Wild Hare Escapes: Legend of the Labyrinth | Review

Image

The Legend of the Labyrinth Review | Some may have heard the legend of Theseus—the brave warrior who entered King Minos’ labyrinth, found his way to the vicious Minotaur, fought and killed the creature, and then emerged from the maze victorious​Baloney. The guy just has a killer press agent!

In reality, Theseus (a close personal friend of yours), has always been a total screw-up. One night recently he got hammered and volunteered to go into the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur. Classic Theseus.

Date Played: 20th September 2021
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 43 minutes

An escape room tournament based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur… AND there’s a prize for the fastest escapist? Don’t mind if I do!

Actually, in honesty I picked up Legend of the Labyrinth with two colleagues after being very intrigued about how they’d used their online gaming platform – Telescape. Rather than the traditional point-and-click, or 360 degree views of real life rooms, Wild Hare Escapes have quite literally built out the whole Minotaur’s labyrinth for you and your team to explore.

It’s got stylised graphics, clever puzzles, and buckets of humour. It’s their fourth game of this time, and an all round brilliant and unique play-at-home experience!

Theseus’s Story so Far

Legend of the Labyrinth is a modern retelling of the classic Greek myth. It takes the legend of Theseus – a brave warrior who journeyed to the centre of the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur. The problem is, this legend isn’t strictly true. Theseus is your friend and he’s just gone in there to drink with his girlfriend and got lost along the way. Its up to you to journey into the maze after him and rescue him.

If you come across the Minotaur while you’re in there, well you’ll just have to deal with it as best you can! But the Minotaur isn’t the only thing to worry about. In our game we also encountered nymphs and cyclopses and all manner of familiar faces from the legends.

To navigate (and escape) the maze, you’re armed with only your wits… And of course anything you manage to find along the way too!

How to Escape the Labyrinth

The puzzles in Legend of the Labyrinth are varied and unique! For starters, you need to first navigate the maze itself! I counted at least three separate areas of maze, each hidden door unlocking a whole new area to explore (and get lost into). Telescape is very handy in that it allows you to see the mouse pointers of your team mates. However, in Legend of the Labyrinth you’re encouraged (and will need to at some points) split up and look at different areas. Being spatially aware and about help your team mates navigate to your position after finding something exciting is the first part of the puzzle!

In the live environment, the whole game could probably be solved by one player – but there are clear moments when two or three players at different points in the map are more helpful than not. After all, team work makes the dream work.

There are also fun moments where different players need to be in different locations at once, working simultaneously to solve riddles, or logic puzzles, and so on. It also helps to keep an open mind and click everything – you’ll never know when it’ll be interactable! And if nothing else, clicking everything reveals the humour!

I mean, I definitely clicked on a statue’s butt because the caption made me laugh about 30 times

*cough cough*

Where there’s a labyrinth, there’s a Minotaur!

As a whole, journeying through Wild Hare Escapes’ labyrinth was a joy! It’s a very funny game and packed with fun puzzles and moments. Our team of three would often spend a long time looking for a certain item, expecting one outcome – only to have the game turn it on it’s head with a very humourous twist.

At launch, Wild Hare Escapes announced a competition to win an exciting $300 USD to the fastest team to escape. In September this team was announced as Burning Prospects. Kiss Babies came in second place and took home $100. It’s a really cool touch, I just lament playing a few days too late to take part in the competition!

The icing on the cake of an already great game however had to be the illustrations! There’s this distinctive style that’s a cross between hand illustrated drawings, photographs, and video game 3D renders. Added together lends an iconic style to the Legend of the Labyrinth game.

The Verdict

Overall, great fun! It’s a light-hearted retelling of a classic Greek legend, through the medium of an hour long point-and-click adventure. For the best experience, play with at least a team of 3.

The Legend of the Labyrinth can be booked on Wild Hare Escapes’ website here.

Emergency Exit: Exorcist (Digital) | Review

Image

The ancient legend has it that anyone who stays longer than 1 hour in this haunted house simply disappears! Follow the footsteps of a world leading demonologist to uncover the secrets of this spooky house and exorcise the demons. Do NOT outstay your welcome.

Rating: Spooky
Completion Time: 45 minutes
Date Played: 29th March 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: For a spooky, play any time awarding winning adventure

Before the Escape Game Olympics took a break for the summer, their penultimate game was Emergency Exit’s award winning Exorcist… And what a game to usher in the summer months with! We ranked a very respectable 5th place, which is not bad for a team of newbies! I’ll take it! 🎉

Recently converted from the remote avatar version, Exorcist’s point-and-click version utilises Telescape for a 360 view of the room and easy to follow inventory management system. I did go into the game apprehensive, I mean just how scary can a non-hosted game really be? It turns out, quite scary indeed!

Exorcist is the first in a two part horror series that centres around the mysterious Crowley Manor. Despite it being the first in the series, if you’ve been following The Escape Roomer you might have noticed we’ve already played the remote avatar sequel, The Beast. Oops! But honestly, despite seeing the conclusion first, neither ruined the surprises of the other and both games were a spectacularly spooky homage to the local history.

I did prefer The Beast to Exorcist, but I think this has a lot to do with the order we played them and the fact we went hosted for the former but point and click for the latter, and not truly representative of which is a better game. Because there’s not a lot in it – both games are brilliant.

