No Escape: The Haunted Toy Store | Review

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The Haunted Toy Store Review | An abandoned toy store looms over an otherwise charming village. People tell stories of weird noises and strange happenings, toys found in odd places and children going missing. Nobody has been brave enough to attempt to solve the mysteries of the toy store that is, until you…

Completion Time: 40 minutes
Date Played: 29th October 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Easy-ish

I’ve got a reputation on The Escape Roomer for being a little bit of a scaredy cat… Dark Spaces? Ghosts? Asylums? No thank you.

I listen in horror as Al and Ash chat about all the UK’s scariest games they’ve played and instead ‘reminisce’ about the time I went to the London Dungeon and had to be escorted out because I got too scared and started crying. It would be a funny story if I’d been a child… Only I was 17 at the time!

But when our group committed to playing a scary escape room over Halloween, I figured what the heck – if you can’t get scared witless on Halloween, then when can you? No Escape, bring it on!

A Hauntingly Good Halloween at No Escape

For No Escape’s special Halloween weekend, we went for what sounded like the least scary game they run: The Haunted Toy Store. Somehow ghosts feel more manageable than walking into a blood splattered cutting floor- which made being greeted at the entrance by a terrifying butcher in full character, sporting a human ear necklace all the more chilling.

For one weekend only in 2021, each of No Escape’s escape rooms at both of their London sites had a live actor in the room with the teams. It’s important to note that normally, their rooms are not live actor rooms, but given the circumstances I think The Haunted Toy Store was vastly improved with the presence of a creepy clown throwing red herrings our way. The creepy clown was an actor, Nicole, and just outside the room our games master was Holly.

We resolved to enter the room and pretend as if we wouldn’t be scared and in the end I think we made the right decision. I think without the live actor the room itself would have been fairly average and not too scary- but if you’re into creepy cursed dolls and children’s toys coming to life, then you’ll probably enjoy it all the same! No jump scares in the original, but plenty in the Halloween special! So a huge shout out to Holly and Nicole for that!

Pitch Black… Cackling Laughter

We began our briefing being told that this was a mysterious toy shop. The day before a boy had come into the room and cut himself quite badly, but when they’d returned to clean it up all the blood had mysteriously disappeared. Creepily, so had the boy – not a trace of him since.

The doors then swung open and we were in pitch darkness. As cackling laughter rose out of the corner, we quickly realised we were not alone! Our first actor interaction began in this room, which I feverishly tried to ignore, rushing past them to start busying myself with anything else. A word of warning: It’s quite hard to try to look for a light switch when you have your eyes closed.

From here, we were off to a flying start. The Haunted Toy Store is essentially a two-room escape room that pretty much looks and feels exactly like a toy shop from everyone’s worst nightmare. Plenty of dolls staring out at you from shelves, and plenty of toys that have had heads and limbs ripped off. So many distorted faces, dark corners and eerie sounds!

*shudders*

How did we escape the Haunted Toy Store?

The puzzles in this escape room were fairly straightforward and we managed to escape with a respectable time that put us right at the top of the Halloween leader board. I’d probably pitch the general puzzles at an easier-than-average level, but that’s not to say we didn’t get immensely stuck from time to time! No sir. The presence of a creepy clown made it all the harder.

There was a bit of searching and finding, plenty of children’s toys, some of which had clues and others were just for display, as well dials to turn, things to count and a few 3 and 4 digit codes. This all led to a meta puzzle which combined lots of the room and took us the longest to get right! There were also a few red herrings in the game which are usually a no-no in escape rooms, but we all felt they worked pretty well in a room like this. Red herrings can go a long way to building up atmosphere and forcing you to spread out (and away from the safety of numbers!)

Over the course of The Haunted Toy Store we asked for two hints. One of these was delivered via a screen in the room, and the other was given by the live actor in the room. Since this room is not usually available with a live actor, I don’t mind telling you that she had us all holding hands and singing ring-a-ring-a-roses followed by lots of screaming in order to receive the clue. I still have nightmares!

The Verdict

Overall, we had a lot of fun! We screamed quite a few times – but thankfully not as many as the butcher room next door to us, so I think we made the right choice!

There are a few ‘meh’ reviews of the company and the room out there, and I can see that without a live actor it probably wouldn’t appeal to hardcore enthusiasts as much. We were there for a good time, a couple of screams, and that’s exactly what we got – so no complaints.

