DecodeXP: Teambuilding | Review


DecodeXP Review | Problem-Solving, reimagined. Problem-solving capacity is an integral part of success in almost every business endeavour. And yet, it is one we rarely test, understand or develop. At DecodeXP we want to change that. Through the development of immersive problem-solving experiences, the use of video-feedback and innovative methodology we can tangibly develop this capacity within teams.  Founded on the military methodology of train hard, fight easy our programmes place participants into complex scenarios where they must work together as a team, solving problems requiring a wide-range of skill-sets. 

Date Played: 29th June 2022
Number of Players: 8
Time Taken: ~70 Minutes
Difficulty: Medium

A few months ago I joined a new company (unfortunately, playing escape rooms cost money), and if I needed any more proof that I had found a great place, they booked DecodeXP for a team-building day! DecodeXP isn’t an escape room per se, but rather a team dynamic assessment and training day, featuring a 90-minute escape room at the start! I was naturally extremely excited about this, and as I had never heard of this company before (being very much in the corporate space), I think it’s worth giving them a little blog post here. I recommend you check out this video of the room they built for Dyson, which is seriously cool!


A souvenir of the day!

About the Day

Prior to our team building day, we were asked to complete a quick questionnaire, essentially asking us to say which words we most identified with (are you more a leader or team player? Do you prefer clear steps or an overall goal?). If you’ve ever worked in the corporate world I’m sure you will have done many versions of these previously, but essentially your answers denote your ‘colour’ – you can read more about this here if you’re interested. The escape room portion of the day is ostensibly there to see how everyone acts and interacts where problem-solving and project management is concerned, followed by a debrief after lunch to talk about what you did, what worked, what didn’t work etc. and how to apply that to ‘real life’, before revealing your colour profiles (and discussing).

These are obviously all very interesting factors, which I’ll go into a little more detail afterwards, but we’re obviously just here for the escape room…

Always important to wear the correct PPE

The Escape Room Portion

The escape room portion is really well-positioned in the day –  nice and early to get you engaged and excited for the day, just before lunch so you’ve got a chance to debrief, and really the focal point of everything. It’s also right after the explanation of the colours, so for the first 20 minutes or so everyone is second-guessing their behaviours.

First things first – turns out I am too experienced at escape rooms and would bias some of the actions (totally fair enough), so I was essentially benched.

Yup. I was sat in an escape room but told I couldn’t take part. Nightmare…or was it?

For me, it actually made it even more unique, and actually removed some of those pressures of would we escape, would we beat the other teams’ times, and of course the expectations my team had of me (they had in fact stood there looking at me expectantly, not doing anything until we revealed I had been asked not to take part).

Of course, being an escape room enthusiast I just couldn’t help myself. After what felt like an eternity (although filled with some really interesting escape room-related discussion with Jamie, the founder of DecodeXP) I just happened to take a wander through the room, dropping some (apparently not so) subtle nudges to my colleagues. As the time ticked by I got a little more brazen with my hints, although I did my best not to touch anything!

The way the room is set up is really interesting and really emphasises the team dynamic aspect. As DecodeXP is bespoke and corporate, the room is essentially made up of props/puzzles than can be transported anywhere (although this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re small), so it’s clear the lack of set design has meant more focus could be placed on the puzzles. They were also neatly split out around the room, so for a large team this meant a lot of time with your back to everyone else, huddled over your little puzzle. You can probably guess the issue this lead to…

There was a great mix of puzzles here – from the more basic (find letters, anagram them), to the more complex (identify and combine 2 or 3 different props/pieces of information to find the correct combination), and the usual hidden elements throughout the room too. DecodeXP have done a great job of balancing the difficulty of these puzzles, so they can be solved by varying levels of expertise and capabilities, and addressed many different skill sets. All of the puzzles appeared very simple and logical to me (as an expert) – there were no great leaps in logic required, so I can imagine they were very satisfying to solve.

The room was also non-linear for the most part, which is always a bonus. The overall goal was to track down 14 keycards, and I believe there were 14 puzzles (although a few could only be solved after solving previous puzzles). In fact, there were only 2 areas I think I would mark this down (if this were an actual escape room) – there was no real end goal or final task – once the 14 key cards had been found, that was that. It may have been nice to have had a final, deduction-style puzzle to identify a single name and use that to unlock something or give some other indication of finality. The second thing I would’ve had a minor quibble over was an unsolvable puzzle, requiring the facilitator to step in and explain it, before unlocking the solution. In a real room, this would’ve been a frustrating time sink. In this room…it was pretty funny to watch multiple colleagues fall into the same trap.

