Posted in iLocked

The Mummy – iLocked

Game 34

It’s becoming more and more apparent that Nottingham is full of hidden gems. So many games, so little time! We decided, last minute to find ourselves a Friday night game and with Nottingham only an hour from home, it was the obvious place to look. We chose a company we had never been to before, iLocked. Located in the lower part of a University of Nottingham building, we were looking forward to seeing another companies take on the escape room experience.

THE STORY

Unlike his son, Tutankhamen,  Akhenaten believed that the sun god,  Aten was the greatest and holiest of all Gods and should be worshiped above all else. The other Gods were not happy about this. There is still much mystery surrounding the death of Akhenaten, as almost all records have been lost or destroyed. Some say he died of natural causes, whilst others say he was brought down by his people. Others even believe the Gods had a hand in his demise. However, one thing that is known is that many of his monuments and possessions were hidden away, some believe so as not to incur the wraith of the other Gods. But alas, it matters not as the ancient tomb of Akhenaten has never been found…

Explore a world untouched for thousands of years where the sands of time will dictate whether you will get to see another sunrise. Work through ancient clues to determine what is real and what will destroy you. Can you avoid the traps and stay alive long enough to escape?

THE GAMEPLAY

Upon entering iLocked, we were met with a very different look to most escape rooms. I felt I’d entered a Laser Quest from the 90s as the whole entrance area uses neon and UV. I must admit, it worried me that the decor in the room and its gameplay might use the same idea just as heavily but luckily, this wasn’t the case.

The Mummy is an entirely linear game. This is a strength as the rooms has ALOT to get through. If you were counting the number of puzzles per £ you’ve paid then you really are getting value for money. The website boasts 40+ riddles and with the different steps each puzzle contained, it’s about right. One of the things that iLocked are rightly proud of are the lack of padlocks in their games. In fact, in the Mummy there isn’t a single number puzzle. They are a really nice mix of logic, observation and physical puzzles. In fact, if you are looking for a more physical challenge then The Mummy is certainly the game for you. For its physicality, it is certainly up their with Escapologic, also in the same city.

We really found our groove in the game. Once we knew exactly where to go first we found that we made some fairly rapid progress. Things flowed nicely and we felt a real sense of adventure. The room doesn’t have any overall way of showing progress but as you make your way through parts of the game, you can see what you have left to do in order to make it to the next step. There are some really lovely puzzles in here and some that we haven’t seen before. One particularly tricky puzzle involving a series of poles can get a little frustrating if you rush but it was one that was very enjoyable to complete.

The only time we came across stumbling blocks were points where there may have needed to have some signposting. Although we understood the puzzle and it’s mechanics and had an answer, we became stumped a couple of times as to what we needed to actually do with it. On both of these occasions we needed to get some help from our GM, Sam. We aren’t the kind of players who hate asking for help but both of these moments could have been solved without clues if the signposting was a little better. At least one of them we wouldn’t have got in a month of Sundays without GM intervention.

Be aware that there are some parts of the game that do take place in smaller spaces. If you have anyone who is wary of being locked away in a small space, make sure they aren’t the ones to make their way into the final room. Also, make sure the person in the final room is good at describing. This was nearly our downfall!

In keeping with the theme of being explorers, the clue system is via walkie talkie and your GM is on hand the whole time, helping you along the way. Your GM is only running your game too which mean they are fully focused on what you are doing.

DECOR

The space really immerses you into the game and there has been a lot of thought into making sure the space matches the theme. The lack of padlocks or keypads means that the space feels even more authentic. Props are well in theme and varied and each puzzle in the room is designed to fit in with the game. There is a really nice moment mid game where the set design adds a little more peril. I won’t spoil what it is but when I realised it was happening, it certainly added tension and made me speed up! Each part of the temple we visited was perfectly themed and it’s clear that a huge amount of money has been spent making sure the game looks right. If anything, the build is too good. We were venturing into an old Egyptian tomb but it felt a little too new to be old. Something a bit less perfect may have tipped the theming over to perfection.

As the puzzles are all built into the game and everything is automated, it did mean that things would release automatically. The design of the game is such that an audio clue gives you the hint that you’ve activated something. On the whole, spring loaded doors worked to give a visual clue but there were a couple where the “springyness” may have gone and made it a little hard to see what had changed. Overall, very small issues.

