It’s time to break out the yellow-and-black confetti because one of our favourite escape rooms is turning 10 this June.
As one of the longest running escape rooms in the UK, clueQuest has come a very long way since 2013. Founded by the Papp brothers – Gabor, Zoltan, Peter and Gergely, clueQuest has transformed from a little site in Tottenham Hale into one of the most popular and most beloved escape rooms in London, now located in Kings Cross.
When clueQuest first emerged nobody could have predicted the extraordinary journey that lay ahead. clueQuest invited the public to join forces with it’s signature yellow mouse Mr Q and embark on thrilling missions to protect the world. The debut escape room mission, PLAN52, tasked newly recruited “agents” with uncovering a double agent’s identity. Little did they know that this captivating adventure would become a monumental success, with over 170,000 people having played PLAN52 to date. It’s been nominated (and won) countless awards since then. And, remarkably, it can still be experienced today at clueQuest’s current home in King’s Cross.
Here on The Escape Roomer, we’re big fans of clueQuest. Not just their physical escape rooms like PLAN52, but we’ve also played all of the VR games they have on offer, and their Print+Cut+Play kept us sane through the global lockdown.
An EGGsciting adventure
You may also remember a few years ago The Escape Roomer was taken over by the evil, nefarious Doctor Black Sheep. For one week, the entire site was clueQuest yellow and Dr Blacksheep could be found across a number of hidden pages, causing mischief and mayhem.
Reflecting on the remarkable journey, CEO Gabor Papp remarked,
“clueQuest’s mission statement has always been to create happy memories for people. If companies were measured by how much laughter and happiness they contain, then clueQuest would be the most valuable place in London. We’re so proud of that as a business and as a family.”
To mark this momentous milestone, clueQuest is announcing they’ll be celebrating all year long. Each month, customers will have the chance to win one of many £1,000 gift cards. Each month will bring a new opportunity to win a prize. Be sure to keep an eye out on their website here.
Here at The Escape Roomer, we’re raising our glasses to toast the clueQuest team on their 10th birthday! Here’s to 10 fantastic years of escaping, excitement, and shared adventures 🥂
We’re super excited to have been invited onto our favourite podcast, The Infinite Escape Room to take on the latest chapter in their (if the name weren’t a giveaway already) “infinite” escape room. On a sunny Thursday night, Mairi, Al & Ash got together with a cup of their favourite brews for “Down the Rabbit’s Hole”. How did we get on? Scroll to the bottom of this page to listen.
The Infinite Escape Room is “The puzzling podcast where a group of chums have a drink & work together to solve a homemade escape room” and each week you can join the team comprised of Mike, Ben, Jon and Jamie to solve-along with a new audio escape room, continuing the adventure week by week.
At The Escape Roomer we are all huge fans of The Infinite Escape Room, and highly recommend it for everyone who enjoys a laugh, a beer, and a puzzle.
Here are the two episodes you can catch us on, and when they air:
Spring 2023 is finally here, and with it comes a fresh crop of tabletop games ready to take the world by storm. But there’s one genre that’s been steadily rising in popularity and creativity: puzzle games. From collaborative escape room experiences to head-scratching solo challenges, these games are proving that there’s more to the tabletop world than just rolling dice and moving pieces.
And where better to find these innovative and engaging puzzle games than on Kickstarter? Crowdfunding has become the go-to platform for independent designers and publishers looking to bring their ideas to life. With its passionate community of backers and the ability to fund projects directly, Kickstarter has become a hotbed of creativity in the gaming industry. So let’s dive into some of the most exciting puzzle game Kickstarters we’re looking forward to in Spring 2023!
From Enigmailed (one of our absolute favourite creators) comes a new experience: Escape the Book Nook. A miniature diorama escape room that snugly fits on your bookshelf. Escape the Book Nook is due to launch on Kickstarter some time in May.
Launching at the end of March, Dysturbia is a trio of play-at-home puzzle projects from homunculus SPIEL. Choose from a book, an advent calendar, or a weekly calendar, and unravel the mystery solo or with friends. You can learn more about the games, and this upcoming Kickstarter from their website here.
