Houdini’s: Lady Chastity’s Reserve | Review

Image

Lady Chastity’s Reserve Review | Enter the lair of the deranged Lady Chastity as you pit your wits against her mysterious belongings and strange contraptions. Those who prove themselves worthy will whoop their way through an hour of surreal gaming, leaving with Chastity’s fabled bottle of aphrodisiac wine.

Completion Time: 50 minutes
Date Played: 15th January 2022
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Hard

Through fits of uncontrollable laughter after a pint downstairs, we stumbled into the famous (or should I say, infamous) Lady Chastity’s Reserve. Tucked away above The Hope in Farringdon, it’s a venue I literally pass every day of my life and never once realised an escape room was hidden within. But that’s how we found ourselves, in the earliest week of January we could get our team together, excitedly buzzing with anticipation that we finally secured a Lady Chastity’s Reserve booking.

[cue more giggling and excited noises]

What Happens in the Lady’s Parlour… Stays There!

So first things first, let’s clear the air. Lady Chastity’s Reserve is an 18+ room. Some of the reasons for this, we assume are:

  • Themes of a sexual nature (she’s not that chaste after all – are you offended by light-hearted references to Victorian orgies?)
  • The prize of a bottle of wine (tantalising!)
  • The location of the escape room being above a pub (it’s unlikely kids are allowed in after a certain time!)
  • It’s a little bit spooky. You may encounter a dead body.

For those reasons, the owners have slapped on a strict 18+ rating. Whilst we reckon in theory the game could be toned down for a 16+ audience, we mention the reasons why both as a content warning, and to ensure other bookers avoid disappointment. Keep the kids at home for this one!

So with that aside, let’s get into the light-hearted spooky debauchery that is Lady Chastity’s Reserve…

Lady Chastity is a woman who is well known for her… Errr… Parties. Her aphrodisiac wine is a big hit and brings all the ladies and gentlemen to her parlour for some fun. After suffering heartbreak, the lady hosts one final lavish party but- oh no! Disaster strikes! A candle left unattended tips over and sets fire to a curtain, engulfing the building. Whilst all the visitors manage to escape in various states of undress, Lady Chastity is never seen again. Rumour has it at the first sign of fire she ran to her cellar and locked up her last bottle of aphrodisiac wine, but didn’t make it out in time.

This is where you come in. The house has been refurbished by the ever-dutiful Gabriel. Her housekeeper turned inheritor. But he’s never found that bottle of aphrodisiac wine. Can you follow in The Lady’s steps, figure out what happened to her, and claim that bottle of wine?!

Creepy Corners, Candlelight, and Curtains for Days

One of the stand-outs for us in Lady Chastity’s Reserve was the decor of the room. We didn’t have to ‘suspend disbelief’ even for a second… It really felt like being inside a Victorian parlour! The whole space was lit with candlelight – torches were provided, which was a nice touch for an otherwise very dark room – and the furniture, curtains, wallpaper and decor felt lifted directly out of the Victorian era.

Darkness is marmite in an escape room. It makes it harder to solve puzzles. But for me, Lady Chastity’s Reserve was dark for a reason. It’s lit by candlelight, and it really works! None of the puzzles were hindered by it, it only added to the ambience. Dark shadows darted around in our peripheral vision, and when a sudden loud noise rang out from somewhere you were never quite sure where it came from.

Even the smell of the room was authentic. It feels funny to praise an escape room for having a good smell – but the slightly smoky, musty smell felt brilliant.

What I’m trying to say, is full marks for the decor. A lot of folks will be put off by a darker room, but I propose that instead players treat the darkness as an extra character. It really adds to the story.

Photo (c) Lady Chastity’s Reserve

What of Lady Chastity’s Puzzles?

So you see how I said I liked the darkness and they didn’t hinder the puzzles – well not strictly true, as this room does rely on a lot of search-and-find especially at the beginning. Just be sure to shine that torch everywhere!

The whole room follows a linear format. There’s a clear goal, and each puzzle leads onto the next seamlessly. You’re guided not only by clues from your host, Gabriel (of which you can claim just 3 of them over the course of the game), but Lady Chastity herself will often ring out from the darkness and the gloom. Listen to her carefully for she often gives big clues in subtle ways.

Players can expect to encounter quite a few padlocks and 4 digit codes (hey, this Lady is trying to protect her wine from thieves like us!), and some ingenious uses of physical manipulation, smoke and mirrors. For sure, there were a lot of puzzles to get through, but some of them were so utterly delightful I can’t help but still smile about them days later. Conversely, there were some that other members of my team solved so efficiently that I didn’t even see how.

Cue my “Woah look at this, you can do that!” to everyone replying in unison, “Yep we’ve solved it“. Haha, oops.

We were warned that the room was a little on the harder side, but managed to escape with 10 minutes left on the clock after using 2 clues. I think I’d still agree that it’s hard – but not impossible. For a team of 4 fairly experienced enthusiasts, some of whom on our third pint of the evening, we didn’t do too badly! We’d definitely recommend aiming to play with a similar sized group, but don’t be put off if you go in with a smaller, or brand new team!

Team ‘Lamb Sauce’ Achievements

How much does Lady Chastity’s Reserve cost?

For London, it’s not the cheapest escape room for sure. But it’s also not the most expensive. And hey, how many rooms let you take home a bottle of wine if you win?

