Emergency Exit: The Studies of Dr. Becker | Review

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The Studies of Dr. Becker Review | You are invited to spend an hour with the famous Dr. Becker at Boleskine Lodge Practice. He is currently with another patient and will be with you shortly. In the meantime make yourself at home and enjoy his hospitality and his study – a beautiful place decorated with his bizarre collection of strange and wonderful things. But do not dig too deeply as things are not always as they seem in this place, after all it is well known that some of his previous guests are still there after volunteering to help with his studies. Dr. Becker has a past which is questionable at best and not everyone agrees with his methods.

Completion Time: About 1 hour
Date Played: January 2022
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Medium

What’s your favourite scary movie?

What’s everyone’s favourite thing about horror movies? Scream…Halloween.. the many, many Friday 13ths!…Yes, it’s the sequels! Everyone loves returning to that creepy place they have become so familiar with from the original film that sparked the cult following. Well, what Emergency Exit have created with ‘The Studies of Dr Becker’ feels very reminiscent of this. Dr Becker is the third part of what is now a trilogy of escape games focused around Crowley Manor, the infamous house of Aleister Crowley.

Now, you may or may not know the name Aleister Crowley. In case you don’t, he was a real English Occultist in the 20th Century, and boy did he enjoy dabbling in creepy stuff! The lore around his mysterious life is a fittingly creepy setting for a series of scary escapes. The trilogy centres around Crowley Manor where the In:Theory investigators decide to sneak in to snoop around and find out what’s going down, and unfortunately find themselves WAAAAAAY in over their heads!

We came across Emergency Exit while we were in lockdown during COVID last year when everyone was looking to virtual means to get their escape fix, and The Beast was receiving rave reviews from the escape community. We managed to convince our friends Tasha and Mairi (aka the scaredy cats) to join us for this scary adventure (after all how bad can a virtual scare be?!) and we all loved the thrill of it (despite the varying degrees of fear we experienced). Since lockdown easing, Emergency Exit have reopened their doors to in-person bookings and created the third part of the trilogy, The Studies of Dr Becker. While we were super keen to return to the Crowley Manor story, we wanted to continue the story with the team we started out with. Therefore we were excited to find out that Dr Becker has recently been made available to play online too, and got the gang back together (virtually)!

Online games work well for us as a team still as geography does not favour in-person rooms. With us in the North, and Mairi based in London, we love to still plan in a regular escape in the online world. Recently it’s been a lot of Telescape rooms, which we love. But what better way to brighten up a gloomy Friday evening that by dabbling in the occult. The hosted virtual game, played through Zoom, is really immersive and arguably offers even more than the in-person experience. Not only do you get to play the room in full, but you get the additional fun of working with the In:Theory team to solve the room.

Previously on…

Emergency Exit have put a lot into putting on a show in their rooms; hosting the game on Zoom requires 2 people who you interact with (the In:Theory team) and the story is extremely important. While each of the games are playable as a standalone, the overarching story is really cohesive and adds an extra layer of enjoyment knowing the backstory.

Previously in Crowley Manor: The In:Theory team managed to accidentally summon Surgat, Demon of Locks (very apt). Woopsie! Let’s see what happens to them next…

What happens to them next? They find themselves in Boleskine Lodge Practice, under the care of creepy Dr Becker, who is ‘treating’ them to help them forget their experiences in Crowley Manor. However, Dr Becker’s practices are…questionable….and there’s more to why he wants you to forget the demonic apparitions. Why’s that I hear you ask? Well, you’ll have to play to find out more, but let’s just say, Boleskine Lodge Practice ever so conveniently happens to be attached to Crowley Manor. That is to say, the In:Theory team STILL haven’t managed to escape Crowley Manor yet!

Lights, camera…is that someone’s BUM?

This is where you rejoin the In:Theory team as the voices inside your host’s head. Interacting with the hosts is one of our favourite parts about the Emergency Exit rooms (a bit because if any bad stuff were to happen in the room, it was happening to them and not us). But they really MAKE the experience; not only do you get to explore the room and solve puzzles, instructing your host as to what they should look at or do next, but the story is really brought into it’s own by James and Liam. James was our main host, and Liam is the dedicated cameraman. And boy is he dedicated to his role, ensuring that no matter what the occult throws his way, you always have a clear view of what’s going on around the space you’re in. And they’re funny! A bit of light relief from bantering with your hosts works really well to lighten the mood after a period of tension.