Over lunch I had many colleagues lament the fact I couldn’t take part, pity me, and then ask me what I would rate it. I actually had a great time regardless (which I think says something about the room and Jamie), and would rate this pretty highly as a room in its own right. It was an excellent experience – varied puzzles, non-linear, logical solutions…everything I look for!


The Debrief

We actually had three separate debriefs – a ‘hot debrief’ immediately after completing the room (5 minutes of initial thoughts and feelings), an ‘unofficial debrief’ over lunch, and then the ‘real debrief’ with Jamie, talking about the things he’d observed and then discussing how to apply these facets in the real world. I’m sure we’ll have another debrief in work, with the other teams who took part too!

As an observer, I found this really interesting and picked up on things I may not have picked on otherwise (or maybe that’s just because I am already aware of the language and methodology of escape rooms). After this we moved into discussing the colours, what colours we were and how to work together, but I think it would’ve been fascinating to discuss the escape room in that context too, to see whether these ‘colours’ shone in the room, and whether Jamie would’ve pinned us as those colours.


The Verdict

I loved this. I found the day really engaging, entertaining and fascinating, and I would love to do any room designed by Jamie. Unfortunately, you won’t find it easy to do one – they are mainly corporate and bespoke, but I encourage you to recommend DecodeXP to your own company! In the meantime, I am going to try and persuade my manager to take us to an escape room where I can really show off my skills…


If you’d like to book DecodeXP for your next teambuilding, they can be contacted via their website

Ultimate Quest: The Last Pyramid Sands of Time | Review


The Last Pyramid: The Sands of Time Review | Your guide will send you and your team deep into the heart of an ancient pyramid floating in space in order to solve a plethora of puzzles, stop the clocks and bank time that you will use to break out of the pyramid’s vaults and search for the treasures within. Once your adventure is complete, your host will trade your treasures for Earth-based physical and digital prizes which will be delivered to you in the real world!

Date Played: 6th October 2021
Time Taken: 1 Hour
Number of Players: 3
Difficulty: Medium

Prepare to go on a journey like no other

We certainly weren’t!

But this adventure is certainly one which you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

So we saw the words “pyramid” and “sands of time” and ultimately thought that it must be some kind of online Ancient Egyptian style escape room… Ahh, but how wrong we were! Sure, there is a pyramid and yes, the sands of time are ticking. Instead what we played was about as futuristic as online escape room experiences get!

Floating through space, many years in the future, we found ourselves inside The Pyramid. Here we encountered a series of strange catacombs and eerie laboratories, packed with innovative (and often highly pressurised) games! The aim of the adventure is to bank time by completing these games in as quick as time as possible, which will ultimately lead you to the vault where the banked time is used to answer a series of quick fire puzzles. As you do so, you actually get real life gifts as a reward!

So not only do you have a great hours worth of entertainment, you get something as a keepsake to remember your journey! We loved this as it’s a really clever way of having something tangible to remember your experience. So far in lockdown, such a nice touch has been greatly lacking for online escape room games!

How does The Sands of Time work?

Jumping aboard a Zoom call, the three of us (Mairi, Rebecca and myself) were met by a clever holding screen giving us a countdown to our adventure. At the end of the countdown, our enigmatic host, Ee, joined the call. Ee was a slightly haphazard agent from the far-far future, who kept us on track throughout the experience as we explored this labyrinth of mini-games. Despite our obvious frustration at some of the puzzles, our GM kept us thoroughly engaged!

Screenshot (c) Ultimate Quest

A Live Avatar… Or a Video Game

One of the most unique things about The Last Pyramid: Sands of Time is how much the game looked and felt like a video game. From the cracking audio and visual elements, to our host guiding us around the maze of rooms to take part in mini games such as a modern version of whack a mole, or remembering sequences, or solving rapid maths puzzles.

Regular readers will note that I have a real soft spot for audios and visuals to help increase immersion, and this game has this in abundance! Luckily there are no videos of our collective dancing in some of the cut-scenes of this game!

The puzzles of the game were very intriguing; don’t expect tradition cypher or combination code style puzzles here. You are met with fast-paced punchy games, which could be easily accessible to gamers both new and experienced!

