ClueAdventures: Jet 2 Space | Review

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If Space is the final frontier then Jet2Space is a full-frontal fictional frenzy. It’s 2199 and you and your game partner have made the mistake of buying the cheapest tickets to space on the market. Not long after takeoff, you’ll realize that WheezyJet have cut every corner on Flight 069.

Completion Time: 40 minutes
Date Played: 3rd February 2022
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Easy

If you’re anything like me you tend to save escape rooms until you have friends visiting, or until you can do them with someone who will really appreciate them, or even just feel a little bit of guilt in doing one as a pair. However, ClueAdventures has noticed this niche and created not one, but two two-player only games! I played their first game, “2 Tickets 2 Ride”, at least 3 years ago and it was great, so I was very excited when they announced ‘Jet 2 Space’! I did decide to save it for a special occasion, so moving flat seemed like as good a reason as any!

On a mission to Uranus

When we booked this room we didn’t realise we had actually booked a trip to space, although as this was with the budget space company “WheezyJet” we probably should’ve known what we were getting into. It doesn’t take long before things go wrong, and thanks to certain economies we were left in charge to figure out how to take control of the ship and find somewhere to land safely.

In general, the set was very tactile – there were lots of things to see, do and interact with – any areas that seemed shabby felt purposeful, and I was able to feel immersed in the experience. The decor of the room was a hybrid between an airplane cabin and a rocket ship, with plenty of easter eggs sprinkled about. If it isn’t obvious from the fact you are on flight 069 to Uranus, this game has quite a few adult themes, but I’d describe them as loving and silly, rather than trying to be actively dirty. They also have plenty of very geeky references spread everywhere in a similar style, making this the perfect mix of not knowing whether you’re about to be excited over a Sci-Fi reference, or groan over some sort of phallic pun.

Use the force…(or don’t)

We all know the first rule of escape rooms is that usually force is not required. The same applies to this room, although you are encouraged to “use THE force”…brain force that is!

*insert groans here*

Seriously though, I love the geeky aspect of this room, and it shines through everything they do. The puzzles in the room were all fairly simple and linear – following one after another – so the challenge came not from figuring out what the puzzle was, but from figuring out the solution (imagine a Suduko – you know what to do, but you still need to work to find the solution). Fortunately for us, there was an onboard magazine available (for a small fee) that contained quite a few valuable pieces of information.

Being a small space there were very few hidden objects, so our powers of observation and attention to detail were testing more than our hide & seek skills. There were also no keys and only a very small amount of number locks, because of course, they won’t exist by 2199.

Bumping uglies

Being quite a small space we found ourselves bumping into each other quite a bit, so teamwork and communication are an absolute must. There are a few puzzles that require overt teamwork, and ClueAdventures do a great job of making sure you are switching positions so you don’t get one person doing all the grunt work. I would have liked to see more of this though – many of the puzzles were solved single-handedly, which I think is a shame. Perhaps if they release a third 2-player room they could make it entirely based on teamwork!

We managed to navigate most of the room without incident, which is a shame as I was looking forward to using the help phrase (“Obi Wan, you’re my only hope!”). The hint would (apparently) pop up on the on-board monitor, but otherwise we were left to fend for ourselves.

Accessible boarding

ClueAdventures is based above “The Coach & Horses” pub in Leyton, so while it is great for a pint it isn’t great for accessibility needs. Stairs will need to be navigated to reach the room, and once inside it’s quite a small space, so please check before booking if you have any claustrophobia or concerns about space/temperature. It was well lit, with no loud noises. Hearing and colour perception are both necessities for this journey, although as someone with hearing impairments I coped fine as you just need to be able to communicate with your fellow passenger. There were a few puzzles that required physical dexterity too, although only one team member needs to take on this burden.

The price of a good time

We know that escape rooms can be expensive, and it’s a question within our community about whether it is fairer to price per player or a flat rate per room. Unfortunately, teams of 2 are often disadvantaged by either model which is what has put me off booking a room for two previously.