There are some pre-recorded sections which are transitioned into smoothly and which helped to accentuate the story with dramatic ‘cut scenes’. This includes an extremely dramatic conclusion to the story, which we enjoyed. While we’re sure the in-person experience is equally fun to play, we really feel like the Emergency Exit team have NAILED the online hosted escape room! The way it runs feels so reminiscent of a horror movie, but with the added element of choosing the decisions the characters make and, of course, what we all came here for in the first place- puzzle solving! For this reason, we’ve decided to award it the Immersion Badge!

The puzzles are all well-fitting with the theme and add an element of mystery, as they are well-integrated into the demonic, occultish storyline. Fear not, there is plenty to do in terms of puzzling in this room, you just also get the added bonus of a suspenseful horror movie setup!

The Verdict

We would really recommend playing The Studies of Dr Becker (and its predecessors if you haven’t yet). We are sure that an in-person visit would be equally fun but we can’t stop raving about the online hosted experience. At £20pp (for a four player team), this is a great way to spend your Friday night.

Please note that there are some creepy sections and mild gore, but these are generally not too scary so don’t let this put you off. We mentioned afterwards that we felt this was less scary than The Beast, but we enjoyed it just as much!

The Studies of Dr. Becker, either the live or remote avatar version, can be booked by heading to E-Exit’s website here.

Morpheus Show: Locked Down | Review

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Morpheus Show Locked Down Review | You wake to find yourself in a strange place. Memories distorted – a jigsaw puzzle of violence and horror. But what happened? As you explore your new surroundings, the pieces begin to slot together. There was a deadly virus. Mass panic. Riots. A civil war. There is now just one hope for civilization: you.

Completion Time: 2 hours
Date Played: 3rd November 2021
Party Size: 4 (+2)

Before setting out to play a Morpheus Show experience I read a lot of reviews. It seemed like this would be unlike anything else I’d ever played… And yes, despite reading up and getting in the zone as best I could, nothing could have prepared me for what the actual experience was like.

Instead I loaded up the Zoom call with my team with Rebecca, and Escaping the Closet, donned a blindfold, and was transported into an incredible, slightly terrifying, immersive world.

Live Action RPG Meets Thriller Meets Escape Room

So let’s address the elephant in the room – what is Locked Down and how does Morpheus Show work exactly?

Morpheus is an online interactive & immersive audio theatre experience, Morpheus takes place entirely in your mind as you are blindfolded and the world around you is described and implied solely by audio clues. Each guest will create their own visual interpretation of the show.

Morpheus Show ‘About’ Page

What this means is that it is a hosted, auditory adventure. No need for fancy graphics, because the whole game takes place entirely within your head. Your imagination is quite literally the limit.

You and up to 5 other players put on a blindfold and the game is described to you by the host.

“You wake up in an unfamiliar room”

As a team, you must move together. Meaning the situation is described to you and whilst individual characters can do different things… Such as Rebecca donning a dressing down whilst my character chose to stare out the window… you must make a decision as a group to move to a new location or explore something closer. In this way, it’s a little but like Dungeons and Dragons. Players can call out their action and the Games Master will respond accordingly, describing what then happens.

Because the game is played with a blindfold on, it’s also (probably accidentally) totally accessible for a blind audience. I thought this was really nice, as it’s a question we hear from time to time. Access Escape is generally seen as the leading company in accessible escape room experiences, but it’s cool to know there’s another on the scene.

The moments after we all put our blindfolds on…

Welcome to the Apocalypse

In Locked Down, players wake up in a dark room with a headache and fragmented memories about how they got there. Moments before we had been driving through London happily, embarking upon a trip, not a care in the world. Suddenly disaster struck – our car crashed! Days later, the hospital is dark and not a soul can be found.

In our playthrough of Locked Down it quickly became evident that a terrible virus had swept the world leaving few people remaining. Those that had survived were fragmented into militias. A tannoy overhead kept repeating more and more dystopian messages and as we crept through the hospital eerie screams and crashes reminded us of the horror outside.

Being in the middle of a pandemic ourselves, the experience was horribly close to home. For this reason it was all the more exciting too. The current climate, a deadly disease, and just a dash of Day of the Triffids thrown into the mix.

The show actually predates the global pandemic. Produced way back in 2018 by Yana Greene, the script was then adapted from the original Russian and converted into a play-at-home format.

