Real Escape Game Japan (SCRAP): Escape From the Lockdown: The Demon Fortress


In the world you live in, humanity lives in fear of the demons. 9 heroes headed to the Demon Fortress in order to defeat the Demon King. The heroes have not been heard from since. The world will be swallowed by darkness if nothing is done. One day, your ‘Communication Crystal’ rings. In the crystal ball, you see… the heroes who were thought to be dead!

Rating: Outstanding!
Completion Time: 120 minutes
Date Played: 28th February 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: An evening of brilliant entertainment, people who want an exciting, rich story with their puzzles.

POV: You are me and you freakin’ love The Demon Fortress so much and you’re trying to think of a way to make this review really stand out so that people know they need to stop they’re doing and book this game (or tbh, The Strange Village by the same company which was also fantastic).

The thing about the Real Escape Game (SCRAP) is that the games they produce are incredible, theatre-quality stories which draw you in and keep you hooked for a full 120 minutes with twists and turns and surprise endings, and opportunities to incorrectly guess answers and have the game react accordingly. Think of it like watching an interactive Netflix TV show where you have to solve puzzles before you can watch the next part of the story.

This might give you the impression that the puzzles are a ‘second thought’ but not at all, each puzzle builds in difficulty and intrigue making the ending truly quite difficult but rewarding once you solve it. Not only that but every piece of dialogue is important too – just like a real live murder mystery event, you have to listen to what the characters say and when. Blink and you’ll miss it. There’s a lot of layers to it!

So what exactly is The Demon Fortress?

Well, the premise is fairly simple. If you did play The Strange Village, you’ll be somewhat familiar with the format. You are an active participant in an ‘adventure’, alongside 9 other heroes. There’s the Merchant Hero, the Music Hero, the Witch Hero and so on and so on… You’re the “Puzzle Solving Hero”. It’s got a certain ring to it.

The game begins by setting up the premise. In this story, your village has been destroyed by demons and the 9 heroes of the land are locked up without their powers in the demon fortress by the fearsome Demon King. In order to save them you must help them defeat 4 monsters, recover their powers, before taking on the Demon King himself.

The game follows a format of:

  • ~10 minutes of dialogue with the 9 heroes
  • A series of puzzles which unlock a treasure chest
  • A battle with a monster

Like a Movie?

To best enjoy this game, we plugged my laptop into the TV via a HDMI cable and sat back to enjoy the show. Quite literally, we never had to leave the comfort of our sofa to enjoy this experience which honestly was a perfect replacement for our ‘movie night’. Same bottle of wine, same bowl of popcorn, but I got to play an escape room in the 2 hours instead? Genius! But we both enjoyed it, A LOT. In fact, in a first for this blog, my Player 2 enjoyed this so much he wanted to share his thoughts on the game here:

  • The world building in The Demon Fortress was the best in any escape room we’ve ever done together.
  • I didn’t have to cut anything out, fold anything, or faff around, which made the game genuinely enjoyable.

It’s slightly weird writing this review for an escape room that felt more like watching a film, but that at least gives me a chance to give a huge huge shout out to two aspects of the game that deserve a lot of praise.

Firstly, the acting! I loved the acting and really enjoyed the characters! In particular, throughout the game I couldn’t keep my eyes off the Priest Healio (played by Ryo Morishita) and Martial Artist Bruce (played by Hiroyuki Oda). Whilst the drama was happening elsewhere in the game, those two provided such comic relief out of the corner of my eye we couldn’t stop giggling.

Secondly, the music! The intro and outro music is by a band called FAKE TYPE. and it just came out a couple of weeks back. It’s so happy and upbeat and really encapsulates the slapstick, manic adventure game that The Demon Fortress is.

I’m running out of ways to describe how much I enjoyed this game, so instead I’ll wind this review to a close. The Demon Fortress for me is a standout experience and if you like adventure, fantasy, comedy, and great story writing – you’ll love it. Honestly.

A round of applause for Real Escape Game Japan (SCRAP) 👏

The Demon Fortress can be booked for 3,000 yen per player (about £20) from the Official Event Page here.

Tokyo Nazotoki Escape: World Detective Mystery: The Enigma and the Secret Treasure


“Hello, detective. I have a request for you.” The letter you received from Japan, started like this. The letter was written by a girl named Erika. Deciphering the code which her father left for her, was the request made for you. While you unlock the code, Erika will travel all around Tokyo city, of course with you, through the internet. What is the hidden treasure, and why did her father leave the codes behind for her? Why Tokyo city? …This story is about you and Erika, and her mysterious secret letter.

Rating: Informative!
Completion Time:  1hr30
Date Played: 6th February 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: People who’d like to visit Tokyo, but cannot due to lockdown (thanks pandemic!)

World Detective Mystery is a really cool idea, and I totally get it. In 2020 the Tokyo Olympics were supposed to kick off, welcoming many new international tourists to the city. But well, here we are. One of the things Tokyo Nazotoki Escape had planned was an English language escape room, but unfortunately those plans were also cancelled in 2020.

So World Detective Mystery comes as a breath of fresh air. It’s a mail-order escape room with one specific goal in mind: To bring Japan into the homes of folks around the world. You join Erika on a tour-come-treasure-hunt around Tokyo city by video. At times, it really feels like you’re walking the streets with her, stopping for delicious food, learning facts about the city, and of course solving puzzles!