Once upon a time…

So how did we come to find ourselves inside the mysterious Crowley Manor? You sign up for a haunted house ghost tour, of course! As we’re living in *gestures vaguely* a global panini (joke intended), you can’t join your tour guide for the actual experience but instead you get to remotely guide him via a digital interface. Legend has it anyone who stays longer than an hour will suffer a fate worse than death.

But that’s just a legend… Right?

The most recent spooky tale from the manor surrounds a priest from the Vatican going missing. The original resident of the Crowley Manor was a notorious Satanist, so this whole building needed a bit of cleansing TLC, but alas! The demonic entities won. But not before the priest has left a trail of breadcrumbs you’ll quickly follow if you intend to get to the bottom of the mystery.

*shudders*

Let’s set the scene

Exorcist is a remote version of the physical escape room you could play pre-pandemic at Emergency Exit… Well, sort of! It’s modified for a digital audience, but the space your host explores is the same. The same creepy abandoned furniture, strange dark liquids oozing, and blood splattered where blood should not be.

Exorcist is themed perfectly. It puts you on edge from start to finish – from antiques that have seen better days, to candles curiously arranged on the table, flicking and casting shadows that any demons could be lurking in. One big benefit to having Telescape’s 360 view is being able to explore the environment at your own pace and fully appreciate the set the creators have designed.

Point & Click vs Remote Avatar

So this is probably the main reason you’re reading this review and not one of the countless others out there. We played the point-and-click version, and you may be wondering how it compares. I’ve broken down my thoughts in an objective way to help you make an informed decision about which version you should book:

Point and Click

  • ✅ If you have a lot of players to wrangle and can’t decide on a time slot together, point and click is great as you can play at any time.
  • ✅ Point and click is a lot cheaper, at £21 per team.
  • ❌ Point and click is less atmospheric, and easier to mentally ‘switch off’ during the gameplay and miss jump scares or spooky details.
  • ✅ You could play solo if you wanted to.
  • ❌ We experienced some technical errors in the point and click version which would not have happened in the remote avatar version.

Remote Avatar

  • ✅ The hosted version is a cinematic experience guided by a very immersive actor. You’ll see only what the guide wants you to see at each important part of the story.
  • ❌ Remote avatar is more expensive at £80 per team **
    ** Please note, I still consider this to be a very good price for the experience you’re getting.
  • ❌ You have to have a team to play, this wouldn’t work well solo.
  • ✅ The remote avatar version of the game is the version that has won all of the awards. The point and click has not.
  • ✅ The remote avatar version of the game very special, and unique on the market. The point and click felt less unique.

Brilliant customer support

As a final note to this review, we were one of the first teams to play Exorcist as a point and click but our experience wasn’t without a few technical issues. Officially according to the Escape Game Olympics our completion time was 45 minutes, but this does not include 30 minutes spent stuck on a puzzle which didn’t (yet) work correctly digitally.

It was late on a Saturday night and yet we were immediately able to get a response from the Emergency Exit team who were brilliant in helping us out, triggering the next puzzle sequence and fixing the issue for future players right there and then. I’m seriously impressed! From both my interactions with the Emergency Exit, it’s super clear they care a lot about customer support. Double thumbs up all round.

The Verdict?

Exorcist is a great game. Sure, I do regret not playing it as a live avatar, or in-person escape room, but I’m really happy we did get to play it at all. It completely lives up to it’s accolades and evokes such a cinematic feeling of tension and spookiness, months later I’m still utterly spooked out every time I remember Crowley Manor.

The Exorcist Point & Click can be booked on Emergency Exit’s website here.

Edaqa’s Room: Prototype | Review

Image

You’ve applied for a new job, an amazing role as a game master at a brand new escape room. Alas, a mishap has you trapped in the very room you’re supposed to run. Can you get out before the vampires* come? *There are no vampires, but you might get hungry if you take too long.

Completion Time: 50 Minutes
Date Played: July 2021
Party Size: 4
Difficulty: Medium

Following the success of Edaqa’s Room’s game Carnival, we (Escaping the Closet) were keen to try out this company’s rooms ourselves! Edaqa’s Room were kind enough to send us the links to both Prototype & Carnival and where better to start off than with Prototype. It was time to get the dream team together (Ash, Al, Mairi & Tasha), and we are so glad that we took the time to try this room out. It did not disappoint!

First day of a new job…

The storyline is very unique (and a bit meta) as you are trapped in the Escape Room that you are interviewing to run as a GM! Wendy has hired you and left you in charge, when you unfortunately get locked in. As a GM in training, this isn’t exactly the best start to your newly chosen career path… Surely the golden rule of GM’ing is ‘don’t lose track of the keys?!’

The game begins with some simple, yet humorous dialogue, before throwing players into the cartoon world of Edaqa’s Prototype. It looks like a fairly standard living room – if your living room curtains and rug are extremely sassy that is! This was one of the things we loved the most about Prototype. The humour! The text captions are very well written, full of wit, there was a brilliant amount of sarcasm, and we couldn’t stop laughing!

Logical and memorable!

The storyline then develops naturally as players progress, with spaces opening up in unexpected ways. We faced a particularly challenging puzzle early on in the game which thankfully Tasha managed to figure out. Prototype is one of those rooms that throws out all sorts of puzzles, making the room ideal for newbies or enthusiasts alike, as there is something for everyone.

It features stand-alone puzzles which are solved using one element of the room, along with more drawn out puzzles, which help to make the game feel logical, and give players plenty of satisfactory moments when successfully solving something!

