Project Breakout: The Complete Guide

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Project Breakout, the full run-down!

Anywhere that is within ~1 hour drive of Sheffield, we will have looked into whether there are any escape rooms that we are yet to try out. Brighouse is no exception!

The back story of us discovering Project Breakout is quite amusing – it was Sheffield Pride (which explains the face paint that some of our team members are wearing on the below picture) and it was SO rainy. We had a go on a few of the rides (it’s very amusing watching people ride of mechanical bulls in the pouring rain), but then we soon got chilly and wandered back to our house, looking for something to do for the afternoon…

Of course why not have a look into doing an escape room?!

We had done most of the rooms in Sheffield by this point and we were constrained to places that had last minute availability. After browsing the web, we came across Project Breakout’s room: ‘Operation Clearsafe’. We called them up, and got ourselves booked in. Before we knew it, we were on our way to Brighouse (although Al originally said it was in Pontefract which if you know your Yorkshire geography was quite a lie).

Little did we know what we had got ourselves into!
(especially taking two escape room newbies, so sorry guys!!!)

Photo (c) Halifax Courier

Project Breakout: Operation Clearsafe

Welp! We were led downstairs into the basement of the climbing centre where Project Breakout is based, feeling the chilly air surround us as we were taken further and further away from the safe, light, outside world.

In the briefing, we were asked how scary we wanted the room, to which one of our members said ’10/10′. But we soon shut that down and asked for a medium 5/10, which in hindsight was lucky as I think if we had had 10/10 some of our team members might have actually cried!

The premise of this room is: an experimental laboratory which has been testing on animals and humans, and has recently experienced a disaster, and accidentally (whoopsie) let loose all of the test subjects. Of course, this meant a 60 minute count down until the self destruct of the entire facility. Our aim was to get out of the facility (alive) and avoid any unwanted encounters with the mysterious subjects who were said to be freely roaming around. Luckily, we had help from our technical friend, who kept us up to date on a walkie-talkie with the whereabouts of any unwanted guests.

“He’s got a KNIFE!”

This room is very, very creepy. You are on edge throughout, with a creepy soundtrack, the (very atmospheric) actual chilliness of the basement, and many, many dark corners…

Make sure you are comfortable with the people you go in with, as you will inevitably end up grabbing hold of them, or hiding in places that are way too small to fit one person, let alone two, to avoid being seen! One of our team members took the saying ‘hiding in plain sight’ a bit too literally and decided that sitting on the floor with her eyes closed was the best way forward. She then loudly exclaimed that one of the test subjects was carrying a knife (spoiler, he was not) – and then she was pretty much paralysed with fear for the rest of the game.

It’s amazing how well a spooky atmosphere, story and an actor can escalate into something altogether more scary through the participants’ own imaginations!

The actual physical space the game takes place in is vast- it is definitely one of the biggest escape rooms we’ve played, and as such we would highly recommend taking a bigger team to take on this challenge (not to mention the safety in numbers aspect!).

We talk about this game so much, and think it is one of the only escape rooms we would choose to re-play!

These are smiles of RELIEF!

Back again…!

Project Breakout: The Dollmaker

Full of high praise from our first experience at Project Breakout, we knew we had to return! A weekend many moons ago (well, pre-covid so it feels like a lifetime ago) we headed up to Brighouse intending to play one room -The Dollmaker.

This was a dingy, unsettling room, with creepy dolls and plenty of serial killer essentials. It was nowhere near as scary as Operation Clearsafe, but it was quite creepy!

In our team of 4, we settled into a reasonably steady rhythm, navigating the puzzles on offer and taking it in turns to look after Alice when she was jumping at the slightest noise. The room is well suited to a more experienced team, and enthusiasts will find themselves facing some new challenges!

Smiling after playing three escape rooms instead of one WHOOPS

Project Breakout: Project Z – zombies and a secret bunker…

After successful completion of The Dollmaker, we wanted more, and our superb games host kindly squeezed us into Project Z. This room was set in a bunker-one of the best bunker sets we have seen (complete with a secret door none of us saw coming!).

The sound effects were perfect at heightening the immersion, with the zombies scratching and moaning, it was good for keeping you on track (and keeping Alice on edge lol).

We were having a particularly good day when we played this game, and we really clicked with this room and the puzzles.