Your Imagination is the Scariest Place to Be

From start to finish the whole experience was wildly immersive. I’m always a little sceptical when experiences take place ‘in your imagination’, but it turns out your imagination is often the scariest place to be. Not knowing what lurked around the next corner or what we might find was the chilling part. We’d hear a noise, and the group would panic and hide. For better or for worse, he outcomes were ours to decide.

Coming from a background of playing live-avatar escape rooms via Zoom, the only jarring thing about moving to Morpheus Show’s format was playing with strangers. Especially with our blindfolds on, it’s hard to know who you’re talking to. Instead, you have only the faceless voices of strangers you’ve never met before.

The game sets up the premise of ‘being with friends’, but unlike live avatar escape rooms (with mostly offer exclusive bookings for teams of 2-6), or even live roleplay games playing Dungeons and Dragons, the synergy of playing with friends and having a common goal was lacking. As such, some players took a more dominant role, making decisions collectively was met with resistance, and we struggled not to talk over one another during high-action scenes.

That said, of course it wouldn’t be fair to judge Morpheus Show on our escape room expectations. We just mention it as a word of advice for any escape room enthusiast wishing to book an exclusive show. A lot of folks will probably love being put in with strangers, and for sure there’s a kind of magic to starting as strangers and ending the show was best friends!

The Verdict

Overall we loved Locked Down. Morpheus Show is a wholly unique experience and we were blown away by the storytelling and production value that’s gone into it.

We’ve also chosen to award this show our ‘I Believe’ award for it’s incredible level of immersion. Sitting in the dark with nothing but your imagination is one thing, but the way this show manages to elevate your heart rate and send real shivers up your spin is quite another. At many points in the show I gasped out loud, and at many more moments I considered taking my blindfold off for a break from the vivid scenes. Truly Locked Down transports you to another world and for those two hours we lost sight of what was real or not anymore.

Locked Down can be booked on Morpheus Show’s website here.

Ratings

A Rogue Escape (VR) | Review

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A Rogue Escape Review | Your plan was simple: steal a giant, crawling mech, also known as a Nauticrawl, evade capture, and make a break for freedom. Find clues to unravel your whereabouts, but know – this is only the first of your many problems…

Developer: Spare Parts Oasis
Console Played On: Oculus Quest
Time Taken: 6 Hours +
Difficulty: Hard
Number Of Players: 1

Escape the Planet… Or Die (and Die, and Die) Trying

When trying to describe A Rogue Escape to friends and family, I settled on the following anecdote:

“You know when you start a new job and they load up some shiny new software on your computer and you’re like “Sure I know how to use this, how hard can it be?” and it turns out very hard indeed. You spend your first few weeks at the new job sweating at your desk pushing buttons on the software and hoping for the best.”

…Yeah, that’s kinda how A Rogue Escape went, and that’s exactly what the developer’s intended! You find yourself lost on a completely alien planet, and so in order to escape you take control of the Nauticrawl, a machine designed for traversing the foreign landscape. Except, you have no idea how it works. It’s built for an alien creature that looks nothing like you, and there’s an overwhelming amount of buttons and levels to push, dials to balance, and screens to keep an eye on. The game is trial and error. You will die, and you will die a lot. But heck, what do you expect? This is alien technology we’re dealing with and nobody is an expert at anything the first time they pick it up.

In some ways, it’s less of an escape room and more of an alien submarine simulator. On the other hand it’s the truest and most raw form of an escape room I’ve ever encountered. The developers have created a punishing and brilliant experience that would not be possible in real life. Like nothing else you’ll ever play.

The Evolution of A Rogue Escape

A Rogue Escape didn’t always start as a VR game however, the idea has gone through a lot of iterations in the past few years.

In September 2019, Spare Parts Oasis launched a PC game called Nauticrawl: 20,000 Atmospheres on Steam which was met with wide praise. Essentially, the concept was the same – pilot an alien Nauticrawl machine and escape from the inhospitable planet.

Last month in September 2021, Nauticrawl made it’s debut on iOS with another iteration of the puzzle game.

However, neither the PC nor iOS versions of the game are a direct port of one another. For sure, the idea and some of the puzzles are the same, but the games are different enough to give a whole new experience each time. The VR version in particular has been rebuilt from the ground up with a series of virtual, 3D environments to explore.

Mercilessly Difficult, Immensely Rewarding

So what exactly is A Rogue Escape? It’s an hour long escape room experience designed to challenge even the most veteran escapists! I say ‘an hour long’, then in truth I took around six hours to ‘complete the experience’, but this is mis-leading as each time you die you return to the beginning and must start again. From start, to finish, with skill and practise you’ll take no more than an hour… It’s the weeks (and months) of frustration learning the ropes and getting to that point that is at the core of A Rogue Escape.

