassettes and VHS thingy-me-bobs that I’m too young to remember. Actually, between us, we weren’t sure HOW to load a cassette into the cassette player, but not to worry that’s just a bonus extra puzzle!

Actually, I think Hypersomnia is a game that exists within the We Still Fax universe. The parallels are uncanny! With the escape room plot centering with you hopping between an infinite number of parallel universes where tiny changes spin out whole new worlds – then it’s impossible that We Still Fax doesn’t exist in this world, right?

Photo (c) Modern Fables

An Escape Room Birthday… A Month Late!

I love the 80s so much that I initially booked Hypersomnia for my birthday way back at the start of June. Unfortunately on the day I felt sick, and you can’t take any chances in *gestures vaguely* the global panini, so I emailed the team very late to cancel myself and my partner from the booking.

The rest of my team played on without me and I sat at home feeling sorry for myself… But it’s testament to the excellent customer service that even though I was prepared to eat my booking fee, the owner Jay was absolutely wonderful in getting us rebooked! Which is how a whole month later I finally got my chance to step across the threshold into an incredible new world and take on Hypersomnia.

@theescaperoomer

my reaction when I found out there’s an 80s escape room in London 🤩🎉 #escaperoom #london #80s #escapegame #puzzle

♬ Bizarre Love Triangle (2015 Remaster) – New Order

It Began With Extreme Memory Loss…

We arrived at the venue and entered a very dark and very strange room. Actually, it was so immersive we initially thought that this WAS the escape room, prompting one of our member to start lifting things up and looking behind doors. The whole setting was bathed in an eerie red glow and I definitely heard the sound of what I can only describe as intergalactic space travel coming from the next room.

After a few minutes, our host arrived!

“Ahh, welcome back! What are your names… No, not your fake Earth names, your REAL names? Oh wait… You don’t remember them? Hmm, that’s a problem.”

Oh no, it seemed our whole group had suffered a very serious bout of amnesia and couldn’t remember why we were here on Earth. In fact, our whole memory was filled with useless Earth stuff, like the name of my so called pet from my so called childhood. But not to worry, that can sometimes happen with inter-dimensional travel, and our host was quite sure our memories would return once we got into the room.

Photo (c) Modern Fables

Puzzle-Light, Story Heavy

If anyone were to ask me for a recommendation for a game to play in London, I’d ask them whether they prefer puzzle solving or a rich story first. For anyone who prefers a rich story, Hypersomnia is perfect! At it’s core it’s a really unique story with some puzzles aiding the plot along – more like jigsaw pieces where solving something merely reveals more of the narrative.

This wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, but it does make for a really refreshing game. There was no rummaging around for 4 digit codes, or looking for keys, or lifting plant pots up to find cipher wheels. No, instead your goal was to remember who you were. Each player had their own identity with skills and weaknesses. As I learned more about mine I really fell into her character and, as the game reaches it’s climax and gives you a difficult decision to make at the end, I felt like my role influenced the decision I made too.

The puzzles that were in there fit wonderfully with the setting and delightfully, included things I’d never seen before. The less said about them the better, as I don’t want to spoil anything!

I did get the impression that most of the puzzles in Hypersomnia were triggered by ‘hand of God’ (aka, a very attentive games master in the next room). It was clear they were paying great attention as we tripped up early with a technical error in the room and the GM immediately appeared to put it right.

Photo (c) Modern Fables

An Unusual, Inter-Dimensional Experience

I really want to be able to say that I had a great time playing Hypersomnia, but the truth is days later I’m still wondering if I made the right choice with how I payed the game. It wasn’t your typical escape room – no, it was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. ‘The rules’ of escape rooms I’ve come to expect with every experience I play were broken and remade in this room, and you know what? I kinda wanna go back and give it another try!

You enter into an unusual lobby where the event is in character from the moment you start, then after re-learning your whole identity and making monumental decisions that affect many universes, you suddenly emerge into daylight, have a quick photo (in a completely different themed room) and then disappear off into the day. I don’t know what our final time was – I don’t know how well we did, all I know is that I’m not really from Earth and probably my life is a lie.

The Verdict?

My two absolute favourite genres of escape room in the world are sci-fi and 80s. It ticks all the boxes for me and I’ll be the first to recommend it to my friends, but man it was a really, really strange day.

You can book Hypersomnia at Modern Fables by heading to their website here.

