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Welcome to Escape Reviewers – Fanatics about all things escape room!

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This is the launch of our new blog to review all the escape room companies and their rooms which we have tried over the past twelve months.  We are a group of three enthusiasts who love to be challenged in logically thinking and puzzle solving.  We have been escaping for around a year and have between us in excess of 120+ rooms.  The blog has been created to share our experiences of the companies and the rooms which we have tried.  The views on the blog are solely those of our group and in no way reflect other peoples views of any company or room.

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The Cabin in the Woods – Escape From the Room (Surrey)

THEME: Following some mysterious disappearances and supernatural sightings you are sent to investigate. You find yourself locked in a cabin in the woods and all is not as it first seems…

A video from Dr Alan Harris delivers the background story for this game. Dr Harris is also the person who supplied us with clues via an iPod throughout the game. The cabin is really well themed and on initial inspection looks innocent but once you start searching all sorts of puzzles can be found. As with the other room we did at this venue, the puzzles came thick and fast and were very varied (logic, physical, maths and observational). For us, this was the best part of these games, that there was always something each of us could do that led to quick successes and progression to the next problem, which really made you feel like you were getting somewhere. It was amazing how much we got done in the time we were in the room. It is also amazing that Nathen can design a room with so many puzzles in it. There is a linear aspect to the room but plenty to keep everyone busy. Some of the puzzles were particularly unique with a clever use pf props. This was another great room that we really enjoyed. We did the 60 minute option but would have loved to do the 90 minute game if we had enough time and didn’t have our young children with us. The 90 minute game would be ideal for enthusiasts, but the 60 minute game was challenging enough for any ability.

ESCAPE TIME: 47 minutes

BEST BIT: The cleve use of props and unique puzzles.

LEVEL: Any (enthusiasts in particular will enjoy the 90 minute game)

https://www.escapefromtheroom.co.uk/

 

escapefromtheroom

Old Maid Milly – Escape From the Room (Surrey)

THEME: Milly mysteriously died following years living as a recluse. Something is stopping Milly’s soul from resting in peace. Find the clues and unravel the mystery that will ultimately set you free.

Dr Alan Harris introduced us to the scenario through a video which fit well with the theme. The back story led us to a room in Old Maid Milly’s house to investigate the mysterious circumstances around her death. The game was slightly linear as some things had to be done before others but there was plenty of searching to do and some puzzles could be done at the same time so we were all kept busy throughout the game. There were loads of puzzles to do, some straight forward, some more tricky but with every puzzle you knew exactly what you were supposed to do and what you could use to help you. Nathen (the owner) was our host and he gave us clues as soon as we started to get stuck so the flow of the game was really good and there were lots of moments of success throughout. This room would appeal to all abilities as there are some simple puzzles as well as some very clever, slightly different ones. Even though it’s a small room a large group would be fine as there is so much to do. The puzzles were a mixture of observation, logic and maths, the variety was a real strength as it kept us busy but each puzzle was different to the last. Nathen is a great gamemaker and we massively enjoyed this game. The story behind the room is really good and there are some bonus puzzles to complete to find out the exact reasons for Old Maid Milly’s death and the circumstances she lived in.

Escape Time: 45 minutes

Best bits: The variety of puzzles and the logical, clear way they were all presented.

Level: Any (enthusiasts would be fine with 2 or 3 players).

http://www.escapefromtheroom.co.uk

 

