Guest House – The Extraordinary Study of Professor Wilbanks

Guest House – The Extraordinary Study of Professor Wilbanks
Location: Leeds
Game Date: 22/02/2019
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“You are dear friends and previous students of Professor Wilbanks. Wilbanks has been taken by his life long enemy, who has been envious of the career and success of Professor Wilbanks since they were children. His motive is to steal Wilbanks’ important artefacts, which in the wrong hands could be detrimental to mankind. All he needs is the key to open the safe which is in a secure location. You’ve got word that he is 60 minutes away from Professor Wilbanks’ study and its upto you to find the key before he gets there, otherwise… he’ll be taking you with him.”

The room was well decorated, with a charming and old world feel. It had plenty of kitschy character and interesting things to purvey but nothing that distracted from the game itself.
It wasn’t the largest of rooms, 4-5 people would be fine, 6 at a push if you like all the people you’re playing with! There is a nice sense of discovery throughout the room with a could of nice secrets and surprises along the way.

Game Play:
A linear game, with a good range of puzzles that leaned more to the classic style of play, with word, logic, searching, teamwork, codebreaking, observation and maths.
The puzzles were all standard escape room fayre, executed with interesting twists and challenging aspects added to make them stand out from the norm.
The logic in the puzzles was good, with no massive logic leaps and nice clear ah-ha moments (although enthusiasts may fall into overthinking!)
Signposting ranged from non-existent to exemplary, and in-between, almost every puzzle has its own level of signposting separate from the overall level throughout the game.
The flow was good, with ultimately no sticking points thanks to the excellent cluing from Dan! I can imagine had he not been on had we’d have totally missed a couple of things!
Wilbanks is a good game, and from what I’ve heard has gone through many changes in its lifetime with this being its latest version and it feels like a game that has been tweaked and honed.
I can imagine Wilbanks being a tricky game for beginners, and its low success rate does reflect this! Although we personally don’t think it’s too hard for enthusiasts!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a walkie talkie

Game Host:
Dan was our host, and was excellent, his passion for escape rooms was clear and this is reflected in his enthusiasm and precise game hosting.

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 51 minutes!

Website: https://www.theguesthouseescaperooms.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £50
3 Players £60
4 Players £72
5 Players £80
6 Players £96

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Locked in Leeds – Kiss of Death

Locked in Leeds – Kiss of Death
Location: Leeds
Game Date: 22/02/2019
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
Something is very wrong on ward 106 at St Margaret’s Hospital. What should be a place of rest and recovery has turned into a hive of death and despair. Seemingly healthy patients are dropping like flies, the hospital’s doctors are stumped and the whole ward has been placed in strict quarantine. What (or who) is behind the ward’s sudden death? Is the ward at the mercy of a lethal virus or is something even more sinister going on? You are the only one who knows the truth! Can the remaining patients be saved? But more importantly, can you save yourself in time?

Kiss of death is one of the most immersive “hospital” sets that we’ve come across, it really felt like a hospital room, with a proper bed, and props that looked like they came straight from the NHS! This dedication to authenticity really sells the room and is a defining characteristic of Locked In’s rooms.
The space was large enough but not massive and well lit. This room has a lovely twist that we didn’t see coming and were plesantly surprised by (but, no spoilers!)

Game Play:
A liner game that compromised of searching, observation, word, logic, & math puzzles in a goode, even balance of all.
The puzzles were intrictely in theme, and perfect to develop the story in this room, with each puzzle we learn a little bit more about what happened in the hospital and the unfortunate fate of the patients.
Each puzzle had good logic, and nice ah-ha moments that led to solid conclusion in the puzzles. One puzzle tripped us up for a while, but this was simply a case of us overthinking and creating a new puzzle from similar aspects in the room!
The signposting was very subtle, but enough to get by and direct the player through the game.
The flow was good, and the only sticky moments were that where we tripped up, it would be interesting to see if other people do the same as we did at that point. Aside from that the game was very playable and enjoyable!
Another solid room from Locked In that will please any player.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Noshina was our game host, and she was wonderful. Friendly, accommodating and delivered hints with precision timing! Excellent hosting across all 3 games.

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 52 mins!

