Room Escape Southend: Hunt for the March Hare | Review

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Can you and your team solve the Clues and Puzzles and Locate the March hare before he runs off? Use your wits and determination! All proceeds from this game goes to Havens Hospices.

Rating: Excellent!
Completion Time: 17 minutes
Date Played: 9th August 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: A seasonal, Alice in Wonderland themed point and click adventure

Whenever I see “all proceeds go to charity”, it gives me the warm fuzzies. In this case, your purchase of Hunt for the March Hare is donated to Havens Hospice, as part of the city-wide Hares About Town campaign. So when Escaping the Closet, our friend Tasha and I got together for a weekly digital escape room, I immediately remembered Room Escape Southend’s new point-and-click experience.

Plus, we’ve had a lot of recent success on other Alice in Wonderland themed games, such as Escape from Wonderland, or Escape from Puzzleland – so why not put our combined skills to the test and give this new game a go?

Let the Hunt for the March Hare Begin!

The idea behind Hunt for the March Hare is deceptively simple and executed perfectly. The Mad Hatter meets you as you log into the digital game, explaining that he needs your help to find the missing March Hare. After searching the whole town up and down it appears this curious character has vanished!

So off you and your intrepid team go down the rabbit hole armed with a map of all the possible locations the March Hare may be found. By searching the room and analysing all the clues it’s your job to determine where the March Hare is not – thereby eliminating all the possibilities and being left with just one: the truth!

The Hunt for the March Hare is essentially one giant logic puzzle and actually, I don’t hate that at all! Logic puzzles are one of my favourite style of puzzles and Room Escape Southend have done pretty well converting the loved format into an interactive, point and click game.

Things are getting curiouser and curiouser…

We finished Hunt for the March Hare in around 17 minutes, however I don’t necessarily think I’d call it an easy game so don’t let that put you off! As mentioned, the core mechanic of the game is that you’re presented with a number of locations and each puzzle solved gives you one or more ‘is not’ clues.

The Hare IS NOT here, or The Hare IS NOT over there.

This feels straightforward, but it is worth mentioning that you should make notes as you go along because certain items will disappear – taking the solutions with them! We got caught up once or twice with this, reaching a point where none of us could remember exactly what an earlier, no longer retrievable, clue said.

However, the puzzles you’ll solve to get there are a comfortable mix of finding keys, inputting 4 digit number and letter codes, finding the odd one out, and quite a bit of looking for hidden things in the world. Actually, the hunting around (read as: button mashing) was one of the things I liked most. This game, built in Telescape, doesn’t spoon feed you the hidden clues. The name is a clue itself: you have to hunt around for them.

Even though were was an abundance of more ‘escape room’ style puzzles, they were themed in the world nicely enough with the occasional moment of having to think in terms of the upside down world of Wonderland. You may think you know how to read a clock in the real world, but how could you do this in Wonderland? That’s the question.

Thankfully, you can see all other players’ pointers on the screen, so you know exactly who is interacting with what. Always useful to know!

Beautiful Alice in Wonderland Artwork

One of the stand out features of Hunt for the March Hare which absolutely has to be mentioned however is the artwork – seriously, it’s lovely! As you click your way through the environment you’ll explore three unique locations that feel perfectly at home in Wonderland. Winding streets and curious architecture populated by flamingos, mushrooms and clocks.

If nothing else, it was a joy to just ‘be inside’ the world of The Hunt for the March Hare for, wondering if the next nook and cranny you click will trigger an exciting sequence or the missing clue you need!

The Verdict

The Hunt for the March Hare is a sweet and un-complex game tying into the real life Hares About Town event in Southend. For a game this inexpensive we weren’t expecting much, yet we still had an enjoyable evening down the rabbit hole, puzzle solving and marvelling at the artwork.

Don’t forget! Your purchase of Hunt for the March Hare goes to a good cause as part of Hares About Town. You can purchase your game here, or read more about Hares About Town here.

Ratings

Enigma Rooms Wakefield: Uncle Artemis | Review

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The Turner family have always joked about Uncle Artemis and his eccentric ways. A World traveler with a keen interest in relics from around the globe and a head full of steam, the family never understood him like you did. News of his death has hit you hard, and while the rest of the family go about managing the estate, your only thoughts are with the single item he bequeathed to you, the key to his study. That place was his sanctum, and where you most loved spending time with him. As a child it was full of wonder, as an adult the key you hold in your hand is the key to Uncle Artemis’ most intriguing secrets. With a heavy heart but a buzz in your soul, you unlock the door and step inside…

Ratings

Theming: 4/5

Puzzles: 4/5

Online interface: 4/5

Fun Factor: 5/5

Difficulty: 3/5

Overall:4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An unusual game…

So, this was an unusual game for us for two reasons:

One, we were joined by a fifth escapee, Russ, from Russ Builds (you may recognise him as the creator of such games as Airlock and Citizen (side note, please read this in Troy McClure’s voice from The Simpsons)).