escapefromtheroom

The thoughts of an escaping maths teacher…

So we haven’t managed to play an escape room for a while and it got me thinking about why we love them so much. As you may know our team consists of three maths teachers – is it a coincidence that we all love escape rooms? I don’t think so. Now, you may be reading thinking ‘I hated maths at school but I love escape rooms’ and all I can say to that is that you weren’t taught by one of us ;-). I loved maths because I could work through a problem, sometimes having to approach it in different ways before finding a successful strategy, and I felt a sense of satisfaction when I reached a solution. It’s the same in an escape room. You work through a problem (word/number/observation based), having to consider different approaches and feel a sense of satisfaction when you find the solution and as a result you progress through the room. If I’m in a room and haven’t felt success within the first 15 minutes, it’s likely I’ll start getting frustrated and following this, I nearly always struggle to fully engage with or truly enjoy the room. I think it’s the same in a maths lesson. If the students haven’t felt success in the first 15 minutes, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve switched off, their resilience has lowered and it would take a lot to re-engage them in the lesson. Amy from https://britofanescapehabit.wordpress.com/ often talks about logic leaps in her reviews and it’s the same in our lessons – structured variation is so important so that we don’t have any big logic leaps in the questions we present where the students could potentially ‘get lost’ or ‘can’t keep up’, what they’re doing shouldn’t be too abstract but should always ‘make sense’.  I stumbled upon a competition last week for Year 7 – 9 students (11 to 14 years old) to develop some maths based escape room puzzles for a national competition https://mathsmission.challenges.org/. I was gutted (and very surprised) that being a teacher on twitter but also being heavily involved in the escape room community that I hadn’t heard about it since its launch in November. It made me feel like we’ve missed something as when I read the details on the website there was no mention of anyone from the escape room community being involved (I really hope I’m mistaken about this). The escape room community is such a friendly community and some of the people working within it are just fantastic. Owning or working in an escape room needs a variety of skills including hands on DIY skills, the ability to solve any problem presented as quickly as possible as well as being great with customers. This is one of those jobs that 10 years ago didn’t exist, but now it does, what are we doing to promote it within schools? Could an apprenticeship be created? Where is the future of escape rooms headed and how can the creativity of our young people be harnessed to help bring it to the next level?

The world of maths teaching has never been more exciting with the likes of LaSalle, Craig Barton and Jo Morgan enhancing our pedagogy and resources more than ever before. So is the world of escape rooms, an upcoming industry that is very much in its infancy and will probably look a lot different in 10 years time. https://www.breakouteducation.co.uk/ are the only company at the moment to combine Maths and escape rooms but I’m saying why just maths? Can we move this industry forward to involve all sorts of subjects? And how can we get our young people excited about escape rooms. Owners, if you like the idea see if you can get involved in local schools – can you offer work experience? An apprenticeship? Maths teachers (or any teachers!) – if you haven’t played an escape room, go and play one, it’s not just about creating maths puzzles but so much more and if we all get together and get involved we have the potential to spark the interest of some young people and give them something to aim for which will help them develop so many skills that will be useful for them whatever career they go into. I really hope the cracking the code competition runs next year too. I know I will be entering a team and will try to pass on the love I have for escape rooms to some of the students I teach.

Quest for the Throne – Lakes Escapes

THEME: Years ago your younger brother concocted a plan to have you exiled from the kingdom so he could become king. Under your brothers reign the once prosperous land has declined and you must set things right. In the next 60 minutes you must find proof of your birth-right and escape undetected, before the guards return.

We had eaten before this game which always slows us down so we were a bit slow to start. We managed to find a few things but needed a clue to get us going. The puzzles were good and some required quite a lot of teamwork. Again the puzzles were challenging but some were unique which made them particularly enjoyable. The room was quite linear but not completely so were we all busy and could come together when we got stuck. The story was good and the theming was done well. Everything fitted within the story and the puzzles flowed well.

This was the third and final game we played at Lakes Escapes and we enjoyed all of them. Our favourite was Dr Frankenscraft but Baker Street and Quest had some lovely puzzles in them that we haven’t seen before so were a joy to complete. The hosts Carol and John are lovely and were happy to talk all things escape with us (as well as walk the dog while we went off to get some food). I’m not sure that Oscar (our dog) enjoyed escaping their rooms as much as he enjoys escaping through our front door but he was much happier with us for the day than at home! All the hosts love dogs and they are welcome at Lakes Escapes. What we really enjoyed about all their rooms is the fact you don’t have to ‘escape’ but complete a task, which we enjoyed. Every room had a unique puzzle and all are logical yet range in how challenging they are. Lakes Escape is a great company and is definitely worth a visit.

ESCAPE TIME: 44.30 minutes

BEST BIT: A couple of very good puzzles – one requiring bravery and one requiring team work!

SUMMARY: A well themed room that flows well.