Missed Tale of Ord? Yeah, us too. But fear not – the original creator of the rare and expensive experience are working on a Remastered edition, called Threads of Fate: A Puzzle Tale. Little is known about this Kickstarter, except that it’ll launch some time in April.
From murder mystery company, A Killing Affair, comes a murder mystery game ‘from beyond the grave’. Unlike a classic murder mystery, Blind Faith will be a tabletop game containing evidence players must sort through and solve to ‘crack the case’. We’re intrigued! Blind Faith launches Tuesday 21st March. Get in early to secure an earlybird bonus.
Not as much is known about the latest Detective Society project, since it was officially announced 6 months ago in October 2022, but we’re excitedly awaiting more news about it soon. The Detective Society are best known for their murder mystery series, and a few smaller, family games launched on Kickstarter in the years that followed.
Have we missed one you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments!
Calling all escape room enthusiasts! ER Champ is BACK for 2022. It’s bigger and better than ever, and team The Escape Roomer cannot wait.
What is ER Champ?
The Escape Room Championship (or ER Champ for short) is an annual escape room championship crowning the world’s best escape room players. Since the lockdown, the competition has pivoted from it’s in-person origins in Poland, to a digital event anyone can play from anywhere in the world. Instead of locks and keys, the puzzles are cerebral and require pointing and clicking, deciphering passwords, and inputting data into your browser to ‘escape’.
Throughout the ER Champ, thousands of teams of 2 – 4 players compete for the fastest time over a series of eliminations, then the finale. This year an estimated 800 teams will compete for the title, but only 100 of the fastest teams will make it through from eliminations to the finale. Competition is tough!
Last year in 2021, 823 teams took part but CKCOS from Taiwan won, with two Japanese teams taking second and third place. Sadly, none of the teams from The Escape Roomer made the finale. But perhaps the real finale was the friends we made along the way- or perhaps we’re just going to double down on our efforts for this year.
Want to take us, and 800+ other teams on? You can sign up right now. Participation is completely free and can be done at any time by heading to the ER Champ website.
ER Champ Dates for your Diary
Make a note now! There are two rounds to the ER Champ and you won’t want to miss it.
ER Champ Pre-Game Livestream: November 5th 2022 at 3:30 PM UTC
ER Champ Elimination Competition: November 5th 2022
ER Champ Finale Competition: November 26th 2022
ER Champ Winners Announced: November 30th 2022
ER Champ 2022 Prizes
This year the first, second and third placed teams can enjoy the following prizes.
1st Place: A set of Nintendo Switch Lite consoles and $200 voucher at Board & Dice
If any of your local escape rooms or VR cafes offer “VR escape rooms”, there’s a chance you’ll have spotted a game or two by the video game developer, Ubisoft. Well known in our industry for creating the (fantastic) Beyond Medusa’s Gate, The Dagger of Time and Escape the Lost Pyramid, Ubisoft have a reputation for high quality, cinematic escape experiences set in the video game universe(s) of Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia. Which is why when they announced last month that their newest VR escape room experience was set in present day France, we were surprised! Surprised, but still excited.
Save Notre Dame on Fire
In 2019 the Notre Dame cathedral in the centre of Paris, France caught fire and was almost destroyed by the blaze that lasted 15 hours. In their latest adventure, Save Notre Dame on Fire, Ubisoft have created a virtual reality puzzle experience that puts players in the shoes of the first responders and firefighters who were sent to the scene to put out the flames and save the historic building.
The player’s mission (should they choose to accept it), is to venture into the building and recover the “crown of thorns”, an incredibly precious relic stored within.
Where previous games in the Ubisoft VR experience were based on video games, this one is based on the film “Notre-Dame On Fire” by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The experience is supported by first hand accounts of the firefighters on the scene, and experts on the building’s architecture, history, and the events that unfolded in 2019.
After extensively researching the Notre Dame’s structure in order to recreate the building in Assassin’s Creed Unity, the video game developer had been actively involved in the reconstruction effort. After hearing of this, the film’s director Jean-Jacques Annaud contacted Ubisoft with a proposal to use their vast library on Notre Dame to create a new kind of virtual reality experience.
