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Posted in Uncategorized

Hello and Welcome

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Hello and welcome to Breaking Out a Habit. I’ve been playing escape rooms for a little while now and although I am a little late to the game, I thought it was time I shared some of my thought on the games I’ve played.

I know what you are thinking “Here we go, someone else who wants to share their opinion to the word”. Yes, in essence, you are right but only because I want to share my enthusiasm for what I enjoy. This isn’t my first foray into the world of reviews. For the past ten years I have been owner and host of the Disneybrit Radio Show. A show that talks all things Disney in the UK, Paris and the USA. If that’s your sort of thing, go and give it a look.

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Posted in Unreal Room Escape

La Mina (The Mine) – Unreal Room Escape

Game 13

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to go on Honeymoon and play an escape room but while visiting Barcelona, there was no way that I could go without the chance to play one of the raved about games around, La Mina, the 90 minute game at Unreal Room Escape. This would be our first international game and we had no real idea of what to expect. We arrived at a backstreet of Barcelona, ominous of what we were going to find as soon as we pressed the doorbell to be let in…………..

THE STORY

For more than a hundred years, the St. Louis Mine was used as a source of mineral resources, until an unexpected explosion caused all its workers to be trapped inside. Since then many are those have speculated with all kinds of hypotheses about the event . The company Dunklerde has managed to reopen the Mine and has expressed its commitment to take over the recovery of all the victims who were trapped in the place. However, its real ends are not entirely clear, since according to expert voices, the Mine no longer has as many mineral resources as before. This situation has fuelled the old rumours of the existence of a strange and valuable source of minerals in the Mine, which is why some claim that the real objective of this company is to find them. Will the rumours be true? What mysteries does the St. Louis Mine hide?

THE GAMEPLAY

The sign next to the bell quite clearly tells you that you need to wait until all your group has arrived before ringing it. So, we followed the instructions and we waited, we waited a little more and then the door swung open and we were welcomed inside by a mine worker who was very hurried and very panicked about what was going on inside the mine. It very quickly became apparent that the game has already begun and that this company were big on theatrics. After our brief but useful introduction by our host (in excellent English too), we were left to begin our journey into the St Louis mine. Now, this is going to be a very difficult review to write because I don’t want to give away anything at all about what goes on inside the mine. What I can say is that this place will blow your mind. With any 90 minute game, you expect a good number of puzzles but the sheer number we encountered was unreal and not only that, the sheer amount of ground you cover to do so is insane. Many companie would be jealous of this floor space for multiple games let alone for one! This is one of the biggest rooms we’ve played and the use of space is incredible. If you are an inexperienced group of players, you need to bring a larger group to help with all the puzzles that need solving. We played as an experienced two and felt we really gelled with the game. We quickly picked up on a lot of clues and this resulted in us make fairly rapid progress. Our only stumbling blocks came when we were met with points where we had to do something that we’d never been asked to do in an escape room before. It’s a little bit like when you meet water in a room and you doubt yourself.

‘If I pour this in here…..’

There is at least one occasion in the room where you come across a similar situation. Here though, you can cause irreparable damage to the item. We were VERY hesitant about it but after a nudge from our host, it seemed we were right!

Searching is another very important part of the game and with such a vast area, you can become overwhelmed about where you need to look. Communication is key here. We found that one person picked up an item that we didn’t need until much later on but it took me a good 20 minute to realise they’d picked it up in the first place. The room has a great mix of normal and unique. Enough of the norm for you to get some quick wins but some really unique puzzles to get you thinking. There were three or four moments in the game where we came across something we hadn’t seen before. It shows the level of thought that has gone into the game play.

“But what about the language?” I hear you cry. There are a few puzzles in the game that do require reading but the great news is that they all have English translation. Even better, they make perfect sense. We didn’t find an issue with understanding any of the game at any point. All was perfectly understandable.

I’ve already mentioned the sheer size of the game and the space does mean that there are times where you will need to revisit areas. Without giving anything away, it also means that your host can manipulate an environment you’ve already visited. Imagine our surprise when we returned to a familiar location only to find that it has changed from when we were last there! Wow and aha moment abound in this room.

