Make Your Escape – Utopia & Dystopia

Make Your Escape – Utopia & Dystopia. Date 14/06/2018. Team: Amy & Ian.

This is gonna be a long one, “Utopia” and “Dystopia” fit so perfectly together that it is only fair to give them a joint review!

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We were very kindly invited to Make Your Escape to play their brand new games “Utopia” and “Dystopia” – They’re not open to the public just yet, but when we played them they were pretty much spot on and ready to go, so look out for them opening in the near future!
We were highly anticipating these 2 rooms after the heavy story telling in “The Signal” and the sheer genius of “Spellbound” – but would “Utopia” and “Dystopia” live up to expectations… read on to find out!
“Utopia” and “Dystopia” are at their heart, battle rooms, but as there were only 2 of us, we chose to play the 2 games back to back, taking on the grim Dystopia first, followed by the pristine and clinical Utopia. This is the order recommended by Make Your Escape and I would urge anyone who is willing to do them back to back, to play in that order.
*As they games are not officially open, theme descriptions are written purely from my memory so as soon as I get the official blurb I will post that up instead, as I am bound to have forgotten/missed something!

DYSTOPIA

Theme:
“Dystopia is set in an alternative Future in Derby, cast out from the Bliss of Utopia, you’re put into a world that is in disarray torn by the disintegration of society and the disappearance of members of the DJM, and we’ve been sent to investigate these missing members.”

Dystopia looked great, with just the right amount of decay, and a great colour palette to compliment the theme. Immersion was excellent, with the use of video, audio and lighting all creating the perfect atmosphere. Story was delivered throughout the game which only aided in the immersion and creation of a real world. The space was large and well lit once into the main game!

Game Play:
A game which expertly moved from linear to open. With excellent puzzles throughout, mainly focusing on logic, observation & word, with a little bit of physicality thrown in. What was wonderful was the interaction with the world, through all its puzzles it was very hands on and used the space, decoration and props to really integrate the puzzles into the story.
Each and every puzzle was clever, yet logical and solvable with wonderful Ah-Ha moments, there was no ambiguity which, leading to clear answers gave a wonderful feeling of progress throughout the room.
The flow was outstanding, with excellent signposting and not sticky or illogical moments.
The amount of story that is delivered via the puzzles and in the room is so detailed, this is really a room to saviour and experience every single second, definitely not one to rush!

Clue System:
Clues are delivered via a screen.

Game Host:
Our game host was perfectly in character as a janitor of the apartment block in Dystopia. He played it brilliantly with just the right amount of sass and enough dysphoria to make us slightly unnerved & apprehensive of the world we were about to enter.

Did we escape?
Yes, in 50 Minutes!

UTOPIA

Theme:
“Utopia strives to make society perfect, whilst battling the DJM movement in Dystopia. Their perfect world is about to be turned upside down by the DJM and you’re trying to get to the bottom of what is going on!”

Sterile, Clinical, Futuristic. Utopia looks pristine, with bright white walls serving as a complete contrast to the dank setting of Dystopia. The immersion again was excellent with the use of lighting, sound and video leading to a real world environment. Utopia is pretty too, the slickness & simplicity in the design of the room is wonderful.
The space is large, and very well lit. Story was delivered throughout the game which only aided in the immersion and creation of that real world.

Game Play:
A more linear game than Dystopia, Utopia relies heavily on it’s use of technology, but still, puzzles were paramount in this game, with them focusing on word, logic, math and physical puzzles.
The puzzles were all logical, with clear answers and great interaction with the technology giving wonderful ah-ha, and great story driven moments.
The puzzles were all perfectly in theme for the world and story and really helped to solidify the world and story together. It felt much more of a cohesive real world than any other highly tech game I’ve played!
The flow of the game was excellent, and signposting was clear and simple. Tech buffs will love this room, and its excellent narrative will thrill with its twists and turns (which must be played to find out! No spoilers here!)

Clue System:
Clues are delivered via a screen.

Game Host:
Our game host, again was completely in character as one of Utopia’s clinicians, she was robotic, unnerving and ethereal. Which set the tone perfectly for the world we were about to enter.