In an interview, Ubisoft’s Senior Vice President Deborah Papiernik explained that the company made the choice to create the game as an escape room VR experience rather than an at-home VR experience as a move to bring the game to the general public. She explained,
“Home VR is still growing, and we wanted to do something for the larger public… The social aspect is central to the experience”.
This also ensures that players who don’t have at-home VR equipment can still head to their local escape room and experience the game.
On Ubisoft’s website, they indicate that part of the profits will be contributed to the Notre Dame’s reconstruction:
“Part of the benefits will be donated to the organization in charge or reconstructing Notre-Dame de Paris, giving everyone a chance to contribute to its rebirth.”
Solve Puzzles, Escape the Building
Save Notre Dame on Fire is a virtual reality experience for 2 – 4 players and will last up to 1 hour long. Unlike traditional escape rooms however, there’s no timer. No big clock looming over the team. Instead players will be forced to work fast on their feet as the building quite literally collapses around them. Players will not only solve puzzles to rescue the crown of thorns, but they’ll also need to work together to extinguish the flames and escape the building once they’ve recovered the precious relic.
Throughout the game payers will explore the choir with the altar, the transept, the gallery of Chimeras, and the bell tower. Players will be expected to climb, run, jump, toggle switches, and use everything they can find to navigate the space. In deciding where to send the players around the physical experience, Papiernik recounted a story of one of the firefighter’s experience. He had grabbed the crown of thorns where it was exhibited, made it out, and then the cathedral told them “That’s not the real one, that’s the copy”.
“The real [crown of thorns] was hidden in a safe, unknown to most people, and retrieving it proved to be a puzzle worthy of an escape game!”
Where to Play Save Notre Dame on Fire
Presently, it is the intention of Ubisoft that the new game, Save Notre Dame on Fire will be a game available at all existing escape room and VR venues that offer Ubisoft escape games. This roll out has begun with a few companies around the UK already offering the new game, including Chesterfield VR. We expect to see the name pop up at a lot more escape rooms around the company, and if in doubt you can check out the full list on Ubisoft’s website here.
Starting this month we’re pleased to announce that we have…
✉️🌟 A Newsletter! 🌟✉️
Thanks to some fantastic feedback from you (yes, you!) we’ve decided that rather than rely on RSS feeds (or as well as, if that’s your jam), we’d like to put out a monthly newsletter that rounds up the top posts from The Escape Roomer in each category.
Here’s what to expect:
Escape Room News from around the UK
What games we’ve been playing (and our Most Recommended Reviews)
Game Design & Escape Room Design Tips
Local upcoming events in cities near you (that is, assuming you’re in the UK!)
Discounts and Competitions – Our own, and from local escape room businesses
Since we’ve never done a newsletter before, this is a little test for us and one we hope you’ll come along for the journey on – we promise we’ll make it worth your while!
The Roomer Mill
Signup to receive a once-a-month newsletter covering all of the top news and articles from The Escape Roomer. No spam, we promise!
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If you want even more news of course, we recommend our friends over at Escape Industry News (where I myself am a researcher and editor), but in the mean time we hope you enjoy our first issue of The Roomer Mill.
We are super pleased to announce that Rick Porter is joining The Escape Roomer as our newest escape rooms editor in York! Rick joins us with a fantastic history of writing about the video games industry, covering guides, reviews and features for several digital and print-media publications.
Rick is also a huge board game fan, and like a lot of us here at The Escape Roomer, has “a board game cupboard in danger of falling through to the flat below“. Haha yep, I’m sure we all can relate!
We’re all looking forward to Rick’s articles, and he’ll be covering a little of everything – expect escape rooms, board games, immersive events in and around York and more! We’re so excited to have him join the team.
Keep an eye out for Rick’s features coming soon, but in the mean time here he is to introduce himself:
Hey Rick, please introduce yourself!