Despite the fact this room was designed for 2 players only, the price of £35 each still felt quite steep, given most times I’d expect to pay less than £30 when playing with a larger team. It was also a little disappointing as I might expect that from larger rooms with a flat rate (e.g £70 a game regardless of team size), but not one which has been specifically designed for a smaller team.

Even taking away the monetary side and thinking about value…it still feels a little steep. We had a really fun time, but ultimately it was very linear and I didn’t feel I had my money’s worth.

The Verdict

Overall this is a fun and entertaining room, but not complex or engaging to those who are more experienced. I think if you’re still embarking on your escape room journey this is a great room for you, and possibly cheaper and more manageable than other London rooms not designed for 2. However, in the future I would probably suck it up and pay for other rooms in London, knowing I’d feel more challenged and the price would be justified a little more.

Jet 2 Space can be booked at Clue Adventures Leyton here

Palindrome Syndrome | Review

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Palindrome Syndrome Review | You wake up in a spaceship with no memories. In this escape room with a sci-fi setting you will have to investigate your past solving different puzzles. Will you be able to discover what happened to you and how did you get there?

Developer: mc2games
Console Played On: Nintendo Switch
Touchscreen Compatible: No

Aibohphobia is a fear of palindromes.

Do you like space? Check ✅
 
Do you like puzzles? Check ✅
 
Are you a person who giggles gleefully at words like CIVIC, RADAR, RACECAR and TACOCAT? 
….just me? *Ahem* Check ✅

Well if so, this escape game might just be for you. 

“So, What Do You Like About Being Up Here?”

“The Silence.”

Palindrome Syndrome is a space themed game where you control a character who has woken up, alone, from a cryogenic sleep chamber. From there, you have to solve a number of puzzles in a room to move to the next; piecing together the narrative elements.

The wake-up icy effects at the start of the game, really helps pull you into the game straight away. The music is minimalistic; audio you would expect to hear in an airport waiting area, which in itself is highly appropriate for the progressing narrative. 

The narrative is mostly pieced together as you progress further and further, however towards the end of the game when the narrative is realised; it truly gave me some chills down my spine! I came out of it with a real feeling of existential dread. That being said, I would really like to have seen the endgame sequence extended further, to increase the immersive intensity; instead, its unfortunately leaving me wanting more.

Be warned! Saving is manual via the pause menu. It works just fine, but don’t expect it to auto-save like I did!

One Small Step For Man…

The player controller movement is universal; left stick to move forward/back/left/right and the right stick to turn. There are sensitivity and invert Y axis options, which are well considered. A couple of points for improvement though:

  1. When focussing upon a puzzle the cursor on screen is controlled by the right analog stick. This threw me off to begin with, as I was trying to use the left analog stick as a default. Its a shame that there isn’t an option to switch this. Instead, I had to force myself to use the right stick (I’m left handed!).
  2. The snap-on mechanism when placing objects into designated areas was quite hard to do. The area of snap-on was quite small in a lot of cases, and required real precision from my (poor) right analog stick skills, otherwise the object would miss and return to its original placement. 

The controls work on a fundamental basis, but if an update was made by the developers in future, these are what I would like to be considered.

The lunchbox operated a traffic light system for some reason….

In Space, Anything Is Possible.

There are a variety of puzzles including logic, observation, sequence, placement, decoding and math. I don’t mind math puzzles, but I know a lot of puzzlers who are not keen on them. There is a slight lean towards math puzzles against the other types in Palindrome Syndrome and this may put some potential buyers off. 

All puzzles work as they should, with the exception of one placement puzzle. It works, but there is technically more than one correct answer and the game only accepts one of them; which took a small amount of time to cycle through each answer until one was accepted. There is no hint system either, however their official guide (link below) does the job and is cleverly redacted to prevent solution spoilers.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2256529649

Aside from that, it is a satisfying collection of puzzles that are all around a similar difficulty range.

