Escape Reality – Machina

Escape Reality – Machina. Game Date: 02/04/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“A team of high-tech scientists and programmers have assembled to perform ground breaking experiments in developing the first instance of true artificial intelligence known to man. You have just been accepted onto the team of scientists and have arrived at their headquarters. After a few days you realise that scientists are suddenly leaving and that these robots are showing scarily human-like emotions. You decide that you need to leave as quickly as possible as something peculiar is happening, but all of the doors have been locked trapping you and the rest of the team inside. Can you all escape before you reluctantly become a part of the experiment?”

A large room with a definite emphasis on technology with not a lock in sight! The room was large and spacious, easily accommodating the max number of players. There were some nice touches in the decoration, with some lovely big TV screens holding vital information adorning the walls. The room was quite dimly lit, but torches were provided for our use.
The room wasn’t too immersive, as the puzzles seemed layered on to the room, rather than integral to the story.

Game Play:
A linear game that focused on maths, logic and problem solving.
The maths based puzzled were derived more from something you’d see in a puzzle magazine rather than specifically designed for escape rooms, but they were logical and sound in their answers.
The other puzzles were interesting and engaging, but required some logic leaps to come to the conclusions.
The flow was good, it is a shame that Escape Reality use the iPad cluing system as this makes it a little to obvious as to where you’re heading to next within the game.
The game flowed nicely to its finale yet the final puzzle felt a little lackluster and simple compared to the previous puzzles in the room.

Clue System:
As I’ve said in my previous reviews, and I feel it needs repeating: “Escape Reality has a clue system that is unique to their franchise. You are given an iPad which includes your countdown timer, and also a QR code scanner. At various points in the game there are stickers next to each puzzle, these are numbered (so in themselves give you an indication on how you’re to approach the room) – if you are stuck on a puzzle you can scan the code, and get a solution (with a penalty of +5 minutes to your time) or you can press a hint button and the game host will come into the room to give you a hint (free of time penalties)
I didn’t like this, I don’t like self cluing my games at the best of times, and I dislike like getting penalties for needing a hint! (I feel it makes the player feel defeated using the codes for a hint!) – of course this might work really well for super competitive people, it’s just not my cup of tea!”
I still dislike this system, in fact I flat out refused to scan for a clue! The time penalty is ludicrous.

Game Host:
Lauren was our game host and she delivered a thorough briefing and good hints when we requested through the hint button.

Did we escape?
Yes, 52 minutes!

Website:  http://www.escapereality.com/leeds/
Price:
2 Players £44
3 Players £60
4 Players £72
5 Players £85
6 Players £96

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Lockdown Escape Oldham – A.W.O.L.

Lockdown Escape Oldham – A.W.O.L. Game Date 02/04/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“You are members of a group of highly trained members of the secret service, the Viper Unit. A member of your group has gone missing and the government believe he has gone rogue. You believe otherwise and discover he has been abducted by an unknown faction. Unfortunately, the government have ordered a drone strike on your partners location, to eliminate any threat. You have an hour to infiltrate the mystery enemy’s hideout, save your partner and escape before the building and surrounding area is destroyed.”

Theming was good, with it beginning before you’ve entered the room!
Once inside the room was furnished with the bare essentials for life in a bunker, with lots of camouflage gear, and lovely authentic props. A good soundtrack interspersed with audio adds to the immersion.
A very large space, you’d have no problem in holding the maximum number of players, with excellent lighting. A great backdrop for the fun puzzles and detailed story.

Game Play:
A linear game with open elements, with a great mix of puzzles. Logic, Observation, Maths, Decoding, Searching, Word. A real mix.
The puzzles were all wonderfully on theme with the story, using the space and decoration within the puzzles to great effect.
Each and every puzzle had good ah-ha moments and were perfectly logical and solvable (and were the type of puzzle where once we got a nudge we thought “Oh of COURSE” – that to me is a good sign that the logic is sound, we just didn’t spot it!)
The solutions were interesting and dynamic and really served to push the game forward. There was one set of puzzles where when all the parts came together it was a lovely puzzle to solve.
The flow was good, with clear signposting leading us to where we needed to be. Logical conclusions led to padlocks falling open at all opportunities!
A lovely game, with some unique and clever puzzles, some standard puzzles that will please everyone! The added interjections of story really helped push the game along and it’s easy to get lost in the game towards the finale of the room!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Adam and Darren were our game hosts, and it was lovely to see them again! Adam delivered our hints with expert timing, really giving us a chance to work on stuff ourselves before nudging us in the right direction.