Website: https://www.lockedingames.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £42
3 Players £54
4 Players £68
5 Players £80
6 Players £96

Locked in Leeds – Hotel Heist

Locked in Leeds – Hotel Heist
Location: Leeds
Game Date: 22/02/2019
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
The Hotel Paradise is a haven of five-star luxury and exceptional customer service. As the hotel’s manager, you are rightly proud of the spotless reputation you have built up with decades of hard work and dedication. But one morning you receive a call which threatens to shatter the Hotel Paradise’s good name. Lady Murdoch-Westwell claims an exquisite diamond necklace and a sapphire ring have been stolen from her room as she dined in the hotel’s bistro. Pointing the finger at one of the hotel’s maids, she has already put an expensive claim in to her insurers. You trust your staff and are sure she must be lying but can you prove their innocence and protect the hotel’s future?

Theming was immaculate in this hotel themed room, we joked that it was niced than the hotel we stayed in whilst we were in Leeds (well..it actually was!)
The decor was classy, and there were enough probs to create an immersive atmosphere without creating distractions or red-herrings.
A large and spacious room, that was well lit. An all round lovely space to spend and hour in.

Game Play:
A linear game with observation, math, word, searching and logic puzzles. The puzzles were all on theme and excellent in their logic.
Interesting puzzles and unique touches made this room lovely to play, with all the puzzles having lovely ah-ha moments those moments at some points coming at the culmination of the room, and after gathering lots of small pieces of puzzle to come together.
The logic in the puzzles was great, with the answers being concise and with little ambiguity.
The signposting was subtle but available and there were never any moments that were deliberately misdirected.
The flow was good, with all the puzzles leading to gathering enough evidence to make our escape.
Another great room for beginners, or enthusiasts alike.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Noshina was our game host, and she was wonderful. Friendly, accommodating and delivered hints with precision timing! Excellent hosting across all 3 games.

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 53 mins!

Website: https://www.lockedingames.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £42
3 Players £54
4 Players £68
5 Players £80
6 Players £96

Locked in Leeds -American Die-ner

Locked in Leeds -American Die-ner
Location: Leeds
Game Date: 22/02/2019
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“The clock is ticking and you can’t afford to waste a moment. Shirley’s Diner is usually known for its strong coffee, relaxing atmosphere and no-nonsense waitresses. But today something threatens to disturb the calm of this all-American diner forever. Lurking inside the kitchen is a deadly bomb and you are the only ones who can diffuse it in time. Who could want to destroy Shirley’s and why? Could it be Brad, the chef who left the diner under a cloud last month? Or could this be the handiwork of a very dissatisfied customer? Will you manage to save Shirley’s in time?”

The theme was great, clean and immersive. The set really looked like a diner, with a seperate kitchen area. The thing I noticed about Locked in is their attention to detail with their props, they were consistently in theme and of high quality.
The room was spacious and well lit, more than big enough for the max group size of 6.
There was nothing in the room that was put there to be miscontrued as a red herring and there was just enough detail to create a really immersive and fun atmosphere.

Game Play:
A linear game that compromised of searching, observation, word, logic, aural & math puzzles.
There is a mechanic to start the room that is not entirly unique but still adds a great element of team work to the main game.
Puzzles were interesting, in theme and sound in its logic.
All the puzzles had good ah-ha moments, which led to faily concise conclusions with satisfying answers, with each puzzle being engaging and fun.
Signposting was good, subtle but enough to direct and steer you through the room from puzzle to puzzle.
Flow was great, with no natural sticking point and with the linearity of the game it was easy to keep track of progess throughout the room.
A really good game that plays with a good fluid gameplay, solid puzzles and story threaded throughout. An excellent game for an introduction to escape rooms!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Noshina was our game host, and she was wonderful. Friendly, accommodating and delivered hints with precision timing! Excellent hosting across all 3 games.

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 55 mins!

Website: https://www.lockedingames.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £42
3 Players £54
4 Players £68
5 Players £80
6 Players £96

The Great Escape – King Arthur’s Secret

The Great Escape – King Arthur’s Secret
Location: Leeds
Game Date: 21/02/2019
Team: Amy, Ian, Jodie & Kris

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I’m going to preface this review with a few notes about The Great Escape as they do things a little differently and for me, personally it doesn’t really work, but I know a couple people who like it.
1. The games are only 45 minutes long. (yet the prices are in-line with other companies in the area whose games are 60 minutes long)
2. You are each given the choice of a character, each character gives bonus “power-ups” to the team, so for instance… a torch, 5 mins extra time, a free code, HINTS. – this adds an element of strategy to the game, but is also fairly unneeded and laborious. (just give people a torch and hints….)
3. We were blindfolded to go into the room… Not really sure what this achieved, worth noting if this is something you have an issue with!

