Lockdown Escape Oldham – The Neglected

Lockdown Escape Oldham – The Neglected. Game Date: 16/01/2018. Team Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“You and a group of friends have been dared to enter a decrepit abandoned orphanage with a deep dark history. Upon entering you discover you have made a fatal mistake and need to escape before the spirits take out their rage on you. With the door somehow locked behind you, can you uncover the truth about this hall of horrors and escape alive? Regardless, you will never be the same again.”

Theming was excellent, suitably creepy and rather dark. It is an abandoned orphanage after all! There were subtle nods and layers of detail that really added to the immersion and tied the theme together. A really intricately detailed room which provides an unnerving yet not outright scary experience.
The room is large and can easily accommodate the max group size, please be aware that this room is dark, you are provided with head torches which worked perfectly for us.

Game Play:
A fairly linear room, with a few open elements. Groups are brought together at key moments in the game by the linear moments but are given plenty to work on independently in the times between.
Puzzles were varied, observation, maths, word, music, logic. So many bases covered which gave some nice ah-ha moments and a lot of fun puzzle solving.
The puzzles were logical, some required some critical thinking but there were no logic leaps.
There is a LOT to do in The Neglected, the puzzles came thick and fast and we didn’t stop for the entire hour, it was a constant whirlwind of puzzle, solve, lock! Which is in no way a bad thing, it made for a very fulfilling game.
The flow was good, the only sticky point were due to our own search and observation failures (typical!) and the puzzles lead easily and slickly onto the next, all the way building to an exciting ending with a twist!
A very good room, and it’s wonderful to see the development from Lockdown’s first game Contagion to The Neglected, and if they keep on in the same direction they can’t go wrong! We’re excited to see the future rooms.
Newbies, I would recommend playing the other rooms at Lockdown first, as The Neglected has a lot of content and some tricky puzzles.
Enthusiasts, take your normal group and enjoy the challenge within the orphanage!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Caraline & Darren were our hosts and what wonderful hosts they were, Running our game with perfection, being so hospitable and friendly. We could have stayed and chatted for the whole evening. It lovely to be hosted by people with such a clear passion for escaping!

Did we escape?
Yes, with 33 seconds left. EEK!

Website: https://www.lockdownescape.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £32
3 Players £42
4 Players £48
5 Players £50

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Exit The Room – The Bomb

Exit The Room – The Bomb. Game Date 02/01/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“Tensions rise to a breaking point during the cold war when a renegade agent gets his hand on a nuclear weapon. His plans are to start the third and final world war. He built his headquarters in a secret bunker, and he is ready to press the button at any moment. You still have a chance to save humanity, but the clock is ticking. Your team’s mission is to make sure the bomb doesn’t go off. But hurry, you only have 60 minutes.”

A fairly nicely decorated room that took us back in time somewhat, to a period deep in the cold war, this gave rise (and reason) for older style furniture and typical cupboards and sideboards. The space was improved upon later in the game upon infiltrating the bunker, where the theming was better, and more immersive. Overall a nicely immersive environment, but nothing that is going to wow or surprise.
The space was clean, well finished, light and airy.
There were chairs to take a seat on if the need arised and suitable exit points around the room (these were mandatory fire exits and once ensconced in the story, they faded into the background)
The room had a good soundtrack, with the 2 areas each having a distinct feel to them, without being overbearing or saturating.

Game Play:
A strictly linear game with no deviation, which was unusual as we haven’t played a game this linear for a long time, it was quite nice to see the straightforward path ahead of us and knowing exactly where we has to go.
Standard escape room puzzles that were mainly logic, observation, codebreaking & maths.
Pleasant solutions to the puzzles meant the ah-ha moments did come but they were just there and not a sparkly or engaging as we would like to see, however this could just be down to the fact that we had seen a lot of the puzzles before in numerous escape rooms.
I feel that the Exit The Room brand may have been one of the first in their original country and are bringing original (and therefore older) game designs over to Manchester.
The flow was good, and our only stalls were down to our own search failures.
I can imagine this to be a fun room for first timers and will give a new team some interesting reveals and a good experience, enthusiasts will enjoy the puzzles and flow, just take a small team!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a walkie talkie, with a maximum of 5 per game!

Game Host:
Tara was our game host and despite it being her last game of a very busy day she welcomed us with enthusiasm and warmth and delivered a very thorough brief, in the room, which was followed up with a video brief (from American Escape Games) that was a bit weird to watch a briefing video from the same, but different brand! THEN the story video… then it was onto the game, finally!
She ran our game very well, and gave us nudges in the right direction when needed.

Did we escape?
Yes, in 45 minutes (and were the only team to do so that day!)