Did we escape?
Yes, in 59 minutes! It was a close one!

Website: http://www.makeyourescapederby.com/
Price:
As soon pricing is released for Utopia & Dystopia I will update it here.

 

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Cryptology – Ramaseize. Room 250!

Cryptology – Ramaseize. Date: 14/06/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

logo-rameseize

Theme:
“After years of planning and excavations the tomb of the nefarious Ramses has finally been unearthed. But this is no tomb full of traps; it is a peerless conundrum full of strange machinations.

If you could manage to extract the three ancient relics rumoured to rest here you would become part of history, but you are not the only ones on the trail…

Your foreheads are drenched and the air is taut with fear. There is not much time for you to act before the unscruplious treasure hunters cross the desert and bury you alive just to claim the glory for themselves.

Will you lay your hands upon the relics of the past? And will you even be able to escape before the glocks are pointed to your heads? Your hourglass is running low…”

Ramaseize is large! A big space that encourages exploration, the lighting is quite dim but you are provided with torches that give plenty of atmospheric light. The dimness doesn’t impact on gameplay, it only adds to the immersive experience. The decoration is lovely, with a real handcrafted feel which is wonderful, you can feel the love that has gone into creating Ramaseize.

Game Play:
A fairly linear game that encompassed plenty of different puzzle styles, observation, math, word, physical, logic. There is something for everyone and some tricky moments woven in.
Now, I am not one to normally speak about personal experiences within the room, but one puzzle in the room stumped me good and proper, and left Ian exasperated, and both myself and our game host in near hysterics. THAT is one moment I won’t forget for a long time – now back to our regular programming.
Puzzles were all logical, solvable and satisfying, they all has lovely ah-ha moments and pushed the game along.
The flow was excellent, with clear signposting leading us to the next stage of the room, without being too leading or “hand holding”
The sense of discovery was excellent, this is so important in “tomb” themed escape rooms and Ramaseize got it spot on.
A solid game, that is wonderfully logical, a lot of fun and a joy to play.

Clue System:
Clues were provided by the oh so sassy “Acluebis” who is in the room with you! Excellent.

Game Host:
Mark was our game host and ran our game perfectly, hinting us when we needed it and also bringing the sass (which honestly made the game hilarious and so enjoyable!) He also treated us to some balloons to celebrate our 250th room! Thanks Mark!

Cryptology Ramaseize

Did we escape?
Yes, in 55 minutes with all 3 relics!

Website: https://cryptologyrooms.co.uk
Price:
2 Players £45/50 (weekdays/weekends)
3 Players £60
4 Players £76
5 Players £90
6 Players £102
7 Players £112

Escapologic – Howitz

Escapologic – Howitz. Game Date 14/06/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

howitz

Theme:
“A tragic loss. A happy family destroyed. A desperate man, irresistibly drawn to dark forces. As the door slams shut behind you, you’re trapped in the world of Eli Howitz, an enigmatic figure whose gut-wrenching story pervades every millimetre of the room.

Just what happened in Eli’s toy shop? You’ve heard the rumours. You know the horror stories off by heart. But how much truth is there in the police report? Can there really be ritualistic carvings on the walls? They say there were glowing symbols, and toys that whirred, clicked, and span on their own….”

Howitz has recently had a full revamp, with tweaks to the story and a major overhaul in the game-play area, if you want read my review of the original Howitz, it’s here.

Set decoration is great, run down, dingy, and a little creepy without being dirty or too dark. There’s a great fun-house twist in the decoration, and it continues to the last moment. The room is spacious enough for 5 people, although there is one small space… but fear not… isolation is the key to this small space.
The room has some great set pieces and decoration and really is a 360 degree affair, with such brilliant immersion being created through the environment and soundtrack. Story is subtly delivered through the room and there is a satisfying ending.