Theme:
Know this brave knight, man’s darkest hour is upon us. Following King Arthur’s death, the banner which held the United Kingdoms together has all but vanished.

Houses of the North, South, East and West battle in a constant struggle for power, causing a reckless destruction of everything we hold dear. The North is set to storm the capital, beginning what only can be imagined as centuries of needless war and devastation.

However, there is just one glimmer of hope. To find a new King of England and reunite the seven kingdoms under one true leader. Legends speak of secret chambers built into King Arthur’s Castle, riddled with mysteries and guarded by Merlin’s magic. It is said that when the time comes to pass, the secrets of King Arthur’s castle will only speak to the worthy, the one who has what it takes to become the King of England.

This is where your journey begins, brave knight. Here, deep in the heart of King Arthur’s castle…

Can you evade Merlin’s magic, unravel the mystery and unearth King Arthur’s secret?”

Theming was nice, and very detailed but the room was incredibly small, and cramped with just 4 of us in the space, which in turn led to it quite very hot & stuffy quite quickly.

The majority of the room’s space was taken up by an impressive round table, leaving the perimeter of the room to be traversed by us, the players. I will say this now… DO NOT EVER go into this room with more than 4 people. It is too small, and cramped.

The room was also dark, not for atmosphere, but I feel to increase difficulty. Couple this with the fact that the use of a torch is a “power up” and you have a recipe for disaster. We ended up with 1 torch between 4 of us and at times had to make do with tiny led candles to light up puzzles and padlocks.

From what I could see the room was decorated very well, with just enough detail to create immersion. But the dark and cramped conditions really hampered our enjoyment.

There is also and an element of crawling in this room, which I managed to really bang my back on. Some padding wouldn’t go amiss on the frame!

Game Play:
A fairly linear game that consisted of observation and code-breaking puzzles, with certain puzzle mechanics being used more than once to create different puzzles.
A bombardment of 4 digit locks (and those who know me, know I love locks) meant that puzzle variety was not great, with all puzzles leading to a 4 digit number.
The puzzles were all nicely logical and had good ah-ha moments.
The flow of the room was good, with there being a smooth transition from one puzzle to another and a good sense of progression throughout the room
The signposting was minimal but good, with there being enough to stop ambiguity and prevent logic leaps.
A good game for newbies, if you’re willing to take a plunge into the dark!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a walkie talkie (but ONLY if you have the power-up!)

Game Host:
Our game host was polite enough, however when faced with the choice of our “characters” we elected to choose a secondary torch, which was incredibly dim and needed new batteries, which we asked for to only be told “this is how the torch is” – it would have taken seconds to grab some new batteries and it really would have helped in the room.

Did we escape?
Yes, in 35 minutes

Website: https://thegreatescapegame.co.uk
Off Peak Price:
2 Players £46
3 Players £54
4 Players £68
5 Players £80
6 Players £90

Peak Price:
2 Players £52
3 Players £66
4 Players £80
5 Players £95
6 Players £105

Atherton Escape Rooms – Room 13

Atherton Escape Rooms – Room 13
Location: Atherton
Game Date: 21/02/2019
Team: Amy, Ian, Jodie & Kris

Theme:
“You wake in a room & have no idea how you got there! Looking around you see everything has a code… Using logical skills & evidence found, can you escape the count down clock? ROOM THIRTEEN, the room no hotel rents out!”

Room 13 was decorated quite minimally, with the regular things you’d find in a hotel room, but nothing more. There were a few pictures dotted about the walls, but for the main part it was very conservatively decorated.
Immersion was fairly low, but there were some nice touches for the “World War 2” setting of the room.

Game Play:
A linear room, that consisted mostly of observation and code-breaking puzzles. The puzzle content wasn’t heavy, (as reflected by our escape time below) and most of the puzzles were quite logical and straightforward. There was some nice searching & word play
There were some logic leaps that we luckily overcame, but I could see newbies getting quite stuck here and not making the connections.
Signposting was at a minimum, with there being just enough for us to work through the room.
The flow was OK, with our experienced team moving through the room seamlessly but this was a case when experience prevailed.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen upon request

Game Host:
Michaela was our host, and she was friendly, chatty and a good host.

Did we escape?
Yes, in 20 minutes.