This is a conversation we regularly have on The Escape Roomer. How do we measure “value” when different regions are priced so differently? There’s no right or wrong answer, so we try instead to ask “was it good value?” In all this room costs a flat fee of £30 per person – regardless of team size (therefore it’s £60 for a team of two, and £180 for a team of 6). Originally this escape room was also non-exclusive, meaning you might get put in with strangers. Whilst this is common in the United States, it’s unpopular in the UK. It seems like in recent times this policy has been scrapped and bookings are exclusive. Phew.

So, with this in mind, did we get a good value? Oh yes, absolutely!

Once upon a time, the original creators of Lady Chastity’s Reserve, Handmade Mysteries, closed down and for a while we thought the escape room would disappear forever. Whenever I asked other enthusiasts about their favourite room, I’d hear this one mentioned so often. Too bad it had closed down! Argh, the heartbreak.

But when the news that Houdini’s had purchased the game and was bringing it back – no price was too high for me to book this. It so happened that we got extra lucky with a Black Friday discount and didn’t pay full price between the four of us. But honestly? I’m just glad I survived the pandemic long enough to see this gem reopen.

The Verdict

*chef’s kiss*

Lady Chastity’s Reserve absolutely lived up to the hype for us, and I’m thrilled that we chose it for our very first escape room of 2022. Start the year as we mean to go on, eh?

It’s creepy, musty, sordid, manic and above all, just so much fun. We also in particular want to shout out our Games Master at The Hope Farrington for his fantastic portrayal of the caretaker Gabriel. From start to finish he never once broke character – all the way from a perfect intro briefing, to scaring us quite a few times, to presenting the bottle of The Lady’s Reserve to us at the end of our game.

After some deliberation in the pub downstairs, The Hope, we’ve decided to award this game our Fun Factor badge – awarded to all escape rooms that are just that extra bit of fun. Lady Chastity’s Reserve takes itself seriously yet still managed to balance the hilarity and silliness that we love in a room. We were all smiles and laughter from start to finish, and it’s certainly going to be a room I’ll remember for a long time.

I would highly recommend Lady Chastity’s Reserve to anyone wanting something a little different to play. At the time of writing, the Farringdon version of the game is the only one available on Houdini’s website (aww), but well worth the trip into London.

Lady Chastity’s Reserve can be booked at Houdini’s in Farringdon here.

CTRL ALT ESC: Quick-E-Mart | Review

Image

CTRL ALT ESC: Quick-E-Mart | Review | Shop smart and shop fast because there’s plenty of points to be won. You and your team will solve puzzles and fill those trolleys, shopping has never been so much fun!  IT’S TIME TO GO WILD IN THE AISLES!

Date Played: 30th November 2021
Time Taken: 62mins 27secs
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Easy

If you are in the market for some completely over the top, retro adventures then look no further. This game is an absolute riot and, potentially the most fun I’ve ever had inside an escape room! Strap in folks, here comes the positivity…

This room is going straight in my basket!

The recently opened 2nd venue for CTRL ALT ESC in Margate, Kent was the scene of this outrageous adventure. Treated like absolute royalty, we took a seat in the large reception area (which includes some cool gadgets of its own!), and here our briefing began. Lets just say the “normal” room briefing wasn’t present here. Our host, dressed appropriately in a very fetching game show host attire, set the scene superbly; a thorough introduction of what to expect, in what can only be described as showbiz!

And, for added sparkle, as a team we were then presented with our very own brightly coloured aprons and escorted up to the room to begin our game show!

Attention to Detail? This Checks Out!

Our Game Show Host escorted us to the room. Well, I say room – opening the door, you would be forgiven for mistaking this for a local shop! Our host Geoff stayed in character whilst advising us about the room and what to expect. One thing is for sure, this is no normal escape room adventure!

Here’s the deal: You are a contestant on a new gameshow Quick E Mart. Clearly, this is absolutely nothing like Supermarket Sweep (honest lol!). You are presented with a shopping list and 90 minutes in which to collect all the items and get as much money as possible. So certainly not your normal escape room, that’s for sure, but by god was this where the fun ramped up even more!

Our host left the room, we grabbed the trolley and our retro adventure commenced!

Now, the first thing to mention here is the overwhelming brightness of the room. Everything is exactly how you would think it to be in a throwback like this. Lots of inflatables, big, bright, bold colours, the lot. Something else to note are some really clever extra attention to detail areas. Make sure to look at product names, subtle nods to members of the CTRL ALT ESC team, and plenty of tongue in cheek humour! I’d suggest that the first five minutes of the game was us running around and laughing at all the different things in the room!

There is certainly nothing linear about this room. Sure there are specific things you cant do unless you have carried out actions prior to that, however on the whole, as a team we just spread out and got cracking.

Don’t forget your Shopping List!

Yep, that might sound obvious, however with so much going on in the room, its so easy to get distracted and lose track of what you were trying to achieve. And that is exactly why this room is so much fun. A clever system will keep tabs of the items you have collected along the way; some items are readily available and require just tracking them down. Others are brilliantly secured using some very innovative methods.

Don’t think traditional escape room puzzles here. Cyphers and numerous padlocks need not apply! Sure there are occasional nods to commonly utilised puzzles, however what the designers have done brilliantly here is cleverly insert puzzles into the theme of a supermarket. Nicely hidden puzzles (which are actually in plain sight!), sit beautifully on theme and do not sit out of place at all. Something short of amazing when you think about how little is locked up in an actual supermarket!