The story goes, Erika’s father passed away many years ago and left her a letter to be deciphered on her 20th birthday. But her birthday arrives and the letter is still as much of an enigma as it ever was, so Erika calls in you to help. A world renowned detective able to decipher any code! No pressure, eh?! As each puzzle is solved, a new location is revealed and Erika will take you there by video and talk through her (really quite sad) memories with her late mother and father in this location.

The whole puzzle pack is very small – it fits in an airmail envelope, which is a nice touch! There are 9 parts, or rather 9 steps in the treasure hunt, 9 locations to find and so on… But the cool thing? All this information fits on just a couple of postcard sized pieces of paper.

Player 2 and I sat down to play this game over two sittings on one snowy afternoon. Why two sittings? Well, we got stuck – I don’t mind admitting it! However, after emailing the Tokyo Nazotoki Escape team they got back to us in a super quick time with a very handy photograph of what we were supposed to do on the next step. Since it was the final puzzle, there was no love lost with the game and taking a break was a nice pause before the ‘big finale’.

This does raise a point I wanted to mention! There is no cheat-sheet in this game, so if you do get stuck you’re on your own. With just one hint to help you, you’ve got to scrap it out and figure it out for yourself. To be honest, I enjoyed this! Most games hand the answer quite easily- or maybe I just reach for them too easily! But World Detective Mystery won’t be quite that easy. Puzzlers be warned!

That said, we did get to see all the answers AFTER the end of the game. On completion, you’re offered the “commentary” page which explains exactly how each puzzle needs to be solved and what the correct answer is. *glances around nervously* I do still have this link if you’re visiting my blog hoping to find help with a particular puzzle, but request it at your own risk! It’s a page packed with spoilers and the game is better spent puzzling it out for yourself.

I say the puzzles are tricky, but equal parts tricky and very cool! In particular players can expect a lot of multi-step, cipher-based puzzles. There’s also a lot of reliance on letter and word puzzles, which surprised me as I’d (probably incorrectly, I’m not sure) assumed the game was translated from Japanese. But regardless, each puzzle was done creatively, making use of signs you see in the video tour, or the Tokyo train map, with a lot of clever flair. Tricky, but a great “aha!” when you finally do crack them! Love it!

Overall, we found this escape room really good fun. A great challenge and a lovely way to feel like we’d actually gone on a trip around Tokyo. Some day, when I eventually do get to travel outside of the UK, Nazotoki Escape is high on my list to try out in person.

World Detective Mystery: The Enigma and the Secret Treasure can be ordered for 1,650 yen (~£12) on their website.

Real Escape Game: Escape from the Lockdown – The Strange Village


A villager by day, and a monster that attacks people by night. A werewolf. In order to minimize the damage, the village took many countermeasures. Outing restrictions. Villagers surveilling each other. Village lockdown. One night, the terrifying howl of a werewolf echoed throughout the village. In the morning, a body covered in blood was discovered.

Rating: Outstanding!
Completion Time: ~120 minutes
Date Played: 1st November 2020
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Accessible to everyone (except young children). In particular Murder Mystery Fans and Board Game Fans

A really, really outstanding escape room experience like this doesn’t come along often. In fact, I’m struggling to remember one I enjoyed more than this?! So there, I’ll say it: The Strange Village is in my opinion, FLAWLESS. I absolutely, unequivocally LOVED IT.

Not only did it combine a lot of elements I particularly enjoy in a good experience (spooky vibes, werewolves, murder mysteries, board game style mechanics, accessible puzzles, yes even small rural Japanese villages…), but the game was supported by such a strong plot, a unique yet easy to understand mechanic and also excellent acting. My only regret is not playing this game sooner! It’s absolutely PERFECT for these stormy dark nights we’ve been having lately.

So how does it work? Well, the game unfolds over five days and five nights in a village with 10 residents – a colourful cast including a baker, the mayor, a nun and a mystical seer). Hidden among them is a werewolf! Dead set on destroying the village, but nobody is quite sure exactly who the werewolf is.

It’s a combination of the classic game “Werewolf” (or Mafia, depending on the version you played) and a live murder mystery experience with actors free to lie and scheme their way through the narrative. Despite having the ‘atmosphere’ is a live game, the whole thing is actually pre-recorded. You can go at your own pace and tackle each day and night cycle as and when it suits you best.

Unlike other pre-recorded games, The Strange Village is far from static. I can’t completely guess at the technology but it felt in part like a “choose your own adventure”. You occasionally reach choices and must make decisions that affect the game. The characters react in almost-real time to what you do and, for the most part, they make you feel like a true and genuine villager in the town, welcome at the village meetings.

“So how is this game an escape room?” I hear you ask. Good question! It’s honestly a bit of everything but at the very core is a puzzle solving mechanic. Not only must you figure out who the werewolf is, but you’re also trying to crack a centuries old code to find the elixir to cure the werewolf.

I played with a beginner player and whilst the puzzles were possibly on the easier side, we both found them very accessible! There’s a mix of number and cipher puzzles, a couple relating to colours, and quite a few that involve retracing your steps for a small detail you likely missed the first time around! It’s a good job I made meticulous notes … Haha!

Without wanting to give too much of the game away, I’m doing to leave you with a top tip!

Top tip if you’re playing this one at home. It contains around an hour’s worth of video footage. I highly recommend cracking out a HDMI cable and hooking this up to your TV for the best, most immersive experience.

This one I DEFINITELY recommend for a night in when you have 2+ hours to spare. Light some candles, make sure you have snacks handy, and bonus points if it’s near Halloween and you’re feeling a bit spooky!

Escape from the Lockdown – The Strange Village can be booked online for 2800 Japanese Yen (around £20 GBP) on their website here.