One of the most memorable puzzles used a children’s book (think Old McDonald), and some clever word play, combined with an audio puzzle. This was really well put together, and although it took us quite a bit of time to solve, the feeling of success when we cracked it was great. Turns out we were just missing some fairly obvious hints!

Playing together, digitally

The interface is very clever too. Despite the cartoon graphics, nothing feels simple and you soon realise that there are some difficult puzzles lurking beneath the ‘normal’ appearance of the room. We always like an interface which works in real-time, with one player solving a puzzle, triggering the solution for all players – and Prototype does this very well.

This essentially means the game has been set up to gel well with digital play. For example, there are a number of elements which are used to try and bring the game into the ‘now’, which we find always helps to increase the immersion, and gives that bit of extra excitement that can be sometimes lacking in a virtual game. 

One thing we haven’t seen before that we really liked was the fact that the room told you which player had solved which puzzle: it was fun seeing a flash up on the screen with a player’s name and the puzzle name that they had solved. Again, the humour in this game is on point and seeing a hilarious puzzle name pop up on everyone’s screen was the icing on the cake!

Overall

We would highly recommend this game – it was funny, the graphics were really cute, and the puzzles were challenging! There were even elements of searching required in this game, which is unusual in a point and click game. Much to our advantage, we seem to be much better at searching in a digital game than IRL (hopefully this might help us to hone our skills in preparation for our future physical escape room endeavours…but we’re not holding out hope!).

This is a really good option for a fun digital escape session with friends and definitely worth the bargain cost of £12 to play!

Would you turn down this incredible job opportunity and make Wendy sad? We don’t think so…You can book to play Edaqa’s games here

Ratings

Escape My Room: Mardi Gras Study (Digital) | Review

Image

The year is 1990, and Odette DeLaporte has invited you to her study. As the last remaining heir in New Orleans to the DeLaporte fortune, she needs your help locating a treasure which went missing a long time ago. Can you recover what’s been lost?

Rating: Historical!
Completion Time: 50 minutes
Date Played: 17th March 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Technologically literate folks who LOVE local history!

I was invited to play The Mardi Gras Study’s digital room as part of an early beta tester group, prodding and poking at the technology to make sure it’s robust. As such, my review is of the ‘pre-launch’ version and amazingly, the creators have since improved this game MASSIVELY which I find hard to believe because it was already so good in the first place!

The Mardi Gras Study is a real life escape room at Escape My Room’s New Orleans location and now, thanks to the pandemic, you can play it digitally from anywhere in the world! The room has been reimagined in a browser based point-and-click piece of software. The idea is simple, click the arrows to move your screen left and right and click into anything you like to take a closer look, or add to your inventory.

I won’t comment on how well the tech worked because, as mentioned, I didn’t play the same version that is live today. But I would say if you’ve played anything point-and-click, or built on a similar software called “Telescape” before, you’ll pick up Escape My Room’s system pretty quickly!

The Story

The story in this game is quite unusual, but after looking at the website I realise it ties in nicely not only to the rest of the escape rooms available, but also some pretty nice local history too! Odette Delaporte has summoned you to her study to help with a little problem. A family heirloom has gone missing and, as the only living heir, it’s in your interest to reclaim it. The only problem is, she can’t quite remember in which cupboard or locked box the trail of clues are hidden. But not to fear, even though you’re locked in until you can figure it out, you have some very helpful handwritten notes to guide you along the way.

Photo (c) Escape My Room

The Puzzles

There’s an interesting mix of puzzles in this game. As it’s a digital offering, I can’t compare to the real life version. That said players can expect to interact with objects in creative ways, for example overlaying different pieces of information and cut outs. There are several 3 and 4 digit codes to be found, each with their own unusual pattern. One of my favourite puzzles involved a rug, but the less I say about that one the less I spoil it!

If I had one piece of advice for prospective players – take nothing for granted! Is that item just a curious antique, or is it an integral part of the puzzle? Who knows! That’s all part of the magic.

Overall

The room was delightfully quirky and not like anything I’d ever seen before. Virtually ‘walking into it’ you’d have thought it just a regular, dusty room packed with antiques and mysterious things along the walls. But on closer inspection the weird and wonderful world of Escape My Room just keeps getting more curious. With an almost Alice in Wonderland vibe, this whole room was quite something and should be played to be believed!

As I was beta testing the room, I had a surprising amount of fun considering I was meant to be on the lookout for bugs and website issues. Making this overall, one to watch! Since I’m not likely to visit New Orleans any time soon (*cries in pandemic*), I hope the company convert more of their rooms into digital, online spaces. I’d very much like to explore them.

The Mardi Gras Study Digital and the real life escape room can be booked on the Escape My Room website here.

Online Escape Rooms Ireland: Spirit Seekers – The Clare Abbey | Review

Image

You are joining paranormal investigators, “Spirit Seekers Ireland”, on their investigation of the Clare Abbey ruins in County Clare, Ireland. Your team must capture at least 4 pieces of hard evidence of paranormal activity and get this evidence to Professor O’Connor of Trinity College Dublin. It is of vital important to make this a successful mission.

Rating: Unique!
Completion Time: 34:53
Date Played: May 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Paranormal Investigators

I’m calling it, Spirit Seekers: The Clare Abbey is the first of it’s kind…

*pauses waiting for an onslaught of DMs telling me I’m wrong*

…But seriously, let me explain the concept: The Clare Abbey is a real life location in Ennis, Ireland that has been converted into a virtual escape room experience. You play a team of ghost hunters and you must journey there to solve puzzles and… You guessed it: Catch ghosts!