Two, we were playing a digital room, which was set in a physical room we had previously played a different game in (which was very strange!). Uncle Artemis is in the physical room where we have previously played Seance (well, some of us played, others sat down and thought that Enigma Wakefield had hired a small child to play a terrifying demon… Check out our previous review here!). 

We are big fans of the Enigma franchise and have played a lot of their games across a range of locations in the North of the UK. The Enigma Rooms seem to be run by people who are super enthusiastic about their rooms, often creating hand-built escape rooms which feel unique, fun and definitely challenging.

Uncle Artemis brought a brilliant new opportunity to play yet another Enigma Wakefield room, after completing all of their current physical rooms back in 2019!

A strange contraption…

Uncle Artemis begins with an introductory video, pulling you into the story of your quirky Uncle Artemis and setting the premise for the rest of the game nicely. The room converted into a digital form via Telescape was done really well, and there was a section of the room specifically adapted to the online interface – a strange contraption we had to get working using clues from around the room. This made the flow feel very smooth and helped to make it really stand out from your average ‘point and click’ escape room.

The strange contraption also aided the puzzle flow in the room, as players needed to keep returning to it after each ‘mini-puzzle’ was solved throughout the room. We always love a room that helps you track your progress, and Uncle Artemis delivered well on this. 

Same room, COMPLETELY different game

The room itself has been cleverly adapted from Seance; whilst some of the items were familiar (shout out to the creepy drawers!), it was really interesting to see how Enigma Rooms Wakefield put together a whole new room, including new puzzles, using the previous room’s theme.

This did mean that there were a few areas we spent a long time looking at and thinking “Where will we use THIS?”,but there were no obvious red herrings that led to any stunted puzzle playing – it all came together (very satisfyingly!) in the end. 

Teamwork makes the dream work!

This is definitely a room for teamwork. We often found ourselves pulled onto different puzzles, as this is not a fully linear game, so people were solving different things at different times. We enjoyed the puzzles that forced us to rely on each other for communication, as often online games can lack that interactivity with other players that brings so much satisfaction (and fun!) in real-life escape rooms.

It was a good job we did split up and conquered as this room contained SO MANY puzzles. A big shout out to Russ for being a very, very welcome fifth player on this! It gave us all the opportunity to play to our strengths. However, we can safely say that Tasha and Al do not gel well with spatial puzzles based on screens, as they spent a long time looking at a picture of a key

The Verdict?

Overall, this was a solid, enjoyable game. We were really impressed by how well Enigma Rooms Wakefield had changed the physical space we’d previously experienced – it felt like a brand new game! We would recommend a group of around 4 players or more as our group of 5 worked well for us.

We managed to complete it in a respectable 46 minutes – given that Enigma Wakefield have given this a 9/10 difficulty rating, we’re very pleased with how we fared!

If you are ever in Wakefield, we cannot recommend Enigma Wakefield enough (go and check out their Murder Motel room – we once beat the record there!).

Uncle Artemis is suitable for groups of up to 6 players. You can book to play Uncle Artemis for £20 here.

Emergency Exit: Exorcist (Digital) | Review

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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.

Hourglass Escapes: Rise of the Mad Pharaoh (Digital) | Review

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Rise of the Mad Pharaoh! A one to six player co-operative online puzzle adventure starring the voice of Peter Parker and Spider-man, Yuri Lowenthal! Do you have what it takes to stop the Mad Mummy’s ne-Pharaoh-ous plan? You find clues and solve puzzles in this amazing multi-player online escape room designed for co-operative play. Based on the award winning game in Seattle.

Rating: Impressive!
Completion Time: 40:41
Date Played: 21st June 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: A ‘play anytime’ digital game for 6 players

Rise of the Mad Pharaoh is the latest play at home escape room from Seattle based escape room company Hourglass Escapes! Last time, we blasted into space in The Navigators and the Call from Beyond. This time, Hourglass Escapes have done something a little different… The Rise of the Mad Pharaoh is a real life escape room converted into a point-and-click experience with a few very creative differences!

…In fact, dare I say it, I believe this might just be the best example of a room-into-digital game I’ve ever seen?

But let’s get into why that is:

The Story, and the Original Room

You and a team of 6 intrepid explorers find yourself in a mysterious room in the Seattle Archaeological Antiquities division. In the centre of the room a sarcophagus… Locked! Of course.

