Posted in Escapologic

Reactorvate – Escapologic Leicester

Game 31

The final game of our triple header visit to Escapologic Leicester was their game Reactorvate. Having heard so much about how people have enjoyed the game, I was very intrigued to see what people felt was so good about it.

THE STORY

Your Great Uncle was once a leading scientist known for developing state of the art nuclear technology. In central Europe, during the late 1970’s, one of his experimental reactors went into meltdown as soon as it was activated, causing one of the most catastrophic disasters in modern history.

The government blamed him for the event, stating that his reactors were not safe to begin with, he was imprisoned for life and remains locked up to this day.
After receiving a letter from prison you have reason to believe he was framed by a fellow scientist and that the original reactor was tampered with.

Your only option is to break into an abandoned power plant located in rural Russia, find a second inactive reactor and start it up. If it is fully functional then you may just have the evidence to free an innocent man. If your Great Uncle is lying, then you may need to run for your life!

THE GAMEPLAY

Imagine playing an escape room that doesn’t feel like an escape room but gives the satisfaction of an escape room and is 100% fun! That is Reactorvate! The gameplay here is pure, unadulterated fun and although not particularly difficult, it provides a huge amount of challenges for players, pretty much all of which are physical in nature.

The premise here is that you are turning back on a Nuclear reactor and, in essence, that is what each puzzle in this room is leading you towards doing. This is where it doesn’t feel like a traditional escape room. The puzzles are so well integrated into the game that you become fully immersed into the idea that you are genuinely turning it on in order to help save your uncle.

The game on the whole is linear with a small section opening out to completing a few things at the same time but in any order. It then comes together beautifully at the end to a fairly impressive finale.

Throughout the game we didn’t need a single clue so I can’t talk about the clue system as I don’t even know what it would be. I could say that this was because we are the best team ever and we are so good at escape rooms we like to give the GM a rest. The truth is, this game is so well signposted that completing it without a GM’s interaction is potentially fairly common place. It means that the game leaves you with a real sense of achievement and continues progress that really builds a momentum. There was one particularly tricky point that requires some logic and reasoning which could be a stumbling block for some teams but the cheer that came from members of our team when they completed it shows that it’s as enjoyable as it is tricky. There is also one set piece in the room that is key to reactivating the reactor and this is ALOT of fun. It requires teamwork and communication but it a magnificent puzzle that fits right in with them theme.

One word of warning though is that part of this game takes place in the dark. It’s not scary but you aren’t getting light until you provide it. If you have a team member that is of a nervous disposition, make sure they aren’t the one you send into a dark room. Leave them to guide. It harked back to the days of the Kid’s TV show Knightmare (those below the age of 30 might need to Google this), where one person directed you in a room where you can’t see. There was no nap sack or 8 bit graphics here though!

Gameplay here is one of our favourites out of all the games we’ve played. It’s also my favourite game at Escapologic’s Leicester venue.

DECOR

It couldn’t have looked more like a nuclear reactor if it tried. There are some many items to interact with and each of them has switches and buttons galore. Press them all! You might just need to. The decor here has a real industrial feel and it wouldn’t surprise me if Escapologic has been to a genuine nuclear reactor and ripped it out to use here, it looks that real. There is nothing here that feels out of place. Every prop is fitting with the theme and I think that pretty much everything that is in there has to be interacted with at some point. The time and thought that was taken to create the space has paid off ten fold. To call it beautifully created would be wrong because it’s not beautiful and that’s the point. It looks like a disused 1970s reactor just like your Uncle built.

OVERALL

This is my favourite of the 4 games at Escapologic Leicester. It doesn’t feel like an escape rooms but it has all the joys of one. If you only have time to play one game, this would be my top choice if you aren’t worried about a high level of difficulty. A must play.

Escaped: 35:21 with no clues.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Note: we didn’t not pay to play this game but it did not alter our review.

Posted in Escapologic

Operation Magnus – Escapologic Leicester

Game 30

Part 2 of our evening and the rest of our team arrives for our next game, Operation Magnus. It feels a bit of a milestone too as this is game 30. For this adventure, we are heading back in time to World War 2.

THE STORY

The year is 1942, World War 2 rages on. You are an elite spy deep undercover at the operations bunker of the infamous splinter cell group known as SPYKE. The group has reached an agreement with the mysterious Magnus, an aerospace engineer, and he has agreed to develop a new super weapon that could change the tides of war and leave devastation in its wake.

After months on a covert operation an assault on the base has left you free to finally gather the intel needed on the inner workings of this weapon and ascertain the technology for the allied forces.

Your only line of communication is a fellow agent who has been placed amongst SPYKE’s ranks for this very moment, they will be on hand to assist you throughout the mission but must do so without blowing their cover.

This could truly be the turning point of the war; The Allied forces, the Resistance and even the fate of the world, rests on your shoulders.

Godspeed agent.

THE GAMEPLAY

I don’t think Escapologic’s underground venue could have ever been more fitting than for Operation Magnus. This game feels very much like you are on a genuine mission to divert the missile heading for London and therefore feels less like an escape room and more like a genuine reality. Gameplay in the rooms flows beautifully and although it took us a little while to work out the initial starting point, once we did we found that the game suited us down to the ground. Once again, as we expect from Escapologic, puzzles has a very physical bent but there is a really nice mix of logic and observational puzzles too. Communication and teamwork is vital, particularly for one puzzle, but the room could still be done as a two. There are so many aha moments in the game and clever touches that bring a smile to your face. Puzzles are perfectly spread and every single one is in keeping with the game’s theme. It was a genuine joy to play and we felt privileged to have been able to participate in the experience.