The Sky Is The Limit Only For Those Who Aren’t Afraid To Fly!

Is Palindrome Syndrome a good escape game? Most certainly.
Does it have any fresh ideas? Not really.

A lot of the concepts and puzzles, have already been tried and tested by many escape games preceding them. There are two elements however that did strike a chord with me:

  1. A light-based puzzle that was used multiple times, with some clever variants.
  2. The ending is not your usual “We escaped, hooray!” which I really applaud mc2games (as well as other developers), who take that risk in trying something different with the endgame formula. 
Obviously the first place to head, is the free space bar.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Spend

The price on the switch store is £8.99 and is £7.19 on steam.
If you are a seasoned puzzler, this value might be less so as you are likely to finish the entire game quicker than my attempt. That being said, for an independent development team, I feel this price is very fair. It’s very important we give love to independent development teams as often their costs are larger than the more established!

For Space Cadets or Voyagers?

This would be an ideal game to pitch to a beginner or a casual puzzler. There is enough there to still engross a veteran, but it’s a strong introductory skill game based on the puzzles presented and time taken to complete.

Ratings

Concept & Immersion – ⭐️⭐️ (Great) 
Control – ⭐️ (Good) 
Puzzles – ⭐️ (Good) 
Freshness⭐️ (Good) 
Value For Money – ⭐️⭐️ (Great) 

Overall⭐️ (Good)

This is a good game pitched at a very fair price. It doesn’t break the mould in any large way, but if you have a spare hour or two, this is certainly worth your time; especially for the narrative pay-off at the end. 

Modern Fables: Hypersomnia | Review

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Your dreams have been getting stranger and more vivid lately. In your dreams, you play yourself but there’s something different about you in some way. Something you can’t quite put your finger on. More recent dreams have also featured a strange symbol that keeps appearing in the strangest of places. One night it might appear as a tattoo, another night it might be the pattern on some wallpaper. One afternoon, a card with the very same symbol was slipped into your pocket. You didn’t see who left it but you have a strong feeling enticing you to investigate…

Rating: Narrative
Completion Time: 50:00
Date Played: 10th July 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Folks who want a puzzle-light, theatrical 80s experience

*cue rad 80s music*

London’s only 80s themed escape room? Don’t mind if I do! Well… I suppose now I’ve played it I’d actually have to classify it as a sci-fi escape room. Think interdimensional space travel but with tape cassettes and VHS thingy-me-bobs that I’m too young to remember. Actually, between us, we weren’t sure HOW to load a cassette into the cassette player, but not to worry that’s just a bonus extra puzzle!

Actually, I think Hypersomnia is a game that exists within the We Still Fax universe. The parallels are uncanny! With the escape room plot centering with you hopping between an infinite number of parallel universes where tiny changes spin out whole new worlds – then it’s impossible that We Still Fax doesn’t exist in this world, right?

Photo (c) Modern Fables

An Escape Room Birthday… A Month Late!

I love the 80s so much that I initially booked Hypersomnia for my birthday way back at the start of June. Unfortunately on the day I felt sick, and you can’t take any chances in *gestures vaguely* the global panini, so I emailed the team very late to cancel myself and my partner from the booking.

The rest of my team played on without me and I sat at home feeling sorry for myself… But it’s testament to the excellent customer service that even though I was prepared to eat my booking fee, the owner Jay was absolutely wonderful in getting us rebooked! Which is how a whole month later I finally got my chance to step across the threshold into an incredible new world and take on Hypersomnia.

@theescaperoomer

my reaction when I found out there’s an 80s escape room in London 🤩🎉 #escaperoom #london #80s #escapegame #puzzle

♬ Bizarre Love Triangle (2015 Remaster) – New Order

It Began With Extreme Memory Loss…

We arrived at the venue and entered a very dark and very strange room. Actually, it was so immersive we initially thought that this WAS the escape room, prompting one of our member to start lifting things up and looking behind doors. The whole setting was bathed in an eerie red glow and I definitely heard the sound of what I can only describe as intergalactic space travel coming from the next room.