Escape room players who are looking for pure puzzles may be slightly disappointed with A Rogue Escape. Put simply: the puzzle is figuring out what to do. If you enjoy this, you’ll be in your element, but if you prefer a little more signposting then the game may feel very frustrating.

One of the core gameplay loops is actually one of my favourite game mechanics ever, and I call it “plate spinning”. Some other games loosely in this genre include Don’t Feed the Monkeys, Papers, Please and Will Die Alone. Here, this takes the form of the sheer number of dials and meters you’ll need to keep an eye on. The visual clue of a dial slipping into red is followed by blaring alarms and, quite often, death. So as well as figuring out how to pilot the machine, players are also expected to keep a close eye on everything. One wrong move and it’s game over!

For sure, there are pros and cons with a game like this. On the one hand it’s realistic and tough like escape rooms typically aren’t. Your average escape room often contains irrelevant puzzles like “solve this cipher to give you a digit code to unlock a cupboard”. When was the last time you locked a cupboard shut with a 4 digit code, eh? A Rogue Escape’s puzzle experience is closer to what I’d actually expect a real alien submarine to be like. You never once need to break immersion, you’re just pushing and poking things and ‘solving’ the game without ever coming across anything like a traditional puzzle.

The downside is, it’s hard and I did struggle! I imagine a lot of people would not complete the game- and I only just managed it by spacing out my gameplay over weeks and months. This means it pitches at a more patient, forgiving, and enthusiast player – but that may not be a bad thing!

The Nauticrawl: A Virtual, Alien Space

A Rogue Escape uses Oculus’s roomscale settings to create a rather large, 3D space to play in. Quite literally, your living room is converted into an escape room, so you’ll need to be standing up and able to move freely around! Those levers and buttons aren’t going to push themselves.

Despite the large play area you’ll need, the experience is very claustrophobic. From the moment you don your headset you’ll be utterly immersed in the alien world, without a single porthole to look through. It’s anxiety-fuelling, sweaty, and oppressive. Everything beyond your Nauticrawl was left up to the imagination and I love that!

All you know is that you’re running for your life from aliens… But what do they look like? What did they do to you and your people? What even is this world?

The Verdict

I’m scoring it low on puzzles, but very high on immersion. In fact, so high we’ve decided to award A Rogue Escape our “I Believe” award for being outstandingly immersive. Every time I donned the headset on I was transported to this creepy, eerie and very tense world. I’d emerge 30 minutes later sweating, and occasionally shaking, doubting what was real and not. It’s so true to what a ‘real’ escape room should be, it almost goes beyond the genre entirely and for that we’re impressed!

Personally, I think the game might have been a little easier. Yes, yes, it turns out I am one of those people who prefers more signposting in my escape room experiences. But if you take a step back and take the game for what it actually is and not by the standards of what we’re used to, it’s clear it’s something special!

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

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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!

Cryptology: The Complete Guide

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Cryptology goes beyond just an escape room, this is an immersive experience. Search for secrets, discover clues and hints, then solve puzzles to reach the unique goal. Every game at Cryptology is different with tailor-made themes and bespoke challenges. With fantastic game flow, handcrafted set design, and unique puzzles – their games are admired by enthusiasts, gamers, families, and friends alike. Their games are immersive and rewarding and they pride themselves on great customer service and banter too.

Why Cryptology?

We at Escaping the Closet are HUGE fans of the Cryptology Rooms, and can proudly say that we have played all of their rooms across both locations as well as previous rooms that are now decommissioned (boo 😭 ). Cryptology rooms combine unique themes, innovative puzzles and exciting use of technology to provide some of our favourite escape experiences we have come across among all of the hundreds that we’ve played!

As we have so much to say about Cryptology, we thought it would be best to bundle it all into one big review to showcase just how amazing Cryptology is and why, if you haven’t already, you should check them out for what we can guarantee to be a brilliantly immersive escape experience!

So…we thought long and hard about how best to do Cryptology justice when writing this (almost felt like a puzzle in itself!! – can we collect dream keys for this?). We decided that we just have to tell you about the highlights from each and every room of theirs to date- we can promise that there is something in there to suit everyone’s preferences!

Overall

In their own words…”Before the boom of escape rooms across the country, Cryptology opened in Nottingham city centre in July of 2015. It was conceived after playing mediocre escape games across the country and recognising a niche in being able to stand out.”