Hi, it’s nice to be here! Hmmm, what do you need to know about me… Well, I spent a sizable chunk of my life writing, editing and generally tending to videogame magazines and websites in Bournemouth. That was before I decided that I’d quite like my hobbies to be more hobby-like and not all-consuming, Sisyphean burdens. Due to the subject matter, I like to think that it was an industry that helped keep me young, but my 3-year-old son has already done a sterling job of reversing any possible benefit there could have been.
So I now live in York. A beautiful, walled city that – according to legend – has over 365 pubs. Many of which are apparently haunted. As well as potential ghosts, a lot of them also host pub quizzes – something else I really enjoy. I fill almost all my spare time with videogames, boardgames and puzzles and I‘m really looking forward to sharing my findings, experiences and thoughts with the Escape Roomer readers.
How did you get into the world of escape rooms and puzzle games?
I was introduced to escape rooms a fair few years ago when the first one popped up in York. The concept of escaping from a room by solving puzzles was something I’d seen plenty of in digital form, so doing it in real life against the clock really appealed to me. Unsurprisingly, I was hooked. The 18 months that followed saw me complete numerous escapes across York, Leeds, Bournemouth and London. After getting 20-30 rooms under my belt (relatively few, looking at the numbers some of the contributors here have clocked up) I started testing and providing feedback rooms for a company in York, which gave me more insight into how escape rooms are created.
The birth of my son caused an abrupt halt to my escapes, but I’m looking forward to getting back into them now he’s a bit older. I can’t wait to see how things have changed and improved while I’ve not been paying attention.
How about video games, do you have any favourites?
I could name several the usual classics here but, putting nostalgia aside for a moment, I think Portal 2 is certainly up there with the very best.
Every element of it is excellent and the mixture of ingenious puzzles, razor-sharp humour and increasingly oppressive atmosphere combine to make something truly memorable. Its predecessor, Portal, is also incredible and does a superb job of showing that games don’t need to be huge to be exceptional.
If you enjoy escaping from rooms, puzzles and disingenuous promises of cake then I can’t recommend the Portal games highly enough.
The cake is a lie!
What are you playing (…or solving) at the moment?
I’m spinning a couple of plates right now. Videogame-wise I’m gradually making my way through Horizon: Forbidden West, which I’m punctuating with slightly more arduous sessions of Elden Ring. I’m enjoying both a lot, so it’s a constant fight for my free time.
Although I’m currently taking something of a forced hiatus, my last six months have been dominated by the brilliant / daunting / frustrating / rewarding / ridiculous / surprising Taskmaster Treasure Hunt. It’s been an amazing experience so far and I’m sure there’s more in store as the final stages play out.
If you were given a blank cheque to create your dream ‘game’, what would it be like?
I’ve always thought that I’d like to put together a steampunk escape room – it’s a style I love, but it would probably take a huge amount of cash to do properly. The blank cheque would help a lot with the intricate machinery required to really set the scene.
However, now Alex Horne and his treasure hunt have showcased how versatile a book can be when combined with freely available online resources, I think I’d prefer to attempt a book project. Something that combines puzzle, story and art elements to create an experience that people can enjoy for months rather than a single hour.
We are very excited to have Rick on the team and a huge shout out to him for answering all these questions!
If you want to keep up with Rick, you can find him on Twitter.
The hottest Kickstarter game of 2020 was undoubtedly the mysterious Spectre and Vox. Created by two British escape room veterans Nick Moran, the former Creative Director of live escape rooms like Time Run and Sherlock: The Official Live Game, and Glen Hughes, the founder of Tandem Set and Scenery.
The game is an enormous 3D Haunted House escape room with over 296 individual pieces. Backers could pick up a copy of the game for £119 or more and the whole project was funded in just under 3 hours, with the finished funding total of over £250,000.
How to Purchase A Copy of Spectre & Vox
For most, the Kickstarter was the only chance to get the game, meaning there’s very likely only around 1,800 copies of the game being created.
That was until in a recent post on Kickstarter the Spectre and Vox team announced that they are creating and selling an additional 500 extra copies of the game to be shipped after the Kickstarter backers are fulfilled.
