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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.

Posted in Escapologic

The Gateway – Escapologic Leicester

Game 16

We love it when new rooms open near us and this time round we were lucky enough to take part in the testing process of the newest Escapologic room, The Gateway. This is the fourth room to be added to the Leicester venue and this time, it takes a supernatural turn.

THE STORY

Be careful what you wish for

Close the gateway to another world of evil.

Since the late 1970’s a house on a small suburban street in Leicester has remained abandoned. The previous tenants, a family of three, disappeared without a trace.

Rumours quickly spread around the area, had they run away? Been murdered? Or perhaps something even more sinister had taken place?

The authorities could find no evidence of any wrongdoing but officers investigating the disappearance claimed the house gave off a dark energy and that they could not stay in there for longer than an hour.

Little did they know that hidden somewhere in the house is a portal to another dimension. A dimension of pure evil.

Now, over 40 years later, the same thing has happened again. A team of paranormal investigators known as S.P.R.I.G. (Supernatural and Paranormal Research and Investigation Group) disappeared while looking into the property and trying to find a way to close the portal.

As new members of S.P.R.I.G. it is up to you and your team to enter the house and finish the job of the previous team.

Upon entering you are locked inside and now time is running out! Solve the puzzles and find the gateway before its guardian, the eerie entity known only as Mr. Moon, gets to you.

THE GAMEPLAY

Before I begin this review please take into consideration that we played this game during its testing phase. The game is still due to go through further development and some elements of it may change 

Just as you have come to expect from every single Escapologic room, the game play in here is fantastic. There are some really well thought out puzzles and every single thing you encounter within the game fits into its surroundings. The game takes place in the downstairs of a house and as you make your way through the various areas, its becomes more and more obvious that the games design has been created with this in mind. The puzzles you complete relate entirely with where you would find them inside the house. The game has a really nice mix of logic, observation and physical puzzles as you make your way through your linear journey. There is enough in the game to keep a group occupied and, at times, some of the puzzles require multiple people to complete each step that is needed all at the same time. Once again, Escapologic create an escape room that is void of padlocks. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any number or word combinations needed, they just use them in a totally different, clever and very satisfying way. There are some really great aha moments in the room and, at times, you activate something else in the house when you are in a different room and then have to find what it is that’s moved or revealed. This was a nice touch. 

The game takes place in a very eerie setting. It doesn’t take on the dark, sinister level of Butcher but it is pleasantly creepy. Pleasant isn’t often a word that you would describe with something creepy but its creepy in a very clever and befitting way. There are moments that will often startle and I found this a really enjoyable part of the game. Please note, that these scarier elements are still in development and having spoken to the team, there are certainly plans to raise these and make the experience a little more intense. It would certainly be a great addition, even if the atmosphere we experienced was already first rate. I’ve already mentioned the puzzles in the game. The ones we came across were fantastic but the game was slightly light in their number. Again, this was testing and there are plans to add more appropriately themed puzzles to make sure the players get as much fun and immersion in the room as they can. Don’t think for one moment that Escapologic aren’t going to give you as much time as they can in this room. The additional puzzle, I have no doubt, will also be just as good as the ones we experienced.

DECOR

Wow, wow and wow again. We genuinely felt like we had walked into the middle of a movie set. The level of theming here is just phenomenal. There has been no expense spared in making sure that the room look just like a 70s house and has been lain empty for 40 years. Everything in there fits so well. The way the room has been distressed really adds to that creepy feel and the way the room interacts with you to enhance the experience is remarkable. The game has several hidden elements that just add to the theme and game play. One set piece (and you will have to play it to find out which one) is one of the biggest transformations I have ever seen in a room. I’m a talking mouth open, jaw to the floor, they hid that so well, moment! The games decor and story also reminded us a little of something that could fit perfectly into Stranger Things if it was set in the UK. Although no reference is made to the TV series, it’s clear the TV series has had some influence on its design and story. It’s far enough away for it to be nowhere near comparable but close enough that if you are a fan of Stranger Things you can see how it has influenced. 

OVERALL

This room is already a real spectacle and this was testing. It’s only going to get better and better. When it finally opens at the end of October, this is a room that people are going to, quite rightly, be talking about. It is going to be more than worth travelling out of your way in order to play this. I cannot recommend enough just how good this is going to be! Get yourself booked in early!