Cryptology currently has two branches open: their flagship in Nottingham, and one very conveniently in our hometown of Sheffield. They previously also had a branch in Barnsley, which is unfortunately now closed (think that’s more to do with Barnsley not exactly being a hub for escape rooms than anything else…), but LUCKILY we managed to pop over to Barnsley and play both the rooms which were on offer before it closed.

Mark and Simon, the owners of Cryptology, are just the kind of people you want to be creating escape rooms- enthusiastic, imaginative, creative and also practical. You can tell from their rooms and all the clever tech that they know what they’re doing! They are also a lot of fun (we have had some very funny moments in all the games they have run for us) and have a team around them that reflect their own values and enthusiasm for good escape rooms, meaning that the calibre of the experience is equally high every visit!

So onto the main attraction- the rooms!!!! We are going to break this down by location, and then the order in which we played the rooms.

Sheffield

Our first experience of Cryptology was in Sheffield when we got super excited to hear that a new escape room brand was just opening right in the middle of West Street! (5 mins walk from uni?! Incredible! Let’s get booked in IMMEDIATELY!!!!).  And boy are we pleased to have such a brilliant brand of escapes right on our doorstep!

First Contact

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The game that introduced us to Cryptology- and what a game it was! We played this with our friends and regular escape companions, Tasha and Rach, and all four of us LOVED it! There was simply so much to do! In this game, you are tasked with boarding the TRSS Caelus to find out what happened to the crew of the spaceship orbiting Mars whose communication has ceased…

What Cryptology does brilliantly is immersion, which you’ll soon see as a common theme from all of the games. In this case you really do leave Earth, truly feeling like you are on board a spaceship. The set, tech and lighting all contribute towards this, offering a vibe that fits somewhere between Dr Who and Red Dwarf! Of course this room is super high tech. It’s amazing how well the space is used, and how all the puzzles make sense with the theme and storyline, which of course is the best way to make a game totally immersive!

Now for our favourite aspect- the timer and clue system is so perfectly integrated into the room (part of the crew, part of the ship…. I know that’s a pirate ship reference rather than a spaceship reference, but it kinda works here…). The timer countdown is completely congruous and the clue system is so interactive, you can fully have a conversation with your game master through the ship’s computer, adding to the fun! When you reach a certain point in the mission, you are faced with a choice- this enables three different final puzzle sequences of varying difficulty. We’d recommend making your choice based on the time you have left on the clock, as this enables a satisfying ending for most teams to be able to complete the game at an appropriate difficulty level. We opted for the most challenging ending and, thankfully, managed to complete the full mission and make first contact (YAY!)

We thought this was such a good game to showcase the fun of an escape room that Ash even replayed it! She chose this as the room to take a group of escape newbie friends to when they came to visit! (Don’t worry, there was no cheating to snatch a new record time- Ash held back on solving anything, leaving that to her pals so they could get the full enjoyment and take the full time!) One of the great things about this room was the sheer volume to get done, as well as the decision making aspect leading to a multi-choice ending, meaning that Ash had a chance to focus on different puzzles than the first time around when she played!

The Mysterious Case of Hugh Dunnitt

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This was a room we were eagerly awaiting the opening of- after playing First Contact and gushing about how much we had enjoyed it, Simon told us about the plans for Sheffield’s second room, Hugh Dunnitt. So it was on our list before it had even been built, and we got in to play it within a few weeks of its opening! Suffice to say that it did not disappoint, and offered more of the brilliance we had become accustomed to from Cryptology’s rooms.

A murder mystery with a fabulous twist, this room offers a great mix of puzzle solving and ‘things to do’. The storyline is a big part of the room and unfolds as you progress through, so you know more at the end than the mystery you start off with.

This is a really fun room with the ‘things to do’ element of the room meaning everyone can get really stuck in and feel properly involved. The clue system, as with Cryptology’s other rooms, is interactive and funny, and perfectly designed to fit in with the room’s story and theme, making it a thoroughly immersive experience. Additionally, as you progress through the room the pressure ramps up to encourage you to get everything solved in time. This is cleverly done and Hugh Dunnitt is a really enjoyable and commendable room!

We managed to escape in time, and set the fastest escape time at the time (we know we played shortly after it’s grand opening so it may well have been beaten several times over by now!) 