For the special Halloween edition, we paid £35 per ticket which is also fairly expensive, even for London, but we’d still recommend the experience for the right team. Especially at Halloween.

The Haunted toy Store can be booked on No Escape’s website here. Please note, this review is of their special Halloween version of the room available from the 28th – 31st of October 2021. This involved a live actor in the room, which is not typically available.

Ratings

E-Scape Rooms: The Alp | Review

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The Alp Review | The Alp is here. He won’t leave and you can’t run away. He waits for the night to fall. When you lay your head to rest, he will be there.

Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: March 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Medium

I absolutely love the horror genre, and with that comes the excitement of horror escape rooms. The unsettling feeling of fear combined with time sensitive puzzle solving gives me such an adrenaline rush, so I was eager to play E-Scape Room Games’ The Alp.

An unsettling horror themed game with brilliant puzzles and an excellent eerie narrative

We played as a group of three over Zoom and were each invited to join the game on our separate devices. Our narrator is introduced through some mysterious black and white footage, and he begins to describe a house with a dark past. On moving into the house, his wife started to experience horrific nightmares until one morning, she didn’t wake up. Soon enough, the narrator starts to experience these nightmares for himself. It’s up to us to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

The game begins and we’re free to explore the first room. We’re all able to explore separate areas of the room at the same time by dragging and clicking, and if anything of significance happens we’re all redirected to a video simultaneously to ensure we don’t miss a thing. Many of the puzzles require teamwork and communication from different areas of the room, and the game makes it really easy to co-ordinate this.

The puzzles are a mix of cyphers, deduction, pattern spotting and some algebra thrown in to test our school day memories. They fit in with the theme perfectly, and are supplemented by an eerie soundtrack which allow the puzzles to flow nicely with the story. Game design means it’s always clear what the task in hand is, and progress is marked with several sinister videos deepening the feeling of immersion.

The hint system is simple, and you can select which area of the room you need help with along with step by step clues designed to not give too much away.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this room. Although one addition to the ending of the story took us away from the immersion slightly**, we were suitably spooked and relieved with our decision to play in daylight.

Note: This review was originally published on March 7th 2021 on Borderline Puzzler. ** the ending has since changed.

E-Scape Rooms are currently offering The Alp for just £5.49 with the discount code ALPINTRO666, which is an absolute bargain for this game.

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

404 Escape: Survival | Review

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404 Escape: Survival Review | You and your friends are going on a hiking trip, suddenly it starts to rain. You have to find a place to shelter as it’s getting dark. There is a small old house not far away from you. It looks creepy and seems like no one is in it. You have no other choice but to open the front door.

Completion Time: 80:00 (90 minute room) 
Date Played: 4th September 2021 
Party Size: 

About 404 Escape

Survival is one of two current games available at 404 Escape in Selly Oak, Birmingham and is their horror/scarer room. Getting to 404 Escape is easy enough by car (with ample parking) and the Selly Oak train station is 5 minutes on foot. This was my first ever horror escape room and I was undoubtedly, quite scared. I entered with my buddy Atlas to take on Survival; rated 5 stars in difficulty by the company.  

“Just Put This Blindfold On…” 

We were greeted instantly by our GM James who gave a succinct, yet informative safety speech as an introduction. All good so far. He then asked us to surrender our phones into a lock box. Again, nothing wrong there, all standard.  

“Right then” said James, “just put this blindfold on”. 

Come again? I started to get quite nervous now. We put our blindfolds on and are “congered” to the first of Survivals’ rooms. I say room, it was an outdoors scene. First task; get into the small old house as its raining and dark. When I say dark, it’s VERY dark; one poorly lit flashlight between the both of us dark. The immersion sets in very quickly thanks to the blindfold execution. The torch given to us; our only light source, further added to the immersion, but also forced us to work as a solid, coherent unit, which was an additional positive aspect. 

No Other Choice But To Open The Front Door… 

In terms of story and theming, its your solid horror movie formula of the protagonists going into a building they really shouldn’t be going into; if they had the smallest amount of common sense. I certainly played the part of the cowering, unsure character whilst Atlas was the more self-assured, gung-ho type.  