These additional games will retail at £250 and they will be available to purchase directly from the Spectre and Vox website ‘within the next couple of weeks’.
The link to purchase isn’t live yet, but you can go ahead and bookmark their homepage right here:
As it stands, the Kickstarter is currently running slightly behind schedule. Originally, the game was scheduled to be fulfilled in March 2021 but unfortunately due to countless reasons (strict lockdown restrictions in the UK, the big B (ending in -rexit), the Suez Canal catastrophe, and a billion more things that happened in 2021), the deadline has been pushed back.
Their current ‘final’ deadline is 21st of March 2022 and things are looking great for this deadline. Meaning the game will be in your hands within the next couple of months, and any folks purchasing a copy of the game at full retail price can expect theirs a little while later.
Delays or no delays, Spectre and Vox will likely be worth the wait.
This week creators of the hugely popular EXIT and Adventure Games series, Thames and Kosmos unveiled their 2022 product catalogue. This catalogue includes all their existing games, including a healthy number of STEM toys, science kits, and board games. Most excitingly, this catalogue gives us a sneak preview of a number of upcoming escape games, board games and brilliant IP partnerships us puzzle enthusiasts can look forward to in 2022.
Officially Licensed Lord of the Rings Escape Games
Among the new titles, one ring to rule them all sticks out:
EXIT: The Lord of the Rings – Shadows Over Middle-Earth
Suggested Retail Price: $19.95 Authors: Inka & Marcus Brand Ages: 10+ Players: 1-4 Play Time: 2-3 hours
Frodo and Sam are on their way to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. But they need your help! Can you buy Frodo enough time to reach Mount Doom?
Since the Lord of the Rings game was first teased last year in a Tweet by the creator, little more has been discovered about the game.
From experience with other series, such as Unlock!’s Star Wars games, official IP games tend to err on the side of easy as they target a more mass market audience, but we shall see!
New for 2022
Besides the Lord of the Rings IP, here are all of the other new for 2022 games we’ve spotted in their catalogue so far.
Adventure Games: The Gloom City File
Suggested Retail Price:$19.95 Authors: Inka & Marcus Brand Ages: 10+ Players: 1-4 Play Time: 2-3 hours
A message tears you away from your bleak, ho-hum existence: three people have been kidnapped! Who is behind this and why is the perpetrator pulling you of all people, four suspended cops, into the matter? Time is of the essence and so you go to the abandoned asylum to start the investigation together. Will you be able to free the hostages and catch the perp? How the thriller ends is entirely up to you.
EXIT: Advent Calendar – The Mystery of the Ice Cave
Note, this calendar originally launched here in the UK in 2021, but will be launching for the first time in the United States in 2022.
Your pre-Christmas ski trip definitely hasn’t gone as planned: Just as you are taking a break and enjoying the crystal-clear mountain air, you hear a noise and see a terrifying avalanche crashing down the mountain towards you. Your heart is in your throat, you hastily grab your seven things and race down the slope. With the last of your strength, you throw yourself into a nice in the rocks as everything behind you is buried in snow. Your heart races and you pull yourself together. You can hardly believe it, but you are alive! Only then do you take a look around: is this some kind of cave? This advent calendar is both an EXIT game and adventure story: in order to free yourself from this predicament, you must open a door of the calendar each day. Behind each door you will find a new and exciting riddle, the solution to which will bring you closer and closer to escaping the cave! Will you solve the mystery of the ice cave and find an exit?
EXIT: Advent Calendar – The Hunt for the Golden Book
Oh no! Something terrible has happened: Santa Claus’ golden book has disappeared! It contained a complete listen of all the Christmas wishes. If the book isn’t found by Christmas Eve, there will be nothing but sad faces around the tree on Christmas morning. It’s up to you to save Christmas – and time is of the essence!