Side note- we recommended this room to a couple of different escape newbie friends of ours in Sheffield and both groups managed to escape in time, thoroughly enjoyed their experience and already want to do more escape rooms, so success all round- and let the addiction commence!😉

Welcome to your Afterlife

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Afterlife is a room which was originally run by X-it games, based in Shipley, and we had been meaning to venture up there…then COVID happened of course, scuppering our plans! However, during the lockdowns Cryptology announced the exciting news that they would be opening Afterlife right here on our doorstep in Sheffield! Opportunity knocked, and of course what could we do but get ourselves booked in for as soon as we possibly could upon its opening?! (but you’ve just spent the past however many months being locked in and the first thing you want to post-lockdown is lock yourself in somewhere?! HELL (and purgatory and heaven) YES!) Our lovely friend and regular escaping companion, Tasha, kindly treated us to play Afterlife as a joint birthday present, and boy was it a great way to celebrate our birthdays!

As a mortal, to enter your afterlife, you must first die. How you die is your choice but all must enter through the void of transcendence. Only the brave will follow the light, crawl out of the grave and go to hell and back. Logical thinking and teamwork is what you need to ensure that when your hour is up your name is found in the Book of Life.

In Afterlife, a brilliant journey through purgatory, hell and then heaven has been created, and the set is completely immersive; through the amazing decor you are authentically transported to each setting; each being completely different in style, surroundings and the overall vibes.

Starting as it means to go on is a unique setup to throw you straight into the confusion that is the Afterlife. Led into the Afterlife by the Grim Reaper herself, and greeted by a creepy companion advising you of what has happened once locked into the otherworldly realms that come with death, you have to listen carefully in order to move on and find out what happens next…

Purgatory sets you up with a multi-faceted puzzle, combining elements from all around the room in order to successfully get ourselves out of purgatory. You have to combine riddles, logic, physical and mathematical puzzles in order to find the solutions needed to escape purgatory… just watch out for those red herrings(!)

Unfortunately, escaping purgatory leads you straight into the pits of hell! And the puzzles in this section seemed to almost be tailored to our own personal escape room hell- SEARCHING! However, we managed to overcome the puzzles in spite of our demons and successfully solved the spooky puzzles. We did end up brute forcing one part of a puzzle, through the process of elimination, when our searching skills failed us. But we got there which was a relief, since after hell comes heaven!

YES! But, before you can enter and sign your name in the Book of Life, it turns out you’ve been locked out of heaven and have to prove your worth by showing off your puzzling escape room skills! We did have a moment of hesitation here, unsure whether we were cut out to be angels when we couldn’t manage to unlock the pearly gates, but fortunately we figured it out and managed to get our hands on the coveted Book of Life, and proudly sign Escaping the Closet’s name where it belongs!

Afterlife was brilliantly atmospheric and a triumphant return to Cryptology Sheffield. We managed to successfully make it out with 25 mins to spare (Our lovely host, Robyn, told us that this was the record so far, which we were pretty chuffed with!) We’re pleased that we weren’t left to wander the Afterlife for all eternity…plenty more time for plenty more escapes YAY!!

Nottingham

Nottingham is only about an hour’s journey from where we live in Sheffield, and makes for a great day out as it’s filled with great food places (a big + for us, shout-out to the Pudding Pantry), and loads of escape room opportunities! It’s therefore one of our favourite go-to day trip spots! We’ve done all their rooms here, and had a blast every time.

Dreamscape

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After loving their Sheffield and Barnsley (😢) rooms, we decided to pay a visit to Cryptology Nottingham and were highly looking forward to seeing what they had to offer.

Our host, Sam, met us at the door, dressed suitably for a slumber…we were introduced to the game, told to expect a very fast-paced and frantic experience, especially with only two of us, to manage the mammoth task of collecting up to 20 dream keys across 5 dream rooms!!

The rooms were incredible – Dreamscape plays out like an escape room fan’s actual dream, with a huge volume of puzzles, all focussing on different strengths, and a great flow between each of the dreams! Each dream was so different from the previous and the types of puzzles in each room were SO cleverly tied into the feel of the dream you find yourself in. We spent most of the game working separately to try and tackle the volume of puzzles we were faced with – but we did come together a few times for some particularly tricky bits! We tried to separate according to our strengths (but in hindsight it was probably whoever got to the puzzle first! 😅). 

There are also some more overarching puzzles that come together for the end of the experience to make your final escape – we loved the finale and were really impressed with how Cryptology brought everything together for a cohesive and satisfying finish. Overall, a jam-packed experience, with no quiet moments and the most puzzles we have EVER seen! The theme itself and the gameplay was completely original and unique, we would highly recommend making the journey to play. Sam was also a lovely game master, who did a great job of making the experience immersive from start to finish!