Decor is mostly idiomatic and compliments well with the overall feel of the game. It’s a little derivative in places (I also didn’t fully understand the rationale behind the fruit and veg decor in the outside scene), but is nonetheless effective in contributing towards the unhinged atmosphere of the game. 

Rhyming Couplets… Of Death! 

As for the puzzles, the overall difficulty was well-balanced, however it wasn’t extremely hard; contrasting to the 5 stars in difficulty given by 404 Escape themselves. Some of the puzzles we fell into the trap of overthinking, however one puzzle in particular involving colour; I felt wasn’t entirely clear how to approach. The conclusion of the puzzle made enough sense (thanks to a hint from the GM), despite the initial confusion. Additionally, I’m not sure that the puzzle aesthetics and types, were consistent to the theme. They felt to be a mixed bag of different influences, which didn’t translate all that well.  

The hints were provided by the GM over a walkie-talkie and I very much appreciated them all. Each one was delivered as a rhyming couplet and in another context, would be applauded for its Shakespearean demeanour. In this context however, it proved all the more jarring, which considering the nature of the game; was highly appropriate.   

Getoutgetoutgetoutgetout! 

Of course there are many, many scary factors in this game; causing both Atlas and myself to jump out of our skins! Massive tick in the box for that. There is a point in the game too where we were split up in a room each… and one of us had the torch. The other had to wait in pitch black (and pray nothing was going to appear right by us!). 

The final part of the game also involved possibly the most stressful event I’ve ever witnessed in an escape room. I’m not going to ruin it for prospective players, but again I very much felt like I was in the final, crucial scene of a horror film.    

A Pound Of Flesh… 

The cost of Survival is £28-£35 per person for a 90 minute experience, based on how many are in the team (2-7 players allowed). This calculates to a cost/time ratio that is just about right when compared to other escape rooms available in the area. We were also given a free admission voucher each to Meeple Mayhem, their board game café sister company; a 10 minute drive down the road, and a bottle of hand sanitiser, which in this present day, was hugely appreciated.

Ratings

This is a solid horror escape room if you happen to be in 404 Escape’s vicinity. Buckets of immersion and a solid emphasis on (scary) fun are certainly the highlights. Special mention to the GM for their creative, poetic hints system…amongst other aspects. 

Survival can be booked by heading to 404 Escape’s website here.

Mystery Mansion Regina: Night Terrors | Review

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After finding one of his childhood drawings, Alex is suddenly plagued by nightmares of the “Sleepyman”. Seeking to rid himself of these nightmares, Alex turns to a hypnotherapist. Playing the role of his subconscious, you will need to help Alex figure out what is causing his nightmares… before it’s too late.

Ratings

Theming: 5/5
Puzzles: 4/5
Decor: 4/5
Immersion: 5/5
Difficulty: 3/5

Overall: 4/5 ⭐

The Scariest Sunday of the Summer…

So, it’s one of the HOTTEST Sunday afternoons we have had in the UK for a while. Outside is bright, sunny and warm. But inside, we are just beginning our 5 hour escape room adventure with Mystery Mansion Regina, an escape room company based in Regina, Canada. Night Terrors is the first part of the ‘Sleepyman’ trilogy (click here for our review of D’Viles Curio Shoppe and Sleepy Man). Players are introduced to Alex, a boy plagued by mysterious nightmares, and your mission is to find out what is causing these strange disturbances. 

The Game

You are tasked with playing Alex’s subconscious, guiding him through the room to solve puzzles and riddles, each taking you a step closer to discovering what is going on, and finding out who is the mysterious figure plaguing Alex’s dreams. This works particularly well on the online platform, with the first-person view of the gamesmaster tying in nicely with the idea that you are in Alex’s mind. Mystery Mansion Regina have cleverly set up the game to really play on this idea, with special catchphrases and an ingenious clue system: it’s definitely unique! 

The room is pitched at a solid ‘creepy’; there are unsettling stories of children disappearing, and allusions to a slenderman-style villain tip-toeing behind every locked door. We really enjoyed the atmosphere created in the room – the background music supplied in the Telescape software worked really well alongside the live zoom call (this is definitely a game to play in headphones!). The puzzles themselves are spread across the live call and the Telescape software, with parts that players can manipulate and other parts that you rely on Alex putting together for you. We liked this – the combination of the two platforms is quite seamless, it certainly didn’t feel clunky switching between the two. 