Many of the puzzles in this game are short and snappy and that really adds to the way it flows. There are one or two longer or ongoing puzzles in this room and they provided a great distraction to appreciate potentially how far into the game we were (I’m trying desperately not to provide a spoiler here!).

Walkie Talkies? No Thanks!

The big question: How the hell do you provide a clue system for a game based in a supermarket?! All I can say is: Brilliantly!

There isn’t a walkie talkie in sight. Instead pay close attention to the briefing at the start of the game as there aren’t any ‘normal’ ways of getting hints and clues that’s for sure. More innovation from the designers here – as a team we all agreed that this was possibly our favourite hint system. Very simple in practice, beautiful in execution.

We played Quick E Mart as a team of four, three adults and my 10 year old son. Now, this may sound bias however he is absolutely outstanding in escape rooms. He’s played around 10-12 games with me and he never ceases to amaze me with how he picks stuff up – and this room was no exception. Agreed that this room is a simple affair and certainly not going to be one that taxes even first time gamers, but he said, hands down that this is his absolute favourite game he has played – and he is a harsh judge!

With that in mind, I would certainly recommend this game for friends and families with children of all ages. It really hits the nail on the head between what you would expect in an escape room and what a family attraction has. Similarly, experienced escape room players need to embrace a game like this, let their hair down and just have 90 minutes of fun and laughter!

A Suitably Fitting Finale

As a team we smashed through the game at a great pace; the money was stacking up brilliantly and the shopping list had been completed! But wait, we are on a game show – we get to play the bonus round! Now, as ever, no spoilers, however be prepared for a suitably different over the top finale to this game. It will help you build up your cash and you’ll have a brilliant laugh doing it too!

When all was said and done, this was certainly one of the most fun and innovate rooms I’ve ever played. From the over the top retro theming, the cleverly inserted puzzles, the cracking clue system and the all round fun and entertainment value, this is certainly not one to miss. Brilliantly hosted, all in character, superb setting, and something very different from what you’d expect to see in many escape rooms.

So remember, next time you are at the checkout and you hear the beep, think of the fun you could be having on Quick E Mart!

Without doubt, I happily award this room a very special, well deserved, FUN FACTOR BADGE!.. 🎉

If you want to go wild in the aisles, click the link to book at CTRL ALT ESC: https://ctrlaltesc.co.uk/index.php/en/games

Ratings

Inspector Waffles | Review

Image

Inspector Waffles Review | A detective story reminiscent of the old school classics, Inspector Waffles provides plenty of peculiar mystery, a story full of intrigue, and a slew of characters to interrogate, all wrapped into beautifully simple pixel-art. Will you be able to sniff out every clue and nab the murderer?

Developer: Goloso Games
Console Played On: Steam
Number of Players: 1

Do you like cats and dogs? Check ✅

Do you like associated puns and dad jokes of said cats and dogs? Check ✅

Do you yearn for the return of teletext and ceefax? Check ✅

Well if so, this point-and-click game might be for you.

Before Any Gameplay Has Begun…

I’d like to commend Goloso Games for providing a significant element of differentiation. Right after you click on new game, you have the choice to play with or without yellow, highlighted dialogue text to signify clues. If you’re feeling smart, maybe go without the highlights? Can’t decide? Don’t worry; you can toggle your decision in the options menu as and when you please. It’s little features like this, that can really encourage players to continue their journey, should the learning curve be too steep at any given point.

On The Scene And Looking Like A Stray Cat As Usual…

In Inspector Waffles you play said title character, who has just arrived on the scene of a murder. Specifically, Fluffy the cat; CEO of Box Furniture (their main seller being cardboard boxes; which every cat in the game professes to loving them). Task one is to find out what happened at the crime scene and the story unfolds from there…

Goloso games is made up of one developer, Yann Margan (alongside a few friends in the credits for testing, amongst other roles). How this game has been made by such a small team is incredibly impressive. The visuals for example, are a feast for my 30-something eyes (age, not amount!); an attractive, colourful, pixel-fest harking back to my days of playing Bamboozle!

The music is a treat too. It flows seamlessly when moving from one scene to another. Each scene or place has it’s own theme that augments the gameplay. There were times when pondering upon a conundrum, I was thankful for the background audio keeping me immersed.

Most notably, Inspector Waffles is a genuinely funny game. The script is full of great jokes and observations of cats and dogs in real life. There’s even a cat that looks suspiciously like Donald Trump called Maple; an obvious commentary on the former president’s skin tone!

All of these elements combined, really drive the theming towards premium territory.

Chilling On A Beach, Sipping On A Pina Colada…

As you’re reading this from a site called The Escape Roomer, all reviews have to be considered from the point of view of escape room enthusiasts. First off let me be clear. The puzzles are good, in some cases very good and very satisfying to solve; particularly the interrogation\clue presentation set pieces. The core game loop however is quite repetitive. This might put escape room fans out, who are looking for their usual fix of puzzle variance.

Another factor to consider is the amount of searching done by the player throughout the game. There is a lot of it and search fatigue may kick in. In a few cases, particularly during the final third of the game, some items blend into the background a little too well, feeling a little unfair for the player. That being said, the puzzles on the whole whilst sticking to the core game loop, are still exciting and fun to do.