Did we escape?
Yes, in 53 minutes!

Website:
Price:
2 Players £32
3 Players £42
4 Players £48
5 Players £50

 

Code To Exit – The Forger

Code To Exit – The Forger. Game Date: 29/03/2018. Team: Amy & Ian
forger

Theme:
“In the studio of the century’s best forger, you will find plenty of famous paintings. But only one of them is an original! This painting is not only very expensive but is also your only way to escape this room; it is the key and the single code to exit this room. You have 60 minutes to find the original and escape from the room! You’ll forget you’re even in Altrincham!”

A fairly small space, we were fine with 2 people and I suspect the room would be O.K. with 6 players, maybe a little tight. Lighting was bright and airy.
The room was decorated simply, as one would expect from a studio, easels, paintbrushes were about and paintings adorned the walls adding to the atmosphere and making up the puzzles.

Game Play:
A fairly linear game that compromised of logic, skill, word, maths, observation, sound. A real mix of puzzles and something for everybody to solve.
The puzzles were complimentary to an overarching need to find the real picture, and snippets…parts of the puzzles were delivered through the game. When you finally got all the parts to solve a puzzle the ah-ha moments were utterly delightful, logical and solvable.
All the puzzles were nicely in theme, and felt complimentary to the room itself, in a way that the puzzles really formed the room’s decor and there was plenty of interactivity within the room.
The flow was lovely, with good signposting and excellent, logical conclusions.
A delightful game that, whilst the puzzles were classic, the execution of them was charming.
A great game for small groups of enthusiasts, and newbies looking to take on a bit of a challenge.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Zoltan was our game host and he was very warm & welcoming. His hosting was exceptional, offering us nudges only when really needed them!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 46 minutes!

Website: https://www.codetoexit.com
Price:
2 Players £36
3 Players £51
4 Players £64
5 Players £75
6 Players £84

The Escape Rooms – Spy Mission

The Escape Rooms – Spy Mission.
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Theme:
“Your team works for a secret organization named “Knight Order”; a classified government agency specialized in international espionage and black operations. Recently an elite group in the agency known as “White Knights” has gone rogue and was deemed a threat to national security. Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to infiltrate White Knights’s safe house and uncover the conspiracy against your nation.”

A very plainly decorated room, with the bare minimum of theming and a heck of a lot of books. So many that, in the briefing for the room they say that you don’t have to move any of them (it would probably take a whole hour to move them there’s that many)
There wasn’t masses of immersion, but the room theming did improve in the later stages of the game.
A large space with good lighting, no torches needed in this room and plenty of space for the maximum team size.

Game Play:
A linear game that focused on mainly logic & observation puzzles. The puzzles were good, but felt that in some instances were flawed and “skippable” – we managed to entirely skip one puzzle by sheer luck, which didn’t hamper our game but kept us questioning as to WHY we hadn’t opened a certain type of lock & I managed to solve another puzzle in a certain, but not ideal way… I feel with a couple of tweaks these problems could be ironed out and the game could be made slicker.
There were some nice puzzles however which had decent ah-ha moments and satisfying conclusions. One puzzle was a little tedious, as it felt more repetitive than explorative.
The flow was good, and (aside from the skipped lock) we had no problems figuring out our next move and where to turn to next. Not the most overtly signposted game but there was enough to make the connections if you’re observant.
The game has an interesting ending, which was marred a little by the narration not being perfect, but we got the gist (ably delivered by Liam) and made our ultimate decision to escape & finish the game, a nice touch and one that was not unanimous!
A game that providing you don’t find the skips and flaws is quite enjoyable

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a hint button, then the host comes into the room to deliver the clue.

Game Host:
Liam and Anne were our hosts, and it was lovely to catch up with them again (after seeing them at ERIC!)

Did we escape?
Yes, in 48 minutes!

Website: http://www.theescaperoom.co.uk/Stoke/
Price:
2 Players £44
3 Players £60
4 Players £72
5 Players £80
6 Players £90

 

The Escape Room: Prison Break

The Escape Room: Prison Break. Game Date: 20/03/2018. Team: Amy, Ian & Michael

Prison-Break_Poster

Theme:
“You are locked in a maximum security prison and are awaiting your execution. You were framed by a serial killer and you are now facing charges for a murder. There were multiple attempts to escape from this prison but many people failed and most inmates were either killed or recaptured while others disappeared without a trace, giving hope to inmates that there are ways to escape! You have sixty minutes to escape from the premises and free yourself before the prison guards return.”