Image taken from Mystery Mansion Regina (https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/)

The puzzles themselves were the right level of challenging and there were plenty of them! We love a room with variety, and we were not disappointed with what Night Terrors had to offer. We are particular fans of puzzles that appear to players at the start of a room (almost teasing you to solve them!), but do not become clear until later in your gameplay. This leads you to some proper A-HA moments, as you finally realise what it is you’ve been looking at for so long!

There was one particular puzzle at the end of the game that really stood out to us all. The interaction between Telescape and the Zoom call is used wonderfully, to create an intense and extremely immersive atmosphere, which can be difficult in a virtual room. It certainly had us looking over our shoulders to double check that no-one was creeping up behind us.

The Story

The storytelling across the trilogy is immense, we got thoroughly pulled into the ‘Sleepyman’ saga. Night Terrors does a good job at introducing you to the Sleepyman universe, channeling some strong Buffy vibes. One of our party ,Tasha, noticed a niche reference to ‘Sabrina’ during our gameplay, which the host informed us was the first time anyone had noticed the link! We think this says more about Tasha than it does about the room (haha!) – although it did make it it feel more ‘real’. Always good fun in a horror themed room.

The end of Night Terrors leads very nicely onto the second and third games. As a side note, we strongly recommend that you play all of these in order as it makes it SO much better. In fact, doing them all back-to-back, as we did, is definitely the optimal way to experience the trilogy.

Of the four of us, two of us had nightmares after this game, which I think says a lot about the experience that we had!

The horror, the decoration, the technology… It all clicked together so well! Night Terrors does a brilliant job of sucking you in, and leaves you eager to find out what happens next. When we think back to this Sunday, it’s been one of our favourite online experiences and definitely scratched the escape room itch: we were thoroughly immersed! If you get the chance, it is so worth giving these a go. 

After all, it’s only a dream, right?

Image taken from Mystery Mansion Regina (https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/)

You can play Night Terrors with Mystery Mansion Regina for a cost of $25.00/person (plus tax). They recommend 2+ players, aged 14+. You’ve got 75 minutes to find out who is haunting Alex’s nightmares…

https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/

Mystery Mansion Regina: D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe | Review

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Local paranormal Youtuber, Estelle Jacobs, was searching for her missing boyfriend, Alex. Shortly after visiting D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe, Estelle vanished without a trace. It’s time to venture inside the Curio Shoppe through a live video feed and find out the truth about Estelle’s disappearance…

Rating: Creepy!
Completion Time: 67 minutes
Date Played: 13th June 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Horror fans! (14+)

Things are getting creepier and creepier in the Sleepy Man trilogy at Mystery Mansion Regina…

*shudders*

In what was one epic sugar-fuelled horror game marathon, team Escaping the Closet and I took on the Sleepy Man trilogy – a series of remote avatar games centred around their fictional nightmare, the Sleepy Man. The games in this series in order are:

The Story So Far…

In Night Terrors, the first in the series, we played as Alex’s subconscious – one of the victims who mysterious vanished after complaining of nightly Sleepy Man visits. In D’Viles Curio Shoppe we continued the story alongside streamer Livestreamer1337 (Sam) after hearing the mysterious rumours of Alex’s disappearance. Alex’s girlfriend Estelle was last seen at the mysterious Curio Shoppe and in a jovial ‘Buzzfeed Unsolved’ kinda way we came along for the ride with one goal in mind: capture some ghosts on camera!

…Wait, wait, sorry. Seems like I missed the brief. Our goal was to of course bring the missing people home.

But I wouldn’t say no to helping Livestreamer1337 go viral on Twitch either.

The Experience

D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe is played via a combination of:

  • Controlling a live avatar on Zoom, and
  • Your inventory system and 360 degree view of the room on Telescape

You’ll need your sound turned on (and up!) for this game, as both the live avatar and the Telescape work together to create a creepy, almost surround-sound experience. For the large part, Telescape played a supporting role allowing multiple players to be looking at different things at once. Personally, playing over two devices anyway, I spent more time on the Zoom call than rummaging through my inventory, but it was very helpful to have both handy.