I’m Not Asking My Mother For Help, Patches

Let’s talk about the hints system; it’s not often I’m this excited about one! The system manages to successfully put further positive aspects on the immersion and the overall fun of the gameplay. If you get stuck you can call Waffles’s Mum. Mum is a former inspector who was this ace solver. Waffles is initially not keen to call her. This is probably because she likes to playfully embarrass him (in the most Mum way) before she actually helps him. The help is presented with a direct clue towards what you need to do next. A useful and highly charming hint mechanic overall.

WE ARE THE LIONS!

Have I mentioned that Inspector Waffles is a genuinely funny game? Warning, it is rife with dad jokes. As a dad myself, I found these to be hilarious and excellent comic relief from some of the more difficult puzzle set pieces. The references to cat (and dog) lifestyles throughout the game (eg: the main victim’s job role and a dog named Pavlov) are also rewarding to experience.

Gimmie… That… Coin…

Inspector Waffles is priced at around the £12 mark for all consoles. For that, you get a main campaign that will last around 4-8 hours. There is also an optional side mission that changes the ending of the game, depending on whether you complete it in it’s entirety. If you’re like me however and did not finish it, you’ll be disappointed to know that there is no way to complete the optional side mission without starting the game right from the beginning. I know completionists won’t care and do it anyways, but it didn’t motivate me enough to play through the entire game again; knowing what is going to happen for the sake of an optional side mission.

Aside from that, and considering Inspector Waffles was made (mostly) by a lone developer, what you receive for your money is well worth it.

For The Focussed Feline Or The Crazed Canine?

Because of the differentiation mentioned at the beginning of this review, alongside a well-crafted learning curve; I’d recommend this game to inexperienced and experienced puzzlers. There is enough for the inexperienced, to be motivated all the way with the form of motherly hints and yellow highlighted text. Whereas for the experienced/hardened, they can refuse to utilise them for street cred points and local bragging rights…
(wow, I’m such a dad….).

One thing to mention control-wise, is that there is no gamepad compatibility on steam. This is a minor criticism however, as the mouse controls work perfectly fine. But it is something the developer may consider adding, in any future updates; increasing their already robust, differentiation factor.

Ratings

This is certainly one of the strongest games I have reviewed this year. Outstanding theming, visuals and a heavy emphasis on fun and player inclusiveness, have created an engrossing and entertaining game in Inspector Waffles. Black Friday isn’t far away either, and if it does appear in the sale (or even if it doesn’t), there are all kinds of reasons to play this gem.

Inspector Waffles can be played on Steam, support the developer here.

Headlock Escape Rooms: The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us | Review

Image

Headlock Escape Rooms: The Keeper and the Fungus Among Us Review | The Keeper has awakened. This only happens every 1,000 years when the evil Paxillus is released from his mushroom prison. Your team, The Guardians, must help our hero defeat this dreaded Mushroom King and save the people of this land.

Date Played: 13th September 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 80 minutes

One day, roughly 10 months ago, Joel (one of the creative geniuses behind Cracking Christmas and The Wizard’s Apothecary) was suddenly struck by the following pun:

I put the fun in fungi

Joel immediately turned to his partner and said, “OK we need to make a musical escape room out of this.

I put the fun in Fungi

The rest as they say, is history! Which is how our team consisting of Mairi, Al, Ash and Tasha came to be playing a remote avatar game curiously titled ‘The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us‘ one Monday evening. We had no idea what to expect, but within 5 minutes we were crying with laughter and within 10 minutes we were singing along to all the musical parts.

Keeper? Fungus? What’s Going On?

The Story of The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us is fairly simple…

In a mysterious land far, far away, the evil Mushroom King Paxillus awakes from a 1,000 year slumber and swears to turn every resident of the peaceful Toadstool Village into mushrooms. But not all is lost! To meet Paxillus’ challenge is a hero for all ages: The Keeper. This millennium, The Keeper is a curious, slightly sassy, five legged spider.

Through this puppet adventure, it was our job as players to guide The Keeper through the trials and tribulations, journeying across the land and solving puzzles.

Not ‘Mush Room’ For Error

In terms of game structure and puzzles, The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us follows the loose format of:

  • Exciting video introducing what is happening
  • An area of gameplay, with about 1-5 linear puzzles to solve
  • Collect some cool and unique items which’ll be used later
  • A (more often than not) musical outro

The types of puzzles players will encounter vary, but they’re also brilliantly creative and not something you’d encounter in a typical escape room style game. We found ourselves navigating puzzles which felt a lot more at home in an adventure RPG video game, such as rotating cubes in specific orders, or attacking a gang of street fighters in a very specific combination to ensure they could all be defeated in the right order and that you also wouldn’t run out of health.

It’s like the creators have taken a genre of video game, added puzzles, transposed the experience onto a miniature scene, and run the whole thing as a 90 minute escape room! And so many unique sets all built in a very small area no less! To call it creative would be the understatement of the year.

World’s Most Unique Digital Escape Room?

…Yeah, we’d say so.

There’s quite literally nothing quite like this on the market, and believe us – we’ve played a lot! It’s a cross between an adventure video game, a Dungeons and Dragons one shot campaign, a musical like Rocky Horror Picture Show, a hand puppet performance, and a kids TV show from the early 00s. If you like any of the aforementioned media, you’ve got to book this. Seriously, you won’t regret it. Go in with an open mind and an ambivalence towards mushrooms.