The fact it makes use of a real life location that isn’t an escape room is huge to me. What’s to stop someone taking some 360 photos of the Eiffel Tower and making an escape room there (OK maybe the Council of Paris would have words, but you get the idea). It’s really, really unique and I love that the creators put the time and effort in to make this game.

It’s also great fun to play with Escaping the Closet as part of the 40th Escape Game Olympics! Bring on the leaderboards!

The Story

The Clare Abbey is packed with ghosts, and it’s your job to prove it! You’ve been sent by Professor O’Connor of Trinity College Dublin and are armed with all the usual spirit-catching equipment you need. You know, typical ghost catching stuff. We had an EMP thingy-ma-jig, heat reader, we had a spirit box, we had a camera, and so on.

The best part about this game is that it’s also just “Episode One” meaning there’s plenty more to come from Online Escape Rooms Ireland and frankly… I can’t wait! Give me some more ghosts to hunt any day!

The Experience

Spirit Seekers: The Clare Abbey is played in a platform called Telescape. This means you have a 360 degree view of the area and can point and click into any item or object to take a closer look. Unlike most Telescape games, there isn’t just one space to explore… But 16!! Each of those 16 locations is it’s own photosphere with it’s own mysteries to uncover.

There’s about one to three puzzles per ‘area’ meaning there’s still plenty to do. But it does give the game a feeling of being immensely big, and very easy to get lost in. The majority of the time spent in this game was probably searching for something we’d spotted earlier but couldn’t remember where exactly it was! Oops!

Note to other puzzlers: Make notes of what you find and where!

The game unfolds fairly linearly in that you need to first capture a ghost in one particular way, then the other, and so on. This means that when you first open up the game you’ll be spotting ghosts out the corner of your eyes everywhere! This was one of the most fun parts of the game and genuinely chilled me at points. Creepy sightings and eerie noises. *shudders*

All things considered, the graphics are really cool and a step up from the previous two Online Escape Rooms Ireland games I’ve played: Beach Bar and O’Brien’s Cottage. Cameras crackling and the haziness of ghost sightings felt immersive and engaging. On the completion of each puzzle, a video prompts showcasing the ‘what happened when you did this thing’.

The Puzzles

In terms of puzzles, the creators have been very clever making use of the environment and not adding too many things which feel out of place. Of course, some things have been added – like additional plaques, or 4 digit codes locking things away, but largely the game uses what the Clare Abbey provides. For example a relief in the wall you’ll place an object you find later, a strange etching already found on a grave, the crow caws, or strange puddles and sundials.

Even though your goal is different (capture evidence of ghosts), the puzzles are fairly typical of what you’d find in a real escape room. There are plenty of locks to unlock, including digits, and so on. In most cases, you had to combine items at the right time to achieve a desired outcome.

As the area is so vast, in our team of four I think there are definitely some puzzles I didn’t get to solve as other team mates finished them quite quickly – but vice versa on the things I spotted earlier on. This means this game would be best tackled by splitting up and looking for clues.

We got stuck a couple of times, but largely this was due to not remembering where something was, or missing a small detail in one of the many areas – wasting time searching through the other 15 areas before returning to the place you’re supposed to be!

Overall

This game reminds me a lot of a Halloween party I once threw, where all the attendees were split into teams of ‘TV Ghost Hunters’ and their goal was to complete escape room style challenges in this outdoor area whilst trying to capture the best footage of a ghost in order to keep their TV ratings up.

It had the same light-hearted yet spooky vibes and has inspired me to throw another future party maybe in the vicinity of a church. They are very creepy in the dark, after all!

I’ve marked this game here on The Escape Roomer as ‘good for Halloween’, and even though it’s set in the day time I stand by that. This would be an excellent game to tackle this October or November on a cold and dark evening from home. Driven by narrative and puzzles that aren’t too challenging makes this for me, a big hit with families too!

Props to the creators for making such a special game!

Spirit Seekers: The Clare Abbey can be booked for 24 EUROS on Online Escape Room Ireland’s website here.

Ratings

realMyst | Review

Image

Welcome to Myst: the starkly beautiful island, eerily tinged with mystery and shrouded in intrigue. Explore the deeper connections and uncover a story of ruthless family betrayal.

Time Played: 10+ Hours
Console: PC
Recommended For: Retro gamers, people not easily frustrated!

Yo, listen here. I genuinely suck at Myst. I’ve decided to tap out at the ~10 hour mark (possibly even more) and call it a day on Myst forever… Maybe… I mean, I might get it in VR to be honest.

But anyway, I’m getting side tracked. I still wanted to write this review because Myst is such a breathtaking game and years ahead of it’s time! The first version of Myst came out in 1994, before I was even born. Just because I don’t ‘get it’ and find it super tricky, doesn’t mean it’s not an incredible game and worth all your time in the world. Maybe just err, use a walkthrough for good measure! No judgement here.

Here’s a screengrab of me streaming Myst over on my escape room Twitch channel, shortly before I descended into “oh my god it’s been an hour and I’m still in the first area“.

If you’re comparing realMyst with another version you may have played, then here’s a breakdown of every version:

  • Myst – original 1994 game, point and click, fixed viewpoints
  • Myst: Masterpiece Edition – same as above but improved graphics
  • RealMyst – 3D version of original game
  • RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition – as above, but improved graphics
  • Myst VR – as above but VR
  • An unknown remake – who knows!