The games master has a really difficult job in this game. Not only are they are monitoring you over a vast area, there is a large number of effects they are involved in initiating, the alteration of the physical space as it plays out and also as your guide. Clues are given to you over a walkie talkie. We were given a nudge in the right direction a couple of times and asked for help once but other than that we were left to get on with the game. A sign of a really good host.

DECOR

This is potentially the best themed room we’ve ever been in. The level of theatrics used in the room is astounding and there were points where the set was so realistic that you couldn’t work out where you were going to go next. It was flawless. It didn’t take long for us to forget we were in a building in Barcelona. You genuinely feel like you are heading deeper and deeper into a mine. The effects used in the game immerse you further and further in. Then, there is the dirt. Yes, this is a really dirty mine. Don’t go in your Sunday best because you will come out dirty, they have really gone to those lengths! Puzzles in the game were perfectly themed to the environment. Much of them were built into the game to look like working mine equipment too. I cannot say enough about how much work has gone into the recreation of this place!

OVERALL

If you find yourself in Barcelona and itching to play a game, I can’t recommend this one enough. Although not in the centre of the city it is easy to get to using the local transportation system. It’s also conveniently located right next to a shopping centre for anyone who might not want to play with you. But one word of warning, you will get dirty and you will get hot, make sure to play at a time when you are either heading back to your hotel or you are getting changed afterwards. This has hit my number one all time favourite game. With new venues opening in the city soon and The Narcos on the same sight, I doubt this will be the last time we visit Unreal Escape Rooms.

Escaped: 75 minutes

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Hatton Escape Rooms

The Outfitters – Hatton Escape Rooms

Game 11

As part of our escape room double header, we played the second game to makes its move from Tulley’s, The Outfitters.

THE STORY

It’s 1926 here in Chicago, and depression is still rife. Jobs are few and far between and the Prohibition has been in force for six years now. Everyone still drinks, nothin’ has changed. But now the mob control the streets, the supply and the money. The influence of the Outfit is far reaching. Most of the cops are even under their control. Who can put them in the joint? You can, that’s who.

The Commissioner has put together a special task force of straight, trusted cops and you’re on the team. You’ve spent the last few months infiltrating their network and now tonight is the night to get the evidence you need to put them away forever. But it won’t be easy, your cover might be blown!

Do you have what it takes?

THE GAMEPLAY

There seems to be a similar format to the way that Hatton (Tulley’s) rooms work. You begin in the first room of the game for your intro and then you can begin to search as soon as the time begins. I previously mentioned in my Mutiny review that this can bring some issues with members of the group wanting to search before the intro video ends, here can be a similar issue. But, the advantage is that you can get straight on having already surveyed the land as soon as that timer starts. The game gives you some very quick wins and because of this, you feel like you are making immediate progress. The first section can be a little cramped for large groups and we found we did fall over each other as a 6 to begin with but the idea is to move out of the first area fairly swiftly into a much more expansive game. The game can be tackled by 2 people but as with other Tulley’s games, this could be a big ask. We’d recommend a minimum of 3 or 4 for this room.

The gameplay here is less frantic than Mutiny. There is more thinking to do in this space and it requires less physical activity. There is still a a lot to do and it takes place over a pretty vast area which resulted in us having to assign tasks to team members in different rooms while other worked on different puzzles. One of the nice elements to the game is that there is a need for searching that will result in collecting a number of items that really don’t come together until the end of the game. It’s very much a case of remembering where you put them all and a less organised group can easily lose one somewhere on the way.

Puzzles were varied. Some of them were your standard escape room faire but it also offered some alternatives to the norm. There was a really nice pub themed puzzle which required team members to work together. It was superbly themed and created a real moment of interaction between the team. There isn’t a single puzzle in the room that makes you think it’s there to bridge a gap, everything fits its surrounding and doesn’t make you question why it might be there.