Another fairly dark room at the Escape Rooms (A lot of the brand’s rooms I’ve played have been dark) but fear not, after being handcuffed to each other, we were given bright torches.
This was the most theme and atmospheric of the rooms we played, and it created the feeling of being in a jail cell well, with the bare minimum of decoration, which did help some immersion. The room was large and I can imagine it being hilarious having 6 people all handcuffed together (if a little frustrating!)

Game Play:
A linear game that featured observation, logic and physical puzzles. The added “bonus” of being tied up together added to the difficulty and whilst it was quite fun for the first half of the game after 30 mins chained up it got a little bit tiresome.
The puzzles had nice ah-ha moments with some moments of ambiguity but more of a “there may be more than one solution” than anything more sinister.
The flow was good, with a clear indication in the earlier part of the game, later on there was a few of the same lock type, which is never normally a problem, but when you’re chained together it gets trickier!
A fun little game which delivers on theme puzzles and nice physical challenges.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a hint button, then the host comes into the room to deliver the clue.

Game Host:
Liam and Anne were our hosts, and it was lovely to catch up with them again (after seeing them at ERIC!)

Did we escape?
Yes, in 35 minutes!

Website: http://www.theescaperoom.co.uk/Stoke/
Price:
2 Players £44
3 Players £60
4 Players £72
5 Players £80
6 Players £90

 

The Escape Rooms – CSI: Homicide Unit

The Escape Rooms – CSI: Homicide. Game Date: 20/03/2018. Team: Amy, Ian & Michael

Crime-Scene-The-Homicide-Unit_Poster

Theme:
“You are the captain of Hong Kong’s elite team of police forensic evidence investigation experts. You and your team have been called into investigating a homicide case at an abandoned apartment, after the murderer responsible effectively covered his tracks to baffle the police force. However, after hearing that you are on the verge of exposing his identity; he has set out to trap and eliminate you completely. You and your team have 60 minutes to gather the evidence needed to expose the killer’s identity, while figuring out a way to escape from the brilliant murder’s fatal grasp, or suffer an unthinkable fate.”

Theming was good, if a little simple, with ambient (dark) lighting giving a creepiness to the room, but good bright torches were provided to each team member, so we didn’t struggle too much.
The space was large enough to accommodate 6 players.
There wasn’t masses of immersion, but the addition of a few nice scary moments and tense atmosphere held this room slightly above some of the others from the Escape brand we’ve played, it’s clear that the hosts love running this room!

Game Play:
A linear game that consisted of purely logical and observational puzzles (which certainly played to my strengths)
A lovely, logical game that had plenty of nice Ah-ha moments and little ambiguity. There were some really nice logical puzzles to get stuck into that had wonderful moments of realisation and clarity.
The flow was good, with good signposting, we always knew what to work on next and things led nicely from one puzzle to the next.
Whilst not the most ground breaking, or innovative game the classic puzzles will satisfy enthusiasts and give something for newer players to get their teeth into.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a hint button, then the host comes into the room to deliver the clue.

Game Host:
Liam and Anne were our hosts, and it was lovely to catch up with them again (after seeing them at ERIC!)

Did we escape?
Yes, in a near record time of 30 minutes!

Website: http://www.theescaperoom.co.uk/Stoke/
Price:
2 Players £44
3 Players £60
4 Players £72
5 Players £80
6 Players £90

 

 

The Escape Room – Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Case

The Escape Room – Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Case. Game Date: 20/03/2018. Team: Amy, Ian & Michael

Sherlock-Holmes-Scarlet-Case_Poster

Theme:
“Your team has been recruited by the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes for a mystery case. The owner of the Scarlet Diner, William Garnet was found dead in his own establishment, whether it is a homicide case or a suicide the truth remains unknown. However there are traces of clues and unexplainable evidences left behind the scene leading Sherlock Holmes to suspect that the death of the diner owner is a homicide case. Your team as the Baker Street Irregulars needs to uncover the mystery and bring justice to this town.”

Theming was good, and gave the feel of a diner, but seemed to get a little more sparse as the game went on. The space was plenty big enough for the maximum team size, and the lighting was good (save for near the end of the game where there seemed to be a lot of glare on everything)
The room wasn’t massively immersive, it was clear we were in a puzzle room but there were some puzzles that fitted nicely into the theme and setting.

