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

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 *****