As for a clue system, the room employs a voice over. Kudos to our host Karin who, not only allowed us to play the room trial and error, only helping when we really needed it, but she did it in a perfect Chicago gangster voice!

DECOR

No expensive has been spared on the design of this room (like we should be suprised!) I think the shop front at the start of the game has the plushest carpet I’ve ever seen in an escape room. Once the game expands, the attention to details is extraordinary. You feel that you’ve really stepped into 1920s Chicago. The sourcing of the props they have in here must have been a nightmare as every details was exact. I don’t want to give away too much detail but you can see the real passion for these rooms in the way that they have been built as well as the painstaking work that has gone into the recreation of the era.

OVERALL

Although maybe not as exciting to play as the venue’s other game Mutiny, this is still a very solid experience and ranks up there as one of the top games we have played. It’s puzzles, theme and decor marry together perfectly to create a seamless experience. There is no doubt that these guys are at the top of their game and are one of the companies to look up to in the industry.

Escaped: 38:27 minutes

DISCLAIMER: We did not pay to play this room but this in no way affects our opinion of the room.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Hatton Escape Rooms

Mutiny – Hatton Escape Rooms

Game 10

Having only been open a week, we were invited to take on both the Tulley’s rooms at Hatton Adventure World. First off for us was their pirate theme game, Mutiny.

THE STORY

It’s the year of our lord 1672, and you be right in the height o’ the golden age o’ piracy…

After years of sailin’ the high seas, you and your crew have succeeded in your fair share of ambushes, and as a result – your ship is teamin’ with bounty.

Yet you’re still suffering beneath the cruel wrath o’ Captain Starling – a notoriously bloodthirsty buccaneer, and your shipmates have decided you all shall take matters into your own hands. After all… you fought for the gold, so the gold is yours for the taking, aye?

Once the old seadog has retreated to his berth for the night, you make your move. Get in, get the treasure and get out. You won’t have long before he starts to stir – and Starling shows no mercy to ANY soul…

THE GAMEPLAY

Where do I begin? There is a lot to play here. The room is full of puzzles and there are a huge variety of them. This room is very physical and requires you to visit a pretty big space. Not only that, it requires you to visit each one more than once and at times, this meant having to remember which part of which room we still had to complete. There is a huge variety of puzzles in Mutiny and each of them will cater for at least one person in your group. Some of the puzzles in the game wouldn’t look out of place in the Crystal Maze and their co-operative style means really working together as a team to make progress. We found communication to be key. There are several multi step puzzles that require you to keep tabs on your team mates to make sure you’ve not been over something someone has already done and there are times where you really could end up a long way from each other. Now, the rooms website does state that it’s a room that can be done with a minimum of 2. While there is no doubt a fit and agile couple could complete this, there is a serious amount to get through for two people. I would suggest a minimum of 4 people would certainly make this room more feasible. We played as a 6 and I can say that I only really saw part of the room. In fact, I’d go as far to say that I could go back and play again, avoid the puzzles I solved this time and enjoy it just as much by completing something different. There is at least one puzzle in here that would certainly be easier with more than one pair of hands. Our clue system, a very friendly parrot named Polly, squawked a couple of times to keep us on track but we managed to complete the room with very few clues.

With regards to this review, the room is still being worked on and I’m sure there are things that will be tweaked over time. We did nearly reach the outcome of one vital puzzle quite early on only for Polly to tell us to leave it until later. I guess, this didn’t cause us an issues but putting these items early on in the game may result in this being a regular issue.

The quality and size of the puzzles were phenomenal. It meant that they felt pretty epic and gave a real sense of satisfaction. The beauty of the game is that you do feel a sense of achievement almost immediately. With some rooms you can be stood around for 5 minutes without really feeling you’ve got anywhere. Not here. In Mutiny your progress is almost immediate and there wasn’t a single point that we felt we were clueless in how to proceed. It did mean an element of self control though, something we lack a little of. Your intro briefing happens in the room itself. Our wonderful host, Anna, made it very clear to us that we couldn’t start until the intro video has stopped and the timer has appeared on the screen. This is so hard when you can see some much around you that you know you need to grab. It can mean that you don’t always concentrate on the story being told and means that the point of what you are doing gets lost a little.