OVERALL

If you want a bang for your buck then iLocked has probably got more puzzles per square foot than any other game in Nottingham. The game has enough to keep a pair of players very busy for the full hour but larger groups may find that there are a couple of times there isn’t enough for everyone to do at all times. Having experienced their first game, we would love to see how their games have developed with Deep Blue Sabotage and Alien. We were lucky enough to have been given a sneak peek inside Alien and if the game play is anything like the decor, it will be superb!

Escaped: 55 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 Cryptology

Daylight Robbery – Cryptology Nottingham

Game 23

Nottingham seems to be becoming the hub of excellent games. Several companies in the city are really pushing the envelope with the kind of games they are creating and one of those that are at the forefront to this is Cryptology. With venues in both Nottingham and Sheffield, the company seems to be going from strength to strength and now the Nottingham branch has a new game for players to savour, Daylight Robbery. We were lucky enough to be invited to play test the game in its latter stages.

THE STORY

The plan is simple: one hour, your elite team of criminals, and an impenetrable vault. Get in, steal what you can, and get out. Oh, and don’t forget the diamond else you’re dead, alright?

There will be lasers to dodge. There will be security systems to hack. And there will be vault doors to blow to itty pieces.

Almost everything you grab will be yours to keep and will help get you far away from the heat, but whatever you do, you must get the Daylight Diamond. Without the Diamond, the big boss won’t be happy and that means you won’t be living. There’s no point being dead millionaires.

This is the final score, a flawless heist, a curtain call. Are you ready to steal from right under their noses? This is unabashed Daylight Robbery.

THE GAMEPLAY

So, where do we begin with this game. First off, it’s set in an actual vault! Cryptology’s building was a Barclay’s bank and they kindly left the vault behind. Lucky enough for Cryptology, they had a use for that. The game play is split into two uneven halves, the prologue and the unashamed thriller that is the second half. The best way to describe the game is a little like a film. The first part of a movie is always the bit that sets up the main act. It teases the audience, grabs them by the balls and throws them into the action head first. This is exactly what Daylight Robbery does. The first part of the game is a little slower paced. It sets up the action and has enough in the room to keep a group going for the first 15-20 minutes. Everything supports the main action that you are going to encounter once your group has worked out how on Earth you get into that vault. The gameplay throughout is pure joy. There is one moment early on (which I won’t spoil) where one member of your group will be split from the others. Although, as I discovered later on, you can see what they are doing, the laughter that ensues when you can hear the noises makes for an entertaining few minutes.

The game heavily relies on technology, more so than any other game we have played to this point. There are times that reminded us on VX 2.0 by Trapp’d but this goes way beyond that! As you enter the game, you are given your swag bag (more on that later) and a suitcase full of a series of useful gadget. Each come into their own on more than one occasion during the game and the level of sophistication for some of them is beyond anything we’ve seen in an escape room before. One even results in a mini computer game experience!

The game has a great mix of puzzles although it heavily relies on the physical. Much of the game will require you to rush about like a mad man but this is part of the thrill and excitement. Add in the time pressure you are constantly reminded off and it adds up to some serious excitement!

The game also has a slightly different twist on the escape room. If you were to play it for the main objective only, you can get into the room and escape in around 20-25 minutes. The fun comes with the bits you get to do in between. Your swap bag is to collect as much of the contents hidden in the vault. Each is hidden behind some kind of puzzle which requires some kind of logic, maths, word or physical problem. Once collected, each item can be exchanged as a numerical value. The sooner you enter the vault, the more you can begin to collect. Knowing the Daylight Diamond will take you about 10 minutes to collect and with a constant reminder of time, you know exactly what time you have to collect everything you can. The problem is, there is more to collect that you will ever have time for and this, for me, makes the room re-playable. As a two, there were parts of the game we didn’t even touch because of the games large footprint. I reckon we could go back to the game and complete a totally different middle section and with only the beginning and end the same. There is a reliance on maths for a number of the puzzles in the centre of the game but if that frustrates you there is a simpler way of collecting what you need but I’m not going to give away that trick!