Joel and his partner have built the experience themselves from scratch and make use of several unique sets and a lot of wonderful video trickery to produce an all round fantastic immersive experience-come-show. At the end of our adventure, he took us behind the scenes showing us not only a few of the endings we didn’t unlock, but also exactly how much love and toil goes into setting up such an amazing set.

This is what good puzzle games are. They’re created by folks who love the escape room industry and put their absolute everything into making fun content for the rest of us to enjoy. Joel has nailed it, and The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us will go down in cult escape room history for may years to come. Make sure you book it while you still can, you’ll kick yourself some day, decades down the line when Joel has retired, if you don’t.

The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us can be booked by heading to Headlock Escape Rooms’ website here.

The Keeper & The Fungus Among Us Ratings

Margate: the Summer of ‘21 – a triumphant return to real-life Escape Rooms!

Image

As mentioned in our introductory post, we are big fans of the escape rooms available in Margate, Kent (UK) and as Ash has family here, we make the trip at least a couple of times a year, giving us plenty of opportunities to explore the rooms in the sunny seaside town (and surrounding towns within a ~45 minute drive hehe).

After 18 months (looking @ u covid), we finally got to make the journey again, and of course, we booked in as many games as possible.

Instead of reviewing each room separately, here’s a ‘showcase’ of rooms we got to play this past week, in the hope that it might be useful for anyone planning a ‘staycation’ this summer. We’ve played a lot of (very good) rooms in this area in the past couple of years, so we will include our previous reviews too, to keep all the information together for you – sort of like a very niche ultimate escape room tourist guide.

A Guide to the Best Escape Rooms in Margate

Ash, Al and Mairi finally in person together!

Ctrl Alt Esc (Margate)

Complete puzzles and unravel the mystery in a highly themed, real life game that’ll have you laughing and making memories with your friends and family!

As Ctrl Alt Esc were the first company we (literally) stumbled upon, we figured this was a good place to start. In a previous life (pre-2017) before we had discovered the wonders of escape rooms, we had walked past this place on the sea-front, and wondered what it was all about. Little did we know, housed in that building was an entire Spaceship, and Frankenstein’s monster! These rooms are wonderful; hand-crafted and obviously built with a lot of passion and ingenuity. The company feels very friendly, with a great team spirit, and hugely enthusiastic GMs. We played their two original games, Spacescape and Frakenscape back in 2018, and after loving those, there is a lot of excitement at word of new adventures from them- first with Detention and now with their upcoming Quick-E-Mart game (which we are buzzing to try on our next trip!). 

Frankenscape ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

‘Scatty professor Alec Smart has gone missing in the midst of a very important experiment.The storm is coming and the lightning is key. You must take his place or forfeit losing his groundbreaking research!’

CAN YOU FINISH WHAT HE STARTED?

This room was brilliant! You begin by descending a flight of stairs, with thematic lighting and music. Ctrl Alt Esc does an amazing job of immersing you in the world of Frankenstein right from the off. The first puzzle you face is outside the main ‘room’, as you need to work to gain access to the laboratory in order to continue Alec’s research. We like rooms that begin in this way and find that it helps ramp up the excitement, as who knows what is to come!

The space itself is HUGE – and definitely fills up the 75 minutes allocated. We loved exploring the space that has been created, and the decoration was fantastic. There was a good range of puzzles (one featuring the use of a mallet and another using bellows, which were veeeery fun), including some that we haven’t come across before. The room stays true to its theme throughout, as you are tasked with rebuilding Frankenstein’s monster in time to awaken him! The ending was absolutely superb, and felt very ‘complete’ (and definitely made some of the scaredy cats of the room jump).

Photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc (so were the hats…)

Spacescape ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your crew are on a voyage to a newly discovered planet, but now the spaceship’s lights are flashing and alarms are sounding. Surely you can just turn off the warnings and forget about it, or maybe you need to prepare the escape pod…

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

This room was reminiscent of returning to the Wacky Warehouse (do people know what this is – or is this a strange Northern place?!), as players are brought into a legit (it felt very legit) spaceship to complete this room. Standout features of this experience include:

  1. Having to replenish and restock oxygen levels throughout the experience, again ramping up the immersion!
  2. Each player is assigned a particular role. We LOVED this aspect, everyone has their own little ability, which works really well alongside the ship theme. Plus, you get your own little jacket!
  3. There are some places which open up in this room that we would NEVER have guessed. Forget the wardrobe door in the corner with some sneaky hinges showing, we had to be given a couple of nudges to explore some places we thought couldn’t possibly be part of the game (but, wonderfully, they were!) 
  4. The ENDING. Oh wow – the ending! We can’t give this away here, but rest assured, this will be an ending like no other you’ve ever experienced. 

We played this game as a three (Al, Ash and Ash’s mum) – and had an absolute (excuse the pun) blast. We would definitely play this again, just to watch other players’ faces as they find out just how much Spacescape has to offer. 

Having a blast (photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc)

Detention ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Take your seats. Sit up straight. Don’t answer back… As a misbehaving student you’re where you belong, but the teacher has just left the room and you have better things to do…

ARE YOU TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL?

As two very well behaved children, we went into this room ready to pay attention and follow the rules, but, obviously, things weren’t quite that clear…! This room is full of energy and humour, with an absolutely cracking soundtrack and some really amusing attention to detail. We played this game as a large group (6) and had a great time exploring the space together. We were a range of ages too, with Ash’s grandma joining us for the game (and having a great time throwing it back to school!). 