DECOR

This is hands down the most stunning room we’ve ever played. It’s clear that no expense has been spared in its creation. Immersive doesn’t seem to do it justice. I forgotten how may times one of our group squealed in excitement or shouted ‘wow’ in amazement. You genuinely feel like you are in the world of pirates and not in a building in the middle of the Warwickshire countryside. Every inch of this room is themed and to the highest spec possible. Many rooms try to claim of “movie quality” set but this really is. Every prop is appropriate and ever puzzle is in keeping with its environment. It is going to take a lot to find a better themed pirate room in the UK in my opinion. Just wow!

OVERALL

Potentially our favourite game to date. The level of details, the gameplay and the puzzle content is the perfect marriage and creates a fully immersive, enjoyable environment. This is what as escape room should be about. Fun and engaging and a feeling of value for money even if you escape well under the time. It’ll provide a challenge for beginners but a really fun ride for enthusiasts. Today, we’ve been spoiled!

Escaped: 37 minutes

DISCLAIMER: We did not pay to play this room but this in no way affects our opinion of the room.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escape Books

The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book: The Adventure of the London Waterworks

NOT AN ESCAPE ROOM

There has been a real influx of escape style book on the market recently and new to the scene is the Sherlock Holmes book from Ammonite Press. I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to take a look at, what they hope, to be a serious of escape type books.

According to its official release:

The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book is the first in a unique new series of puzzle books, in which the reader is trapped in the pages and must find their way out by solving the puzzles that hold the key to their freedom. Visual clues are hidden among the intriguing illustrations; fiendish riddles, logic puzzles, and timed challenges unlock hidden doors and reveal the direction of travel; and mathematical problems provide the codes required to follow the correct path. There are maps and mazes to explore; references to the original Sherlock Holmes adventures to unravel; and a code-wheel that holds the key to unlocking the next page. Solve the puzzles correctly to escape. Get them wrong, and you will find yourself further and further along the path to your own demise. This ingenious new series is a spin on the current urban craze for “escape rooms.” Here, the book becomes the locked room, the pages become the path, and the reader can take on a challenge every bit as brain-teasing from the comfort of their own home. 25 full-colour illustrations

The Story

Just like any good Sherlock story, this pits Holmes and Watson against his arch enemy Moriarty. Based in the London Waterworks, Holmes has to solve a mystery behind the kidnap of the Governor, some strange disappearances and a link to the local Gail. The book is said to be written by Ormond Sacker. For those of you that know your Holmes, he was the original name suggested for Dr Watson.

Gameplay

The book is a mixture between a puzzle book, escape game and a choose your own adventure book. The unique element to this is that you don’t just turn the page to find out the answer. There are several times in the book we’re there are multiple choices and each will take you down an alternate path. Some will prolong your adventure, some will cut it short and mean you miss vital clues and some will send you right back to where you can from. The game also comes with a unique clue solving front cover. Here, you use a spinning dial on the cover to help solve clues that come with some of the puzzles. Some times these are one step and sometimes two but often you’ll find the puzzle is self contained to that section. There is only one meta puzzle in the book and it’s very clear from the start what information you need to collect to help with it. And this, I think is the book’s biggest downfall. Often, I found the book was a little over helpful. Rather than expecting you to solve the puzzle yourself, it gives you hints immediately to what needs to happen. There is a hints and solution section that might give further clues but the first handful of puzzles really don’t need it because they are over explained.

My initial thoughts of the book were mixed. Many of the earlier puzzles were pretty easy, standard fayre for any experienced escape fan but as it progressed you found a few more meaty puzzles in the middle. These definitely got my brain ticking over. This is a great book for a beginner escape enthusiast, if you are very experienced you may find the content is a little too simple for you. I competed the book in just over a day but spent quiet a number of hours on it.