It is not a scary room, but is effective a creating a sense of unease (Steven was utterly convinced we were going to have a zombie visitor). We escaped in a record (at the time of playing) 26 minutes, but we felt this was a very jam-packed room with some clever puzzles which very much fit into the theme and which we just happened to click with on the day!

Antidote – the cure is always to play more rooms, right?

As we got out in under 30 minutes, Benn (our host for the day) told us we were eligible for a free escape… So we made our way into the Antidote and onto room 3 (thank you Benn for being so flexible!). We were warned that this was their easiest game, but we were excited nonetheless as we knew Project Breakout do what they do very well!

This room starts with a very clever play to spring you straight into the immersive story, it’s something that makes it stand out in our memories for sure.

This room would be absolutely perfect for a beginner group! It cleverly introduces a wide range of puzzles: logic, observation, math, riddle…it was all there, and delivered really well. The storyline was excellent, and we knew our challenge was not to escape, but to solve a bigger problem(!).

Escaping in 22 minutes, we just missed another record!

Photo (c) Tripify

Overall – The Verdict

We love Project Breakout’s rooms. We have had some great days out playing their games and would be super keen to return when a new room opens. We have no doubt that enthusiasts and beginners would find something to enjoy here.

You can book yourself in to play any at Project Breakout by heading to their website here.

20 Things for Escape Room Fans to do During Lockdown

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So we’re back here again! From the 5th of November, most of the United Kingdom will go back into lockdown. This means all non-essential businesses must close, yup even escape rooms.

But not all is lost – we’ve done it once and we can do this again! That’s why this time around, I’ve come up with a list of 20 things to do during lockdown that will scratch that escape room itch.

Whilst this list is most definitely catered towards the escape room fan, why not pick an activity and rope your non-escape room friends in too?

We could all do with a little more fun in their lives!

20 Escape Room Alternatives in Lockdown

1. Play an Online Escape Room

Yep, of course this was always going to be at the top of the list! Head over to Escape the Review to see a list of every play at home game on the market! Or check our my favourites here. I won’t go into too much detail, but there’s something out there for team. Whether you enjoy printable escape games (such as ClueQuest or Escape Hunt), hosted by a live avatar (such as Agent Venture), or something completely digital (such as Clue Cracker or Deadlocked)!

2. Puzzle Trails = Exercise Routine

Just because we’re in lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t keep fit and explore your city safely. Outdoor puzzle trails are a great way to get the brain in gear and discover something new. Here in London, I love Locked City and Operation Mindfall. You can find some fun ones in a city near you with Treasure Trails or Secret City Trails.

3. Hunt for Treasure with Geocaching

A treasure hunt, spanning the entire globe with treasure hidden quite literally everywhere? Yep, that’s Geocaching! Self-guided and safe, in fact there’s probably a secret Geocache located very, very near you. Check out my guide here.

4. Explore a New Location with Randonautica

If Geocaching isn’t your thing, but you still want to get outside and go for a walk – you can make your own adventure with the free app, Randonautica. Read my guide on what it is and how to play here.

5. Write a Novel – Yes, Really!

Escape rooms are all about the adventure. Being immersed in your own story is one thing – but why not use this lockdown month to write your own? November is National Novel Writing Month. By signing up and writing 1,667 words a day by November 30th you’ll have written your own novel. Give it a go here.

6. Start a New Tradition: Board Game Night

Start a new tradition! Why not make Wednesdays the new Board Games Night in your household? Whether it’s Monopoly or Civilisation, there’s a board game out there to suit you. You can pick up a new favourite and support a local shop that has had to close for lockdown by buying a game online. My local shop is Orcs Nest!

7. Learn to Play Dungeons and Dragons

This one’s a little personal to me – I’ve LOVED D&D during lockdown. If you’ve ever wondered how to play, now you’ve got all the free time in the world. I recommend finding a group and playing online via Roll20.

8. Solve a Murder

Okay so this one is a little bit of a joke, but by all means if there’s a murder out there you can solve – go for it! I’m actually referring to online murder mystery games. From those led by actors, to cosy killer games you can play at home, it’s a pretty worthwhile way to spend an afternoon! Oh, and if you’d like somewhere to write notes, you can buy one of my ‘Evidence’ notebooks on Etsy here.

9. Escape… On Your Mobile!

I have to admit, earlier in 2020 I became absolutely enthralled with escape rooms on my mobile. In particular Cube Escape by Rusty Lake are excellent. They’re free and can be played from your phone, absolutely anywhere.