By bringing the sarcophagus here, Dr. Carter, a professor at the museum, paid the greatest penalty – death! But not before the spirit of the mummy possessed him and turned his office into a ne-pharaoh-ous den of puzzles. With no other hope, it was left up to us to solve all the puzzles and put the Pharaoh to rest. Thereby saving humanity, of course.

This is where the original room and the online version deviate a little. From what I can tell, in the original escape room your goal is to save the archaeologist Dr. Carter. Unfortunately for us digital-players, Carter is long dead. Oh no.

But, for this reason, even if you’ve played the real life room, I reckon you could still play this digital version and experience something brand new! There are many puzzles in Rise of the Mad Pharaoh that simply couldn’t work in a real life setting, so it’s clear the team have gone to great lengths to personalise it for a digital audience.

But in order to save the world, we first had to…

Choose-Your-Character!

This was one of the things I loved the most about Rise of the Mad Pharaoh! Everyone needed to choose a character. Practically speaking, this meant that each player could see a portion of the information available and could work together to solve the bigger puzzle. Impractically speaking, it meant we got to dress up and talk in character the whole time!

Here are the characters you may choose from:

  • The Cartographer

The cartographer is obsessed with paper maps and perhaps just a little bit bitter and twisted that the world doesn’t love them as much as they do. This was the role I chose, immediately grabbing a hat and a stack of books about maps. Wait… Doesn’t everyone have a bunch of map books?

  • The Egyptologist

Dressed in tweed with a pipe in hand, the Egyptologist is convinced everything is cursed. You know what? I think they’re probably right in this room!

  • The Cultist

They LOVE CATS. Okay so this role immediately went to our in-house cat fanatics Al & Ash 😉

  • The CIA Codebreaker

Every escape room team has gotta have a codebreaker. This role was to be played by someone confident in cracking codes quickly, and equally confident in shouting “Eureka!” each time.

  • The Antiquarian

Just an Antiques Roadshow enthusiast looking for their big break. I don’t blame them.

  • The Poet

Exactly why a poet is joining us on this expedition I don’t know, but heck they were useful to have on the team! For this player everything begins with “An Ode To…” and they definitely have the best costume!

Just like being in the same room…

Rise of the Mad Pharaoh is played in Telescape, and each player is given a view of their character’s ‘desk’, and a 360 degree view of the escape room. If you play with any less than 6 players, as we did, this meant that a few players were able to take on more than one role, or the whole team could share the workload and click between each other’s desks.

If you chose the Cartographer, the tools you’ll have on your desk revolve around maps – a compass, a ruler, a letter, and a space to examine maps. The same goes for all other characters – the CIA Codebreaker is able to see the cipher key, the Cultist has tools that let her examine certain cult-related objects closer.

Compared to all other escape room experiences I’ve played, this is a super creative setup! For starters, you video and chat is within the web app itself. No need to wrangle Zoom or Facebook Video Chat – just hop right into your link and go. Secondly, anything found by any character in the main room gets placed on the desk of the relevant puzzler for them to pick up (click and drag) and use to solve puzzles.

It’s almost as if we were a real team of Ancient Egyptologists working together on six desks side by side. The level of immersivity is second to none.

Global pandemic, eat your heart out! I’m here with my friends studying sarcophagi.

But how difficult was it?

In terms of puzzles, I’d rate this around ‘medium’ level of difficulty. That is to say, we didn’t use any clues nor get too stuck at any point – but it is definitely a game best played with a full house of 6 and whatever part of your brain that controls puzzle solving switched on.

In particular, the game rewards you for fully exploring your environment and thinking intuitively about how to solve each puzzle. I really enjoy this in an escape room, after doing so many often you get into a cycle of “Well I’ve never seen a puzzle solved this way so it can’t be right.” But heck, in Rise of the Mad Pharaoh the trick is to do the thing!

Players can expect to encounter a lot of puzzles. All characters get to search around the room, and click objects to interact with them. Depending on which character you choose, you’ll encounter different styles of puzzles – so play to your strengths! As Cartographer, I had to read maps. A lot of them. But I also dipped into the CIA Codebreaker role frequently to help translate a thing or two, or watched in envy as my team mates had more spatial awareness or physical manipulation puzzles.

It’s no understatement to say that there is something in this room for everyone though!

The Verdict

Really impressive stuff from Hourglass Escapes. Rise of the Mad Pharaoh is an excellent example of converting a real life escape room into the digital format and it’s just as exciting and immersive no matter how you play it. They’ve once again used the talent of Yuri Lowenthal to add some magic to the game and once again I was hooked from the start!