The important cypher wheel is essential and can be used as part of the book or as a digital version

The book is not just puzzles but also makes attempts at creating a new Sherlock story and it does this successfully. Each puzzle fits not only with the story but also the theme of the book on the whole. There is a substantial amount of reading too so if your are looking for a large amount of puzzles but no story, head for something like Journal 29. As the story is fairly comprehensive, it’s a book to take in over a short period of time. There are some vital parts of the story that require you to retain information in Watson’s notebook. Coming back to it over a series of months may mean you confuse yourself when you return.

Verdict

Overall, this is a great attempt at an escape book and I hope it’s the start of a series. For real enthusiasts it’s a good book to keep your hand in but without too much to really test your metal. For anyone new or has taken a break from escape rooms, it’s a really great way to hone your skills. It certainly passed a good few hours on the beach this summer.

Overall *****

Posted in Trapp'd

VX 2.0 – Trapp’d Kettering

Game 9

It’s not often that you get the chance to try out an escape room that you know very little about. VX 2.0 was one of these occasions. Having only been open for 3 weeks, we were invited to go and try out their most advanced game to date and we certainly weren’t disappointed.

THE STORY

In 1950, on our home soil, a destructive chemical called Venomous Agent X (VX) was created to wipe out millions of lives and was soon to be used in wars from 1950 to 1988. Up until 1993, when the Chemical Weapons Convention banned the chemical for heinous activities. Although the horrific chemical managed to slip through the cracks of society…

It’s now 2040 and you and your covert team have been prepped and issued a mission of the utmost importance. A life or death assignment; to infiltrate the underground Russian warfare base run by Vadik Novikoff whom has recently launched a test strike on China using a chemical weapon thought to be VX. However our intelligence has informed us of the rumoured reproduction of the chemical known know only as VX 2.0 and is now the deadliest, most destructive chemical warfare weapon of all time! If the VX 2.0 is released it could spark a world war and obliterate countries in mere hours.

Its time to shut down the operation. this is the last chance for International peace so its down to you and your squad to retrieve VX 2.0 from the underground facility, and return it to the UK for disposal. You have 60 minutes until Vadik Novikoff returns with his troops and subverts the mission. Be quick and think fast, the fate of the world is in your hands…

THE GAMEPLAY

Having been welcomed and briefed by the wonderful Tilly we were thrown straight into the game. This room has a pretty decent footprint and, although linear, still has a real feel of adventure. Our host boasted that the room only contains one padlock. Strictly this is true although, we could quibble over another but on the whole the room has some really inventive ways in which to provide you with the information to progress through the game. Set in 2040, it’s clear the designers have considered some genuinely clever ways in which for you to interact with the room.

The room has a couple of clue systems in play. One is a unique experience to us where as another uses a tannoy system. The way it is used is totally in keeping with the theme of the room and only adds to the immersive experience. There is a good mix of puzzles in play in the room including physical, mental and skill. Again, some of these are very unique and offer something different to the things we’ve played before. There are a number of really inventive ideas which take a traditional puzzle idea and give it a new twist to make them feel very fresh. We played this game as a three and found there was enough in the room to keep us busy for the duration of the game. If there is a larger group, particularly enthusiasts, you might find there is a couple of occasions where people are left twiddling their thumbs. Even so, sharing out the puzzles will certainly give anyone a real sense of excitement but you might find the room feels a little light on puzzles. The other joy of this room is that every single puzzle fits with the theme and there was no point we felt we were doing something for the sake of doing it. There was one particular highlight that resulted in retrieving a couple of keys in a really inventive way. The number of objects may have been overkill and could probably have one less on either side but was a very fun and interactive way of solving a puzzle.

DECOR

Once you’ve passed the first room, there is a real sense of the future. Don’t get me wrong, the theme of the whole game is excellent and fits perfectly with the story. There is a really wonderful use of technology that is incorporated to add to the feel and is implemented in such a wonderful way. Being set in 2040, the technological element has to be evident and it really is. The beauty is that it isn’t just there for the sake of being there. The technology is intertwined beautifully to become part of the immersive atmosphere they have created. We couldn’t fault the level of detail that had been incorporated into the room and it certainly makes us want to explore more of what Trapp’d has to offer at Kettering as well as at its other sites too.