After a few minutes, our host arrived!

“Ahh, welcome back! What are your names… No, not your fake Earth names, your REAL names? Oh wait… You don’t remember them? Hmm, that’s a problem.”

Oh no, it seemed our whole group had suffered a very serious bout of amnesia and couldn’t remember why we were here on Earth. In fact, our whole memory was filled with useless Earth stuff, like the name of my so called pet from my so called childhood. But not to worry, that can sometimes happen with inter-dimensional travel, and our host was quite sure our memories would return once we got into the room.

Photo (c) Modern Fables

Puzzle-Light, Story Heavy

If anyone were to ask me for a recommendation for a game to play in London, I’d ask them whether they prefer puzzle solving or a rich story first. For anyone who prefers a rich story, Hypersomnia is perfect! At it’s core it’s a really unique story with some puzzles aiding the plot along – more like jigsaw pieces where solving something merely reveals more of the narrative.

This wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, but it does make for a really refreshing game. There was no rummaging around for 4 digit codes, or looking for keys, or lifting plant pots up to find cipher wheels. No, instead your goal was to remember who you were. Each player had their own identity with skills and weaknesses. As I learned more about mine I really fell into her character and, as the game reaches it’s climax and gives you a difficult decision to make at the end, I felt like my role influenced the decision I made too.

The puzzles that were in there fit wonderfully with the setting and delightfully, included things I’d never seen before. The less said about them the better, as I don’t want to spoil anything!

I did get the impression that most of the puzzles in Hypersomnia were triggered by ‘hand of God’ (aka, a very attentive games master in the next room). It was clear they were paying great attention as we tripped up early with a technical error in the room and the GM immediately appeared to put it right.

Photo (c) Modern Fables

An Unusual, Inter-Dimensional Experience

I really want to be able to say that I had a great time playing Hypersomnia, but the truth is days later I’m still wondering if I made the right choice with how I payed the game. It wasn’t your typical escape room – no, it was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. ‘The rules’ of escape rooms I’ve come to expect with every experience I play were broken and remade in this room, and you know what? I kinda wanna go back and give it another try!

You enter into an unusual lobby where the event is in character from the moment you start, then after re-learning your whole identity and making monumental decisions that affect many universes, you suddenly emerge into daylight, have a quick photo (in a completely different themed room) and then disappear off into the day. I don’t know what our final time was – I don’t know how well we did, all I know is that I’m not really from Earth and probably my life is a lie.

The Verdict?

My two absolute favourite genres of escape room in the world are sci-fi and 80s. It ticks all the boxes for me and I’ll be the first to recommend it to my friends, but man it was a really, really strange day.

You can book Hypersomnia at Modern Fables by heading to their website here.

Cryptology: The Complete Guide

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

Why Cryptology?

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

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

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

Overall

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

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

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

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

Sheffield

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

First Contact

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

The Mysterious Case of Hugh Dunnitt

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to your Afterlife

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nottingham

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

Dreamscape

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

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

Cypherdyne v1.5

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

Rameseize

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

Daylight Robbery

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barnsley (branch now closed)

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

HMS Cypher

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

Insanctuary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Unlock! Secret Mission on Jedha | Review

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You are an Imperial spy sent to infiltrate the Holy City of Jedha. An Imperial pilot transporting a crate of priceless kyber crystals crashed their Zeta- class cargo shuttle on the surface. You must retrieve the crate without alerting the Rebel scum Saw Gerrera or any of his lawless mercenaries on Jedha. There is an Imperial informant waiting for you on the surface with more details. Meanwhile, Imperial Command orbits Jedha in a Star Destroyer. They are within communications range and expect regular updates.