The Panic Room Gravesend: The Wizard of Oz | Review

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Are you ready to go on the adventure of a lifetime? It’s time to visit the incredible land of OZ. Follow the yellow brick road and make your way into the beautiful Emerald City, perhaps even meet the wizard himself!

Rating: Magical!
Completion Time: 28 minutes
Date Played: 14th July 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: For a theatrical and brilliant escape room, and fans of the Wizard of Oz

If there’s no place like home… And home is where the heart is… Or so the phrase goes? I think?

Point being, Wizard of Oz was the first physical room we (all three writers at The Escape Roomer) played together, and my heart is bursting with love for my fellow teammates and with pride at how well we did! If home is where the heart is, my heart is sitting in a hot air balloon basket in Gravese- I mean, Oz.

We came to play Wizard of Oz on this sunny Wednesday afternoon after work as the three of us found ourselves conveniently near Gravesend. Mairi in London, and Al & Ash visiting Margate. In the middle lies Gravesend: the home of The Panic Room, one of the most well-loved escape room companies in the country.

With a few hours to spare, we used their handy ‘last minute booker’ to see what was available and booked in to play The Wizard of Oz! Score!

Photo (c) The Panic Room

Here’s how we got on:

Once Upon a Time in the Land of Oz…

Fans of the original book or film will be absolutely delighted by this escape room as both the decor and the story are very true to the original! Or at least, I think they are. It’s been a good 15 years since I’ve watched the film and *gasp* I’ve never read the book.

This room puts you, and your band of adventurers, into the heart of Oz as you land your hot air balloon slap bang in the centre of the yellow brick road. Up ahead, majestic green gates, and what follows is a journey through all the famous locations of Oz up to the terrible Wizard’s inner sanctum.

No points for guessing that your goal in Wizard of Oz is to find three rather valuable items:

  • A heart
  • A brain (eww squishy!)
  • Courage

Along the way you’ll meet a cast of characters and fantastic puzzles that exist perfectly in the fictional universe The Panic Room have built upon. But will you be able to find your own way home, back across the rainbow? That’s the question!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City

I think after mentioning that the story follows the plot of the film it’s not so much of a spoiler to say that Wizard of Oz is a multi-room experience. So now that it’s out of the way, a note on the theming of this escape room:

10/10 FOR THE THEMING!

That’s it, that’s the note! I’m kidding. But really, this game is beautiful for fans of the original Wizard of Oz and complete newbies alike. With the exception of one slightly cheesy pantomime video sequence, The Panic room have really nailed that whimsical, fantastical feeling of being whisked away to a faraway world. This room has so much love and attention poured into it.

My favourite of the spaces where the curious shops and alleyways of Emerald City itself, being able to hunt around and interact with what felt like a real street with it’s own shop windows was magical.

Our host Sam was involved in the escape room at the start, doing a brilliant job to setting the scene in character before we stepped out into the big unknown by ourselves. It’s the little touches, such as ‘arriving’ into the room in a hot air balloon’s basket (rather than just walking through a door) with an enthusiastic balloon pilot by our side. A round of applause for Sam!

Recommended For?

Wizard of Oz seems to pitch itself at a family audience… Or does it? Kids these days largely haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz. I mean, the film did come out almost 100 years ago.

It was also, for all intents and purposes, a slightly dark (story-wise) room with complex puzzles that be bound to frustrate younger players. On the flip side, there are some search-and-find puzzles and more than a few fun places to put codes into, but never once did I get the impression it was a ‘family’ room in the slightest. Just a really brilliant fantasy room.

An (Almost) Record Breaking Attempt

I didn’t want to write a review for Wizard of Oz and not mention the fact that we managed to escape in the second fastest time the company has ever seen… 28 minutes!

Beaten only by the current Red Bull Champions. For a first time team comprised of Al, Ash and myself (we’d never even met in person before let alone played a real life escape room), I’m impressed! I say bring on the Red Bull Escape Room Championship 2022!

Sometimes you play an ‘easy’ room and the puzzles don’t click. The Wizard of Oz was the opposite – everything clicked seamlessly for us, and the teamwork was infallible, making the whole thing an absolute breeze with zero hints… Well, one nudge, and one clarification.

The Wizard of Oz: The Verdict?

Loved it. It’s set the bar for other rooms at The Panic Room Gravesend really high, but I’m already counting the days till I can go back and play another. Highlighted in my memory by fantastic teammates, a great host, and an all round unexpectedly lovely Wednesday afternoon out.

The Wizard of Oz can be booked at The Panic Room Gravesend.