OVERALL

What a thoroughly wonderful experience is was at Trapp’d! It’s always great to find hidden gems that don’t get the limelight that some other companies do but Trapp’d has really made us want to return and try all of there other games. We cannot recommend them enough. To date, this has been one of our favourite games. If you are looking for an enjoyable but challenging experience, Trapp’d is the place for you! Escaped: 59:29

DISCLAIMER: We did not pay to play this room but this in no way affects our opinion of the room.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Game Over

Winter is Coming – Game Over Derby

Game 8

Having been lucky enough to win a Facebook competition, we went along to the Derby branch of Game Over to play their Game of Thrones themed room, Winter is Coming

THE STORY

The last great barrier keeping the undead hoards at bay has fallen. All seems lost. They do not sleep, eat, feel or die. Yes there may still be hope. My party of Maesters and i have found a hidden weapon of great power & magic. If only we could escape this black fortress to use it…

THE WELCOME

I don’t normally mention the welcome and intro to game but on this occasion I felt I should as it effects my overall review of the experience. We arrived on a very rainy afternoon. As we walked down the street towards the venue, we saw several others entering the building. We arrived and pressed the intercom but no answer. We tried again, but still no answer. We tried to call the number posted on the door but again no answer. We were fairly wet by this point. Luckily, a few members of our team were already in so we rang them and they got the host to open the door. We arrived to find that there were 3 games due to start at the same time as us. Our host (who I never did get the name of sorry!), tried to arrange us into groups, only to find out that none of the other hosts knew the intro to any of the games being played. This led to a first, an intro that resulted in us being told specifics about other rooms we weren’t playing. Sadly, it didn’t give the personal touch we have often come to recognise when visiting escape rooms.

THE GAMEPLAY

The games intro was delivered in the room by our host. They also very kindly provided us with cups of water outside the first room as it was the hottest room in the building. We could then nip in and out if we needed to get a drink. This was certainly welcome. Unusually, we could see the main room from our starting point but obviously had to work out just how to get in. We were given a free hint to begin with, which I guess is due to some difficulties from groups in the past. The game is very linear and although there are a few moments where a couple of things can be done in a slightly different order, it very much follows a pattern. If you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan, don’t worry. The game doesn’t need any specific GoT knowledge but there is one puzzle where GoT knowledge would mean you could complete the puzzle quicker. Most puzzles in the room are logic puzzles with a smattering of Maths thrown in. On the whole, the puzzles were very in keeping with the theme. My biggest complaint is that there weren’t that many of them. The puzzles that did exist used some really great technology and made finding the next step very interesting . Be aware, if you have issues with your knees, there is a good amount of crawling. Knee pads are provided if you so wish!

Hints came over a speaker and the way to ask for hints is fairy simple. We only asked for 3 hints during the game but at times, these were a long time coming from the point we had asked for them. This meant we had a couple of moments where we were stood around waiting for a hint, hindering our progress.

There were some really nice aha moments in the room and a few “what’s that noise?” moments when you knew you’d caused something to move but had to work out what. The game moved at a good pace and kept the 6 of us interested for the whole time. If anything, the finale was very anti climatic and left us with a bit of a “is that it?” kind of ending.

DECOR

This was certainly a strength for the room. The theme was superbly thought through and certainly immersed you in the world of GoT. All of the puzzles, minus one, fit perfectly with the theme. It’s clear that some elements of the game that need to be interacted with have been well loved. So much so that these have disintegrated in places and show the wood holding them up. There are also a few props that should have been attached to the wall but seem to come away with a light tug. It’s nothing a little bit of TLC wouldn’t fix but certainly isn’t the standard you hope for in an escape room. The giant Iron Throne was a great touch, if not underutilised.