The designers have cleverly acknowledged the the purpose of this game is to gain time to get into the vault, so everything is generally quite snappy. At the end of each mini game – no more than a minute or two long, you bank a number of seconds added onto your end score. It adds a lot of excitement and pressure, but it also means that if you fail hard at some of the mini games, you’ve plenty of time to redeem yourself later.

The main thing? It’s so much fun! The hour absolutely flew by, aided by the 25-ish puzzles we packed in. But they weren’t all puzzles and the game required a lot more from us than just sitting on our backsides for an hour. Have a phone, pen, Google, and be ready to jump up from your seat at a moments notice to look for items in your area or hide from a Squid-game-esque enemy.

Screenshot (c) Ultimate Quest

The Verdict

When all was said and done, with our brains every so slightly frazzled, its safe to say that we had an absolute blast and left with smiles on our faces. The combination of a great host, some very innovative games, some cool use of audio and visual elements, all add up to experience which we will not be forgetting in a hurry! 

The Last Pyramid: The Sands of Time can be booked at


Creative Events: The BIG Escape (Virtual) | Review


Join Dan Rooney and his team of criminal masterminds and help them pull off the Heist of the Century. When you meet Dan’s team of experts, they will help you gain access to the casino. You will meet: Jack Potts, your man on the inside; Wheels, your getaway driver, and plenty of safe crackers and hackers along the way. Once you blow open the safe you will have 15 minutes to escape with the loot.


Theming: 3/5

Puzzles: 3/5

Online interface: 5/5

Fun Factor: 5/5

Difficulty: 3/5

Overall: 3.5/5 ⭐⭐⭐

The Review

The UK Escape Room Enthusiasts Facebook page is an excellent source of fan reviews, shout outs to great rooms and often companies will post looking for testers for new experiences. One post caught our eye: a new online ‘Escape Experience’ that was looking for groups to sign up to a test play, taking place via Zoom. Always keen for a new challenge, we signed ourselves up and looked forward to an evening of puzzling! 

Editor’s Note: This means the version of the game we played was not the final, but given how flawless it ran, we’re confident the final experience will be as brilliant as ours.

The set up began with an introduction from Caroline, telling us a bit about The Big Escape (and their parent company Creative Events) and the experience we were about to take part in. We were then sectioned off into breakout groups in Zoom to race against the clock, and each other, to see who could pull off the grand heist, and avoid the wrath of Big Al (an amusing name for us). We were introduced to a range of savvy criminals who wanted in on our heisting, but we soon learnt they wouldn’t help us without putting us through our paces first. 

The Platform

The game platform was really interesting, as users are directed to meet up with a series of characters in a linear format. You have to meet with the characters in a particular order, and once you ‘solve’ one character’s set of puzzles, and receive their ‘item’, you unlock the next character! We enjoyed this, it’s always nice to see how far you have gone and how far you still have to go. The puzzles were solid, and they were always on brand to the character you were currently visiting. Our favourite was named Wheels (the getaway driver!) who wanted you to point out his car parking space… We only experienced one hitch with the platform, and considering this was a testing event, we were really impressed at how smoothly it all ran. 

The Puzzles

The puzzles themselves were a range of things we have all come across before, but they were delivered with fun and in theme. There was one particular puzzle however that really had us stumped (I am still tempted to go back in to try and solve it – it’s hard to accept defeat on these things!). As the events are geared towards corporate team building sessions, Creative Events have done a great top of pitching the difficulty. Non-enthusiasts would be able to gain the satisfaction of puzzle solving and enjoying navigating through the storyline, whilst puzzle fanatics will enjoy seeing how quickly you can solve under the pressure of Big Al and how many points you can tot up! We would recommend this experience for families who have some puzzling pioneers and some newbies alike – it would be a good introductory event.


One of our fave features was the leader board, which we couldn’t help repeatedly checking of course. This would really add an element of interaction to a virtual company event, if you were playing against colleagues – being able to sneak a glance at where your boss is would be a lot of fun! The variety of puzzles on offer would mean that in bigger groups, people could play to their personal strengths (Note: Speaking from experience ours is NOT anything to do with time or dates…or pyramids).  

Overall, this was a really fun evening! It feels like Creative Events have created a unique and fun experience, catered perfectly for their intended audience. If you want to have a crack at Big Al, we would definitely recommend it, just make sure you’ve got your wheels 😉 

The Big Escape Virtual can be booked by corporate teams only by enquiring on their website here.