Rating: Brilliant!
Completion Time: 43:42
Date Played: 4th May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Fans of Star Wars

We made it! Only ~5 months after I purchased Star Wars Unlocked! as a Christmas gift for my Player 2, we finally got to tackling the grand finale: Secret Mission on Jedha. I literally could not think of a more perfect day to play this than… You guessed it! May the 4th. *darth vader breathing intensifies*

Before we begin, you can check out my review for the two earlier parts of this boxed trilogy, An Unforseen Delay and Escape from Hoth here. Since each story in this game is a whole hour-long standalone game, I’ve chosen to review the three of them separately.

The Story

Unlike the other two stories, Secret Mission on Jedha lets you play as the bad guys (“finally!” says Player 2) and I have to say despite not being a Star Wars fan I’m learning a lot about the films through playing this, such as the names of planets, what symbols the good and bad guys use, and schematics of spaceships.

This game starts with you arriving at the Holy City of Jedha – there’s a rumour of a crate of priceless ‘Kyber Crystals’ in a crash landed wreckage somewhere on this planet. But, given the planet’s reputation for lawlessness if you don’t hurry up those crystals will find their way onto the black market faster than you can say “May the 4th be with you”.

What follows is more of a journey than an ‘escape room’ but nonetheless packed with fun escape room style puzzles to solve as you sneak your way into and out of market places and keep an eye out for rebels. At several moments in the game peripheral characters treat you with suspicion and worry. You also get to arrest people.

I pause…

The Experience

Unlock! games are played via a deck of cards and a mobile app. Just like An Unforseen Delay and Escape from Hoth, Secret Mission on Jedha is one of the most high tech escape rooms I’ve played in the Unlock! series so far, which makes sense with as big a collaboration as Star Wars! What this means for the player is that as well as the usual lock mechanism and machinery you can manipulate via the app, Unlock! Star Wars will also have you piloting millennium falcons and speaking alien languages.

The cards on the other hand work as follows: each card has a number on it and only when you ‘discover’ the number can you draw it from the deck. When you come across code or machine cards (yellow and green) you must head to the app and get technical! This game also gave us a map of the local area – a huge help in keeping our bearings in the environment as we, quite literally, searched for treasure!

I have to admit it was also quite fun being the baddies for once. I can’t believe I’m admitting it but we were disappointed you couldn’t be even more deadly in this game. A Storm Trooper leaving an enemy rebel sniper alive to escape? Unlikely! Where did we put that pistol card?!

The Puzzles

Secret Mission on Jedha is the most difficult of the three games available in this series however we found it easy enough. At each stage it was fairly intuitive what to do next and by the time you’ve played through all three you’ll generally be able to get the gist of what the game wants you to do. So our time of 43 minutes and 0 hints isn’t bad!

In this game players can expect to encounter many puzzles which rely on observation skills – how well were you paying attention, and how closely can you examine a card. Where the difficulty ramps up is in those moments where you have to think laterally and logically about your situation. A hypothetical question might be that you need fuel. You’ve got to think about what you might do to find fuel, or create fuel, what energy sources are available. Questions like this left us scratching our heads on more than one occasion.

Overall

I’m not a Star Wars fan but I really enjoyed playing Secret Mission on Jedha alongside the others in the Star Wars series. This game is an absolute must-buy for any Star Wars fans in your lives, but even if you’re just along for the ride to solve puzzles, this game is completely accessible to everyone. Unlock! have done some really special stuff with the Star Wars universe and created some wonderful adventure-themed puzzles to boot. Nice work!

Star Wars Unlock! can be purchased from most major online retailers for around £35 GBP

Hourglass Escapes: The Navigators and the Call From Beyond | Review

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You and your friends have won a tour of the JPL facility in California! As you begin the tour you very quickly realize that something is wrong, and you and your friends must answer the CALL FROM BEYOND!

Rating: Good!
Completion Time: 22:42
Date Played: 11th April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: A team of exactly 4, playing via Zoom! Sci-fi fans!