This is one for the “DO NOT MISS” list!

Rise of the Mad Pharaoh (Point & Click) can be purchased for $15 USD from Hourglass Escape’s website here.

Mystery Mansion Regina: Night Terrors | Review

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After finding one of his childhood drawings, Alex is suddenly plagued by nightmares of the “Sleepyman”. Seeking to rid himself of these nightmares, Alex turns to a hypnotherapist. Playing the role of his subconscious, you will need to help Alex figure out what is causing his nightmares… before it’s too late.

Ratings

Theming: 5/5
Puzzles: 4/5
Decor: 4/5
Immersion: 5/5
Difficulty: 3/5

Overall: 4/5 ⭐

The Scariest Sunday of the Summer…

So, it’s one of the HOTTEST Sunday afternoons we have had in the UK for a while. Outside is bright, sunny and warm. But inside, we are just beginning our 5 hour escape room adventure with Mystery Mansion Regina, an escape room company based in Regina, Canada. Night Terrors is the first part of the ‘Sleepyman’ trilogy (click here for our review of D’Viles Curio Shoppe and Sleepy Man). Players are introduced to Alex, a boy plagued by mysterious nightmares, and your mission is to find out what is causing these strange disturbances. 

The Game

You are tasked with playing Alex’s subconscious, guiding him through the room to solve puzzles and riddles, each taking you a step closer to discovering what is going on, and finding out who is the mysterious figure plaguing Alex’s dreams. This works particularly well on the online platform, with the first-person view of the gamesmaster tying in nicely with the idea that you are in Alex’s mind. Mystery Mansion Regina have cleverly set up the game to really play on this idea, with special catchphrases and an ingenious clue system: it’s definitely unique! 

The room is pitched at a solid ‘creepy’; there are unsettling stories of children disappearing, and allusions to a slenderman-style villain tip-toeing behind every locked door. We really enjoyed the atmosphere created in the room – the background music supplied in the Telescape software worked really well alongside the live zoom call (this is definitely a game to play in headphones!). The puzzles themselves are spread across the live call and the Telescape software, with parts that players can manipulate and other parts that you rely on Alex putting together for you. We liked this – the combination of the two platforms is quite seamless, it certainly didn’t feel clunky switching between the two. 

Image taken from Mystery Mansion Regina (https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/)

The puzzles themselves were the right level of challenging and there were plenty of them! We love a room with variety, and we were not disappointed with what Night Terrors had to offer. We are particular fans of puzzles that appear to players at the start of a room (almost teasing you to solve them!), but do not become clear until later in your gameplay. This leads you to some proper A-HA moments, as you finally realise what it is you’ve been looking at for so long!

There was one particular puzzle at the end of the game that really stood out to us all. The interaction between Telescape and the Zoom call is used wonderfully, to create an intense and extremely immersive atmosphere, which can be difficult in a virtual room. It certainly had us looking over our shoulders to double check that no-one was creeping up behind us.

The Story

The storytelling across the trilogy is immense, we got thoroughly pulled into the ‘Sleepyman’ saga. Night Terrors does a good job at introducing you to the Sleepyman universe, channeling some strong Buffy vibes. One of our party ,Tasha, noticed a niche reference to ‘Sabrina’ during our gameplay, which the host informed us was the first time anyone had noticed the link! We think this says more about Tasha than it does about the room (haha!) – although it did make it it feel more ‘real’. Always good fun in a horror themed room.

The end of Night Terrors leads very nicely onto the second and third games. As a side note, we strongly recommend that you play all of these in order as it makes it SO much better. In fact, doing them all back-to-back, as we did, is definitely the optimal way to experience the trilogy.

Of the four of us, two of us had nightmares after this game, which I think says a lot about the experience that we had!

The horror, the decoration, the technology… It all clicked together so well! Night Terrors does a brilliant job of sucking you in, and leaves you eager to find out what happens next. When we think back to this Sunday, it’s been one of our favourite online experiences and definitely scratched the escape room itch: we were thoroughly immersed! If you get the chance, it is so worth giving these a go. 

After all, it’s only a dream, right?

