The hottest Kickstarter game of 2020 was undoubtedly the mysterious Spectre and Vox. Created by two British escape room veterans Nick Moran, the former Creative Director of live escape rooms like Time Run and Sherlock: The Official Live Game, and Glen Hughes, the founder of Tandem Set and Scenery.
The game is an enormous 3D Haunted House escape room with over 296 individual pieces. Backers could pick up a copy of the game for £119 or more and the whole project was funded in just under 3 hours, with the finished funding total of over £250,000.
How to Purchase A Copy of Spectre & Vox
For most, the Kickstarter was the only chance to get the game, meaning there’s very likely only around 1,800 copies of the game being created.
That was until in a recent post on Kickstarter the Spectre and Vox team announced that they are creating and selling an additional 500 extra copies of the game to be shipped after the Kickstarter backers are fulfilled.
These additional games will retail at £250 and they will be available to purchase directly from the Spectre and Vox website ‘within the next couple of weeks’.
The link to purchase isn’t live yet, but you can go ahead and bookmark their homepage right here:
As it stands, the Kickstarter is currently running slightly behind schedule. Originally, the game was scheduled to be fulfilled in March 2021 but unfortunately due to countless reasons (strict lockdown restrictions in the UK, the big B (ending in -rexit), the Suez Canal catastrophe, and a billion more things that happened in 2021), the deadline has been pushed back.
Their current ‘final’ deadline is 21st of March 2022 and things are looking great for this deadline. Meaning the game will be in your hands within the next couple of months, and any folks purchasing a copy of the game at full retail price can expect theirs a little while later.
Delays or no delays, Spectre and Vox will likely be worth the wait.
The TERPECAs (or *deep breath* the Top Escape Room Project Enthusiasts Choice Awards) is in our opinion, the most thorough, balanced, and accurate attempt to find the best escape rooms in the world. It is voted on by thousands of enthusiasts from all around the world and in 2021 those who voted had a combined 177,417 rooms played between them. Wow!
Whilst we may be a small island, the UK still boasts around 1,500 escape rooms. Small… But mighty? Perhaps! Unfortunately this year no UK-based escape room company placed in the top 100 rooms ranking, but thankfully we have access to the full list and are able to cherry pick the rooms that placed in the top 315 for a UK-bucket list of the best rooms to try out across the country.
In the true spirit of Christmas, the UK (and beyond!) escape room industry has come together for a charity fundraiser to raise money for one of our own. As the owner and creator of MARVO Mysteries in Bournemouth, Stephen Hawker is a widely loved member of the community and super enthusiast in his own right.
Steve is currently undergoing treatment for brain cancer, and the community is raising money so that Steve and his partner Lizzie can make amazing memories together for the future.
Steve became unwell earlier this year with headaches, after a lot of back and forth with doctors saying it’s just migraines caused by stress, we were forced to go private and in August he had an MRI scan which showed a primary brain tumour. Everything moved very fast and he had lots of cognitive tests done (like name 10 animals, he could name 2.) He then had a 5 hour awake brain surgery to remove majority of the tumour, and they also had to take some of his brain that now affects his speech, eyesight and memories. I’m sorry to have to tell you that after the biopsy we now know it is a Grade 4 glioblastoma. He has just finished 6 weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, and whilst we remain positive time could be limited.
We are looking forward to making some happy memories, with Steve’s birthday coming up, Christmas, AND we are getting married in January in Scotland (it only took him 13 years!) After that the dream is to take a trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios in Florida, Steve spends countless hours mesmerized by Disney and filmmakers and how we can incorporate that into our escape rooms.
The charity fundraiser is in support of Steve’s battle with cancer and will end on December 23rd.
“Steve has given so many hours, months and years of his life to make amazing experiences for tens of thousands of people: now is the time that we, his peers, friends and fellow enthusiasts, can give back in the way that matters most.”