The story starts with you, docked on a shoreline with a sunken ship behind you. The island is home to a medley of unusual structures and mechanical contraptions from another world. At one end of the island a rocket ship is parked ready to take you away. Solve the puzzles and find the clues, and you’ll travel to incredible new worlds.

To start Myst, or realMyst, or Myst VR (whichever version you’re playing – it’s the same), you’ll want to grab a notebook. This game is all about making notes as you go along, and trying a bunch of different things until you get it right. It’s not a simple “okay this puzzle is this, then leads to this”, it’s about tiny subtle clues in the environment that might help, or might not.

There’s no inventory system, no health bar – absolutely nothing you’d normally expect from a video game. It’s just you and the environment, eerily deserted. No way out until you solve the puzzles. Like taking an escape room to it’s logical conclusion – a chilling island in the middle of nowhere you can never escape *shudders*.

For all it’s difficulty, the game does provide some wonderful ‘aha!’ moments. With a game so tricky as this, with a lot of trial and error in some puzzles, finally cracking something is an absolute joy. It’s easier today in 2021 than it was back in the early 90s when we didn’t have a ready internet walkthrough available to us, and it shows in the puzzles that are MEANT to be laboured over for hours to finally have that “oh wow, I’ve solved it” moment like burst of light.

I’m keeping this review really short for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve not finished the game, and I don’t think I ever will. As such, I can’t really comment on the ending (I hear there’s alternate endings). Secondly, because Myst isn’t really to be judged by it’s puzzles and I’m not in a place to judge it. It’s an experience – relaxing and frustrating but more importantly ICONIC. I don’t think anyone reading this website is a Myst newbie. This game has been around forever, again, longer than my whole life. So I instead wanted to use this space for my thoughts and reflections.

It was a lot of fun in the Twitch stream hearing other people talk about playing Myst in the 90s and reminisce over puzzles long forgotten, and enjoy the new graphics. Good luck to those of you playing the game and if you, like me, don’t want to finish it that’s okay too!

RealMYST: Masterpiece Edition can be purchased for £12.99 on Steam.

Virtual Escaping: Underground Murder | Review

Image

On his way to work, a young man is killed on the subway. How he was murdered is still unknown. Suspects and witnesses have been questioned, but now it’s up to you to find out exactly what happened.

Rating: Spooky!
Completion Time: 34 minutes
Date Played: 28th March 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: 16+ Murder Mystery Enthusiasts and Budding Detectives

Week two in my Escape Game Olympics journey and this time we are…Down a couple of places, aww. But hey! There were 13 additional teams playing this week and I’m still super proud of our fantastic score of 34 minutes and 8 seconds! As with before, I’m playing on the Escaping the Closet team with Alice, Ash and Tash and absolutely loving the competition.

Underground Murder

If there’s two things I love it’s murder mysteries and underground trains. Ok I’m kidding on the last part. Does anyone actually love cramming onto a sticky underground train for a daily commute? Bleh. It’s a perk of working from home that I never need to again. BUT THIS underground train station is deserted. Why? There’s been a horrific murder and you, a team of detectives, must solve the case quickly and get the trains running again.

Screenshot (c) Virtual Escaping

Underground Murder has really spooky vibes. The whole environment was dark and mysterious – think flickering lights and plenty of dark places with discarded weapons *shudders*. To navigate the game, it’s a straight forward point and click, but the environment really makes you work for it… Read as, a lot of button mashing from me in all the shadowy places trying to find stuff.

Whilst is IS a point and click, unlike others, you can’t see what your fellow players are doing unless they discover something new – this pops up on screen for all players. So communication is absolutely the key:

I am in the engine room, I have found this, we need a 4 digit code…” etc. etc.

Screenshot (c) Virtual Escaping

The Puzzles

The game is really cleverly done in terms of solving the ‘big puzzle’ of whodunnit. Sure, it feels like an escape room with puzzles to solve, but the end goal is to collect as much evidence as possible and interrogate the suspect statements to figure out who the murder is and more importantly why the victim died.

As you search for evidence, the main purpose of the puzzles are to unlock the three new areas. For example, an engineer’s room locked with a 4 digit code, or a series of panels that control the train doors. Rather unhelpful of the station staff not to give me this kind of information, but hey ho! As such, most of the puzzles require you to find a 3, 4, or 5 digit/letter code – so we spent a great deal of time trying the same code in various locks until we cracked it.

Screenshot (c) Virtual Escaping

A few stand out puzzles didn’t involve 4 digit codes (well, not exactly). At one point you’ll find yourself needing to unlock a phone with a shape, and other puzzles may involve small details in statements you overlooked the first time you read them. Pretty cool!

With three distinct areas to explore you won’t have enough information to solve the case until you unlock everything BUT you can try. At any point in the game you can head to your detective notebook, review the evidence, and solve the case. Pretty cool!

We ‘solved the case’ so the moment we were sure we were right (hey! This IS a competition – no time to waste!) BUT… This left us with one puzzle we did not solve and I’ve still no idea what it was supposed to do! Grrr, my inner completionist NEEDS TO KNOW what the puzzle solution was. Haha!

Overall

One of the standouts for me about Underground Murder is the really intriguing (and kinda beautiful) world. I just loved ‘being’ there and exploring the places. It was almost like a video game environment – damn, that’s a great idea! I would 100% play this if it were a video game, and right now I’m cheering the creators on to create a Part 2!

But, in the mean time, Underground Murder is a great option for a team of budding detectives looking to spend a fun afternoon solving a case. Even though we raced through it, there’s at least an hour – if not more’s worth of fun. You can see for yourself the various completion times of the players from this week’s EGO here.