Image taken from Mystery Mansion Regina (https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/)

You can play Night Terrors with Mystery Mansion Regina for a cost of $25.00/person (plus tax). They recommend 2+ players, aged 14+. You’ve got 75 minutes to find out who is haunting Alex’s nightmares…

https://mysterymansionregina.ca/online-escape-rooms/

Mystery Mansion Regina: D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe | Review

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Local paranormal Youtuber, Estelle Jacobs, was searching for her missing boyfriend, Alex. Shortly after visiting D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe, Estelle vanished without a trace. It’s time to venture inside the Curio Shoppe through a live video feed and find out the truth about Estelle’s disappearance…

Rating: Creepy!
Completion Time: 67 minutes
Date Played: 13th June 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Horror fans! (14+)

Things are getting creepier and creepier in the Sleepy Man trilogy at Mystery Mansion Regina…

*shudders*

In what was one epic sugar-fuelled horror game marathon, team Escaping the Closet and I took on the Sleepy Man trilogy – a series of remote avatar games centred around their fictional nightmare, the Sleepy Man. The games in this series in order are:

The Story So Far…

In Night Terrors, the first in the series, we played as Alex’s subconscious – one of the victims who mysterious vanished after complaining of nightly Sleepy Man visits. In D’Viles Curio Shoppe we continued the story alongside streamer Livestreamer1337 (Sam) after hearing the mysterious rumours of Alex’s disappearance. Alex’s girlfriend Estelle was last seen at the mysterious Curio Shoppe and in a jovial ‘Buzzfeed Unsolved’ kinda way we came along for the ride with one goal in mind: capture some ghosts on camera!

…Wait, wait, sorry. Seems like I missed the brief. Our goal was to of course bring the missing people home.

But I wouldn’t say no to helping Livestreamer1337 go viral on Twitch either.

The Experience

D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe is played via a combination of:

  • Controlling a live avatar on Zoom, and
  • Your inventory system and 360 degree view of the room on Telescape

You’ll need your sound turned on (and up!) for this game, as both the live avatar and the Telescape work together to create a creepy, almost surround-sound experience. For the large part, Telescape played a supporting role allowing multiple players to be looking at different things at once. Personally, playing over two devices anyway, I spent more time on the Zoom call than rummaging through my inventory, but it was very helpful to have both handy.

Occasionally the Zoom call broke into an almost seamless video transition using Telescape and every single time I had to half close my eyes expecting a massive jump scare but thankfully this remote avatar room’s currency is creepy-scare, not necessarily jump scare. Unless you count– oh wait, I won’t spoil that! You’ll know it when you see it 😉

The Theming

D’Viles Curio Shoppe is the only game in the trilogy that exists in the real world too. What I mean is, it’s a live escape room at Mystery Mansion Regina which can be played at their physical location.

This is worth mentioning as the other two games in the trilogy are actually at a different, remote-avatar only location located at another site. There’s a few noticeable differences between D’Viles Curio Shoppe due to the fact this room has to cater to both audiences, but nothing suffers for it! It’s more of an interesting detail, and very cool that the company have adapted the existing and new experiences to work seamlessly together.

In terms of theming of this room, your host Sam takes you into a very curious looking shop – Estelle’s last known location. It becomes quickly very clear that this is no ordinary shop. Or should I say… Shoppe! From the mysterious tarot cards plastered on the wall to the decidedly creepy fortune teller box in one corner. On the shelves I spotted nothing less than a real monkey’s paw, some cursed trinkets, skulls, and other absolutely horrifying things that I definitely want to purchase for Halloween.

The whole room is also bathed in a rather mysterious purplish light that sets a very creepy shadow on otherwise innocuous items. There’s real tension in the air. Anything could happen. It also doesn’t help that everywhere are warning signs not to touch anything, and yet touch everything we did!

Definitely cursed now. Yep.

We were delighted and surprised to discover that this is not just a one-room experience. But the less I say about how the second space is discovered, the better. This room is packed with surprises and it’s best to go in with an open mind!

The Puzzles

In terms of puzzle difficulty, D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe is slightly more difficult than Night Terrors. That said, we didn’t need to ask for any clues, but our host Sam (real name Owen) was helpful enough to gently nudge us in the right direction when we needed it.

Players can expect to encounter puzzles involving ciphers, keys, number locks, and some very interesting use of tarot cards too! None of the puzzles were stand-out brilliant and I did get the impression that a lot of them would be best experienced in the live room, but I think the true enjoyment of the room is the narrative storytelling and hosting, rather than interrogating the puzzles. We weren’t playing it to be dazzled by mechanical puzzles, we were playing to be spooked- and it succeeded!

Overall

D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe is a brilliantly spooky game that has near-mastered the art of creating tension and a sense of unease in all the players! I (Mairi) am not a horror game fan typically, but D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe was a perfect balance that left me feeling like:

…Without actually making me scream or cry. Bravo!

Of the three in the trilogy, it’s not my favourite, but it NOT to be missed if you want the full experience, start to finish. Oh, and good luck getting to sleep after this one!

