The Exit Visa Crisis – 11th Hour Escape Rooms – Chippenham

THEME: The members of a popular band have gone missing in mysterious circumstances. Can you solve the riddles behind their disappearance?

I did this room with my brother and his family whilst I was visiting them in Calne. They’d never done and escape room and my nieces are 11 and 13 so I was looking forward to introducing them. The owners were very welcoming and lovely to talk to when we arrived. They explained the game and off we went. The theme was good and a bit different to the normal themes you see. We started solving puzzles at a rapid pace due to my nieces getting really into it and going at a much faster pace than we normally do! The girls loved it and could do pretty much every puzzle. I didn’t get to do as much as I normally do as the others were really good at the puzzles and just got on with it. There were a lot of different types of puzzles, some pretty simple and some that made much more sense after finding some extra things to help us. We didn’t need any clues but these were delivered via a screen. Everyone really enjoyed this room, it was a bit different and I would say perfect for teenagers/children too.

ESCAPE TIME: 47.39

BEST BITS: Lots of different types of puzzles and the theme and room were very family friendly.

SUMMARY: A unique theme with some good puzzles and great for families and beginners.

LEVEL: Beginners

WEBSITE: http://www.11thhourescaperooms.co.uk/

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The Library – Escape Reading

THEME: Whilst exploring Reading you enter a library, then realise you are locked in. You have 60 minutes to escape!

Two of us did this room with some friends who’d never done any escaping before. The hosts were very welcoming and although the entrance is small it’s nice to see previous teams’ photos on the wall with escape times. The room was really good and had a big variety of puzzles in it. Some were obvious to us, but some less so and it really helped to have a group of four. We were given a few cryptic clues via a screen and they were all timed well, they made us think, rather than making anything more obvious. The final few puzzles were particularly challenging and the pressure was on as they took a while to complete. The maths teacher in me really liked one of the final puzzles (no actual maths involved though). We had some paper to write things down on which really helped, it would have been hard to remember everything we needed without it. We really enjoyed this room as it had a lot of good puzzles in and was really challenging. The theming was pretty good but the puzzles were the definite strength of this room.

ESCAPE TIME: 58.37

BEST BITS: The variety of puzzles and longer puzzles that were a bit more challenging than any we’d experienced before.

SUMMARY: A really good room with lots of detailed puzzles to get your teeth into. We’d recommend a bigger group, I’m not sure we would have escaped had there only been 2 or 3 of us.

LEVEL: Intermediate/advanced (or at least have an experienced player in your team)

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

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Cryptic – Escapologic – Nottingham

THEME: Explorer Crispin Sheppard hasn’t returned from his most recent adventure. You have his satchel and follow his clues to see if you can find the treasure he was hunting for.

This room is done in the dark but you have two lamps to keep you going throughout the adventure. The room has some great hiding places and fantastic puzzles in it. They are mostly very linear which works because you only have two torches so can’t be working on too much at a time. The theme of the room is fantastic. The dark element fits in well with the theme and all the puzzles were always related to the theme. This is something Escapologic do exceptionally well in every single room. The clue system is one I have never seen before, I don’t want to ruin the surprise but it is up to you how many clues you have, not the host, which is really good (although try not to miss any like I did!).

This room is great but to be honest, the lack of light really frustrated us. It essentially takes one of us out of the game (to an extent) as we always have to be with someone else, rather than searching on our own. It’s the third room we’ve done completely in the dark and we’ve realised these rooms aren’t for us. To us, the dark makes a room harder just for the sake of it, not because a puzzle is hard. It completely fits with the theme of this room though and I know a lot of people who have enjoyed it (it’s impossible not to enjoy any room at Escapologic).

ESCAPE TIME: We didn’t (the furthest from escaping we’ve ever been!)

BEST BITS: The clue system was great and if I hadn’t missed some of clues (which was totally my fault) we may have got closer to the end.

SUMMARY: Great if you like dark rooms and working together a lot of the time. It wasn’t for us but I’m glad we did it as there were some great puzzles in there that we’ve never seen before.

LEVEL: Intermediate

WEBSITE: http://www.escapologic.com

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Identify – Breakout – Manchester

THEME: Your friend has been murdered and you know who did it. Find some evidence in the culprit’s office and escape before he returns.

The two girls in our team did this with a family member and really enjoyed it. The host at Breakout was really friendly and good at giving clues at the right time, as always. It’s a good room and even with the two stars we wouldn’t say it’s basic, although we did overthink a few things. It involves lots of little puzzles which lead to a big puzzle which you have to solve before escaping. As is usually the case in Breakout rooms, it’s only slightly linear so there is pretty much always something for you all to be working on. We completely messed up the final puzzle though and after a lot of help from the host we escaped with seconds to spare. We totally should’ve seen how to do it and as it was our fifth room it was a good learning curve.

ESCAPE TIME: 59.43 (but with a lot of help!)

BEST BITS: The way the smaller puzzles throughout the game linked to the big puzzle at the end of the game was really well done.

SUMMARY: A great room for beginners and it’s not too easy for experienced players either. The puzzles are varied and good without being too hard.

LEVEL: Any

WEBSITE: http://www.breakoutmanchester.com

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Air Traffic Control – Trapped In – Bury

THEME: Terrorists have kidnapped airport traffic control staff and you have been sent in to help guide four planes in that only have 60 minutes worth of fuel left.