Here at The Escape Roomer, many of our writers have had the pleasure of playing MARVO Mysteries games, and they continue to be some of the most innovative and brilliant. We fully support Steve and Lizzie, and hope that by sharing the story it’ll reach more escape room enthusiasts around the world.
64 Escape Room Prizes to be Won
In this escape room charity auction, there are 64 fantastic escape room themed items to be won. Alongside countless vouchers and VIP tickets are several priceless, one of a kind items from some of the world’s favourite escape rooms. All items are available to buy or bid on. If you can’t bid, you can also make an outright donation to the cause.
An original prop of puppet / ghostly opera diva Anna Morana from The Room Berlin, recently voted by the TERPECA awards as the best escape room company in the world. This is a priceless object for any Escape Room fanatic or fan, a hand made puppet that’s a part of Escape Room history.
Ever wanted a piece of one of the world’s most famous escape rooms? Well, now’s your chance – Crime Runners Vienna have kindly donated us a photograph of their (in)famous Corrupt Congressman. Rumours are that he seals each photograph wit a kiss, something that you’ll have to test yourself when this is pride of place on your mantlepiece.
Own a piece of Escape Room History with The Lance Of Longinus from formerly globally renowned Escape Room Company, Time Run. The Lance Of Longinus featured in the titular game, played by 100s of thousands of customers across the UK and beyond. Time Run received multiple national and international awards before the venue was demolished in 2018.
Since passing into memory, Time Run has become a veritable fragment of Escape Room history. This is your chance to own a truly limited edition item – the only true fragment of Time Run that remains and will ever be in public hands.
A chance to own an iconic prop from the multiple TERPECA award winning company, Strange Bird Immersive. Strange Bird Immersive is frequently rated as one of the most innovative escape room companies in the world: they create lavishly detailed experiences, where every single detail is a part of the constituent experiential whole. This prop was used in their globally renowned experience: The Man From Beyond
Bewilder Box will be donating personal recorded messages from D.A.V.E. for… well whatever you want them for. Birthdays, death threats, congratulations, proposals, it’s all fair game. These will be offered on a ‘pay what you like’ basis and we’ll make as many as we have requests for, so whatever amount you have to donate (big or small).
An ultimate Sci Fi weapon. Made from fused turbine jet engine parts; main body is a carbine steel injector rod and with titanium blade, seamlessly welded – one of five created, each unique and unrepeatable. Able to survive in temperatures above 1700°C and designed as a hybrid of Stargate meets `StarWars. Intended as a display weapon. ‘Display’ because there’s no other spear that could duel with this.
Fibre glass shark head previously used in our first escape game. Generally in good condition with the exception of minor paint faint at the nose, some paint marks at the sides and some chips/cracks at the bottom of the mouth.
As well as these pieces of escape room history, you can take home vouchers for many immersive experiences around the UK. To take part in the auction, head here:
Siena Sudlow hits upon her dream when a music producer spots her at an open mic night and asks her on tour with her favourite band. The dream doesn’t last long as she becomes embroiled in the scandalous activities of the lead singer, and the bands dispute with their management. Siena lives the high life for a wild week of photo shoots, award ceremonies and launch parties before the hearsay and gossip gets too much, the paparazzi is surrounding the hotel and she needs out. She stashes your message in an online vault and leaves a series of clues to reveal the passcode.
Rating: Challenging! Completion Time: 52 minutes Date Played: 8th May 2021 Party Size: 1 Recommended For: Music fans, puzzle aficionados!
What are rainy mornings for, if not puzzling? I received Puzzle Post in the post and waited the whole week for a ‘sunny day’ to play it on and take some lovely photos. But you bet it rained the whole week! So I took a hint from the universe, made a huge mug of hot chocolate, and got stuck into the The Split early on a windswept Saturday morning.