If I have to be picky, and this is my being REALLY picky, there is probably an overuse of one of the gadgets. If you have a larger group then each person could take it in turn to use it but as a two it did feel slightly repetitive (I told you it was picky!)

Overall, the game play and flow are outstanding. The sheer number and variation of puzzles is mindblowing and the sense of adventure is unreal. You genuinely feel like you have stepped into Ocean’s 11!

DECOR

IT’S A REAL VAULT! Although a huge amount of work and effort has had to go into the design and construction of the game there are so many elements that still exist from when it was a functioning vault. There is clearly some design genius behind this! No corner has been cut and no idea has been shoddily implemented. I cannot impress enough on just how good it looks and how everything fits perfectly within the game’s theme and story. The decor also ties in the clue system and visual guidance which fits in seamlessly with the game. The fact that I don’t have a huge amount to write about the decor should give you some sense of how flawless the design of this game is.

OVERALL

Cryptology should really be mentioned in the same breath as people such as Xtremescape, Escapologic and Lucardo due to the quality of what they’ve produced with Daylight Robbery yet, it’s a company that can often go below the radar of many people. They are at the top of their craft and the quality they are producing is superb. Out of the countless companies in Nottingham that offer games, they are easily in the top 2. You cannot make an escape getaway to Nottingham without at least on of their games making your list.

Escaped: 59:30 minutes with £802,607.42 worth of valuables

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escape Stations

Prometheus – Escape Stations

Game 22

Escape Stations is a brand new venture in the centre of Nottingham and we were lucky enough to be invited to play test their first ever game, Prometheus.

It is important to highlight here that we played a very early version of the game and things will certainly change before it opens to the public.

THE STORY

Inspired by the myths of Ancient Greece, our first game invites explorers to uncover the mysterious of a what appears to be a dormant temple, but are there secrets to uncover?
We transport you to Greece where a hotel development has been halted allowing you and your crack team access to what you believe to be a site of cultural significance.

Can you use your surroundings and skill to gain entrance to the mountainside? Will you face and conquer trials set by the God’s or even Zeus himself? Kudos awaits the brave.

THE GAMEPLAY

Being an old Greek taverna in the centre of Nottingham, it’s only fitting that Escape Stations first game was based around the Greek myth of Prometheus. The game play flows really nicely and is a linear/non linear game. There are a series of task you need to complete in order to make progress through the game. Each task has a linearity to it but overall can be completed in any order. Each of those sections comes together beautifully in order for the legend of Prometheus to come to life. We particularly enjoy games that have a physical element to them. Prometheus has these in abundance. In fact, a large proportion of the game had some physical aspect to solving a problem or puzzle. The game also brought a nice mix of logic and word puzzles. Maths puzzles were lacking but as they usually scramble my brain I am more than happy with that!

There are some really lovely teamwork elements in the game. At several points your group needs to be in more than one location in order to solve problems and this brought hilarity due to my inability to describe symbols very well. They’re all Greek to me!

We made good progress through the game and it is signposted well enough that those who have played a few rooms will be able to make progress without too much frustration. I think we only took a couple of clues and they were down to a couple of search fails by ourselves. There was one particular moment that I won’t spoil where one action creates multiple reactions, a nice twist. The game isn’t overly difficult and this is a good game from enthusiasts to get their teeth into but also a good entry level game for those who are new to escaping. If you are experienced and looking for a game to introduce others to without the fear of not escaping, this is a definite place to head to.

DECOR

Decor is a tricky one to write about as the owners were still tinkering with the design and some elements were missing. We fully expected this and it didn’t detract from the experience. There are too distinct themes here and the decor fits both. The Greek temple certainly gives you the feeling of being in somewhere from the past and when it is finished in its entirety, it will look fantastic. The building site on the first half of the game is also going to look great when the owners finish decorating it in the way they want to. It certainly immerses you into the world they want to create.

OVERALL

It’s great to see another new venture opening up in the Midlands and talking to Thomas, the owner, after we played it’s clear he has grand plans for the place. Prometheus is a great start for a first game and seeing the space he has to play with for other games, it’s certainly a company to keep an eye on. Nottingham is slowly becoming the city to visit for your escape weekends away.

Escaped: 42 minutes

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Please not we did not pay to play the game but this did not influence our review.