Following a sell out first run at Exeter Library this July, their pop-up escape room experience “The Lost Library” is back this October – November touring around three more libraries in Devon. It uses mechanical books in a 60 minute journey for 6 players to tell the story of the last witches in the UK.
Six people, ten books, sixty minutes, one mystery… Can you solve it?
The Lost Librarian
The idea is to delight and inspire teenagers and young adults in Devon with local history mixed with fantastical storytelling through the medium of puzzles. The story follows the Lost Librarian herself, Molly Allison. Molly has been researching the Devon Witch Trials, but hot on the trail of a breakthrough (and treasure!) she’s had to hide her research within a series of mechanical books, hidden within the library.
The types of puzzles that players will be able to engage with include touch sensitive mazes, logic puzzles, word searches, as well as some quirky puzzles that require certain hand gestures to unlock their secrets!
The Lost Librarian By Evolve
The Lost Librarian is part of the Exeter, UNESCO City of Literature Programme and designed and produced by Evolve. The two designers on The Lost Library Project are Elizabeth Johnson, a resident artist at Puppet Place and Matt Gibbs a WGGB Award nominated writer and editor, of games such as Battlefield 1, Total War: ROME II, and Driver San Francisco. Evolve is a part of the Libraries Unlimited programme and brings to life the worlds hidden on the shelves of libraries through playable artwork.
Where and How to Play The Lost Librarian
The Lost Librarian will be touring around Devon throughout October and November. Tickets cost £12 per person and can be booked via the Libraries Evolved website here. The experience is recommended for those aged 12+ unless accompanied by an adult.
Witchery Spell Review | While playing Witchery Spell you will meet 5 young witches. One of them recently turned 23 and mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth. What happened to her and does the same horrific fate await the others? As young girls, they performed a ritual from an ancient book they found. Now it turns out that this seemingly innocent child’s play may be their downfall. The problem: only someone who is not a witch himself can lift the spell, but what are the consequences? Are you brave enough to unleash the powerful ancient magic once again?
Rating: Spooky Completion Time: 1hr30 Date Played: 1st August 2021 Party Size: 3 Recommended For: Small groups on dark nights
Witchery Spell is one of those games. You know the ones I mean… Everybody is talking about them.
If the at-home escape room industry had a ‘game of the year’ award, Witchery Spell would probably be up for nomination in every category there is. Which is why I’m surprised to be writing that I don’t know if it quite lived up to the hype. But don’t get me wrong – it was still a brilliant game. But that’s the problem with hype, isn’t it?
So all hype aside, we’re going to discuss the game’s merits with one cautionary note: Don’t me like me and place Witchery Spell on a (literal) pedestal in your office and wait over a year to play it because you were too worried about ‘wasting it’ on a regular board game night.
Just play it now! You won’t regret it.
Solve the Puzzles, Save the Witches
Dark Park have created a really well rounded boxed game that is equal parts surprising and delightful in Witchery Spell. At it’s core, Witchery Spell is a story about a group of witches being hunted by a modern day witchfinder organisation. One of their party had recently turned 23, which is the age their original protection spell wore off. Before they’re all found and killed, they turn to you for help. You see- there’s another protection ritual that they desperately need in order to evade detection, but apparently witches can’t actually perform this type of magic themselves. How inconvenient!
What follows is a non-linear style game to figure out a number of things:
What happened to the missing witch? And,
How we could perform the ritual ourselves?
To help you out, you’ve got a big cardboard box full of stuff, and the internet.
Really Impressive Puzzle Components
What makes Witchery Spell such a special game is the sheer high quality of it’s components. However I’ll caveat that by saying it does come in a very ordinary, and very degradable cardboard box. The box was pretty scuffed up when it arrived in the post *shakes fist at the postal system*, but thankfully the material inside was in tact, packed up tightly with straw.
The components include:
Curious jars and vials of ingredients, such as Arsenica, Ivory and Salt
Equipment that looks right out of an apothecary
A candle, a feather, and some magical stones
A small deck of Tarot Cards
Several rolled up scrolls
Something that can only be described as a “demon summoning mat”
Photographs, case files, and other oddities about the witches in question
…But that’s not all, Witchery Spell also has a very large online component, guiding you through the experience and providing guidance and puzzles along the way too. For a two hour experience, it really is an immersive and in-depth game.
Each one of these components I’ve mentioned ended up being used in really delightful ways. There’s one moment in the game, and I’ll try not to spoil anything here, where we suddenly spotted that an earlier item we’d put aside was now doing something very unexpected. Yes ‘doing’. Cue some very excited screams!
So I guess you could say it’s about as close to magic as it’s possible to get.
How Difficult is Witchery Spell?
Our team of three completed Witchery Spell in around one hour and thirty minutes with no hints. We did accidentally skip one or two steps in the game – reaching the next part without fully following how we’d made the jump, but overall this game flows well and doesn’t throw anything super difficult at you!
This means that in terms of difficulty, I’d rate it ‘comfortable’. It’d be a great game for beginners to fall in love with the wonderful world of at-home escape rooms, but still provides enough brilliant ‘wow’ moments and unexpectedly exciting puzzles for veterans. I can also guarantee that even players on their 1000th game will experience something very new in Witchery Spell!
That said, there is a ‘choose your own adventure’ element to this game. I mention this as the ‘other path’ may have wildly changed the difficulty in this game, but I may never know!
Halloween Activity? Look No Further
As mentioned, I had this game on my shelf for literal months. When one of my closest and most enthusiastic escape room buddies visited after a long lockdown, I figured it’d be the perfect game to try out with her. The sun was already beginning to set, we switched up the lighting to red, lit some candles and got stuck in.
In hindsight, October 31st 2020 was one of those days Witchery Spell sat on my shelf gathering dust, and I regret not playing it then! It’s so atmospheric and genuinely puts the player on edge, feeling like they’re inside a world of black magic and witches perfectly. But October 31st 2021? I might just put that refill kit to good use and invite a small team around to give this another go – it’s just that perfect of a game for October.
In particular, I’d recommend this for a team of up to 5 players sat around a table. Better still with candles, and better even still with some kind of witchy playlist in the background.
Overall, a brilliant game. Sure, it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, but it’s still absolutely worth the price and I can see how impressive it is in the at-home genre. Go in with an open mind and a sense of delight and wonder and you won’t be disappointed. Especially don’t let this one gather dust on your shelf 😉
Witchery Spell can be purchased for around £55 on Dark Park’s website here. We’d recommend purchasing a refill kit.
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!
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 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 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!
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.