Website: https://www.athertonescaperooms.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £36
3 Players £51
4 Players £64
5 Players £70

Breakout – OutBreak

Breakout – OutBreak
Location: Liverpool
Game Date: 12/02/2019
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“A virus has been steadily infecting the population of the United Kingdom, turning them into Zombies. You have not been infected and are on the run from the walking dead. You come across an abandoned shop thinking it would be the perfect place to stock up on water and food only to find out you’re trapped inside when a group of infected souls start banging on the door. You barricade the door and need to look for an alternate escape before the infected horde breaks down the door in 60 minutes!”

A well-decorated room that really looked like an abandoned shop, from the ransacked shelves to the bloodstained and graffitied walls, Breakout have really upped their game with the theming efforts creating an immersive set.
The story was good and continued through the room, with snippets of information delivered that set to develop the zombie-infested world even further.
The room was large, with enough space for the max team of 5, and lighting was atmospheric. It was dark, but we were provided with excellent torches to light the way.
Breakout have really been improving their games and the newer designs have been very good, we hope to see this continue into the future with all the branches new rooms!

Game Play:
A linear game that compromised of searching, observational, logic, math and word puzzles. There was a good mix of puzzles which will ensure that most people will solve something!
The puzzles were all on theme and interesting, with a couple being quite unique. All had great logic behind them and were perfectly solvable on their own.
The flow was good, with the only sticking points being at our own misgivings and we could tell at the time of play that this was the case, with a more observant team, the flow would be smoother. Once at the puzzles, the flow picked up. For us the game played quite sporadically with a burst of puzzle solving then moments of “what is next”
Signposting was as minimal as it could have been, with almost all the connections being left to the player to figure out, of course it was there, but at times it was so so subtle it could easily be missed (This is what makes it a harder game IMHO!)
All in all a fun little game, and definitely one of the better ones at Liverpool’s branch, perfectly pitched for inexperienced players looking to move up a level, yet interesting enough to keep enthusiasts engaged.
Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Danni was our game host and she was great, delivering well timed clues throughout the game.

Did we escape?
Yes, in 51 minutes!

Website: https://breakoutliverpool.com
Price:
Off Peak
2 Players £36
3 Players £45
4 Players £56
5 Players £60

Peak
2 Players £40
3 Players £51
4 Players £64
5 Players £75

Compendium – The Lab

Compendium – The Lab
Location: Bury
Game Date: 01/02/2019
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“You and your friends have been trusted by your uncle a retired medical professor to find and steal the Laboratory’s well-kept secret remedy needed to cure his wife Isabel. You have been you have been entrusted with all the information you need to gain entry to the lab but no idea how to find the antidote undetected and once inside you find yourselves trapped by the auto lock doors. Do you have what it takes to save a life and escape the lab with the antidote?”

The lab looked great (and the fact that Compendium have built the entire room themselves, in about 3 weeks is amazing) a real feeling of aged sterility and abandoned decay, but not years of it… You could have imagined this to have been a real working  Lab just a short time ago.
The themeing was 360, and nothing had been overlooked, there was enough to look at and digest without going overboard.
The space was large, and lighting was atmospheric and never impacted on game play at all.

Game Play:
An open game, with some nice linear moments at crucial times. Puzzles came in all styles.
Word, math, logic, skill, observation & physical. All bases were covered with plenty of variety and interest in the game.
Content heavy, with lots of puzzles to solve there was never a dull moment!
The centre piece of the game ran right around the room, and was a lot of fun to use, it was nice learning how to “use” it correctly which in turn made the subsequent uses easier, slicker and even more fun!
Each and every puzzle was perfectly logical, with excellent ah-ha moments (one stand out puzzle that came together slowly through the game was excellent, a real meta-puzzle which at the moment it came together was just wonderful)
The flow was excellent, and never stopped moving (seriously, if you’re not solving in this room, you’re doing it wrong) as the majority of the puzzles were quick, solvable fun puzzles which all aided in the bigger picture of that “centre piece”
Signposting was subtle, concise and well thought out, giving enough indication to solve, without handholding or too much steering.
A great room, which will work for any group size and will please most due to the varied and interesting content!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a voice over in the room.

Game Host:
Alex & Jennifer were our game hosts and were fantastic, friendly and welcoming. Alex delivered a great brief, and perfect clues throughout the game. They’re both enthusiasts themselves, and this shines through in the design of the game and they’re brilliant attitude and attentive hosting.