Website: https://www.exittheroom.co.uk
Price:
2 Players £39
3 Players £54
4 Players £68
5 Players £79
6 Players £89

ClueHQ – CSI: The Panic Room

ClueHQ – CSI: The Panic Room. Game Date 02/01/2018. Team: Amy & Ian
CSIThePanicRoom

Theme:
“This morning, a wealthy businessman was shot dead while inside his personal Panic Room. Local authorities are stumped and you have been drafted in as a member of the Criminal Liaison Unit (C.L.U.) to investigate the scene of the crime.

Armed only with your evidence kit, the crime scene and a database of over 500 potential suspects– it’s up to you to solve the case before the murderer gets away. Can you stop their escape in less than 60 minutes?”

Theming was good, albeit quite simple, but you would not expect anything flashy from a panic room. With an impressive set piece within the room, which intrigues from the get go and keeps pulling the eyes as it’s so large! There are also plenty of screens to look at, tech to interact with and stuff to explore.
The room is lit, but there are lighting changes and moments of darkness which are all in keeping with the theme.
The use of video, audio and lighting all aide in the story telling in this room, giving an immersive experience with a coherent and succinct storyline that comes with a few plot twists!
The room is large enough to accommodate the max group of 6.

Game Play:
An open game that seemed to roll into 3 distinct sections, game play in the 1st and last section was a little more linear and in the mid-section was totally open.
The Puzzles encompassed almost every single type. Logic, Observation, Deduction, Aural, Physical, Word, Tech, Gaming, Skill. There was an astounding number of puzzles, and each one was good in it’s logic and solvable. The sense of discovery and play within the room stood out, Ah-ha moments came steadily, as the puzzles required a lot of critical thinking.
The flow was excellent, and we were kept busy for every second of the hour, the game never slowed down, it only became more and more pressured throughout the game. (ClueHQ have a real talent for piling on the pressure in the final moments of a game)
The 1st and 3rd parts of the game lay more inline with a murder mystery, solving puzzles and clues to deduce who has murdered our wealthy business man. This was a nice change of tack and the interaction with the C.L.U. database was novel and lead to some very interesting and engaging puzzles.
The 2nd part of the game utilised the large set piece I mentioned in the theme section, this became a massive meta puzzle, as it’s open and visible from the start it’s a joy when you actually get to play with and interact with all the puzzles and games on it! It was a massive swing in the style of gameplay, encouraged the team to really come together (will be fun in a bigger team, I imagine!) and get stuck in. Very clever game design as it felt like a new room, but within the existing room.
All in all CSI is a very good take on the “murder scene” game scenario, without being too cliche or inconclusive. The game ramps up to a satisfying conclusion with plenty of twists, turns and surprises along the way… You NEVER know which direction ClueHQ is going to take a game, but you can bet you’ll come out the end excited and exhiliarated.
A good room for enthusiasts as it takes some escape room tropes and turns them sideways, has plenty of content and neat puzzles. Newbies, take on some of ClueHQ’s other rooms first, this is not a first timers room!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Mark was our game host and also designed the game, it was a pleasure to have him as our host, he was welcoming and friendly and delivered clues with precision and perfect timing

Did we escape?
Yes, in 57 minutes!

Website: https://cluehq.co.uk
Price:
2 Players £44
3 Players £63
4 Players £76
5 Players £85
6 Players £90

2017, what a year!

Happy New Year folks!
I’m going to try my best not to waffle on too much, as I’m sure you have party prep to make, or even an escape room to go to (lucky!)
2017 was a brilliant year in escaping for us, we hit 100, then 150, then 200! We got utterly spoiled by all the owners at each venue and we love them all for spoiling us so generously

I was also asked to speak on an enthusiasts panel at the very first Escape Room Conference “E.R.I.C.” Which was an exhilarating, exciting and somewhat nauseating experience, thank you Sera & Si for inviting me to speak. What a day we had!

We’ve up and down the country, become incredibly familiar with the UK’s motorways and visited more towns and cities than we ever have before, in fact… I drew up a little infographic to summarise 2017:

A year of escaping
As you can see, we may not be the quickest off the block, but our main focus of escaping is having fun, and boy do we do that, so to every single owner, company, establishment and game that we have played in 2017 THANK YOU. As long as you keep building we will keep playing and writing about all these crazy adventures within 4 walls!
I thought it would be fun to note a few of my favourite rooms that I have played THIS year, and this year only! Let it be said, this was incredibly hard to choose and a close run race so here we go, a top 5 of 2017 in no particular order:

1. Make Your Escape – Spellbound
2. Time Run – Celestial Chain
3. Unescapable – Edith
4. The Panic Rooms – MILLION DOLLAR DATE NIGHT
5. Tulley’s Escape Room – The Outfitters

These 5 rooms are ones that I remember distinctly, had great game play, great sets and were all round fantastic games. We have definitely seen a rise in excellent games throughout 2017 and hope the trend continues into next year!