The room itself was very well themed, with the Game Master taking on a brilliant role, allowing Ctrl Alt Esc to pitch the room perfectly for various audiences. We ended up with a particularly ‘lively’ version, which was very entertaining. We have never come across a ‘school’ themed room before, and this was executed very well. 

We are really looking forward to seeing what games Ctrl Alt Esc go on to deliver. We will definitely make sure that we visit when we return to Margate! 

Photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc (and the big pencil)

The Escapement (Margate)

The Escapement is located towards the ‘old town’ side of Margate, tucked away, ready to be discovered! We can’t believe we ever visited Margate without doing one of their rooms, but once we had the joy of playing, we played all three in pretty quick succession. One of the nicest touches the Escapement has is the tokens that are given to players following completion of a room – we’ve got all three of ours proudly displayed (we can’t wait to get some more!). What are these wonderful rooms, and what did we think of them?

The Pit ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Do you have what it takes to save the planet in this journey to the center of the earth?

From the moment you descend below ground, the room provides complete immersion. We played this with four people, and there was plenty to keep the 4 of us busy and the puzzles were mostly very “hands-on”, which totally suited the scenario and also were a lot of fun! We always love it when a room has something we haven’t seen before and plenty of the puzzles here were completely new concepts to us, which we loved!

We really enjoyed the authenticity throughout, including the clue system which although is not totally unique, suited the situation perfectly!

We don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of discovering all the room has to offer but we have to say the way of getting from one section to another was a highlight and we were guilty of wasting some time enjoying the fun of this instead of ploughing on with the next puzzle 😂 this is one of those rooms you really don’t want to be over and we found ourselves taking our time, rather than pushing for an amazing time (not having a countdown in the room also helps with this, as well as the authenticity of the room) to maximise our enjoyment!

Honestly, we’re just sad we’ve already ticked this one off as it was a joy to experience! However, we’ve got our lovely Escapement token to commemorate our successful escape proudly displayed with those from their other rooms and look forward to expanding the collection and seeing what other marvellous adventures the Escapement will be offering when they reopen post-covid! One of the best!

Photo courtesy of The Escapement (unfortunately the big torch isn’t ours either)

Egyptian Exodus ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

All of you. Against a God. You must help the pharaoh pass onto the afterlife but…

Think sand – real life, authentic sand…(we wonder if it’s from the beach!?), some excellent decor and one of the most exciting doors to an escape room we’ve seen. These things combined throw players straight into Egypt, and into the very real wrath of a God. We have done a few games with this theme, but this one definitely stood out in terms of the quality of the puzzles (which all stay on theme throughout the gameplay!). Players need to rely on one of the lesser used 5 senses in this game, no spoilers, but we had fun with this part!

We played this game as a four, with Ash’s grandma and mum joining us on travelling into the dusty tomb, and hoping we wouldn’t end up in a sarcophagus. All of us had a great time in this game, we had heard that it was the most difficult of the three that the Escapement offer, so we were super chuffed to escape in a reasonable 37 minutes.

The end of the game was particularly exciting, with the wrath of the Gods closing in. This helped ramp up the excitement, and we were all relieved once we managed to escape from the tomb unharmed! A great game for families, there’s lots of fun physical things to do, but plenty to offer a solid challenge. 

Photo courtesy of The Escapement (and the Egyptian Gods)

Pirates of Polaris ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Are you pirate enough to navigate a ship on the high seas through thunder and lightning? Only time will tell…

We know this is a super common theme among Escape Rooms, but wow! We were so impressed with what the team had managed to put together. The floorboards, the walls, the ceiling, everything was creaky in the right places, and really made you feel like you were on a real life ship…OH WAIT – are those genuine artefacts from a real life 130 year old pirate ship called Polaris?! Yes, yes they are. 

The game began with us locked away in jail, and we had to work together in a small space to get into the rest of the game. We enjoy starting like this, as these puzzles are often a nice way to warm-up before the main event. Despite the size of this initial space being quite small, there was enough to keep all 5 of us busy! 

Once we did make it onboard, and into the ship, we were so impressed with the attention to detail. The room felt so real, and the puzzles were seamlessly intertwined with the space, making it feel as though we really were trying to get back to steering the ship, before the storm got the better of us. 

There were numerous rooms within this experience, and we had to work together (and hard!) in order to successfully navigate our ship to safety. This was one of the most ‘authentic’ rooms we’ve had the pleasure of playing, and we would definitely recommend – even if you tire of the pirate theme, you won’t be disappointed here!

Al looks so small…Photo courtesy of The Escapement

And the Escapement are due to soon be opening their eagerly awaited second branch over at Broadstairs. Keep an eye out for their announcements about this! We can’t wait to come back as soon as we can after they open and try them all out!!

Escape in the Towers (Canterbury)

If you are after a unique company who are running games from places with genuine historical value, then Escape in the Tower is definitely for you! All the games are set within England’s largest surviving Medieval gateway built in 1380, in the heart of Canterbury. Escape in the Towers have really brought history to life, using rooms that have never been opened to the public before, to host immersive (and challenging!) escape games.

We have been wanting to try these games for SO LONG. We’ve had our eye on them since we started escaping, reading many solid reviews and seeing the various accolades that the company has been awarded, it was only a matter of time before we made the short trip over to Canterbury to give it a go!