Every review on this website marked with “Escape Game Olympics” you already know I was in a competitive “we’ve gotta race through this” mode, which means I’m aiming for the fastest score (at the expense of pausing to enjoy the game and take it slow). But HECK, worth it for a fantastically speedy score of 22:42 and 7th on the Escape Game Olympics’ leaderboard this week!

But this review isn’t about the EGO, it’s about The Navigators and the Call From the Beyond – a game as mysterious and sci-fi as the name suggests, and with the voice of actor Yuri Lowenthal in it, it’s definitely in the ‘extra special’ list. So here’s everything you need to know 👇

The Story

The story of The Navigators and the Call from Beyond takes you and 3 other friends on an adventure into the great unknown (space). On a tour of a space facility, you’re suddenly pulled into something that is much greater than the four of you… A call from the (literal) beyond. Aliens! Maybe? Well… By working together and solving various puzzles, you’re able to bring the game to a conclusion.

Reading back my own description, I probably have to say that this game isn’t too heavy on plot – it’s not central to what’s going on at all. Instead, it’s a super fast paced game and the reason why you’re there, or why it’s your responsibility to save the day isn’t immediately obvious. There’s an intro video which does give some explanation *cough* Secret NASA, but overall the main mechanic is to get you into the action as quickly as possible, and I know a lot of people will appreciate that!

The Experience

The Navigators and the Call From Beyond is played inside your web browser, so you’ll want to use Zoom or another video messaging service to connect to the other 3 players. Although built in Telescape, the creators have done something very unique that I’ve not seen before! It’s not your typical point-and-click.

Instead, each player can see a different screen. I opted to play as “Player 1”, so every time a new area loaded I had to immediately click on the Player 1 screen and ignore the other screens. This worked well to an extent, but 2 of our team were playing via the same screen, so had to hop between Player 3 and 4. For this reason, you can play with less than a team of 4. Essentially, if they want to, everyone can see everyone else’s screen! So on the occasion I’d finished a puzzle early, I could hop onto Screen 2 and help out my fellow team mate (and vice versa).

At the end of each level a password needs to be inputted to proceed, and then we were presented with a video which set the scene. The video parts of the game were easily my favourite! There’s a strong retro ‘sci-fi’ vibe to this whole game which looks GORGEOUS in the animations and cut scenes. If you know me, you know I love that retro stuff. Hourglass Escapes really smashed it! It’s simply the icing on the cake to also have such a cool actor narrating the game too.

A unique interface combined with some beautiful aesthetics make this an all round great experience in my books. I love a bit of sci-fi on a Sunday afternoon, and I feel like the creators have done something special with the tools available to them.

The Puzzles

Each of the puzzles in The Navigators and the Call from Beyond are centred around the idea that all four team members have 1/4 of the puzzle. Personally, I adore puzzles like this! You have to work together to make sense of the bigger picture – it’s true collaboration!

In some cases, the puzzles were completely self contained and each solution at the end would give us the password to the next phase. In other cases, we could each see a portion of something and had to work together. It reminded me a little bit of Escape from the Two Base Stations (a game like this for 2), or The Pyramid (a game like this for 3) – but the best part about this one? The more players! More the merrier, eh?

Generally speaking, you can expect to encounter a good mix of puzzles! As I played as “Player 1” I did miss out on some of the puzzles my team mates tackled, so I’ll speak for myself only! But players can expect to encounter cipher puzzles, puzzles that involve you searching in a 360 Google Maps style interface, puzzles where you have to navigate through a maze, and puzzles with plenty of anagrams!

The only piece of constructive criticism I’d like to mention is that there’s not enough. Both from a “ooh this game was fun I want more” perspective, and also from a “we finished it in 20 minutes perspective”. Yes, yes, I was playing this competitively so I’m bound to have raced through it, but we all concluded that there could have been 2, maybe 3 more levels to the game to make it feel more full.

I do know that the creators plan to make a Part 2 of this game though, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting this!