…And, actually this was just the ticket! Puzzle Post is set in an ‘alternate reality’ where the pandemic didn’t happen (I think). I say that because the dates on the puzzles in the game are March 2021 and the location is London. I was definitely here in London in March 2021 and things were still shut *sobs*, but being able to play this reminded me of the vibrant music scene in neighbourhoods like Soho…. Which is actually where I used to live! Woah! Small world. It was almost like the world was back to normal for the hour I played this… Almost!
How Puzzle Post Works
The Split is one of Puzzle Post’s harder games in their series, but the idea is the same as The Missed Flight: You purchase a copy and hide a hidden message in the game. This might be a video, or a plaintext message. Your message is then stored behind a login and a password, the latter for which is hidden in the game. So, when your recipient receives a mysterious envelope, they must first crack the code before they can access the message. So cool!
For this reason you should probably purchase a copy as a gift for a friend, rather than for yourself. But if you’re itching to play it, no judgement for ordering one for yourself, haha!
The story in The Split centres around the young Siena Sudlow, a musician invited to play with a band on tour – her dream job! But what she didn’t count on were all the paparazzi! She had intended to deliver a message from a mutual friend to you, but she’s trapped in her hotel, unable to go out without having cameras shoved in her face. Instead she stashes the message for you in a digital locker and, using the items around her, concocts a puzzle for you to gain access to the message.
After all, you wouldn’t want the message falling into the hands of any prying journalists, huh? Who knows if her email has been hacked. This way is much safer. It’s a good job I’m up to the challenge of solving puzzles. The funny thing is, my brother and I frequently snail mail secret codes to each other- mostly talking about our favourite type of cheeses. This feels a little bit similar. It’s unique, it’s a little old fashioned, and heck we can all agree its 100000% more fun to receive something in the post than an email anyway.
*partner disagreeing with me next to me on the sofa*
If you’re familiar with Puzzle Post, you’ll probably know the drill by now! All of their puzzle experiences follow a similar route. It’s been a while since I last played one, so I have to admit I’m out of practice, but after using a clue to get me started on ‘where to begin’, I was off to a flying start!
Besides the introduction letter setting the scene, there’s no ‘instructions’ in the traditional sense of the word. These too, are a puzzle to be solved. The first big step is to find out the correct order. In this game there is one item in the pack that clearly suggests an order the others follow in.
From here, each puzzle solved will give a single or double digit code that when strung together makes a password. This part is important! It means you’re always looking for a simple, numerical solution. Don’t overcomplicate it – or maybe do overcomplicate it!
The Split is supposedly the hardest of the Puzzle Post series so far – I’d definitely recommended for someone who is familiar with the ‘play at home escape room’ genre, or at least is fairly quick at picking these sorts of things up. However, even though it is the hardest, it’s not insurmountable. I used around 3 clues throughout the whole experience just to nudge me along in the right direction, and only got one of the numbers incorrect – something quickly rectified by going back and actually reading the puzzle properly! Oops!
A lot of the puzzles in this experience revolve around reading through things and properly understanding what is happening and what you’re looking for. For example I spent a long time looking through the magazine on completely the wrong page wondering whether something looked like Morse Code, only to realise I wasn’t thinking about the plot of the game. I’d missed the ‘real’ puzzle!
As it’s a physical game, a few of the puzzles relied in manipulating the materials you’re giving. A very clever jigsaw style puzzle gave one code, whilst overlaying items on top of each other gave me another code, and so on. In some parts, in an exciting twist, I got to venture out onto the internet in search of… Well, music, really! I thought that was a super cool touch and the puzzle that followed was definitely my favourite (and the one I got wrong the first time round! Haha!).
In short, there’s a lot to do. Even though there’s an order, you could follow this game fairly non-linearly. I played as a solo player, but I’d have enjoyed it just as much in a small team of 2, or even 3. There’s enough puzzles to keep people busy, and enough delightful “aha” moments to make the whole game exciting.