The Comms Room ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

You’re thrown in at the deep end to replace the recently deceased former Air Raid Warden Mr Parsons. Your job is to defend Canterbury from a barrage of air attacks by deploying air defences and performing your duties, all the while unravelling the mystery of an unknown traitor sabotaging your every step.

It took us a bit of time to decide which room we wanted to experience first, but logistics seemed to sort that out for us, and we booked the Comms Room – ready to try our hand at defending Canterbury! The first thing we have to mention is the set. The room is set in a genuine WW2 comms room and you can feel the authenticity as soon as you step through the door. It takes place in one room, but this space is jam-packed with so many puzzles, you wouldn’t have time to go anywhere else.

There was a bit of searching, but luckily with a team of 5, we managed to stumble across everything eventually (apart from one key, damn you key!). The puzzles were thrown at us from all angles (literally), as we explored parts of the room we did not expect to access in our escape. There were a lot of physical touches, including the use of a spanner, which helped increase the realism further. The clue system was brilliant – and tied into the storyline – which was SO clever. We loved this.

The finale of the room was so EXCITING. The music, the atmosphere, the story! Everything came together to a head, in a super intense finale which required teamwork and communication, bringing in some of the intensity that must have been felt in this room’s past. We cannot wait to go back and explore some more of the towers. A nice side note: the company offer free entry to the Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint as part of the Escape Room purchase, which we didn’t have chance to do, but looked fun!

Other games available: THE CRIME & PUNISHMENT LAB, MAGNA CARTA MURDER

A blurry escape courtesy of One Pound Lane: Escape the Towers

Escape Kent (Canterbury)

Kent is the gift that keeps on giving! Escape Kent is yet another brand we’ve discovered on our adventures in the South and we are pleased to say that it also offers some top quality escaping (we are very pleased there are a lot of rooms here as it gives us plenty of Escape Rooms still to play!). We originally chose to play ‘The Haunting’ room, however, we got about 6 minutes into the experience before the host informed us that the tech had unfortunately broken in this particular room. However, we will definitely be trying that room again. We were teased with some excellent decorations and some suitably creepy looking curtains…

Escape Kent were quick and professional, and offered us an alternative straight away. Shout out to some excellent customer service here. We crossed the road, and ended up losing our minds…

The Asylum (previously named Vice Versa) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Trapped inside The Asylum with nothing but your own troubled thoughts. It is down to you to control your mind, unveil hidden compartments and solve the interactive puzzles that stand in your way of freedom….Of course you will want to do so before your competitors do! After all, no-one likes to be second best.  

We HAVE to talk about the theming. What a strange and surreal concept. There was no decoration, no objects, no props, just 5 bewildered people and 4 white walls. However, it soon turned out that this room had SO much to offer. We are going to have to be vague to prevent any spoilers, but there was absolutely loads to do in here. We discovered puzzles after puzzles, all different kinds, and had our work cut out trying to finish them all.

Despite the lack of decoration, the game manages to immerse you well, as players are faced with a huge variety of hidden puzzles, and the open nature of the gameplay meant anyone could be solving anything at any time…which made for some intense puzzling! It works well for larger groups, as everyone has their own strengths, and some puzzles that one person thought “no thanks I hate it”, another person took one look at and solved immediately. The room tells you a lot about yourself! We got out in 40 minutes, which we were super stoked with. We are really glad we got to play this game, definitely a positive spin on an unfortunate technical glitch!

Other games available: Missing, The Haunting, Pirates of the Stormy Seas, Jail Break, Raider of the Lost Tomb, Kidnapped, Missing at Christmas 

Some very white walls.. Photo courtesy of Escape Kent

Real Life Games (Ramsgate – now closed)

Feline Fiasco [kitties now rehomed] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Do you and your colleagues have what it takes to restore balance to Calico Village by finding and rescuing all of the missing cats?

This room was totally different to anything we have come across before, with a unique theme, and a completely original setup. The decor was wonderful, and featured a vast space that opened up alongside the story, really fitting the storyline and setting of the escape, as well as being very aesthetically pleasing- everything had clearly been carefully considered and was there for a reason.

The puzzles were a mix of traditional padlocks/solving as well as the clever use of items/objects from the room. The theming was strong throughout, with the narrative developing to a fun and well thought out conclusion. The props used in the room were brilliant, we spent a lot of time laughing at the developments and found ourselves thoroughly enjoying all aspects of this room.

This is a room that will cater to newbies and enthusiasts alike, giving you a 70 minute goal to free as many cats as possible! We squeezed out in a jam packed 69:30 minutes, aided by Chris kindly providing us with helpful nudges throughout to ensure we escaped with a few seconds to spare, while remaining fully immersed! 

All the kitties! Us in our element.

Extinction [now Extinct] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your friends having recently contracted the virus have been selected as ideal test cases for Dr Ruoff Nevesorezenin’s NV31 antidote but when you arrive at the surgery it becomes apparent that an unfortunate set of circumstances has occurred.

Can you and your team figure out how to get your hands on everything required to save humanity…

Unfortunately, this room is no longer in action, but we did enjoy it when we played, and thought we would leave a few thoughts about it! The decoration was quite minimalist, but went along nicely with the theme. As the space opened up, the game got more exciting as we discovered new places, which really helped to ramp up the excitement. One of our distinct memories of the room is a plant, and the dreaded searching! This was definitely something that slowed us down in this game – especially as we tackled it as only a team of two. We would have recommended this room to newbies to the escape world, but alas, it appears it is now…extinct (which is very sad, Real Life Games were lovely hosts with a passion for Escape Rooms).