Underground Murder can be purchased for £30 per team on Virtual Escaping’s website here.

Dave Escape Rooms: Rita’s Cult Following

Image

A missing actress, a deserted theatre and whispers of a secret conspiracy dating back centuries. Renowned actress Rita Vasconcellos is missing, vanished in the middle of an acclaimed run of performances at the Palm Street Theatre in London’s West End. Where has she gone? What does she know? Will the understudy finally get a chance to perform?

Rating: Creepy Fun!
Completion Time: 51 minutes
Date Played: 28th March 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Teams of 3+ missing escape rooms in lockdown

This game requires a minimum of 3 players… Oooh! I know just the team! Living in London and being in lockdown for over a year is difficult because this city is usually so vibrant and packed with theatres, restaurants and fun things to do! Rita’s Cult Following is set at the Palm Street Theatre – a fictional theatre in the West End of London where I used to live… Ahh, good memories! So it was a no brainer to play this with two of my best friends here in London and relive a time when we were allowed to leave our flats and walk around vibrant places like this.

The game starts, “Obviously, we’d have to ask some of the smartest, most cunning and adventurous people to try and crack a mystery like this . . . unfortunately they were all busy, but we’re so grateful you were able to make it!” HAH! Okay, okay.

The Story

A renowned actor, Rita Vasconcellos is due to play at the Palm Street Theatre when suddenly she goes mysteriously missing from her dresser room. Thankfully, she’s left behind some clues hidden in locked cases, boxes, and compartments around her room. You, the players, have two goals:

  • Find out where Rita has disappeared to
  • Escape the dressing room before your time runs out!

The Experience

Rita’s Cult Following is all played in browser and it’s a classic point and click escape room. By now, you probably know the drill: everyone can see everyone else’s cursor on the screen, you can click on objects to interact with them, and there’s a pretty cool inventory system to boot. With two starting locations to explore in Rita’s dressing room, there’s also plenty to get stuck into. Oh! And don’t forget about that collaboration – at several points in the game more than one player will be required to work on a puzzle and in some cases three of you at once.

One of the real stand outs for me with this game though is the look and feel of it. I couldn’t tell if I were interacting with photographs, CGI or some clever artwork but wow this game is so pretty. Exploring the environment was a genuine joy and at each point in the game I couldn’t wait to see what was behind the next door.

The Puzzles

Overall, the puzzles in this game were great! A lot of them require you to physically manipulate things in the room which is a stand out for me in the escape room world. To balance there are also plenty of red herrings- and not the annoying kind the “oh that’s so funny!” sort.

Players can expect to do a lot of working together, but you’ll also be faced with listening puzzles, UV light puzzles, cipher/runic puzzles and simple maths puzzles. In short – a really good mix and plenty for a team of 3/4 or more to keep busy with. We used Google (which is allowed… Encouraged even!) to solve one puzzle, and the history buff on our team solved another with a bit of memory too!

Throughout the game there was only one puzzle gave us problems, but boy where they problems!! Early at the start of our experience we got very stuck. Watching the clock slide down from 60 minutes to about 35 minutes and worrying if we’d finish in time was a little nerve-wracking, but it turned out we’d been overthinking the puzzle and it was a lot simpler than we thought! Typical!

Overall

Overall, a fun game and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The game was beautiful and had delightful moments of humour, with great puzzles too. Almost like doing a real life escape room… Whatever those are! It’s been so long I’ve forgotten! But until the day we can enjoy them again, this is a great play at home alternative.

Rita’s Cult Following can be booked for £29.99 on Dave Escape Room’s website here.

Online Escape Rooms Ireland: The Beach Bar Digital | Review

Image

You have finally been offered the job of your dreams, and you celebrate by taking the ultimate tropical holiday before you begin your new job.  But on the last night of your vacation you celebrate a little bit TOO much, and you have lost your passport somewhere at the beach bar.  You have one hour to find your passport or you will miss your return flight and loose your new job!

Rating: Made with Heart!
Completion Time: 53 minutes
Date Played: 4th February 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: People missing escape rooms in lockdown!

The digital version of The Beach Bar is the latest venture by escape room company Online Escape Rooms Ireland and their concept is quite innovative! From a real life escape room, they’ve adapted into a guided experience with a host, and now have unveiled a purely digital version of the experience with Telescape!

It’s really interesting seeing how the idea of an escape room has evolved during the pandemic and WOW, I guess it’s officially 12 months into lockdown (for me anyway!) and pointing and clicking around an escape room in my browser has become – dare I say it – quite a regular occurrence! I quote my friend Jamie:

But I do applaud Online Escape Room Ireland for giving Telescape a shot and the experience works! If you can’t afford the hosted experience, for a fraction of the price you can still explore the room in your own time. After all, from activation your link stays active for 72 hours in case a puzzle really stumps you and you decide to sleep on it.

So the story goes you’ve just finished this incredible, beautiful holiday but on the last night you hit the beach bar. After some heavy drinking you awake to find you have LOST YOUR PASSPORT WHAT?! There’s nothing for it, back to the bar in a hazy hangover to retrace your steps and find that passport. This is where it gets a little bizarre – and I say that with a big smile on my face! For some reason the bar is packed with puzzles.

Having worked as a bartender I know very well that at the end of a shift I can’t think of anything I’d like to do less than come up with intricate puzzles to ‘safekeep’ lost property. Nah we just chucked lost property in the boss’s office and went home. BUT, you, dear player, do not remember what happened the night before. Who knows what you got up to – you remember nothing! Hah.