We were also super pleased to get the fastest duo time of 52:20 and 15 dream keys! This was our first ever 5⭐️ rated room and Ash reckons this is her favourite room EVER! 😁

Cypherdyne v1.5

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You and your team have been selected to take part in a legendary Cypherdyne interview. A challenging and disarming hour-long interview that is rumoured to not just separate the wheat from the chaff but discard the chaff entirely. Unsure what to expect, the promise of a great job in this dire economy is enough for you to face whatever escape challenge the CEO has set for you. Your career may be unlocked and explode with opportunity!

A brilliant birthday present from Al to Ash was a Cryptology voucher and when the opportunity finally arose for us to be able to return to escaping, we booked in a mammoth escape-a-thon to play out the remaining Cryptology rooms we had; Cypherdyne, Rameseize and Daylight Robbery. We thought Daylight Robbery would be the showstopper so saved that for last, and dove straight in with Cypherdyne v1.5. After all, what would you rather be doing on a day off from work than a job interview?!

Cypherdyne’s interview felt like what those ‘think outside the box’ questions Oxbridge candidates get challenged with in their interview processes… there was no obvious interview task, that was for us as the candidates to figure out as part of the process. We had to crack security codes, find hidden doorways and mess with the computer hardwiring to stand a chance of being hired by Cypherdyne.Thankfully we had our heads screwed on and managed this all!

Although the room starts off appearing rather innocuous, there are the usual high-tech touches  that Mark and Simon are so great at including in their rooms, which enable their puzzles to stand out from other escape rooms we’ve played. Although this is not our favourite Cryptology room, it is still commendable and well worth playing when you pay Cryptology a visit! Overall we’d give Cypherdyne v1.5 a 3.5/5 rating.

Rameseize

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Next up in our Cryptology-a-thon was Rameseize, which we want to give an award to for the best name for an Egyptian themed room! As you may expect, with this room you are tasked with ransacking Rameses’ tomb to ‘seize’ three ancient relics before your rival treasure hunters catch you up and bury you alive in the tomb to claim the treasure for themselves. As usual, no pressure then hey!

Rameseize has a great variety of puzzles that are all completely in keeping with the Egpytian theme, and the immersion is top notch as always thanks to Cryptology’s high standards of decoration for their games.

There were some very cool and clever elements to this room! We were given a number of items at the start of the game to help us with the challenges ahead and liked how important these were to get us going, and keep coming back to throughout the game. Communication was key in this room, in particular for a puzzle near the end of the tomb heist! Playing as just a pair, we were very grateful of how well we work together in these kinds of situations as we needed to be on our game- Rameseize is the sort of room that can be played by large group sizes due to the size and volume of puzzles to get through in the time.

We enjoyed the challenge and liked how the tech used in this room worked to make the space feel like a booby-trapped tomb this time- even though it was very clever modern-day tech, it made us feel transported to a cursed tomb! A really fun game and although Egypt is a common escape room theme, it feels really fresh in Rameseize, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it no matter how many other Egyptian escape rooms you’ve previously played (plus you get to carry round a very cool staff!)

Daylight Robbery

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Onto the final Cryptology Nottingham room in existence (we are waiting for the scary room that we hope is to come…!), and our second heist of the day. This time, it wasn’t a cursed pyramid, but a high-security bank.

Cryptology are always great at creating a really immersive, authentic space for their rooms, but Daylight Robbery is SOMETHING ELSE! The Nottingham Cryptology HQ is in an old bank and so the brilliance of Daylight Robbery is that this bank heist takes place in an ACTUAL BANK VAULT.

Similar to Dreamscape, Daylight Robbery is a room which can cater to teams of all sizes and abilities as this is another ‘collect as much as you can’ challenge! Only this time it’s not dream keys we’re after, but as much valuable swag stowed away in the bank as possible! You can keep track of how much you have managed to get your hands on throughout the game by scanning each item before bagging it up for a quick getaway, to keep a running total value.

But before you can start nabbing other people’s valuable possessions, you have to infiltrate the bank to reach the vault. This involves a series of puzzles before negotiating the classic laser trigger alarm system- one of the most fun sections to encounter in any room and make you feel like you’re in your favourite spy film (or St Trinian’s- we won’t judge if this is your fave film using laser alarms!).