Interesting that Al has the scarf on here but Ash has it on the other picture…

The Panic Room (Gravesend)

When we realised that we were driving DIRECTLY past Gravesend on our journey down the UK, we got very excited. Escape Room enthusiasts around the country have all heard of the Panic Room, and their HUGE breadth of games that they offer. But not only that: all of the games are designed with passion and ingenuity. There are so many to choose from, and so many unique themes, visiting Gravesend definitely feels like an enthusiasts’ dream come true, especially with their new shop opening (we had never seen so many Exit Games!!!).

If you are ever within 1, or 2…or 3 or 4 hours drive from Gravesend, get yourself booked in (you can literally make a day, or two days even of it!). You won’t be disappointed; we certainly haven’t been, and we’ve only played a few! 

Loop ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Be the first to test a pioneering new technology, in an experiment that will change the course of human history.

Welcome to Frontier Engineering — a private research and development company working on nuclear transmutation, quantum tunnels and the applications of dark energy.

This room is genius. The gameplay starts off very typically, as you solve puzzles and progress through switching on the three lights required to start the ‘portal’. We settled into our puzzling, enjoying the range of both physical and technical puzzles on offer, and making steady progress through the room. Then, SOMETHING HAPPENED. We can’t say what, but what a twist! We spent the second half of the room feeling a huge time pressure, and infinitely more immersed than we spent the first half. The gameplay that has been set up by the Panic Rooms feels so simple, but it is so, so effective. On reflection, it’s interesting to think about how we performed and communicated differently in the first half of the room compared to the second – you could do some fun science experiments playing on this concept!

We managed to escape in a solid time of ~45 minutes, and we were filled with relief to know that we had not just escaped, but SUCCESSFULLY escaped (there is quite a big distinction between the two in the room, you’ll have to play to find out what we’re talking about!). We really enjoyed what the team has created here, and this was an additional layer to the escape that we have never come across before. Definitely one for your bucket lists!

Going Loopy (too cheesy?) – Photo Courtesy of the Panic Room

Wizard of Oz ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Follow the yellow brick road, make your way into the Emerald City and step into the Wizard’s shoes! You’ll be sure to make some friends along the way, so work together to fix your hot air balloon before time runs out! Are you ready for the flight of a lifetime?
This review has been written by Mairi when we all FINALLY managed to meet in person (YAY). Please see here for the review (we love Mairi’s writing so definitely best to read it in her words)!

Dino Land [also now Extinct!] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Our state-of-the-art facility is looking for new Rangers! However, it seems you may have a tough first day of work… The Dinosaurs have escaped! Time for drastic Jurassic measures! Can you get to safety and restore the park’s security? Or will it be a Triassic triumph for these rampaging reptiles?

We had heard amazing things about this experience (definitely an experience rather than a typical ‘escape room’ – but not to its detriment).We took a big group as everyone was keen to get involved (and we had bigged up this room for a long time!). Upon arrival, our ranger, Lucy, welcomed us and got us ready to enter Dino Land!

The experience starts as soon as you walk through the gates of Dino Land; the theming and decoration is incredible, with the whole place immersing you with the dinosaurs right from the beginning. The puzzles were on the easy side, and our ranger guided us through these to progress the storyline. At times this felt like a departure from the normal feeling in an escape room of ‘hmm…what do we need to tackle next’ as we were often told what the current task was. However, this is an experience to give yourself over to and you can have so much fun immersing yourself in the game.

Although the puzzles were not the most challenging we have come across, they were varied and tied in well with the action going on in the park- there were some extremely fun physical elements which made everyone feel like they were in an action movie! 😊We were rushed from room to room, admiring set after set, and watching the story progress, and even coming face to face with some escaped Dinos!! 😬

Love the attention to detail, check the number plate! (Photo courtesy of the Panic Room)

Bonus content: Sacrifice ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your friends have been kidnapped! A satanic cult has been stalking you for a while now, and you’re due to be sacrificed in just 25 minutes to the one they call Mother. That is, unless you can work together and escape the van before your time is well and truly up!

Mother is great! All praise Mother!

It was about 8pm that we finished Dino Land, and the escape room adrenaline rush was so real! We pulled in Ash’s uncle and brother to play another game with us, as we weren’t quite done with The Panic Room just yet…Luckily, we managed to squeeze into Sacrifice (is it lucky to be kidnapped…?) to try our hand at one of the shorter games offered by The Panic Room.

We’ve never played an escape room in a van before, but this was really fun! We were on it for puzzling, we must have been energised from our time in Dino Land, as we managed to escape in a super quick time of around ~10 minutes! Obviously there are less puzzles on offer, so this wasn’t too bad, we still felt like we had worked for our win. This concept seems like a great idea for hosting escape rooms on a more fluid basis, at festivals or events. We would definitely try another!

The blurriest of photos.. I feel like you can tell it was nearly 10pm! Courtesy of the Panic Room

Other games available: there are SO many. Too many to list…head to the website to see the lowdown! 

There’s our rundown of what we have experienced (so far) of the escape rooms that Kent has to offer. There is literally TOO MUCH to choose from. We love our trips here and the variety of rooms that we can easily access. If anyone is taking a staycation this year – Margate would be an excellent choice! Let us know what other games there are to play in Kent…we are always on the look out for more!