Occasionally the Zoom call broke into an almost seamless video transition using Telescape and every single time I had to half close my eyes expecting a massive jump scare but thankfully this remote avatar room’s currency is creepy-scare, not necessarily jump scare. Unless you count– oh wait, I won’t spoil that! You’ll know it when you see it 😉

The Theming

D’Viles Curio Shoppe is the only game in the trilogy that exists in the real world too. What I mean is, it’s a live escape room at Mystery Mansion Regina which can be played at their physical location.

This is worth mentioning as the other two games in the trilogy are actually at a different, remote-avatar only location located at another site. There’s a few noticeable differences between D’Viles Curio Shoppe due to the fact this room has to cater to both audiences, but nothing suffers for it! It’s more of an interesting detail, and very cool that the company have adapted the existing and new experiences to work seamlessly together.

In terms of theming of this room, your host Sam takes you into a very curious looking shop – Estelle’s last known location. It becomes quickly very clear that this is no ordinary shop. Or should I say… Shoppe! From the mysterious tarot cards plastered on the wall to the decidedly creepy fortune teller box in one corner. On the shelves I spotted nothing less than a real monkey’s paw, some cursed trinkets, skulls, and other absolutely horrifying things that I definitely want to purchase for Halloween.

The whole room is also bathed in a rather mysterious purplish light that sets a very creepy shadow on otherwise innocuous items. There’s real tension in the air. Anything could happen. It also doesn’t help that everywhere are warning signs not to touch anything, and yet touch everything we did!

Definitely cursed now. Yep.

We were delighted and surprised to discover that this is not just a one-room experience. But the less I say about how the second space is discovered, the better. This room is packed with surprises and it’s best to go in with an open mind!

The Puzzles

In terms of puzzle difficulty, D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe is slightly more difficult than Night Terrors. That said, we didn’t need to ask for any clues, but our host Sam (real name Owen) was helpful enough to gently nudge us in the right direction when we needed it.

Players can expect to encounter puzzles involving ciphers, keys, number locks, and some very interesting use of tarot cards too! None of the puzzles were stand-out brilliant and I did get the impression that a lot of them would be best experienced in the live room, but I think the true enjoyment of the room is the narrative storytelling and hosting, rather than interrogating the puzzles. We weren’t playing it to be dazzled by mechanical puzzles, we were playing to be spooked- and it succeeded!

Overall

D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe is a brilliantly spooky game that has near-mastered the art of creating tension and a sense of unease in all the players! I (Mairi) am not a horror game fan typically, but D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe was a perfect balance that left me feeling like:

…Without actually making me scream or cry. Bravo!

Of the three in the trilogy, it’s not my favourite, but it NOT to be missed if you want the full experience, start to finish. Oh, and good luck getting to sleep after this one!

D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe (virtual) can be booked for $25 CAD pp on Mystery Mansion Regina’s website here.

Emergency Exit: The Beast | Review

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There’s a cabin in the woods with a legend of the supernatural. Long abandoned, there have been strange sightings and many people have disappeared, as reported in the news over the years, never to return. You should NOT enter! The question is… can you escape parts 2 and 3 of the Crowley Manor story? There’s lots of puzzles to solve before you can.

Rating: Terrifying!
Completion Time: ~90 minutes
Date Played: 14th May 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Playing by anyone late at night with all the lights off

I don’t like horror… Ohhhh no no no no no. But a horror escape room via Zoom? Yeah I was willing to give it a go. I mean if you’re sitting behind a screen it’s hard to be too scared. Right? Right?! Hahah, I kid! But seriously this was brilliantly terrifying and I had a lot of fun, despite my fears. Emergency Exit gets a lot of good reviews and has even won awards for it’s Exorcism (the prequel) and The Beast (this one) games and it’s very easy to see why.

I took on The Beast with team Escaping the Closet on a spooky (well as spooky as you can get in May) Friday evening with all the curtains drawn, my lights turned to ‘red’, and most importantly – home alone. Which I made the mistake of saying early on into the game, followed later on by this conversation:

Host: It’s a good job you’ve got people there with you Mairi
Me: No, I’m home alone
Host: Wait what, who’s that behind you then?

…Sharply moving on from that! Let’s get into the review:

The Story

We did not play Exorcism before taking on The Beast, so I’ll have to admit there was a bit of plot that was lost on me. The Beast picks up exactly where Exorcism leaves off after your camera man Liam was taken by… Well, something sinister and awful I’ve no doubt. The host decides he’s got to go back into the room and try and rescue Liam, but it quickly goes very south from there.