EXIT: Nightfall Manor
Suggested Retail Price: $27.95 Authors: Inka & Marcus Brand Ages: 10+ Players: 1-4 Play Time: 2-3 hours
The old man was well-known for his eerie tales of the dark castle on the edge of the forest. Recently, he set out on his own to find the shadowy lord of the manor, but he hasn’t returned. Fearing the worst, you embark on a quest to find him. You must solve a series of riddles and piece together four jigsaw puzzles to uncover the mystery of Nightfall Manor and save your missing friend.
In this EXIT game, there are riddles within riddles hidden within four 88-piece jigsaw puzzles. Like other EDIT titles, Nightfall Manor has no game board, but it also has no riddle cards. Instead there are four jigsaw puzzles that you will find and assemble, one at a time. Each completed puzzle reveals a location containing more riddles to decipher.
EXIT: The Return to the Abandoned Cabin
Suggested Retail Price: $17.95 Authors: Inka & Marcus Brand Ages: 10+ Players: 1-4 Play Time: 2-3 hours
Sinister riddle master Dr. Arthur Funbeq has escaped from prison. The police ask for your help bringing you back to the infamous cabin where it all began. The adventure begins again!
Redcliff Bay Mysteries
Suggested Retail Price: $39.95 Authors: Martin Kallenborn Ages: 12+ Players: 1-5 Play Time: 4x 60 min
Mysterious things are happening in the tranquil coastal town of Redcliffe Bay. You are a team of investigators and need to get to the root of these occurrences in four exciting cases. You will meet several peculiar residents. All of them have their own particular traits and some even have dark secrets. But who has something to hide?
Round by round, you need to decide which location to visit to find important clues and interrogate people. An exciting feature of the game is the possibility of missing out on things happening in locations that you re not currently in, making teaming up and cleverly deciding where to go and when integral to your success.
Which of Thames & Kosmos’ games are you most looking forward to in 2022?
Despite the warnings that 2022 is just 2020 (too), we’re kicking off the year with something fantastically fun to look forward to. We Still Fax is BACK.
The one of it’s kind “fax-based” escape room experience has announced they’re running a limited series of bookings from January 1st – January 31st 2022. Everything you need to play will be delivered to your home address in the UK for a completely covid safe experience.
You receive a mysterious machine in the post. You plug it in and something strange happens… You connect with an alternate dimension; one in which the internet doesn’t exist and someone needs your help! To take on this important mission, you will need to crack codes, send faxes, unlock secret hatches and, when the time comes, push the big, red button. They are counting on you; their world depends on it.
If we had to categorise We Still Fax, it would be a cross between live immersive theatre and tabletop escape room. The idea is simple – ANTS Theatre sends you a large Fax Machine in the post. This Fax Machine is a relic from another universe… A universe the same up until one key divergent point: The internet was never adopted and people still fax.
This genre-defying experience is delivered to your home in the UK and the game begins at a set time when you’ll need to plug your fax machine in and receive your first fax.
ANTS Theatre is a production company made up of six interdisciplinary artists from all around the world. These artists include:
Lu is an award-winning producer, theatre-maker and director with over 5 years’ experience in the arts, including Theatre-Rites, Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust, English National Ballet, Crowded Room and Opera Holland Park.
Eva H. Lee
Eva is a Korean interdisciplinary artist born in Spain, raised in Brazil and Beijing. She studied at Royal Holloway before joining Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She works as a designer and choreographer alongside theatre-making.
Diana Vallverdu i Cabrera
Diana is a mathematician and theatre-maker from Barcelona. She studied at Polytechnic University of Catalunya (UPC) and has worked as a programmer. With ANTS, she has combined her two passions; applying logic to theatre making.
Paul Hernes Barnes
Paul is an award-winning rural theatre-maker from the West-highlands of Scotland with a taste for performance in non-theatre spaces. Past performance locations range from abandoned castles to railway station tearooms.
Qiu is a performer and theatre-maker from Nanjing, China. She worked as a performer for 5 years in China before receiving a postgraduate degree from RSCCD in Advanced Theatre Practice, as well as from UCL in Environmental Design and Engineering.
Zhaolin is a theatre-maker and performer from China. Before working in theatre, he received a degree in medicine from Peking University, and uses his experience to explore the journey of who we are in this rapidly changing world.