Sometimes games can have a great theme and puzzles but the story gets lost. Not here. Every single element of the game links perfectly to the story and mission you are completing. There is very little in the way of red herrings and the signposting in the room is superb. It may just be that we clicked with the room but the flow was so good that we didn’t need a single clue from our GM, Alex.

Gameplay here isn’t particularly difficult but the puzzle level is enough that there will be points where you will have to pause and think or even have to take in a puzzle more than once to find it’s solution. None of the answer require any real leap of logic and the puzzles in the game are fair. I cannot emphasise enough just how much of a joy this game is to play. It’s 60 minutes of unadulterated fun. You know a good game when you can still feel the excitement you felt playing a few days later, while writing a review. The game play won’t just appeal to experienced players but would be a challenge for newbies too. You MUST play Operation Magnus.

DECOR

As I’ve already mentioned, Escapologic’s Leicester venue couldn’t be more perfect and, as usual, Escapologic have done a superb job at immersing you into a World War 2 environment. Every prop, detail, and puzzle couldn’t have been more authentic. In fact, so much of the room takes genuine artefacts from the era and re-purposes them to become part of the experience. And if they weren’t from the 1940s, Escapologic have made every attempt to make them look like they were. Forget being in Leicester in 2020, here, there is no question you’ve just returned to 1942!

OVERALL

Operation Magnus has certainly made it’s way into my top 10 escape rooms. The game offers a level of difficulty that doesn’t tax too much but replaces it with ladles of fun. There’s nothing like the feeling of escaping full of adrenaline from such a fun silled adventure. It’s one of the those rooms that makes you want to dive back into another game straight away and play more. Luckily for us, that exactly what we had planned!

Escaped: 35:35 with no clues.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Note: we didn’t not pay to play this game but it did not alter our review.

Posted in Escapologic

Chronos – Escapologic Leicester

Game 29

Escapologic is probably our favourite company in the UK for escape rooms. So much so, we decided, probably against our better judgement, to play three of their Leicester games back to back after a busy day at work. The first of our triple header was the hardest of the Leicester games, Chronos. We were playing this as a two as the rest of our team for the evening would join us later.

THE STORY

A version of the normally dormant Chronos virus has mutated, becoming deadly, resulting in the death of any living thing it comes into contact with. This pandemic has decimated the human populace and plunged modern society into chaos. After several failed attempts at finding a cure it is now time to activate the last resort.

The Powers That Govern, a mysterious secret society, have enlisted you to pilot a machine developed from the collective research of some of the most brilliant minds in history; Da Vinci, Tesla and Einstein. This machine is the final contingency, it will shift you through the voids of space and time… Your destination, Victorian London.

It is here that you will find patient zero, the only known fatality caused by Chronos up until it’s mutation in the present day. The research from this rare case was once lost to time but now you have the power to get it back and find a cure. Change the past, fix the present and give humanity a future.

THE GAMEPLAY

I have to say we entered Chronos with a little trepidation. This is billed as the hardest game in the Leicester venue. Tackling it as as a two and it being a nonlinear room, we feared the worst. The game takes place in two spaces. The first, a time machine that will take you back to Victorian London and a steampunk inspired lab. The time machine is a unique start to the game and once we had clued into what we needed to do to travel back in time, the game opened up to a bigger space and the lab itself. The beauty of the game is that everything in the main space is on offer at the same time. The downside is that it means you spend some time looking at everything and trying to piece together what is needed where. But, once we started we found that we began to make decent progress. Alex, our GM was very helpful and provided little nudges where we needed them. The clue systems in the room were either subtle or obvious. The use of lights encourages you without giving anything away but notes can also be sent to give more obvious hints.

The game itself is very physical but we have come to expect that from Escapologic and that is one of the reasons why they are our favourite escape room company in the UK. Having said that, Chronos is the most mentally challenging Escapologic games we have played. Although there are physical puzzles galore these link to more observational, logic and mental puzzles, all of which are really satisfying and created a number of aha moments. What struck us about the game was the limited number of overall puzzles but each one is multi step and takes time to complete. The room also reuses elements on multiple occasions but sometimes in different ways. Some may say that this goes against escape room etiquette but for us it was clear how we needed to use it each time and meant the game play was fair.

Chronos is hard. It requires you to link together several elements to gather all the information you need to collect the antidote. It requires you to think out loud and jot notes on the large blackboard and it will make you feel a bit thick at times but that is the beauty of the room. It’s a beautifully crafted game that will make you work hard for your escape, no question!

DECOR

We have come to expect nothing but the best from Escapologic rooms and Chronos is no different. The room is stunning and makes you genuinely feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The time machine has a really glorious feel to it. For a room that is used for such a small proportion of the game, it goes above and beyond its purpose. No expense has been spared in creating the larger set pieces in the room. The complicated workings of the piping would have taken an ages to design and develop and you can tell that one particularly physical puzzle would have been welded together with the knowledge that it would have caused some head scratching but it so satisfying to complete even if it’s not the quietest! What is so impressive about the decor is that it is filled with so much but without any of it feeling like it was a red herring. You admire it without taking too much time considering if its important because the game is signposted well enough for you to discount it.

OVERALL

Another Escapologic game that hits the spot. Frustrating at times but in a good way and harder enough for experienced escapees to have something to really sink their teeth into. Challenge yourself and take on the Chronos virus

Escaped: 43 minutes with 3 clues

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Note: we didn’t not pay to play this game but it did not alter our review.

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 *****