Overall

Good fun! I’d seen this game advertised a lot, and Escape Game Olympics or not I was going to play it anyway. Being able to tackle it with an ace team of 4 (shout out to Escaping the Closet) made it all the more fun, and I’d definitely recommend this to anybody looking for that retro space vibe, folks who enjoy collaborating, and of course fans of Yuri Lowenthal(‘s voice).

The Navigators and the Call from Beyond can be purchased for $24.99 USD (currently reduced to $19.99) on Hourglass Escape’s website here.

ClueHQ: The Warp Core Part Two

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Come back aboard The Warp Core and head even further back in time on your hunt for more historical items to add to your collection. This time, visit the Dungeons of Camelock as you try to track down King Arthur’s legendary sword: Exkeylibur. You’ll need to breakout of your cell before battling your way back to the portal for a safe return.

Rating: Awesome!
Completion Time: 31:54
Date Played: 21st March 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Everyone!

Stop the press! This is my inaugural entry into what’ll hopefully be a weekly thing for me – The Escape Game Olympics! Seriously, how am I THIS FAR into lockdown and I’m only just doing this now? It was brilliant.

International Online Escape Game Tournament

The tournament, sometimes known as the Escape Game Olympics and other times known as the International Online Escape Game Tournament is a weekly event every Sunday from 7pm hosted by escaperoomers.de. Each week at least 40 teams from around the world take on the escape play at home escape game in a race to get on top of the leader board and win a coveted medal for your country.

Team Escaping the Closet

I joined the fantastic Escaping the Closet team comprised of Alice, Ash, and Tasha who have regularly competed in the EGO since week 1, and this week’s escape room challenge was The Warp Core Part 2!

The Warp Core Part 2

The Warp Core Part 2 is… You guessed it, the second part in The Warp Core series. Since I haven’t played Part 1, I’m a little bit ‘behind’ in the overarching plot, but no worries – it was very easy to pick up as a standalone mission too! What was most interesting about this game though was it’s seamless mix of sci-fi and history.

Essentially, you start in a time machine and spend the first part of the experience powering it up. Then a portal opens up transporting you all the back to ancient Camelot- sorry, CameLOCK to retrieve the legendary ExKEYlibur sword. This game gets away with a lot: sci-fi puzzles perfectly segmented between old timey puzzles. At one point we piloted a drone around the room scanning areas. At another point, we shot arrows around a medieval dungeon and engaged in some casual sword play with the guardian of the sword. It’s eclectic but it WORKS.

As well as the setting being unusual, the technology was also particularly noteworthy! The whole experience takes place in Telescape – if you’re new to the escape room industry, this means it’s a point and click 3D model of the room, with question marks over items of interest. You can see where each other player is ‘in the room’ and what they’re looking at, and helpfully you also have an inventory system.

The Warp Core is built in telescape, but the creators take this further with some really unique extras in the game. Unlike 99% of digital Telescape escape rooms, which are just normal rooms converted to online, this one has been BUILT FOR Telescape. It makes excellent use of the technology in surprising ways that simply wouldn’t work in real life. For example, fighting a person (would an actor just jump into a room and start attacking you with a sword – how would this work in real life?), piloting a drone (which would probably break irl), or using a knife to hack through something in a room (knives, yeah thats a no from me).

Cool tech aside, the puzzles overall were really fun! Zero hints were used throughout the game, and nothing stumped us for too long. The team of 4 we had was also about the ‘right’ amount of people so that we all kept busy. I generally prefer games that err on the side of non-linear, meaning puzzles can be solved simultaneously.

Due to the competitive nature of the EGO, we raced through this game in a record 31 minutes. Okay maybe not quite a record, but our team came 7th out of 41 teams, so I’m pretty damn chuffed about this! Both the The Warp Core and the Escape Game Olympics were an absolute joy and I’m looking forward to seeing what next week’s tournament game will be!

The Warp Core Part 2 can be booked for £15 on ClueHQ’s website here.