Game Play:
A strictly linear game that used lots of classic puzzle tropes, and consisted mostly of logic and observational puzzles, there was a bit of overkill on the jigsaws though, this seemed like just a time killer.
The puzzles were in and of themselves all very well thought out with some minor logic leaps, but nothing that can’t be got over with some critical outside the box thinking. There were a couple of very nice puzzles that were a joy to solve, and one that was a real team effort, with each on of us inputting something into the solution of the puzzle.
The final puzzle was a tricky one, and it needed observation and memory from what we had solved and discovered before.
Ah-ha moments came nicely and were satisfying when a puzzle was solved.
The flow was good, most of the puzzles were well signposted and it was clear of what we needed to do at each stage.
Not a game for the faint-hearted, as you will need all your brainpower to escape, especially the tricky final puzzle!

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a hint button, then the host comes into the room to deliver the clue.

Game Host:
Liam and Anne were our hosts, and it was lovely to catch up with them again (after seeing them at ERIC!) – they were prompt coming into the room and excellent with the hints and nudges they delivered.

Did we escape?
Sort of.. we got to the last puzzle with about 5 minutes remaining but couldn’t crack it… so we had a few extra minutes and managed to crack it with lots of hints from Liam! I’m counting it as a win 😉

Website: http://www.theescaperoom.co.uk/Stoke/
Price:
2 Players £44
3 Players £60
4 Players £72
5 Players £80
6 Players £90

Exit The Room: Madness

Exit The Room: Madness. Game Date: 13/03/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

room-header-madness

Theme:
“The world famous professor recently showed the signs of losing his mind. He started secretly a new series of psychiatric tests as part of his mysterious project. The world is becoming more and more suspicious as not a single volunteer to his tests has returned the last few months. Your mission is to enter into his spooky laboratories and to find out what is he working on. Entering the labs you are in a possible death-trap and only have a mere 60 minutes to explore the secret and to prevent him from his crazy plan, which is most likely highly dangerous to mankind.”

A cleanly decorated room that felt quite disjointed from the story and theme given on the website. There was some theming, and a decent soundtrack. A few pictures adorned the walls that served as red herrings & puzzles.
The room was more than large enough for the maximum number of players (6) and had good lighting.

Game Play:
A linear game that was heavily maths based. Puzzles compromised of maths, symbol matching and observation…. and a jigsaw.
Some puzzles felt constricted in their logic and required logic leaps to come to the conclusion. Other puzzles, had they been executed in a better, clearer and more precise manner could have been really lovely, complex and solvable.
One puzzle I did enjoy, the pieces matched up clearly, logically and it was a fun puzzle to solve.
A few red herrings and misleading logic in this room meant that frustration could easily escalate and we spent a lot of time overcomplicating and creating our own puzzles (this impacted our game as there were no microphones in the room, so the game host could hear us going “off script”)
The heavy linearity in this room meant that the flow was sticky, and when there was no clue as what to do next, there was nowhere else to go to and recalibrate the mind to try to get over the sticky-ness.
One concern is with the maths in the room,  there was no calculator provided!
Yes we realise that we could use our phone, but we’re taught and asked by so many escape rooms to not use phones within the game it felt wrong to be using a phone as a calculator. Just provide players with one, it’s a little thing that will make the experience all the better.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via walkie talkie, generally only when asked for.

Game Host:
Beth was our game host, she was polite and delivered good clues when we needed them

Did we escape?
No. Despite spending at least 20 minutes on the the final puzzle.

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

Breakout Liverpool – Warped

Breakout Liverpool – Warped. Game Date 08/03/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

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Theme:
“Your genius friend has been working on a new project, promising that it will change the way you view the concept of time itself! She reveals she has made her own time machine and invites you to take it for a test run. However, when you show up, she’s nowhere to be seen and has left you instructions to help her recover the items she accidentally left scattered throughout history… Can you stop this butterfly effect before it destroys the future?”

The theming in Warped was quite novel! A fairly stark room that served as the time machine itself, stark in a way that worked and contrasted well with the multiple “entry points” to each time period! Almost as if each time period is a consolidated “window” into that time, very nicely done and a creative use of the space.
The room itself was large enough for 5 people, but each time period could become a little crowded. The time periods visited were fun, unique and well themed, each containing the key tropes and decoration to fit the period they represented.
Lighting was good throughout and an excellent soundtrack fitting to each time period really helped to lift the game and create an immersive atmosphere.