Game Play:
Escapologic are renowned for their hands one tactics in the design of their puzzles and Howitz was no exception, along with this ever so hands-on approach there were some super logic, observation, sound and searching puzzles. One moment that relies heavily on team-work was a joy to solve.
Each and every puzzle was excellent in its logic, and had wonderful ah-ha moments.
Signposting was subtle, but there and there was a lot of humour interwoven into the gameplay that kept the scare factor down (saying that, it’s still a spooky room!)
The flow was excellent, with the only stalling points being the searches (but then we’re awful at searching, a bigger team would have no problems) and the game flowed incredibly well and logically.
A fantastically creepy room, and the perfect game for people wanting to dip their toes into a more chilling escape experience.

Clue System:
Clues are delivered via a Ouija Board. (terrifyingly so – this is one aspect of the original game they’ve retained)

Game Host:
Tani was our host and she was lovely and quirky (most of the Escapologic staff are vivacious unique and wonderful!) she ran our game well and was obviously paying incredibly close attention to what we were doing!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 31 minutes, with no clues!

Website: https://www.escapologic.com/
Price:
OFF Peak:
2 Players £40
3 Players £57
4 Players £70
5 Players £80

OFF Peak:
2 Players £50
3 Players £69
4 Players £84
5 Players £100

Enigma Rooms Wakefield – Escape from Wonderland

Enigma Rooms Wakefield – Escape from Wonderland. Game Date 24/05/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

Wonderland

 

Theme:
“You awaken back in Wonderland, can you find your friends before the Red Queen arrives?”

A simple theme of “Wonderland” conjures up so many visuals and the room didn’t disappoint,  beautiful immersive decoration that was perfectly on theme and just so charming. All the things you expect from wonderland are in here in the most enchanting way possible, coupled with a lovely soundtrack really creates a lovely space to play in.
The space isn’t huge to begin with but does open up later in the game. There’s plenty of eye candy to look at and interact with, without detracting from the main game or being confusing or distracting.
An absolutely gorgeous room that we were both entranced with from the moment we stepped through the door!

Game Play:
A fairly open game that only brings the game back down to linear at important moments. Puzzle types were varied, with observation, logic, codebreaking, riddles, maths, physical, teamwork & searching.
The puzzles were all perfect in their logic,  with wonderful aha moments that were exciting and logical.
The flow was excellent, with subtle signposting leading to a smooth game with no snags or sticky points.
Each and every puzzle was perfectly on theme, and had a wonder & joy about them that really captured the feel and magic of Wonderland. All a joy to solve, with a difficulty level that required some out of the box thinking, but made perfect sense. We didn’t want this escape room to end and came out on a real high!
I would recommend to enthusiasts to take the smallest group possible as you’ll want to see every puzzle and moment in this game. Newbies, take a 4 or 5 there are a couple of tricky puzzles that could benefit from a couple of extra brains in a less experienced team.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Keiran was our game-host and was outstanding, delivering an excellent brief and even better story! Cluing us at exactly the right times to nudge us in the right direction it was clear he was paying the utmost attention to our game. Brilliant hosting.

Did we escape?
Yes! in 42 minutes!

Website: https://enigmarooms.co.uk/wakefield/
Price:
2 Players £40
3 Players £51
4 Players £64
5 Players £70
6 Players £78

The Live Escape – Underground

The Live Escape – Underground. Game Date: 24/05/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

underground-logo

Theme:
“After the Nazis occupy the Yugoslavian capital city of Belgrade, during WW11, partisans, communists and patriots are forced to hide in a network of underground tunnels. They set up a munitions factory under the noses of the Germans and begin to smuggle weapons out, in preparation for the armed resistance to come.

After years of toiling and living underground a number of clues begin to raise suspicions that the leader has sinister intentions for you and the other workers in the tunnels.

Escape is the only way out and your mission is to travel through the underground tunnels and collect 3 guns in order to escape.

Hand pick your most trusted confidants and make your bid for freedom.”

We’ve played a fair few WW2 themed escape rooms and this stands out as one of the most immersive and unique. The space itself is perfect, being situated in actual underground tunnels!
Spacious and with automatic lighting (so areas stay dark when not in use, brilliant!) the atmosphere within the room is incredible! Be aware though, with the natural setting of the room it does get a little grubby – don’t wear your Sunday best!
A great soundtrack gets the pace going and only adds to the immersion.
The space is large and will comfortably fit the max of 6. The decoration is minimal, but with enough to keep you engaged throughout the hour.