Escaped: About 35 minutes but didn’t really time it as we were in the testing phase. Please don’t take this time as how long the average experience will last

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escapologic

Curio – Escapologic Nottingham

Game 15

Having survived the Butcher’s lair it was straight to our second game of the evening, Curio. Having heard it contains twists and turns, I was very much looking forward to finding out what made this game stand out from all the others. 

THE STORY

Be careful what you wish for

An Englishman’s home is his castle. Or his curio if he’s a treasure hunter who’s spent a lifetime collecting trinkets from all four corners of the globe. Alexander Curio was a true eccentric. A legendary explorer who left no stone unturned in his search for gems and gimcracks. To him, life was a gamble, with fate to be decided on a whim or a flip of a coin. A mysterious loner who loved to raise the stakes until they could be raised no higher.

Alexander’s life was one big puzzle. Only a select few ever got beyond his front door. You’re about to join their exclusive ranks. At first glance, Curio looks like the home of an explorer whose passion for chasing treasures has taken him from the Thames to Timbuktu. But the clue lies in the name. Secrets lie within her seemingly innocent walls and trinkets hold the key to untold riches. Fortune favours the brave but riches come at a price.

Who is the man behind the enigma? Was his death the result of some cruel, cosmic irony? And does he really want to share the treasures hidden away within the labyrinth he calls home?

This is no ordinary home. Alexander is anything but an ordinary man. Now he’s inviting you into his world. But once you enter, there’s no going back

THE GAMEPLAY

So here goes! How to write a review of a room without giving away any of the magic of the room and therefore spoiling its secrets for those who haven’t played it! 

Curio is unlike any other room I’ve played. It’s both compact and vast, linear yet complex and disorientates in the most pleasing of ways. The game plays out like a real adventure just as Alexander Curio intended and the way you interact with the room is nothing but amazing. Again, Escapologic have come up with a room that contains no combination locks and your actions simply cause a butterfly effect as you make your way through the game. It really is a joy to behold. Deemed to be Escapologic’s hardest game, Curio really does challenge you with a great mix of physical, logic and observation puzzles and, unlike so many linear games, requires every member of your team to be fully involved in solving the riddles you are presented with. With our team of 5, we found everyone had something to do and, although at times in a smaller space, there was enough room for us all. Be aware that this would be a tricky room for a smaller group as some puzzles require you to span across several spaces with a doorway in between. Teams of two could certainly find this a struggle but if they were able to make progress quickly it is more than manageable. Another word of warning to some that may suffer from motion sickness. The room can disorientate at times and if you suffer from motion sickness, there may be times when you feel a little queasy. It’ll pass soon enough and the pay off really is remarkable. The twist to this room is ingenious and so unique, unlike anything we’ve played.Some say this twist is a gimmick and doesn’t need it. I couldn’t disagree more and for me, makes this game stand out. Plaudits to Escapologic’s designers for something so ingenious and inventive. If I have a minor complaint to the room it is that sometimes we felt a little like we weren’t sure we had completed everything for us to make progress, it was a little like we’d done it by accident. It left us baffled a couple of times as to what exactly we had done in order to trigger something. It didn’t detract from the room at all,just confused our poor brains. 

The in room hints come via the radio in the style of a shipping forecast. It’s a very different system that works really well.

DECOR

Curio gives you the feeling of an eccentric man who has clearly been collecting for sometime. As soon as you walk into the room, there is an eclectic mix of many things and at first glance who knows what they are there for! The great thing about the room is that almost everything in it is interactive with the game in some way. There is nothing in there that could come across as a red herring or is superfluous to the game. The theming is to the highest levels and really does immerse you in the world they’ve created. Escapologic’s passion for escape rooms is very evident from the design of the game. It’s the first time I’ve played in a non-square style room but this is important for the overall game. The styling of the room is first rate and how they have used props and decor in order to keep you in the world of Alexander Curio and also make sure the props fit the puzzle are incredible. There are some very ingenious ways of using everyday items to solve puzzles. How they even thought they would work before building them is beyond me! 

OVERALL

This is such a unique room and going into it now little about it just makes it all the more special. Escapologic have created a fully immersive experience that is full of twists and turns. It is their hardest game to date so expect to spend some time having to really think about what comes next but it’s worth it for the pay off of what you get to experience. To really stand a chance of completing the room, you really need a minimum of three people.