D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe (virtual) can be booked for $25 CAD pp on Mystery Mansion Regina’s website here.

Enigma Rooms Wakefield: Escape from Wonderland | Review

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On a beautiful sunny day, you skip to the end of your garden to read, escaping the boredom of the real world. As the Sun beats down on you and the shadows grow longer, your eyes grow heavy and you drift off to sleep. Falling and falling you remember this sensation, and awake with a start just before you hit the ground.

Rating: Fun!
Completion Time: 32:58
Date Played: 9th May 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: People who’d like to play this game IRL but can’t!

Week 39 in the Escape Game Olympics and this time we’re back in the UK. Wakefield to be specific! Escape From Wonderland is a real life escape room experience at Enigma Rooms Wakefield but, thanks to the pandemic, they’ve created this online digital version for a fraction of the price. It’s the same immersive, curious world of Alice in Wonderland you know and love but… Digital!

Once again I teamed up with Escaping the Closet – my regular EGO team to step into Wonderland on a Sunday evening. Here’s how we got on:

The Story

In Escape from Wonderland, you and your team play a modern ‘Alice’ type character when, after falling asleep at the bottom of your garden (*cries in tiny London apartment without a garden*), you find yourself falling and falling into Wonderland. No white rabbit, it’s a trippy sequence into the literary world but this time you’ve got to escape. The residents of Wonderland are nowhere to be found and threats from the Red Queen of “Off with your head!” loom over you. The only thing to do? ESCAPE! And do so quickly!

In short, it’s a classic Alice in Wonderland tale with you as the titular character. I’d definitely recommend brushing up on your knowledge from the book before giving it a go. No outside knowledge it needed but it helps immerse yourself in the wonderful world.

The Theming

I’ve heard really good things about the theming of this room when played in person and I reckon the creators have done a lovely job translating this to a digital space. The whole room is very lush and green and packed with well known scenes and hidden Easter Eggs from the book. There’s space for croquet, and space for tea and curious woodland undertones running throughout the room.

A really cool addition to the digital game is a never-ending ceiling. Okay okay maybe this is a trick of the light, but I couldn’t help but keep glancing upwards and staring in awe at the blue skies, clouds, and trees reaching up into the distance. There’s just so much detail in the room and I can’t help but zoom in on the small things to get a closer look.

The Experience

The digital edition of Escape from Wonderland is built in a software called Telescape. What this means is that players have a 360 degree view of the whole space and may click into anything they like to check it out and interact with the environment.

Escape from Wonderland has three distinct ‘rooms’, or maybe two and a half if we’re being picky. This means there’s a whole wealth of space to explore in a team and it helps to be able to see each other player’s mouse mark on the screen.

Within this, you’re also able to click and drag certain items, press buttons, and type codes into the box to proceed throughout the game. When we found two or more items we needed to combine together – such as LOCK and KEY – we typed the words just like that into the code box to do them. Often this triggered a short video showing the items fitting into place – a door unlocking, or a box opening. It’s a nice way to create those small ‘aha’ moments throughout an escape room experience!

The Puzzles

In terms of puzzles, I actually found Escape from Wonderland to be on the harder side as escape rooms go. At least, every puzzle I tackled personally needed at least two heads, if not all three of us to figure out. There was also at least one puzzle which, in the real life version, required physical manipulation and a steady hand. The digital version applied a slightly different mechanic to solve, but no less tricky to get right!

There was plenty of searching to do towards the beginning of the room (I love this!) and as we unlocked more and more areas the puzzles got more detailed. Players can expect to encounter logic puzzles, puzzles where you need to do maths (*sobs*), information from one area being used elsewhere, cracking codes, and some colour puzzles too. There’s a really good mix and for our little team of 3 plenty to do!

As I say, it was a true team effort as I don’t think there was a single puzzle in there I solved by myself. To me, this just tells me that Enigma Room Wakefield have mastered the art of the collaborative escape room!

Overall

Good fun! I love being able to play rooms in other parts of the UK (or even the world) that I’d not likely have another chance to play, and Escape from Wonderland is a classic example of this. I’d recommend it to anyone who can’t get over to Wakefield but still wants to experience the magic they’ve created.

Escape from Wonderland can be booked for £15 – £20 pp at their physical site in Wakefield, or can be played online for £20. Book either by heading to their website here.

Escape SC: Science Splice | Review

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It’s your first day as a lab intern at a mysterious lab that no one has heard of. Due to a lab accident, you’ve been split into two! It’s your job to put yourself back together using the power of science, or be forced to stay spliced forever!