Game Play:
A linear game that compromised of plenty of puzzle types, observation, logic, translations, codebreaking, maths & a small amount of searching.
Puzzles had good ah-ha moments, and were good in their logic and perfectly solvable. The design meant that most people will get their moment to shine within the game.
The flow was good, yet there wasn’t massive amounts of signposting there was enough to push you through the game at your own pace.
A nice game, that will please enthusiasts for its story and immersiveness. Newbies will enjoy this game, although there could easily be a few moments where I could see them needing clues.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a chute into the room! Very unique

Game Host:
Olivia was our host, and again was enthusiastic, attentive and friendly. Delivering our single clue right on the edge of frustration! An asset to the company!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 43 minutes.

Website: https://www.theliveescape.co.uk/
Price:
2 players = £42
3 players = £57
4 players = £72
5 players = £85
6 players = £102

Stuck in the Riddle – Murder Mystery

Stuck in the Riddle – Murder Mystery. Game Date: 24/05/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

sitrmm

Theme:
“There’s been a murder! Whilst attending Lord Farringdon’s annual dinner his Lordship leaves the room for a short time and suddenly there is a loud gunshot! You were the last to see him alive so suspicion quickly turns to you. The quick thinking Colonel jumps to conclusions and bumbles you into Lord Farringdon’s study and locks the door behind you while the police are called.

You know you’re not the murderer, but you need to find out who is, where he was killed, and with which murder weapon so you can tell the police when they arrive to arrest you in an hour.”

A really nicely decorated room that was well lit & spacious, giving good immersion. Clean and simple was the name of the game, yet with enough to look at whilst having no distractions, a very balanced room. There was a sound-track of 1930s era music playing which we really appreciated, this further added to the immersion.
Story was woven seamlessly into the gameplay, a lovely touch.
The room would be big enough for 8 people, but there are some moments where only 1 or 2 people could fit, and some crawling is required (but not by all team members!)

Game Play:
A very nice mix of linear and open moments in this game, there were a couple of points in the game where we were each working of different puzzles, but this all constricted down to a tight linear finish. Great design!
Puzzles were a good mix, word/logic/maths/sensory/physical/observation.
Each and every puzzle was excellent in its logic, with ah-ha moments coming thick and fast, all incredibly solvable and satisfying! The sense of discovery was a lot of fun!
The flow was impeccable, with excellent signposting which meant that we were never left wondering or stuck. Great design all round.
A slick room that encompasses plenty of puzzle types, with some unique twists and turns.
A great room for enthusiasts to appreciate the flow and for newbies as something with some substance to get their teeth into!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via screen

Game Host:
Unfortunately I didn’t catch our host’s name, but he was great, friendly and delivered clues with excellent timing and only when we truly needed them!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 48 Minutes!

Website:
Price:
2 Players £34
3 Players £48
4 Players £60
5 Players £70
6 Players £78
7 Players £84
8 Players £96

Lockdown Escape – Asylum

Lockdown Escape – Asylum. Game Date 08/05/2018. Team: Amy, Ian & Michael

asylum

Theme:
“You are TRAPPED in a MENTAL ASYLUM trying to prove your sanity and challenge your mind to outwit DR DEATH and escape before he straps you to his surgical table for experiments…”

Asylum puts you in what appears to be an abandoned mental asylum, theming was good if not a little bare, but this fitted the theme well. It was quite dim, and creepy but again this wasn’t used to make the game harder, it was used for effect & torches are provided. The immersion was OK, with a good soundscape to compliment the room.
The space was overall large, yet split up into different sections that constricted the space somewhat.
A nicely done room that gives the feeling of being in situ. I can imagine younger or more nervous guests getting a couple of frights in this room.