Escaped: 48 minutes

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escapologic

Butcher – Escapologic Nottingham

Game 14

Escapologic Nottingham has escaped me for far too long and it was finally time to make the trip to what is regarded as one of the best escape room companies in the UK. We were off to play two games, Butcher and Curio. We decided to get the heart pumping first and took on The Butcher in his lair. 

THE STORY

Anna and Max have the kind of relationship everyone pretends to find annoying. But really, their friends are just a little bit jealous. Because you can see how much these two people are meant to be together. They just-fit. Anna is daring and inquisitive, Max is sensible. She encourages him to try new things. He stops her from doing stupid stuff.

USUALLY.

But not today. Maybe it’s the sunshine. Maybe it’s the wine. Because today, when Anna finds a randomly-unlocked shutter on a random side street, Max isn’t quick enough to persuade her not to go inside. His mind is on the picnic they’ve just had, the kisses they’ve shared. So what if Anna is intent on seeking out some new dark and gloomy pace to scare him with. It’s just Anna being Anna, right? This is why he loves her. It’s just an adventure. A dare. It’ll be OK.

And then the shutter bangs down, and everything is very far from OK.

THE GAMEPLAY

It’s fair to say that Butcher is designed to be a scare attraction first and escape room second. There are a number of puzzles in the game and these are in a very linear format. Searching is key here but the game makes good use of atmosphere to make it a little harder to make progress. If you are playing this game for the gameplay alone then you may leave a little disappointed as it’s the combination of atmosphere and puzzles that create the overall experience. The game has some great puzzle moments to get your teeth into but the appearance of the Butcher will hinder your progress. How many times he comes in and for how long seems to differ from group to group, I think it’s dependant on the speed you progress and how your team reacts to the Butcher. Because of this, the puzzles in this room aren’t overly complex and many are physical in nature, something that I particularly enjoyed. It was nice to find a room that contains no padlock combinations and really makes you interact with the environment in a way that feels in keeping with the rooms theme. 

Now, I’m a big fan of horror. I love the idea of being scared and I look forward to Halloween every year. Having heard so much about Butcher’s scare, people wetting themselves and the need for a safe word, I was definitely expecting the worst. I was prepared to be reduced to a small puddle of mess in the corner of the room. The truth was, sadly,  I didn’t find it scary. Sure, there were a few things that startled me and some of the darker areas of the room looked ominous but for much of the time I felt too safe. I didn’t fear the arrival of the Butcher. Part of this, I felt, was because we knew when the Butcher was coming. It’s clear from the GM briefing at the beginning (that did a great job of setting the scene by the way), that the Butcher would make his presence known. He did and when he entered the room, several of us felt no sense of peril or dread. Don’t get me wrong, three of our group cowered in a cupboard and refused to come out until he left but for the other two of us, we felt it was a distraction from solving the puzzles. In fact, we felt so little peril we actually came out to say hello to the Butcher and one member of the team continued the solve puzzles while he was in there. Now, this may have been because we didn’t approach the game in the right way and were too concentrated on escaping but I hoped that I was going to fear him and I didn’t. Having said all of this, the gameplay was still good and it was just as much fun watching others in the group hide in fear as it was to play.

DECOR

Escapologic have lucked out. The venue couldn’t have been more perfect even if they custom built it themselves. Housed in a building across from their main base, this place is creepy. Like really creepy! Any horror brand would give their right arm to have such a perfect location. The set design and decor is perfect. Every part of it is meticulously designed and this means that you do feel like you are in the lair of the Butcher. There are some really nice, unique way of interacting with some props. Some, that people will feel uncomfortable with doing, which adds to the fun. There are some nice little jump scares in the room too and these fit in nicely with the theme of the room. Not one item in their feels out of place. It all works so well and gives a real feel of a serial killer’s lair. If you want to see the perfect example of theming and decor then this is the room you need to visit.

OVERALL

This caused much discussion between our group. Did we feel that the room had enough of a fear factor to offset the fewer puzzles? For some of our group it was clear that the balance was right but I felt it light on content because the scares weren’t as much as I hoped. 

I want to re-iterate that this wasn’t a bad experience in the slightest and I’d recommend that anyone do it but, if you are a more hardcore horror fan who may have been to a number of scare attractions in the past, you may find the level of scare a little disappointing. Nevertheless, it has certainly made me want to get back to Escapologic and try out everything else they have to offer.

Escaped: 43 minutes

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

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 *****