By pointing and clicking you may rummage through pretty much everything in the bar. Discarded jackets? You can rummage! Drawers? You can rummage. The best part is that when you successfully find an object, or enter a code, you’re presented with a short video of the action being performed. If I choose to dial a number on the phone, I get to watch my own hands poking the buttons. A really nice touch that made the room feel more ‘lived in’.

Now there is a little bit of dissonance between how the experience is meant to be played and how it is played – but I think this is very likely to happen in this medium. Translating a real escape room to a digital format is a really, really tricky feat. For that I’m very forgiving! I love that the digital version is so accessible, but for sure the experience would have been better hosted or better yet, there in person.

In particular, inputting codes is a little bit tricky! Each item is labelled and you must input that item’s name followed by a code, or followed by another item to ‘activate it’. For example SPOON and BOWL would activate the spoon doing something to the bowl (just an example! There aren’t any spoons or bowls in the game), or SAFE and 1234 would input that code into the safe. Simple, but some of the puzzles are slightly trickier than that and may catch up beginners.

I played this around one device with my Player 2 and overall we had a good time! We got into the mood, put on some Hawaiian music and tried to picture ourselves in sunny paradise – not rainy London. There’s just something about “Lime in the Coconut” that always brightens the day!

Overall, a nice game that’s got a lot of heart. The owners put a lot of time and effort into this and it’s a lovely theme. I just can’t wait till we can do in-person games again soon! Pretty please universe!

The Beach Bar can be booked for €20.00 per game (1-6 players) over on Online Escape Rooms Ireland‘s website.

Ratings

10 Escape Room Video Games you can play for FREE during the Steam Game Festival 2021

Image

So here’s a bit of a life update for everyone who didn’t ask for it – in 2020 I transitioned away from working in the escape room industry into the video game industry. Does this mean this blog is now about videogames? Nahhh. Far from it. All it means is that my horizons have been broadened- no, that’s not right… More like they’ve been totally blown open with all the amazing ‘escape room’ video games I’ve been exposed to lately.

One thing I’m extra excited to talk about on The Escape Roomer is the Steam Game Festival. Why? It is absolutely PACKED with escape room games this year. The best part? Since this festival is the developer’s chance to put their best foot forward and showcase their games, you can play most of them for free.

The Steam Game Festival runs from the 3rd – 9th February and showcases a whole range of games from different genres (my company’s own game is there under ‘Racing’ – keep an eye out for Drive Buy!) If you spot any games you like the look of, you’ll be able to watch live streams with the creators, add to your wishlist for news, and in most cases – download a demo version of the game! Pretty much all you need to play them is a PC, and not even a particularly good one at that.

So without further adieu, here are my top 10 picks of Game Festival games for the escape room connoisseur:

Tested on Humans: Escape Room | mc2Games

You are the test subject. In this escape room with a dark setting, you will have to escape from the research center where you are trapped, by solving different puzzles. Will you be able to discover how did you get there and escape?

This game is a total classic in every sense of the world. A mysterious research center… Weird and wonderful puzzles… A chilling back story? Yep, it’s got pretty much everything you could possibly want from an escape room game. From just moments into the trailer I can already spot a whole host of tantalising puzzles. Are those secret button panels?Unusual light fixtures? Objects locked inside cages? I reckon if you’ve only got time to download one escape room game from the Steam Game Festival, give this one a go!

Download the Demo

Lacuna – A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure | DigiTales

A murder. A hack. A bombing. All it takes to plunge the solar system into war – unless you do something about it. Help CDI agent Neil Conrad make a string of increasingly difficult decisions in this modern dialog-driven adventure set in a gorgeous 2D sci-fi noir universe.I look up at the stars one last time before they disappear. They don’t provide any guidance. They don’t give a f*ck.

A “sci-fi”, “noir”, “detective” adventure?! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. What really draws me to this game is the moody 2D pixel art. This one is all story, all puzzle and has already bagged itself a bunch of awards. Sure, you’re probably thinking it’s not exactly an ‘escape room’ experience, but I can’t help but find myself drawn to this adventure. Escape room or not, it scratches the itch and I cannot wait to leap into the mystery and solve crimes. 2D pixel crimes. Heck yeah!

Download the Demo

Escape Simulator | Pine Studio

Escape Simulator is a next-gen escape room experience: pick up and examine everything, move furniture, smash pots and melt locks! Play solo or with a friend to solve cryptic puzzles and riddles. Remember to vote for the next location every month. ESCAPE SIMULATOR is a platform for immersive escape rooms. You can pick up and examine every object, drag furniture, smash vases and glass, burn things, melt locks – all of this in the interest of solving challenging (and fun!) puzzles.

Not a lot is known about Escape Simulator so far but it’s one to watch this 2021! Launching with 15 rooms to play – each in their own interesting looking environment, Escape Simulator takes the escape room experience to it’s logical conclusion. With local co-op multiplayer, there’s room for your whole team too. Since the start of the festival, they’ve made Escape Simulator free to demo and I can’t wait to get stuck in!

Download the Demo

Ghost on the Shore | like Charlie

An exploration game about emotional ties that transcend even death. Riley is faced with a headstrong ghost, urging her on an adventure across atmospheric shores, uncovering the island’s tragic secret. Choices in dialogue shape the bond between the two, ultimately deciding Riley’s fate.