Rating: Charming!
Completion Time: ~40 minutes
Date Played: 24th May 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Teams of 2+, fans of SCIENCE stuff, light hearted humour.

For an experience that only costs $5 USD* (*at the time of writing), this game is honestly much better than a lot of play at home escape rooms I’ve played these past two years. At over 200 that’s no small claim either! It’s utterly charming, the puzzles are brilliant, the light hearted moments of humour really give the game personality, and whats more their use of technology and ‘choose your own ending’ is highly unique. I am very impressed! A round of applause is in order!

When we’re not playing the weekly Escape Game Olympics, team Escaping the Closet and I sometimes meet up mid-week for a digital game or two. This week we tackled Science Splice! Without much information being available online (yet), we had no idea what to expect. In hindsight, I think this is the best way to play Science Splice! Yes, even if that means I’m telling you to stop reading this review and go book it for yourself right now.

But, if you would like to know what to expect, then read on escapees:

The Story

It’s your first day at Ethical Labs and after receiving your induction from a fellow lab technician, you’re briefly left alone in the laboratory. There’s one rule at this lab. It’s so important it eclipses and dominates all other typical laboratory rules. DO NOT PRESS THE GIANT RED BUTTON. Terrible things will happen if you do this.

What did we do?

We pressed the big red button.

*sigh*

This controls the ‘Splicing’ machine, splicing you into 2 halves – the left brain and the right brain. But hey, not all is lost! You’ve got an hour to try and fix your mistakes and put yourself back together again. But it’s not so easy operating two different sides of one brain.

The best part about playing Science Splice is of course the multiple endings. That’s right! Depending on how you play and what decisions you make, you’ll encounter one of several endings. Some good, some back, and one brilliant secret ending that had me snorting with laughter.

The Experience

As you may expect, this experience is played with a minimum of 2 players as at least one person needs to control each side of the brain. Each side of the brain will see very different information, for example if you’re looking at a postcard one side may see the pictures and another the writing, and so on.

One really clever thing about Science Splice is that it’s a game created in a software called Telescape. This is your typical point and click digital escape room game program, but Escape SC does something with Telescape I’ve never seen before: At the start of the game you’ll choose to split into the left or the right side of the brain. From here, the other team’s puzzles are completely locked off, except for some moments in the game where you can work collaboratively between both parties.

It makes sense though, the left/right side of the brains do perform different functions, but the parts of the escape room where you could physically manipulate objects, press buttons and activate machines were collaborative. It was a really cool touch and clever use of the software. Designers take note!

Technology aside, the experience was all round delightful from start to finish. A dash of humour and some very real consequences for doing things in certain ways kept us entertained from start to finish. Since you can die in this game (yep you read that correctly), be sure to actually read the rules and don’t do anything silly. Like run in the lab. Yeah you can also die from running around but I’ll let you discover that part by yourself!

The Artwork

Visually, Science Splice is awesome! There’s something so visually appealing about the almost-retro, 90s style of science textbooks and fun animations that Escape SC have nailed in Science Splice. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but after seeing the poster for this game there was no way I wasn’t going to book this game. Brilliant!

The Puzzles

In terms of difficulty, Science Splice is comfortably tricky. For a group of beginner escape room designers, I think they pitched the timing and difficulty absolutely perfectly to have a mass market appeal and something in there for everyone. What’s more, the puzzles were unique and innovative too. Which in The Escape Roomer speak is code for there was no Morse Code, or Caesar Cipher that I’ve come to expect from play at home games these days.

I don’t want to spoil any of the puzzles as they’re all so clever, so I’ll just explain that it’s got a puzzle for every aspect of laboratory work you’d expect… And then some! Expect physical manipulation, obeying the rules of the lab, and also breaking the rules of the lab as you mix dangerous substances together and try not to blow anything up!

Escape SC

As a final note, the team behind Escape SC is really interesting, they’re a self proclaimed: “student group dedicated to creating escape rooms on campus.” There are thirteen creators who put their minds together to design Science Splice and all of them students at USC. Which *pauses to Google* I think stands for the University of South California, but as a Brit I’m happy to be corrected.

From what I can tell, this is a club dedicated to playing and building escape rooms (online or in person), anything from performances to live events, to escape rooms like this. The verdict? Somebody needs to hire every single one of these people right now because this group is 100% pure escape room talent.

As a side note, I’m now lamenting the fact my university never had a club as cool as this when I was there!

Overall

An absolute work of art, I can’t recommend Science Splice highly enough! This game is a real hidden gem that everybody should play at least once (I mean, why not twice? Play at the other brain half and see if you can uncover a hidden ending!) I absolutely cannot wait to see what the Escape SC team will come up with next.