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 53 minutes

Website: https://compendiumbury.co.uk/
2 Players £40
3 Players £54
4 Players £70
5 Players £82.50
6 Players £90

Breakout – Madchester

Breakout – Madchester
Location: Manchester
Game Date: 22/01/2019
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“Zack is a passionate collector of anything Manchester related. As a group of thieves, you wondered in his bedroom and find yourselves trapped. You have 60 minutes to steal Zack’s valuable collectables and escape before he comes back. ”

A HUGE room, Zack really lucked out in his bedroom, as the space is massive and decorated very well, with bold brash murals adorning the walls and all the marks of a Manchester mad teen. The room was well lit.
The theme didn’t go on more than “Manchester” and there wasn’t a great deal of story delivered via the room, think of it a Manchester themed escape room and it hits the spot perfectly. There is plenty of detail in the set dressing, and decoration and a great soundtrack of (loosely) Manchester music that really captured that 1990s Britpop scene.
Not massively immersive, but a good, colourful and loving “Manchester” room!

Game Play:
An open game for the most part, that compromised of searching, observation, logic, maths & word puzzles.
The game, whilst an old, old game (I believe it’s 4 or so years old) was actually refreshing and interesting in its design and this keeps in current and unique.
The game centered around a bank of 25 or so pictures, with all puzzles leading to the deduction of which of these pictures lead to the exit code. This lead to a notion of our steady progress, and deducing those puzzles and eliminating pictures in succession was incredibly satisfying.
The puzzles themselves were logical, and typical “breakout” style. They all had lovely ah-ha moments and several times we were surprised by the execution of the puzzles.
The flow was good, due to the open nature of the room, there is a good amount to bounce around on and it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get burnt out on a specific puzzle.
Signposting was minimal (breakout definitely like you to make each and ever connection yourself) but it WAS there and was just enough to guide to each puzzle.
A room with plenty to do, it could be very overwhelming as a first game so I’d get a bit of experience before attempting Madchester!
Those with experience, take a small team and rise to the challenge!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen.

Game Host:
Hannah was our game host, and we had something in common, she’s from my hometown! Which of course made us instant friends! She gave us a good brief, She was friendly and enthusiastic, and delivered us excellent well-timed hints.

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 52 minutes

Website:
Price:
Monday 10am – Friday 5pm is off-peak. Friday 5pm – Sunday 10pm is peak time.

Off Peak
2 Players £36
3 Players £48
4 Players £60
5 Players £70

Peak
2 Players £40
3 Players £57
4 Players £72
5 Players £80

Escape Reality – Tortuga Pirates

Escape Reality – Tortuga Pirates
Location: Manchester
Game Date: 22/01/2018
Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
What a MASSIVE step up for Escape Reality. We have come to expect a barely decorated room with some semblance of theme and a few maglocked boxes on the walls.
Tortuga had gone all out, with great theming that captured the feel of a pirate ship very, very well, from starting in the brig to going out onto the deck and beyond, theming was kept at a level that encourages immersion and was very pretty too look at. The room was distinctly lacking a soundtrack and this was made even more obvious when it came on and off throughout our game. A good soundscape would have only served to elevate this room even more.

Game Play:
A linear game that consisted of a good variety of puzzles, from word, codebreaking and physicality to logic and searching.
The puzzles all had nice ah-ha moments but nothing outstanding, they were more often than not typical escape room fayre (and totally solvable with no clues)
The puzzles were all in theme and nicely constructed, with a good amount if interactivity within the room.
The signposting was subtle, and at some points completely lacking, which gave rise to what could become major sticking points throughout the room. That being said, when the game was in motion the flow was good, and fairly clear.
A game that enthusiasts will find light on puzzles, but it is obvious that this game is not designed with enthusiasts in mind. Oh the whole though, it’s an enjoyable game and the slight change in hinting (see below) has certainly improved the playability of this room.
A great game for novice players too.

Clue System:
Hand Held iPad, which you scan the code around the room to give you help on the puzzles. This isn’t the best method of hint delivery, but at least ER Manchester have taken away the time penalties and the scan codes were symbols, not numbers so you couldn’t tell which order to do the room in.

Game Host:
Jamie again was our game host and delivered a thorough brief.

Did we escape?
Yes, in about 39 minutes

Website: https://www.escapereality.com/escape-rooms-uk/manchester/
Price:
2 Players £44
3 Players £60
4 Players £72
5 Players £85
6 Players £96