The whole vibe reminded me a little bit of “Britain’s Most Haunted”, but this time we’re not taking on ghosts, we’re taking on evil demonic spirits. The setting: Crowley Manor. There were a lot of references to the dearly departed residents of of the manor, such as Alice (who shared a name with one of our team!). As we skipped Exorcist, I feel like I didn’t fully follow the first half plot… That or I was too busy hiding behind a pillow!

As you work your way throughout the escape room you’ll go from the main room into a creepy cabin out back and from here the plot takes an even creepier twist. I don’t want to spoil it as it’s twisty and packed with “woah!” moments that are integral to the characters, the house and the history, but rest assured it’s a great room if you love narrative.

The Theming

In terms of theming, The Beast absolutely shines! There are two ‘areas’ to explore which are built around two of the real life escape rooms at Emergency Exit. They’ve got absolutely everything you want from a creepy house with an even creepier cabin. Everything I say? Yes! Even a cursed doll. Literally. It’s cursed. I thought the lock was part of the puzzle but no it’s locked in there with a Bible to keep people away.

*shudders*

The first location is cold and grimy with centuries old cots, cabinets and creepy children’s toys scattered everywhere. Much of the room has been defaced with paint.. Or is that blood? Anything you give you a double take and send shivers up the spine.

The second location is slightly cosier, as candlelit cabins are but that’s no consolation when the poor host has to crawl into small spaces and uncover creepy Satanic objects.

In both rooms there are a good deal of really impressive special effects that add to the mystery. Again, I do not wish to spoil anything, but this game utilises things that I never thought I’d see an escape room do and I am impressed!

The Host

The hosting of this room also get’s it’s own separate section as I can’t help but mention how brilliant our two hosts were – Liam (the camera man) and Ronnie (the host in front of us)! The camera man’s control of the room was absolutely brilliant. I know some people are concerned about motion sickness but there’s none of that in this room, everything was smooth to a T. Most of the time you’re chatting to Ronnie but at one part you’ll ‘control’ Liam instead and the transition was as seamless as it was fun.

Ronnie on the other hand brought the whole thing to life with his character and personality. He felt like an extension of our own team, interacting with us in a real and humorous way. We’d have to coax him into unlocking certain things and heck, it makes sense, this room is terrifying! I wouldn’t want to reach into that creepy dark place and pull out God knows what either!

Together the two host team worked super well and is the absolute icing on the cake of this already brilliant experience.

The Puzzles

Players can expect a more or less non-linear flow of puzzles but a linear progression through the story to reach the ending… Which is a confusing way for me to explain that there is a lot to do and I think we did it in a fairly random order but still made it to the end!

The first part is a bit of ‘searching and finding’. Your host finds himself locked in and you’ve gotta first guide him to finding everything in the room that might come in use. Just watch out for the horrifying creepy dolls.

As with all good Demon themed rooms- I’m kidding, this is my first because I’m a scaredy cat- the second area features plenty of supernatural puzzles! It was a delight to see things like candles, ouija boards, haunted dolls and tarot cards all playing a strong role in the puzzle solving! I also really personally enjoyed the puzzles that involved solving ciphers. Give me some cool demon language any day!

The Tech

A quick note on the tech, The Beast is played entirely in Zoom. This means everything you need is right in front of you – no inventory system, no point and click to get a closer look. This works really well for this room as it means you need never break immersion. In particular, the hosts can capture and hold your attention for some very well timed jump scares and seamless video transitions!

Overall

This game was brilliant and absolutely lives up to the hype. From about 3pm on Friday all the way until our 8pm booking I was working myself up into a frenzy – “What if it’s too scary?! Should I skip dinner?“, but despite my worries there was no way to prepare for the thoroughly creepy and immersive experience that it was.

It’s also worth noting that the experience can be scaled up or down in scariness – to a certain extent! If you chose to play this with kids, the hosts ‘read the room’ and don’t go too dark. A team of 20 something year olds they went all out though and I screamed my apartment down at least twice. But you know what, despite my aversion to horror, I had an amazingly fun time.

My only regret? Not playing The Exorcist first! But rest assured, we’ve got that one booked soon.

Oh I also regret that we sacrificed Tasha’s soul to the devil but I’m sure she’ll be ok.

The Beast can be booked for £100 per team on Emergency Exit’s website here.