Here’s to 2018 and plenty more escaping (and hopefully celebrating 300!!)

Kanyu Escape – Follow in my Footsteps

Kanyu Escape – Follow in my Footsteps. Game Date – 28/12/2017. Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“You will be transported in time and across continents in search of the Secrets of South Lodge, with just one hour to follow the trail of clues to the amazing discovery of Sir Henry Cunningham.”

Another beautiful room from Kanyu, plush, regal and fitted out wonderfully. With more movie quality sets and complete immersiveness. A novel take on the “study” as this is more of a “private collection room” where the many lockers contain treats that will sometimes be seen, and more often remain hidden. Plush and decorated well, but this does not interfere with the game and nothing could be considered a red herring.
A large room, with good lighting. Which does become a little smaller in the latter parts of the game.

Game Play:
A game which weaves between open and linear, becoming more so as the game progresses. Puzzles were more standard escape room fayre; observation, logic, searching, & decoding were the mainstays, with a touch of physicality thrown in.
Lovely logical puzzles with seamless tech integrated into the story. All the puzzles were wonderfully solvable and had magical ah-ha moments that came swiftly.
The flow was wonderful, with every puzzle leading perfectly to the next and never feeling like we were wading through or getting stuck.
There was a definite sense of discovery throughout the game, but the most impressive part was how the story was woven through the puzzles, without ever feeling like we were just reading for no reason, the story and character development served to push the game, and plot along. Incredibly clever design, which served to created a brilliant foundation for the mythos of Sir Henry!
Enthusiasts will be fine in their normal team size. Newbies take 4-5 and enjoy the ride!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Bob was our host and was very warm & welcoming, he ran our game really well – he really helped us along with nudges and hints throughout the game. We absolutely can’t wait for room 3 and will be straight up to visit!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 36  minutes!

Website: http://www.kanyu.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £40
3 Players £60
4 Players £80
5 Players £100
6 Players £120
7 Players £140
8 Players £160

 

Kanyu Escape – Lightning in a Bottle

Kanyu Escape – Lightning in a Bottle. Game Date: 28/12/2017. Team: Amy & Ian

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Kanyu Escape has become more commonly known as “The Secrets of South Lodge” – this is pertaining to the amazing building that the company is based at, on a roundabout on Junction 45 of the A1(M). I think South Lodge wins the award for the most unique address of an escape room, well at least that we’ve encountered! However, it is easily found and has ample free parking!
The Secrets of South Lodge is at the moment, a duo of interlinked stories which can be played in any order as they’re not chronological. However, we chose the harder room first, I would suggest playing “Follow in my Footsteps” first, as this will ease you into the story of Sir Henry Cunningham.

Theme:
“Sir Henry tried to re-create what he witnessed in Africa in his steam punk laboratory. He’s left a trail of clues to help you avoid the fate he suffered. Can you unpick them in one hour and learn another of the Secrets of South Lodge?”

“Wow. Wow. Wow!” Were the words coming out of our mouths all the way through this game, with movie quality sets that ooze quality.
Immersion was 360, with no stone left unturned, from the heavy isotopes to the dirty, worn out lighting there was not a corner of the room that was unthemed and the attention to detail was second to none. I was seriously impressed, it was like stepping into another world for an hour.
This goes without saying, that the picture above is INSIDE the room, all too often companies will put amazing cover photos on their website then you walk into the room and are sorely disappointed. Not at South Lodge, in fact, the picture does not do the room justice!
Story is well delivered throughout the game, although not as much as “Footsteps” – this room is more focused in on the puzzles (more on that in a minute) but you do get the feeling and impression (through the immersion) that Sir Henry really was up to no good within the lab, the whole game has an air of uncertainty about it!
The room is large, and keeps on going and there would be no worries about taking the maximum team size of 8 into this room, lighting was spot on and at no point were we struggling to see.
A beautiful room that has to be seen to be believed.