We played Air traffic Control after we’d played about 6 games but there were only two of us on this occasion. We were met by friendly staff who were happy to talk to us about the company and delivered the explanation of the room. It was a pretty straight forward room and we had seen most of the puzzles before, despite this, some of them were still challenging and it allowed us to keep a quick pace throughout the room and try to escape without asking for any clues. Clues were delivered via a screen on request or when they thought you needed it and we only got one when we hadn’t looked carefully enough at a particular hiding place. It was a good room and particularly suitable for beginners. There was enough for two of us to explore and do but it was quite linear and there was only one puzzle we had to work together on. The room, props and puzzles were all very relevant to the theme and it was a well put together room with some good puzzles.

ESCAPE TIME: 34.07

BEST BITS: Using a variety of information from various sources to work something out in the first section (I don’t want to say any more as it’d give it away!). That particular puzzle was really good and came together well. I haven’t seen anything quite like it since.

SUMMARY: A good room perfect for beginners as it has a range of relatively straight forward puzzles with some team work involved.

LEVEL: Beginner

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

Trapped in

Vacancy – Breakout – Manchester

THEME: You stop for the night at a hotel after a long journey. Then you find out the hotel was the scene of some recent murders. Your room is locked and you have 60 minutes to escape…

We had just introduced the third member of our now established team to the room ‘The Detective Office’ at Breakout Brazennose St. After the buzz and success of that room we wanted to do more! Vacancy was the only room that was still available so we made the short walk across the city centre to complete it. We were once again greeted by a friendly host who introduced the game and set us off. This is the first time we’d been in any sort of scary game and we loved it! The four stars Breakout give it are justified as some of the puzzles are tricky and being new to escape rooms we definitely needed the clues we got, which were delivered via the countdown screen. They were cryptic clues though which we definitely prefer as they just direct your thinking along the right lines, rather than spelling it out for you. This was our favourite room for a long time and is still up there at the top of our list. It combines different types of clues, observational, more complex problems and little tricks in the props in the room and we really enjoyed the variety. The puzzles were all relevant to the theme and slightly linear, but there was plenty for us all to do or search. When there was only one puzzle to be working on it was either completed quickly or needed all three of us to try it in a different way before we managed to solve it. Vacancy is a great game which was scary without being too scary and in our opinion scarier (and better) than Captured.

ESCAPE TIME: 48.37

BEST BITS: The scary element as it was enough to put on the pressure, but not scare us so much that we couldn’t concentrate. The hiding places were really good and the puzzles were in keeping with the theme and more challenging, which was a step we were ready for.

SUMMARY: A great room which is slightly scary and has some more challenging puzzles in it. It contained a good range of puzzles and hiding places. Well done Breakout (yet again!).

LEVEL: Intermediate

WEBSITE: http://www.breakoutmanchester.com

breakoutmanchester

Sawtopsy – Moviescape – Stockport

THEME: (The movie Saw). You find yourself locked in a bathroom. You have an hour to solve the puzzles to find out who the killer is.

This room was recommended by a friend and so we felt challenged to beat their time. On arrival the person who greeted us was friendly but must have been busy as there was no real conversation about how many rooms we’d done, we were just escorted to the waiting area. Normally on arrival we have a good conversation with hosts as we love to find out which rooms they’ve done and whether they recommend any, however this young man wasn’t particularly chatty. He came and got us, explained the theme and we entered the room and started working our way through puzzle. The puzzles are very linear and were mostly things we’d seen before but were quite challenging.

Unfortunately we just didn’t gel with this room. Due to the linear nature we often felt frustrated as there was nothing to do, or we got stuck and didn’t know what to do. We didn’t really have any clues (there was no clue system as such) and did eventually work things out. One thing we are beginning to dislike is videos of people using distorted voices as they are just so hard to understand! We just about understood this one but it added to our already increasing frustrations. We eventually managed to find the UV light and looking back, we knew exactly what to do with it and had pretty much nailed the clue we needed to use it for but we just couldn’t find the writing on the wall that we needed, as I searched the light in the torch got dimmer and dimmer and searching a wall with such a dim light was really annoying. They gave me a new torch but the same thing happened and none of us could find the key thing to solve the puzzle we had 90% done. To be honest, by this point we were really frustrated and fed up. Two clues had been posted under the door but we still couldn’t find it so they posted the code to us (which felt like a real admittance of defeat). We then carried on and got to the end of the game but just had no idea how to do the last puzzle. When it was explained to us we should’ve absolutely got it but I think we had just lost all motivation by that point. If we had gone through the room at our normal pace without the frustrations we would have escaped but unfortunately it was not our day! I don’t think there is anything wrong with this room, I just think it didn’t suit us and we had a bad game, and possibly a distracted host. When he came in at the end and checked the UV torches they worked fine (typically!) so maybe the battery was just low and having them on for a longer period of time made them go dimmer…who knows. He could tell we were frustrated and there was little conversation as we left (perhaps because we felt he wasn’t open to any on arrival).

Before you decide to do this game please read others reviews. I have a friend who has done it and enjoyed it and I think it just didn’t suit us. Other reviews I have read have been more positive so I think it was just one of those things. We won’t do more games here as a team but I personally will do some with a different group of people so I can see how they approach some of the things we have more trouble with (darkness, distorted voices etc!).

ESCAPE TIME: Sadly, we didn’t escape but our friend holds one of the best escape times with around 45 minutes.

BEST BITS: A big range of puzzles and as maths teachers we liked that some of them were mathematical.

SUMMARY: A frustrating room in our opinion and very linear, although other reviewers say they enjoyed it and other people we know say the hosts are usually great there.

LEVEL: Intermediate

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

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