OVERALL

At the end of the game, successful escapes are rewarded with a photo on the Iron Throne. We had a group photo together and when we asked if we could have one more, we were met with “you’ll have to be quick, I have to reset for another group”. Understandable, but with an escape time of 50:51, there was enough time to take a couple of pictures. It did taint the experience with customer service that didn’t seem to care too much. In order to understand how well we did, I had to ask our host. Often, when visiting a room, part of the game debrief is to explain how well you’ve done. Sadly, this is lacking here.

The game was a huge amount of fun to play as a Game of Thrones fan and meant that I often found myself smiling at the links to the TV series. The theme was great and, although it did have a story, it seemed a little tagged on as the game didn’t really discover the weapon of power and magic. For enthusiasts it can be done in a smaller group but beginners may need to bring a group of at least four to help cover the space. Overall a reasonable experience which could be improved so easily. If you have a list of games to play, visit those before considering Winter is Coming, unless you are a die hard GoT fan.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Customer Service*****

Overall *****

Posted in Escape Game

Journal 29

NOT AN ESCAPE ROOM

When I started to use this one, it soon became apparent that, although this isn’t an escape room it certainly appeals to the Escape Room crowd. Advertised as an “Interactive Book Game”, the idea it to solve the contents of the book in order to gain the keys needed to solve puzzles further into its pages.

According to its official release:

Journal 29 is a unique book game where you can solve riddles and puzzles and submit your answers online to get the keys and move forward.
To solve the riddles, you need to think out of the box.

You can write, draw, search, fold pages, combine different methods and try to get those riddles right.
Journal 29 is a 148 page book providing over 63 riddles you can solve.

As an Escape Room enthusiast you can imagine it peaked my interest so, I decided to grab myself a copy and see what it was all about

The Story

A top secret excavation did not bring any result for 28 weeks.
It was on the 29th week that something unexpected happened.
The team disappeared and the only thing that was left behind was their Journal.
You must solve the riddles in order to solve the mystery.

Gameplay

Gameplay is probably the wrong title for this section but the book does play a little like a game. It requires you to use some out of the box thinking in order to solve each puzzle. Then, once you have the answer you visit the web address provided with the puzzle and enter the answer. Get it correct and you receive a key. This key may come in useful later in the book. Sometimes it is a very straightforward solution and sometimes the logical leap expected of you by the author leaves you thinking “WTF?!”

If you do find yourself stuck, there is a forum online that allows you to gain hints to solve the puzzles and people have handily written step by step solutions to puzzles too. There are no hints or answers in the book itself. So, if you find yourself in a location with no internet connection and an unfathomable problem, it’s going to niggle away at you until you can get help. For a book, the puzzles actually vary in style and there are some really nice surprising way in which you need to use the Journal 29 website and elements of the book that you thought were there purely for decoration. Just like an escape room, a snazzy piece of design or decoration can turn out to be something very vital further down the line.

You will become addicted, you will want to throw it out a 30 Storey window or hope it’s taken away in a burglary at times, but for those who love puzzles and won’t get the chance to play an escape room for a while. This will certainly scratch an itch. If you are the kind of person who likes to keep your books pristine, steers very clear. Mine looks like it’s been through several world wars.

The book explains that you will only need a small handful of things to complete it

On the whole, what you needed was correct. I guess I was a little annoyed to find that the what you need section wasn’t entirely accurate, specifically for one puzzle. Knowing what I needed I didn’t have to hand at the time, I had no choice but to find out the answer. There was no way of solving it otherwise.

In addition to much of the content in the book, it does require you to find out a lot of things from Google. As Escape Room fans, we are used to the answers being readily available. Here, you will need to do a little research.

Finally, the story. I like how the author has tried to create a backstory to engage the player. The truth is, the story is pretty meaningless and although some of the puzzle designs fit in with some kind of experimental theme they really aren’t vital. It works as a puzzle book without the need for the contrived and unexplained backstory.

Verdict

On the whole this is a lot of fun. It’s well thought out and proves a challenge to many. The only downside is the puzzles are hide really do require a massive logical leap, the kind we would often complain about if it was found in an Escape Room. Regardless of this, it’s a sold game to keep you entertained.

Overall *****