With multiple endings and a super rich environment to explore, this one is visually (and narratively) quite ‘wow’! You play as Riley, wandering a lonely island trying to solve a mysterious death, retracing steps backwards in the sand and uncovering more than just the history. Whilst the Steam page doesn’t mention any puzzles explicitly, I always enjoy a game where there’s a mystery to be solved and items to find. Ghost on the Shore looks like a good’un.

Download the Demo

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark | Spooky Doorway

Delouse your room with sage and pack up your travel-sized ouija board, it’s time to re-enter Twin Lakes – America’s 34th most haunted city. Join Detective McQueen as he puzzles his way through 6 chilling cases, risking life and pixelated limb to solve the macabre mysteries that plague the poor town.

You had me at “1 mail-in rebate per customer on exorcism services for hauntings resulting from play”. This game’s got humour AND style. It’s a point and click puzzle, adventure and exploration game that’ll have you travelling to a whole manner of spooky locations. Think of it like your favourite Scooby-Doo episode, but in 8-bit.

Download the Demo

Operation: Tango | Clever Plays

IT TAKES TWO to save the world in this Asymmetrical Spy Thriller. Pair up with a friend as a special agent or elite hacker, and work together to bring a high-tech global menace to its knees.

I love this! I’m getting real “Tick Tock: A Tale for Two” vibe from Operation: Tango as the crux of the whole experience is you need 2 players to complete the game. One player takes on the role of AGENT and the other HACKER. You’ll both have a totally different perspective and puzzles that require two heads than one. It’s a smart idea but I think Clever Plays might just have nailed it.

Download the Demo

Nine Noir Lives | Silvermode Studios

Stretch your legs, clean your whiskers, and dive into Nine Noir Lives. Enjoy a “point-and-lick” comedy-noir adventure, full of humour, crazy characters, and intriguing locations. Solve challenging puzzles and answer the immortal question: how many things need to be licked to solve a murder in this town? Welcome to Meow Meow Furrington, capital city of cats, home of the world’s biggest ball of yarn…and hotbed of crime. You are Cuddles Nutterbutter, feline private investigator and owner of two perfectly normal-sized paws, the doctor said so.

I’m not a cat person, but I’ve never wanted to be Cuddles Nutterbutter more than anything else in my life right now. Plus, I’ve seen a LOT of people VERY excited about this game which is always a great sign! It’s another classic point and click detective story on this list but the twist here is that Nine Noir Lives finally answers the question that’s been nagging at me a while now: how many things need to be licked to solve a murder in this town? Since I can’t go around licking real life escape room surfaces (thanks pandemic), this game’ll do the trick.

Download the Demo

Dr Livingstone, I Presume? | Vulpesoft

A letter from the messenger in which your friend Dr Livingstone asks for help makes you turn back to Ujiji. After crossing the threshold of the house, you immediately realize that something has changed. Explore a mysterious building full of locked doors and face puzzles to find it.

A self-prescribed ‘inverted escape room’ – rather than escaping, you’re called to the mysterious home of your friend Dr. Livingstone only to discover something is very wrong. You must search for clues, unlock locked doors, peer inside cabinets, finds items and solve puzzles in order to unravel the mystery. It’s also completely embedded in history which is awesome. You learn about the tumultuous period of European colonisation in Africa. I enjoy a history lesson with my escape room. This means I can skip school and play this game instead, right?!

Download the Demo

Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut | Clifftop Games

Award-winning adventure Kathy Rain returns in the Director’s Cut, featuring an extended story with more puzzles to solve and new areas to explore. Witness the rise of an iconic detective as you uncover a dark and sinister truth hiding behind the calm exterior of a small rural town.

The directors cut, in order words a more expanded version of the original. But why am I so intrigued? It has more PUZZLES TO SOLVE. *smashes download button*. Kathy Rain has won a LOT of awards, and I’m super pleased to see a Directors Cut making a return in the Steam Game Festival 2021. With it’s female protagonist and atmospheric artwork, this one is guaranteed hours of excitement.

Download the Demo

Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery | Kiary Games

Find the answers of town mystery in the game with escape the room mechanics. You are a private detective. After receiving a letter from your father, asking for help, you go to the small town of Redcliff. The city is completely empty. Where have all the inhabitants gone? What happened to your father? This is what you have to find out. Explore the city, find clues, solve puzzles, open locks to advance your investigation. The game is a mixture of escape the room and classic quests.

With simple graphics, this one puts all it’s focus on a rich story and engaging puzzles. Another aspect of the gameplay which is unique to Tiny Room Stories is the ability to rotate the location 360 degrees – want to search behind the house, in the bins, or sneak a look underneath? Well go on and *gameshow host voice* SPIN THE WHEEL! It’s overall a really nice concept, and although I haven’t yet played this one despite it also being available on mobile – I’m sure it’ll be a hit for beginner and veteran escape roomers alike!

Download the Demo

P.S. After posting this article I spotted another FANTASTIC game that absolutely had to make the cut.

Slender Threads

Slender Threads is a point-and-click thriller adventure where unseen forces bind the fate of an unremarkable traveling salesman to the peculiar town he one day arrives in.

Download the Demo


With that, I conclude my list! This was a really exciting one to pull together and even though the Steam Game Festival only runs for 1 week, you can bet I’ll be doing my best to play each and every one of these before the time is up.

Don’t forget, if you enjoy a game please please ‘add it to your wishlist’ because it really helps small developers be found in Steam.

Have fun and escape that room!