LEVEL: Intermediate

WEBSITE: www.lakesescapes.co.uk 

 

Lakes escapes

Baker Street – Lakes Escapes

THEME: A gang of criminals known as the Baker Street Five have just had a meeting. After an altercation between two members one was shot and the other fled the scene. Can you follow the clues to identify the victim and the killer before he flees the country?

This game was quite different than the previous game we played at Lakes Escapes. Our host was one of the owners and delivered the back story well. The room had great theming and we were all able to get involved, find and solve things from the onset. There were some really good, clever puzzles in this room. We had some great aha moments when one member of the team saw what something meant – once you could see it, it was very clever! There was more to do in this game and the puzzles were definitely more challenging. It was slightly linear with enough to keep us all busy. We needed a couple of clues, which are requested by pressing a button, then delivered on the screen.

ESCAPE TIME: 45 minutes

BEST BIT: A solid escape room with some great puzzles, some of which used the props in particularly unique ways.

SUMMARY: A good room with some challenging puzzles.

LEVEL: Intermediate/advanced.

WEBSITE: www.lakesescapes.co.uk

 

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Dr Frankenscraft’s Monster – Lakes Escapes

THEME: Dr Frankenscraft desires to make human life through experimentation and electricity. Whilst Dr Frankenscraft is away, can you, his lab assistants, bring his monster to life before the angry villagers arrive to destroy all his hard work?

We took our 6 year old son to try out the rooms at Lakes Escapes. We were met by a lovely host who gave us the back story before we began. The room was very logical and the puzzles flowed well. It was vaguely linear but we all had something to be working on and were all kept busy. The puzzles were logical and we knew what we needed to do or find throughout. There were some unique puzzles in this room which we really liked. We got stuck on one puzzle towards the end but after thinking it through managed to get to the unusual ending in a good time. It is the only room we’ve ever done without a clue which placed us second on the leaderboard for points (3rd for time). This room is a solid escape room with some unusual, but clear, puzzles and we really enjoyed it!

ESCAPE TIME: 34.47

BEST BIT: The unique puzzle and ending were great to experience.

SUMMARY: A great room accessible to all ages. It’s clear and logical and would be ideal for beginners, however a place on the leaderboard is a great incentive for more experienced teams.

LEVEL: Beginner (or anyone who wants the challenge of getting a place on the leaderboard)

WEBSITE: www.lakesescapes.co.uk

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BOOK: The Curse of Old Maid Milly – Escape from the Room by Nathen Newark

THEME: Milly mysteriously died after living the life of a recluse. Help Dr Alan Harris investigate what is stopping her soul being able to rest in peace.

I’m a teacher and term time is very busy. I have lots of educational books that I don’t have chance to read so when we were offered an escape room book I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find time to read it. I gave it a go on a Friday evening when I normally have the energy to start watching a film and fall asleep within half an hour and I’ve got to say it was really easy to get into. I enjoy reading and didn’t really know what to expect from the book. I was pleasantly surprised that it was so easy to get stuck into. Everything was explained clearly and the book was set out really logically. The puzzles were good and although they seemed relatively easy they did make me think and it was nice to not have to look at the clues (I looked at three in total). It really is an escape room in a book, I can totally imagine the set that this room would have and how the puzzles would look in real life. The bit that I think is better than an actual escape room is that the story isn’t just delivered at the very beginning, but continues throughout the book with extra little instalments with each puzzle. I really enjoyed the story as well as the puzzles. Nathen is a talented creative writer and puzzle maker and I would recommend this book to anyone who loves escape rooms or a bit of logical thinking. We even managed to do a few puzzles whilst waiting for food in a restaurant, so more than one person can get involved if you want to read it and do the puzzles as a pair.

ESCAPE TIME: I completed it in 4 separate sessions of around and hour or two each.

BEST BIT: The excellent creative writing enabled me to visualise exactly what the room looked like.

SUMMARY: A great book with a fantastic story and brilliant puzzles pitched at just the right level to keep me hooked. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys escaping and will be buying it for family and friends for birthdays to show them what the escape room buzz is all about!

LEVEL: Any

WEBSITE: http://www.escapefromtheroom.co.uk