10. Set your friends some Taskmaster Challenges

So this one might be a uniquely British reference, but here in the UK we have a TV show called “Taskmaster” in which contestants take on increasingly ridiculous tasks, such as “Throw a tea bag into a mug from the furthest distance away.”, “Do the most impressive thing when played in reverse”, or “Make a meal using ingredients that begin with all 26 letters of the alphabet”. These work surprisingly well over a Zoom call with your friends! So why not write a list, get your mates together, and have a tournament!

11. Teach Your Talents

Everyone has that special talent, something only YOU can do really well. Why not start a workshop for your friends and family? Repotting pot plants, making cocktails, carving a pumpkin, puzzle writing? Share the skills! If hosting isn’t your thing, you can always book one online.

12. Live Out Lockdown Virtually in a Video Game

It’s its all a bit much *gestures vaguely*, a month is a perfect length of time to really get stuck into a good video game. If you want something a bit more chill, Animal Crossing (hmu for my Switch code if you want to hang out) or Stardew Valley are just the ticket. If you prefer to scratch that puzzle itch, I highly recommend the Professor Layton series, L.A. Noire, The Witness, or Sherlock Holmes.

13. Grow a Beard

Right now it’s Movember, and it’s not too late to get your beard game on. This year, they’re also running a “Make a Move” campaign. It’s all for charity, so why not get involved?

14. Choose Your Own Adventure… On Netflix

Anyone remember that Black Mirror episode where you got to choose your own actions and therefore the ending? It’s called Bandersnatch and you can play it any time on Netflix. There are 5 possible endings – how many can you find?

15. Give Your Home a Makeover

Why not turn it into an escape room for those you live with to solve? Heck, it’s lockdown. You’ve got the time on your hand to live out your best at-home escape room themes. I definitely want to see photos!

16. Host a Pub Quiz

Yep, this one HAD to be on the list somewhere. I know we’ve almost exhausted pub quizzes in Lockdown 1.0, but they’re still good fun. Why not host a round based on escape room trivia, or questions that feature puzzles?

17. Start a New Podcast

Whatever you’re into, someone has made a podcast of it. Here in the escape room industry, you might enjoy The Infinite Escape Room or Escape This Podcast. Or if you want something little different, my favourite of 2020 has been Oblivity Podcast (did you know they have a tie-in escape game too?)

18. Make a List of all the Escape Rooms You’ll Play When They’re Open

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of wishful thinking! One day, the world will be back to normal. Escape rooms will open again, and you’ll be able to go to the pub with your friends again. So get a ahead of the game and make a lost of all the rooms you’d like to play as soon as you can!

19. Make your own escape game

You’ve played the rest… Now make your own! There are so many authentic, brilliant homemade escape rooms on the market. I wrote one for my friend’s birthday this year. All you need is some pen, paper and imagination!

20. Write Your Own List!

Inspired? Why not write your own list of 50 things to do during lockdown. Please tag me @theescaperoomer in it – I’ll want to try everything on your list myself!

A Brief Guide to Geocaching

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Join the world’s largest treasure hunt. Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a real world GPS based treasure hunt. In fact, the largest and most widely used treasure hunt in the world! All over this planet are hidden little boxes called Geocaches. They might be as tiny as a bottle cap, or as large as a treasure chest. Some are obvious, others are disguised as rocks, or tucked inside bricks in the landscape where nobody would think to look. By solving a series of clues, or following the co-ordinates, anyone can find and log these Geocaches, wherever they are in the world.

How does the app work?

Prospective Geocachers create an account on the website and download the app. Then, by enabling GPS co-ordinates, players can see all nearby Geocaches (or caches, as they’re refered) labelled by a different icon for each type. Players then navigate to the geocache by GPS and, when close, must search their environment or make use of the clues to find the location. Once found, players can log the cache on their account in the app.

Players may also find a logbook to sign, and items hidden within the cache. Trackables are a certain type of item that enjoys travelling between geocaches. Players are encouraged to collect these items and drop them at the next geocache they find, to help the Trackable travel the greatest distance.

Types of Geocache

Traditional Cache (Green)These Geocaches are straightforward and may be any size, and any difficulty to find.
Puzzle Cache (Blue)These Geocaches involve puzzles to find – your initial location may take you to a place in which a puzzle must be solved to find the correct location of the cache.
Multi Cache (Orange)Multi-caches are Geocaches where more than one location is involved. The co-ordinates may take you to a start point, but a series of puzzles must be solved to take you to the next location. At the next stage, you receive a clue for the following, and so on.
Earth Cache (Earth Symbol)Earth Caches are places of unique geological significance, or places of great natural beauty. There are no physical caches here – you log it by being present!