Game Play:
A linear game in visiting the time zones, which lead to several smaller open games.
An interesting concept and one that worked, after you have solved the puzzles and retrieved the items left behind, it’s clear to move on to the next section.
The puzzles varied from observation to logic, math, word and skill. A good mix with puzzles that will suit all brain types and abilities
The puzzles were all on theme and most of all FUN! All with excellent logic and nice ah-ha moments. The game was well signposted with no red-herrings or confusion as to which code went to which lock. A nice neat game delivered in bite-size chunks which keeps engagement and pace.
The flow was lovely, with fast paced puzzles leading to exciting conclusions and valid, well thought out answers.
All in all a very good game, but one I would take the minimum number of people you’re happy with… this game works exceptionally well as an enthusiasts 2 player game! You may find you’re stepping on each others toes a little bit should you take more players.

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen

Game Host:
Mike was our game host and was assisted by a girl who’s name I didn’t get (I’m sorry!) – they ran our game really well, leaving us to our own devices yet delivering clues when we truely needed them!

Did we escape?
Yes, in 44 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

Cryptology Nottingham – Cypherdyne v1.5

Cryptology Nottingham – Cypherdyne v1.5. Game Date 20/02/2018. Team: Amy & Ian

We had played the original Cypherdyne almost 18 months previously (here) and due to a building move, (to a fabulous new premises), we were invited by Mark at Cryptology to give Cypherdyne v1.5 a test run ahead of the grand opening. This review is of a game in testing, and whilst the game was 99% ready, there may have been some tweaks since opening.

So, would we be re-hired by Cypherdyne, or would we become obsolete… read on to find out!

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Theme:
“It was an offer you couldn’t refuse

You and your team have been selected to take part in a legendary Cypherdyne interview. A challenging and disarming hour long test that is rumoured to not just separate the wheat from the chaff but discard the chaff entirely.

Unsure what to expect, the promise of a great job in this dire economy is enough for you to face whatever challenge the CEO has set for you, your career may be about to explode with opportunity!

The bright lights are clinical, the desk pristine, but something is odd… this isn’t just an office.

Can you become part of Cypherdyne’s elite security team? Or will you bomb and be swept aside just before the next candidates arrive?”

A lovely, big and airy space that was just an office on first impressions, but developed to something more sinister as the game went on. A neatly decorated space, with nothing erroneous and nothing to be constiuted as red herrings.
The lighting was excellent, at no point it was too dark or dim to work effectively. The space is more than large enough to accomodate the max team size of 6.
There are some lovely hidden layers in the decor in the room, I reccomend you have a good look at the decor and see how many pop culture references you can spot! It’s a lot of fun and adds a sense of fun to the office theme!

Game Play:
A fairly open game that allows the team to split, but then brings them together at critical moments. Logic, knowledge and observation are the mainstays of this game (with some nice physical puzzles thrown in) – the game relies heavily on teamwork, especially in the later stages of the game, and this is to its success. The team work elements are very well thought out, and lend themselves well to the game play and ramp up the tension & excitement at the late stages of the game.
The puzzles were all perfectly logical, whilst not all were instantly obvious they made you work for the ah-ha moment and when you got there the parts came together and seamless led to lovely fun answers.
One stand out puzzle was something we had not seen before, and whilst it takes a little bit of time, is SO much fun and such a voyage of discovery that it almost comes as a relaxed moment in an otherwise busy and frantic game.
The flow was good, there was plenty to do and I can see a group of 6 never having one person stood around doing nothing, the open nature of the game means there is always something to be getting on with for ALL team members.
A great game which will appeal to all team sizes, and abilities. (Please be aware that this game is similar to the old version, v1.5 is a more open game, with a few more puzzles and tricks!)

Clue System:
Clues were delivered via a screen, which was themed to e-mail! Along with some delightful “you’ve got mail” sounds each time a clue was delivered.

Game Host:
Mark was our game host and was excellent, friendly and welcoming. He delivered us clues when we really needed them, but also left us to discover and come to conclusions on our own. Great gamehosting.

Did we escape?
Well… We completed all the puzzles, and were seconds away, BUT SOMEONE GOT SNIP HAPPY (and it wasn’t me) and we were… fired.
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Website: https://cryptologyrooms.co.uk/
Price:
2 Players £50 (£40 on weekdays)
3 Players £57
4 Players £70
5 Players £80
6 Players £90