Game Play:
A game that started off open and became more linear as time went on. This fits with the theming and story and really puts the pressure on in the later stages of the game.
Puzzles covered all bases, logic, math, observation, aural, physical. The puzzles were not your typical escape room puzzles, they’re intelligent, cunning and at times quite tricky! There is no way to sugar coat this, but we found this game hard.
Not because it was illogical, quite the opposite, the game was excellent in its logic.
We just found the vast amount to do, with minimal guidance from the puzzles themselves (There is enough information to garner the answers, we just missed a lot of it! – thank goodness for the clue screen!) quite overwhelming!
That being said, this is not a game designed for 2 people. There are no flaws in the game design, and the ah-ha moments did arrive, and when they did it was incredibly satisfying.
The flow was good, we obviously hit a couple of sticky spots but these were our fault and not the games!
A challenging game, but for all the right reasons. Excellent logic, achievable puzzles but be prepared to flex the grey matter!
I would recommend enthusiasts playing this game in at least a 3 (we could have done with an extra brain!) Newbies, take on “Follow in my Footsteps” first to warm your team up!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Bob was our host and was very warm & welcoming, he ran our game really well (dealing with the minor tech problems very professionally and quickly) – he really helped us along with nudges and hints throughout the game

Did we escape?
Yes, due to some minor tech problems we went into a little bit of bonus time!

Website: http://www.kanyu.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £40
3 Players £60
4 Players £80
5 Players £100
6 Players £120
7 Players £140
8 Players £160

The Escaporium – The Haligonian, Game 200!

The Escaporium – The Haligonian. Game Date: 28/12/2017. Team: Amy & Ian.

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Theme:
“Enter the newly discovered private Halifax museum of Mr. P. Saul and find out what he has been the guardian of all this time!”

Wow, this room is gorgeous, huge, airy, spacey. There is no doubt that the max team size of 7 can comfortably play this room without treading on each others toes.
This room is a feast for the eyes, and really is a museum of Halifax, and it’s hard to not get distracted by the information, display cabinets and visual “weenies” that draw you deeper into the room and further the story and immersion. No doubt you will come out of this room having learned more about Halifax, and wanting to take a trip to Wikipedia to fuel that knowledge further!
The displays are present in beautiful glass cabinets, and the finish of the room is exceptional, sturdy and very in keeping with the theme, with nothing that could distract of be considered a red herring. Just wonderful.

Game Play:
A cleverly designed game that melds seamlessly between bouts of openness that filter down to linearity at specific moments, so that the whole team comes together to focus on the task at hand.
The puzzles were accomplished and covered every base. Math, searching, logic, physical, observation, spatial awareness, word, deduction. There was a puzzle for every person in this game and there was SO much to do.
Lots of satisfying puzzles that were wonderfully solvable, logical and flawless. I can’t praise how much FUN the puzzles were in this game (and you don’t need any outside knowledge of Halifax to play the game) and how well crafted the puzzles were.
The ah-ha moments came thick and fast, and the voyage of discovery was never ending. The puzzles really encourage you to interact and observe your surroundings intently, which leads to a lot of interaction with the display cabinets and information contained within the room.
The flow of the game was impeccable, with the first stages of the game being very laid back, solving puzzle after puzzle, enjoying the space and then BOOM The 2nd half of the game hits and the excitement and pressure really ramps up and gets the heart rate going.
A pretty perfect game, that ticks all the boxes of “an escape room” with the added intrigue of being in a very real world environment, with real facts, real artefacts and legend weaved throughout!
A room that is wonderful for enthusiasts, and would be a brilliant introductory room for beginners.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered on a screen, and the sound was a very jovial “Ey up” in a broad Haligonian accent

Game Host:
Angela was our game host and was wonderful, friendly, welcoming, chatty and clearly has a massive passion for her games and Halifax itself! It was lovely to be hosted by her again, and he clue delivery was perfect!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 50 minutes

Website:
Price:
2 Players £40
3 Players £54
4 Players £68
5 Players £80
6 Players £90
7 Players £98

The Haligonian was our 200th game! We got spoilt by Angela with her gifting us a big hamper of sweets (which contained all my faves!!) and a gorgeous certificate. I really need to get some frames for all these certificates!

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Norris Box – Mission Accepted – A Play-test

Norris Box – Mission Accepted. A Play-test. Game Date 28/12/2017. Team: Amy & Ian

We were kindly invited to a scout hut in Otley on a wintery December morning to Play-test Norris Box’s newest game, Mission Accepted.
Norris Box is a mobile escape room, specialising in bringing  the escape game to wherever you are! We’ve played one of their mini games “Kidnapped” and when Jane was looking for play-testers and contacted us, we couldn’t refuse the offer!

Mission Accepted has been especially commissioned by Creative Events in Dublin, so play-testing a game that was going to be sent overseas was an exiting event for us!

Theme:
Mission Accepted centres around a comical super-villain who is intent on enslaving the world!