Science Splice can be booked for $5 USD per team, you can find the link to book here.

ClueHQ: The Warp Core Part Three | Review

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A Warp Core team ventured back to 1692 Massachusetts, the location of the Salem Witch trials, in search of a magic wand and spell book but they never made it back to the ship. Will you join the rescue mission to bring them, and the magical artefacts, home safely?

Rating: Awesome!
Completion Time: 61:45
Date Played: 25th April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Everyone!

Woohoo! It’s Escape Game Olympics part… *counting on fingers* okay, okay I’ve lost count, but I reckon I’m getting into the flow of it now *flexes muscles*. Nevermind that we only placed 15th this week… You can’t win them all, and anyway it’s the taking part that counts! Right? Right?!

The truth is I’m actually having a LOT of fun playing a new escape room game every week, and I was super thrilled after the success of The Warp Core Part II to see Part II in the roster. ClueHQ have really outdone themselves with this series, each game so far is an absolute delight (and better than the last!).

Part III is markedly more difficult than Part II, if the “time to complete” weren’t already a giveaway. There’s just so much to do in these rooms – I love it! So many nooks and crannies and unique interfaces to point, click, drag, button mash. In this game we found ourselves crawling around through caves, casting spells, and transfiguring animals. So darn creative. A round of applause!

The Story

I missed “Part I” of The Warp Core series and now I’ve come too far along to go back and play it, so I have to admit I don’t fully understand the over-arching plot. I admit, it’s my fault! But here’s my vague interpretation of what is happening in The Warp Core:

You and your team of intrepid explorers have a TARDIS- I mean, it’s a time machine. Just a general, sci-fi time machine. Any resemblance to fictional alien spaceships is purely co-incidental (I’m kidding! Haha). Your goal in each of The Warp Core games is to go to a specific time in history and steal an ancient artefact. At the end of each game you store that artefact in the ‘Artefact Hatch’. It’s likely there’s a greater purpose to all this, but in the mean time I’m enjoying the ride.

In Part III, you journey back to Salem in the time of the infamous witch trials. The year is 1692 and there’s magic afoot. This time it seems you’re not just there for an artefact but you’re also looking for a missing team of Warp Core treasure hunters who disappeared around this time. What on earth did those witches do to the treasure hunters? Can you find them? If you don’t hurry their fate will also be yours! Go go go!

The Experience

The Warp Core Part Three takes place in a piece of software called Telescape and honestly I think it is the best example of Telescape from any company out there right now. As well as the typical 360 degree view of a space that by now I expect, Warp Core is multi-room, meaning you unlock not only new physical spaces but also other additional spaces which would not be technically possible in a real escape room experience. You can move around, zoom in, and click on things, and often this will trigger an interesting video sequence or a fully interactive interface.

Again, I have to reiterate that Warp Core III is impressive in the world it creates and in particular for those moments which would not be possible in the real world. For example (and minor spoilers here – this is information available on their website so I think I’m free to mention it), in a real escape room would you really come face with a witch or wizard and be able to enter into a spell casting battle in real time? Could you cast spells and physically see the result of your spells in front of you, such as things materialising or transforming? Can you cut shapes out of materials and have them transform into the real thing?

I reckon the answer for each of those things is no. At least, in 2021! I dunno you might be reading this blog post way out in in the year 2500 and all that stuff is possible. But right now, I AM IMPRESSED. This game is excellent!

The Puzzles

The puzzles in Warp Core III are pretty cool too. It felt as if the designers paid a lot of attention to detail and furthermore really pushed the limits of what is possible in a digital space, which is cool. Using my magic wand, I was able to draw shapes and physically manipulate objects around me… With magic!

That said, we did get fairly stuck! Not only is there A LOT to do in one small escape room, but the puzzles were a big step up in difficulty from Part II which he how we came to take a lot longer to finish it. However one of the main places we ‘got stuck’ wasn’t due to the difficulty of the puzzles, but more because we didn’t think to look in a place where the next clue was to be found. Oops! So piece of advice: check everything and check it twice!

My favourite puzzles involved Scanny Tim. No spoilers here, but I loved the addition of a handheld device that helped advance the game in very unexpected ways!

Overall

I am a huge fan of The Warp Core series and I cannot stress enough what an impressive piece of tech it is! The creators have gone above and beyond in creating a brilliant play at home experience and I only wish we weren’t playing these competitively so I had more time to soak it all up and enjoy. I’m super stoked to see what Part IV will bring! Bring it on, Warp Core!!

The Warp Core Part 3 can be booked for £15 on ClueHQ’s website here.

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

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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.

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