I enjoyed it a lot! I’m a big fan of Puzzle Post and they’re one of the few companies I keep seeing “out in the wild”. A friend recently received a copy of Missed Flight for her birthday and loved it so much she went on to order one for her friend, that friend enjoyed it so much that at dinner the other week we couldn’t stop chatting about it! It’s really cool and it shows that the word of mouth that surrounds Puzzle Post is excellent too!
Whenever one of my puzzle friends’ birthdays come up I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to order an envelope (or 2, or 3), and the company even have a special kids game which my brother adored. The Split lived up to the hype and as ever, I’m so excited to see what Puzzle Post do in the future.
Can you help solve the case? The daughter of a high-profile diplomat has disappeared! The Detective Society have been hired to find her. A story filled with twists, turns and some laughs thrown in for good measure; the deeper you delve into Claire’s disappearance, the more secrets you uncover.
Rating: Fast Paced, Fun! Completion Time: 1hr Date Played: 14th February 2021 Party Size: 1 Recommended For: Armchair sleuths who want an immersive, real world experience delivered to their doorstep.
I have had this game sitting on my shelf for… Oh my god, MONTHS?! I genuinely cannot even remember how long it’s been, but if anyone wants to do the maths I received it a month or so after the Kickstarter backers did. Literally no excuse for not playing it sooner… Believe me when I say I’m kicking myself for waiting so long because I immediately want to buy Part 2, Part 3 and more.
The Disappearance of Claire Makova: Episode 1 (for it’s full, wordy title) is a game that exploded into the limelight in 2020, created by British company The Detective Society. It’s visually very impressive and super high tech, dipping into the real world in a sort of “I no longer know what’s real and what isn’t” way.
I guess one of the real standouts of the game is that it could not come at a better time. With the whole of 2020 being the pandemic write-off that it was, I’ve seen The Detective Society’s praises shouted from the rooftops for it’s bringing a 5* escape room experience into the homes of players around the world. So why did I wait so long to play it? Yeah I’m asking myself that question too. So if you’re like me and you also have this sitting on your shelf… Stop what you’re doing right now- I mean, finish reading my blog first of course, THEN go play this game right away!
So let’s get into it. The amount of story in Episode 1 is understandably short. This episode serves to set the scene and instruct players on how to navigate the mystery by presenting three short mini-mysteries to be solved. Each of those gives a numerical digit, that then unlocks a ‘final envelope’ containing the introduction to Claire Makova’s case. I say ‘unlocks’ and I actually mean it this time, the envelope is sealed with a padlock. Pretty cool!
From here, you’ve been tasked to track down a missing person who has purposefully gone off the grid. Enter: Claire Makova. You do this by a series of looking through her cellphone records, checking her bank statements, stalking her place of work, rummaging through photos from her flat. You know, the usual legally questionable detective stuff.
The puzzles are a lot of fun too. There’s a mix of treasure hunting, digging through the internet, and actually solving puzzles. I found the first three mini cases to be more puzzle heavy, for example in one of them you have to assemble a bomb (oh hello MI5 agent reading my blog, don’t worry it’s not real!) by solving complex maths and logic puzzles. Compared to the ‘find Claire Makova’ portion of the game, which relies more on cross-referencing data between maps, texts and bank statements. Neither ‘style’ of puzzle is better than the other, but it all mixes together for a fun experience!
The only tiny thing that made me cringe – and I hesitate even mentioning it – there was a “don’t get fat” joke, which felt slightly out of place, especially in these pandemic times. Just a friendly reminder that fat =/= bad and it would be great to leave body shaming back in 2020… But at least our heroine Claire Makova had the peace of mind to reply to the joke with a curt “Go to hell!“
I chose to play this Episode as a team of 1. If you’re looking extra closely at my blog you’ll realise I chose to play this on Valentine’s Day. After a failed campaign of Civilisation board game, my regular Player 2 sat out on this escape game. But dare I say it? It worked really well as a team of 1. Overall just a lot of fun, a very impressive production quality and just enough of a cliff-hanger I’m itching to get my hands on Episode 2. Props to The Detective Society.