A fun story which explodes from the original box and delivers multiple storylines and weaving connections, a feat that is achieved remarkably well considering the nature of a mobile escape room means the theming and immersion come directly from the puzzles, props and storytelling. All 3 aspects merge together with ease to create a cohesive story, which is surprisingly immersive!

Game Play:
A very busy game, I’ve never seen so many locks come out of a relatively small box! A cleverly designed game which was primarily open, with several paths to take throughout the game, this makes it very accessible for larger teams, and you will never feel stuck on anything as there’s always something else you can bounce to if you get stuck on a puzzle.
Puzzles types consisted of logic, decoding, observation, physical (yes, physical, in a mobile room! Very clever)
All the puzzles were a lot of fun to solve, required some critical thinking and yet were totally solvable without any hints or clues, it was a true case of “everything you need to solve the puzzles is laid out in front of you” – it was a case of putting the pieces together and collating them into an answer, which came in every puzzle with brilliant Ah-ha moments and satisfying answers.
All the puzzles were in theme with the story and even delivered more and more insight to the characters and plot with each reveal.
The flow was excellent, with no sticking points and each puzzle leading wonderfully to the next with element reveals being timed perfectly. The several paths really aided the flow, and whilst we played the game in a linear fashion, knowing that there was always something to do if we got stuck was a good fall back, and like I said before will be excellent for larger teams, creating a competitive element in a race to the final puzzle.
The only downside is that this game will only be available to play through Creative Events.
However, Norris Box do have a selection of 3 boxes to get stuck into (and we can’t wait to play them!)

Clue System:
Clues were delivered from Jane who was watching over us for the hour.

Game Host:
Jane was our game host and as always was friendly, hospitable and delivered a thorough briefing and gave us perfect hints throughout our game. AS normal we spent ages chatting about escaping and Jane’s passion for creating her games really is at the forefront, and what great game she does create!

Did we escape?
Yes! Although I’m not sure of our time, I think we were around 40 minutes!

Merry Christmas!! 

Christmas is here once again. I have been celebrating with Hot Chocolate… 

And coffee… 

With loads of squirty cream… that was until yesterday when I dropped the squirty cream and broke it. Ugh, and the shops are closed so I can’t even buy some more until boxing day (maybe they’ll have it in the sales!) Of course my tongue is firmly in my cheek and I can cope… I have trifle at least 😂

I hope Santa brought you everything you asked for and lots of escape room gift vouchers! 

We’re celebrating game 200 at The Escaporium on the 28th for a bit of festive escaping, so look out for a review (or 3) coming your way before the year is out! 

I’ve also got something neat in the works to summarise and round up a FANTASTIC year of escaping… that’ll be out on New Year’s Eve! 😁

So all that is left to say is Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Moviescape – Santa’s Cabin

Moviescape – Santa’s Cabin. Game Date – 14/11/2017. Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa needs your help! You will be whisked away to Santa’s cabin in Lapland for 1 hour to help him with his work. You have 1 hour to solve puzzles and work out who has been good and bad on his naughty list.

There is lots of candy to be won along the way!”

Theming in Santa’s cabin was pretty, but simply done. Giving the feeling of being in a cosy Christmas shack complete with Christmas Tree, roaring fire and Santa’s comfy armchair. Very nice for a temporary room!
The room was of a good size, and could comfortably fit in 5 people. There are some dim spots where the lighting doesn’t quite hit, but it is said in the brief that phones are allowed to be used as a torch.
The soundtrack was lovely, with all the Christmas hits you’d come to expect and really sets the scene for the room.

Game Play:
Another linear game that focused on searching, code-breaking and observation.
A slightly harder game than usual for Moviescape, Santa’s Cabin leaves you to find the ah-ha moment totally on your own, there is not much direction to the puzzles, yet once you find it the answers are clear, logical and concise (Save for a colour puzzle in a dim room, this was a bit of a sticky point).
The puzzles were all beautifully in theme, there was a small amount of outside knowledge required, but it is something that I would expect the group to get with collective knowledge.
The flow of the room was good, we only found one sticky point that was entirely our fault! The problem with the light levels and the colour puzzle, this can be easily rectified by a good torch.
An enjoyable game which has solid puzzles with less direction to the answers, which leads to lovely moments when the penny drops and you know “What to do”. It left us feeling really Christmassy!
Enthusiasts take your normal group. Newbies, a bigger group may give you a boost in this festive room!

Clue System:
We didn’t use any clues (the first group to ever achieve this!)

Game Host:
Jack was our game host, and delivered a good brief, he was chatty & friendly. We didn’t use any clues within the game!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 40 minutes!

Website: https://www.moviescape.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £40
3 Players £57
4 Players £72
5 Players £75
6 Players £84