Again, as just a pair, in a room that can cater to large group sizes, we had our work cut out for us, and although we feel we made a valiant effort, there were some internal vaults we didn’t even manage to get into- testament to just how vast this game really is! The separate vaults were all thematically grouped so there was an opportunity for everyone to be able to puzzle to their strengths! These included music, logic, maths, spatial awareness, searching, physical puzzles, using technology and much more, and often the swag itself was a clue to help solve a puzzle! There was simply so much to do that even the most experienced, full-sized, team is not likely to manage to take home the FULL jackpot!

We managed to retrieve over ¾ of a million pounds, so we feel that although we aren’t the best robbers in the bank, we could make a reputable name for ourselves… then again ‘Robbing the Closet’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as ‘Escaping the Closet’, so maybe we’ll stick to our day job (we WISH escaping was our full-time day job! We can dream….!)

Mark was our host for Daylight Robbery and once we’d completed the game, he did a brilliant debrief with us, showing us how we could’ve accessed the vaults we didn’t make it into and the puzzles within this, and even showing us a really well-hidden easter egg in the room! If anyone has played Daylight Robbery and successfully found this themselves during their gameplay we would love to hear from you! He also told us about the potential plans for a future room which we are INCREDIBLY excited about and can’t wait for news on this development!

Barnsley (branch now closed)

Although the Barnsley branch is now closed and so it’s no longer possible to play these rooms, we couldn’t leave them out as both were brilliant and deserve the recognition too!

HMS Cypher

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We played this one knowing the Cryptology brand having played a few already and therefore expecting good things! We took a group of friends to join us for this one, and we were all kept really busy on board HMS Cypher!

HMS Cypher, takes you on board a WW2 battleship, and as always, you get fully immersed, feeling as if you are on deck of the ship from both the setting and the puzzles. In terms of the puzzles, think morse code, maps, co-ordinates and walkie talkies, everything makes sense that it is there. You know that you are deciphering messages being sent to the ship, following instructions to set the right course for the ship, all to keep everything ship shape.

We really enjoyed this game and while it isn’t one of their showstopper rooms, it was a lot of fun and really demonstrates the solidly good rooms we have come to expect from their brand. We’d give HMS Cypher a solid 3.5/5 and we were very sad to see it close!

Insanctuary

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Last but by no means least is Insanctuary. Although Insanctuary no longer exists, we hold it very fondly in our memories as it was such a brilliant game. In Insanctuary, you were tasked with exploring an abandoned facility to try to find out what has happened to everyone. This was a creepy theme and it was executed brilliantly; the decor was really creepy and effective, black gunk creeping through the cracks in the walls, giving the room IMMENSE Stranger Things vibes. This set Al and our teammate Rach on edge, leaving Ash to be the brave one- always the first to be pushed into a room in case anything scary jumped out at us (it didn’t!).

You had to piece the various clues together, get into all of the patients’ abandoned rooms and log into the corrupt scientists’ computer system to find out just what was going on! Turns out there was a rift between different worlds and the disappeared people had ended up being sucked into the other world. So, like no big deal… But seriously, this final room was spectacular- the decoration was so effective in creating an otherworldly sci-fi/horror vibe and although this room was not scary, it felt like the kind of room that could easily have been made terrifying if that was the intention!

We had a great time playing Insanctuary, and hope that Simon had fun hosting us; we had a lot of banter with him through the room’s clue system (which certainly gave some comic relief to scaredy cat Rach to help her through the game!). At one point, UV lighting was used and it highlighted some shoe graffiti Alice had lovingly added to Ash’s SHOES in UV security pen without her knowing! In the most escape room-y way possible, the hidden message of ‘I <3 escape rooms’ was written boldly on Ash’s trainers so Simon got to see the extent of our escape room addiction! Definitely lost any remaining street cred at that point…but we saved the world from the otherworldly portal rift, so who are the real winners, hey!

We loved this room and were very sad to hear that the Barnsley branch had closed and with it, Insanctuary! It truly is a shame that no more teams get the opportunity to play it! But it really is a commendable room and one that we will always remember fondly!

So, that’s it- all of the Cryptology rooms on offer (and then some). We have loved all of our experiences playing Cryptology’s games and we hope to see lots more of the same clever, immersive, high-tech, story driven games from them in future! We will be first in line for any and every new game they bring out, because they are one of the most reliably good brands we know! 

So what are you waiting for? Get booking your very own Crypt-athon, you won’t regret it!

You can find out more and book to play Cryptology’s games