Game Play:
A strictly linear game that compromised mainly of observational puzzles, with a small amount of searching & maths. The puzzles all led to 4 digit lock, yet there was never an abundance of locks to try codes on.
The puzzles were nice, it’s billed as Lockdown’s easiest room and it was slightly easier than Lost Souls and Death Row. There wasn’t masses of ambiguity in the puzzles, yet we did get a couple of different answers to a couple of the puzzles from solving them in a different way than was intended.
The flow was good, simple but good. There were no massive logic leaps, a couple of small ones, but this could maybe be described as having to look at things in a different way to how we initially thought.
Even though there wasn’t a great deal of signposting, there was enough to keep us moving forward throughout the game
A good game for less experienced players, enthusiasts may find this one a little on the easy side.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a mobile phone

Game Host:
Craig was our game host and as usual was chatty, friendly and ran our game well. Delivering hints and nudges exactly when we needed them

Did we escape?
Yes, in 43 minutes! (we were in no rush!)

Website: http://www.lockdownescapeeg.co.uk/
Price:
2 players £40
3 Players £57
4 Players £72
5 Players £85
6 Players £96

Breakout Manchester – Infiltrate

Breakout Manchester – Infiltrate. Game Date: 08/05/2018. Team: Amy, Ian & Michael

infiltrate

Theme:
“One of your friends has been wrongfully imprisoned, can you infiltrate the prison and help them break free? You have one hour before the warden comes back off his lunch break. Find his swipe card and escape or you will all be incarcerated”

A simple story, backed up by simple decor, there was nothing outstanding in this room, but it was finished to a good standard. Prison’s are never the most “eye candy” of themes and this was a good example of a well finished yet simple room.
The room was more than large enough to accommodate the maximum number and the light was excellent due to the large window to the outside world (i’m not sure whether I like this or not)

Game Play:
A fairly linear game with a split start, with one member of the team being Handcuffed, but don’t worry, you can still see and communicate with each other freely.
Puzzles were varied, logic, observation, maths, searching and code breaking making a nice mix.
Puzzles were surprisingly logical, and save for a couple of red herrings, the game flowed well, with pacey moments.
Signposting wasn’t 100% clear, and you were left to you’re own devices to make the connections, which were logical but sometimes quite unrelated in terms of bringing a puzzle together. That being said, once you made those connections, the Ah-ha moments were nice and fulfilling.
A classic game that scratches the itch, and would be a very good first room. Not much more to say as there was nothing that wowed us, yet nothing that was frustrating or foreboding. (Apart from those few, unneeded red herrings)
It is a 2 star on Breakout’s scale, which means it’s one of their easier games… and I think this is somewhat true, it’s comparable to The Heist at Liverpool in terms of difficulty. But then, difficulty is truly subjective!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Jess M was our game host and she was wonderful, chatty, friendly and clearly enjoys playing escape rooms! She ran our game with precision only nudging us when we really needed it (i.e. search fails…) Excellent Game hosting!

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 44 minutes! (we had either 16 or 19 minutes remaining so I’m airing on the side of caution!)

Website: https://breakoutmanchester.com
Price:
OFF PEAK/PEAK
2 Players £36.00/£40.00
3 Players £48.00/£54.00
4 Players £60.00/£68.00 
5 Players £70.00/£80.00 

 

Exit The Room: Murder

Exit The Room: Murder. Game Date: 26/04/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

room-header-murder.jpg

Theme:
“In this part of the world, Spooky Town is not mentioned on any of the well-known travel sites. The one and only hotel is not only run-down and shabby but has become infamous over the last few months as many of its guests have disappeared without a trace. As unsolved cases continue to pile up at the police station, the locals whisper rumours of possible murders at the hotel. So far no bodies have been found and until they are no investigation will take place. Your mission is to enter Room Number 9 where the murders are rumoured to have taken place. This is your most important case yet. Your team has one mission: Explore and expose the secrets of Room Number 9.”

A large, sparsely decorated room that didn’t scream “hotel” as you delve further into the room theme got darker (figuratively and literally) and the space got smaller and tighter.
Theme was cleanly done, with no red- herrings but there was a lot of empty, bare space.
The room was big enough to accommodate the max group. There was little immersion.