In the past, other caches including Virtual Cache and Webcam Caches were great fun, but are sadly retired today! Trophies and awards can be collected for claiming certain caches, or a certain number of caches on specific days.

The Escape Roomer’s Favourite Geocaches

Mostly in London, here are my favourites:

  • The British Library | London | Multi-cache
    • A fabulously puzzling experience that takes you all the way around the British Library, finding clues and solving puzzles. It ends in the largest Geocache I’ve ever seen.
  • 16th Century Pub | London | Virtual
    • A brilliant trip through history with a few great puzzles to boot!
  • InglenookBrew’s Caches | Auchencrow | Traditional
    • The most charming and surprising hides I’ve ever seen. Expect quirky mechanisms and brilliant reveals!
  • The Smoothe Field Mystery | London | Multi-Cache
    • A step back in time with an excellent series of puzzles around Smithfields, London.

(Please note: This list is NOT exhaustive. Have I missed a brilliant one? Let me know and I’ll add it!)

Is Geocaching safe?

Quite safe! Although some Geocaches will encourage you to row a boat, or even deep dive to find them, the average Geocacher will find all Geocaches accessible and within reach unless otherwise marked. As usual, have some common sense when it comes to any unregulated outdoor experience – please don’t tresspass, or Geocache after dark! If it feels unsafe, it probably is.

A Brief Guide to Randonauting

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The Randonautica app puts the user in the Director’s Chair of an adventure story yet to be written. By using the app, the user can break from their mundane day-to-day and take a journey of randomness into the world around them. Your mind is your guide as you observe and view the world differently.

What is Randonauting?

Randonauting is pretty simple. It’s using the app Randonautica to travel to a random place nearby. More specifically, it’s your very own choose-your-own-adventure game. You set the rules, the distance, the objective, and what happens next.

The most common use of the app and term “Randonauting” is to first set an ‘intention’ (for example, to find something new, something surprising, or something yellow), generate a location based on the app’s algorithm, head to the location and, well, find that thing.

The idea is to have an adventure and look out for your intention not just at the end goal but along the way too. You, the player, are encouraged to interrogate your surroundings. Perhaps you’ll find what you’re looking for, or find the answer to a question that’s been on your mind.

How does Randonautica work?

It’s a quantum number generator that translates to a co-ordinate. When you open the app you choose between an attractor (an area the app considers significant), a void (an area the app considers insignificant), or an anomaly (either of the two, it’s random).

On the second step of the app, you choose your RNG (Random Number Generator). ANU (Australian National University), or Temporal. This is just choosing between which number generator you want to use. I’ve found no real difference between the two.

How to set an ‘Intention’

Setting an intention is simply deciding what you want out of your Randonauting experience! I’ve had great success with the following intentions:

  • To find something that sparks joy
  • To find something unexpected
  • “Life finding a way”

As your experience will be entirely personal, it’s important to pick something meaningful for you. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • The answer to a question that is on your mind
  • Something unexplainable
  • Proof of ghosts / aliens
  • A puzzle waiting to be solved

Is this just confirmation bias?

Oh yes, absolutely! If you set out on a walk looking to find something particular (unless it’s TOO particular, like a “winning lottery ticket”), you’ll probably find it. Some people experience incredible co-incidences, and likely some people return home with no luck on their walk.

Why is Randonauting so popular?

The rise in Randonauting can be attributed mainly to TikTok. Users finding incredible things like stacks of cash, or horrifying things like literal crime scenes have been posted online and traffic to the app has increased massively. In particular, TikTok users have claimed to have found a suitcase filled with remains, unattached limbs, people on the brink of death, and supernatural experiences [Citation]. The experience is what you make of it, and you can read other’s experiences here or here.

The other contributing factor to Randonautica’s success is it’s launch in summer 2020. This was at the height of the lockdown in places like the USA and Europe. What better socially distant activity than a solo walk with just you and your thoughts?

Is Randonauting safe?

The app is as safe as you make it. You’ll be fine so long as you have some common sense about you. For example, no tresspassing, don’t Randonaut after dark, don’t enter a dangerous area, bring people with you if you’re unsure. You know the drill. Stay safe!