Game Play:
A strictly linear game with mostly logic based puzzles, observation, searching and busy work.
The puzzles ranged from simple to having massive logic leaps with ambiguity that could possibly make your head hurt.
The puzzles were loosely on theme (as loose as possible) and were very “puzzle for puzzle’s sake” and there was little story development throughout.
A couple of the puzzles would have been a lot better had they not been such a “process” puzzle, doing the same thing fairly long winded mechanic over and over for each digit of a code…
The ah-ha moments were there for a few puzzles, and when they happened they were good!
The flow was sticky, as is the problem with linear games, when you hit a block there is nowhere else to turn, short bursts of activity compounded with long times of head banging.
This room will surely suit some teams, more brains to spot the logic leaps… we sure would have benefited from an extra brain or 2!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a walkie talkie, and you have to ask (which I am NOT a fan of!)
We did have a problem with the Walkie fading in and out a lot so couldn’t hear hints sometimes.

Game Host:
Jessica was our game host and was fantastic, for it being her 2nd shift, she was great! friendly, cheery and always on hand when we asked for hints. She was astute and obviously has an interest in escape games and the groups that she hosts.

Did we escape?
Yes, with less than a minute to go, it was a close one!

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

Co-Decode – Professor Dunstan and the Search for the Ancient Statuette

Co-Decode – Professor Dunstan and the Search for the Ancient Statuette. Game Date – 19/04/2018. Team: Amy & Ian
room1_titleimageclear.png

Theme:
“Despite travelling the world over to lead excavations, Oldervik usually finds time to keep in touch. However, it is has been almost six months since you received his last letter.

Strangely, after enquiring at the Ministry it appears that nobody knows of Oldervik’s current whereabouts. All you can find out is that he had been tasked with locating and excavating the tomb of an ancient ruler. According to legend, the burial chamber contains priceless artefacts including a mysterious statuette, which the Ministry is keen to acquire.

When a letter from Oldervik finally arrives it is unusually short and to the point, requesting that you attend his study to look after his cats. As far as you know, Oldervik does not have any cats; something is definitely wrong.

And so it is that you venture to Oldervik’s private residence in search of answers…”

An greatly detailed story, which is only delved into further during the brief and the game, the continuity of character and story is one that is delightful and so immersive.
Inside the room is absolutely beautiful, hand crafted but finished to such a high standard, for complete, total immersion.
The room really captures the adventures the Oldervik went on and the amount of stuff to look at is immense, yet never distracting from the game. Perfection.
The attention to detail in the room is outstanding, and it’s clear from the build quality that Alex is passionate and a perfectionist. There wasn’t anything out of place.
The interaction with the room was excellent, and it almost felt as the room came alive during the game.
There’s just one word to describe this room… Perfection.

Game Play:
A linear game (at times with branching paths), which has a unique element. You’re able to play this game in levels! There are 6 levels, which increases the content of puzzles and makes the game slightly harder. Alex is very good in recommending which level to choose dependent on team size and experience. We chose level 4 (matching the same level as Ken from The Logic Escapes Me and S2+Dean from Escape Review)
The puzzles in Professor Dunstan were plentiful and varied, word, maths, logic, physical, codebreaking, pattern matching. There really was something for everyone and in most teams, every person will find their time to solve & shine.
The execution of the puzzles is sublime, with new takes on the usual which left us wowed at many, many points in the game. Each and every single puzzle was flawless in its logic, and the solutions were clear and concise and CLEVER. Alex by trade is an archaeologist and this shows through in the puzzle design and room story.
The flow was impeccable, with some of the most subtle, yet clear, yet unobtrusive signposting I’ve ever seen in the game. It was a delight to play.
All the puzzles were perfectly in theme to the story and implemented perfectly to the room and space, interacting with certain elements in the room in novel ways, bringing the puzzles into the room and the room into the puzzles.
I would play this with your regular team and let Alex choose a level. A must play, we came out of this room on a massive high and didn’t stop talking about it all the way home!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Alex was our game host and was lovely, friendly and very welcoming. He is clearly so passionate about his game and has such humility too. He ran our game extremely well, only delivering clues when we really needed them (I think we only had 1 or 2 nudges)

Did we escape?
Yes, in 48 Minutes!

Website: https://co-decode.co.uk
Price:
2 Players £40
3 Players £60
4 Players £76
5 Players £85
6 Players £90