Escape the Review


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Gespielt am: 2024/05/10 Teamgröße: 2 Benötigte Zeit: 53:00 Ergebnis: Entkommen!
Any visit to Clockwork Escapes is likely to leave you talking about the host. Becostumed and behatted, with an instant dry wit that could put Richard O’Brien to shame, with the presence and elocution of a circus ringmaster, he sets the tone of the venue and never fails to be memorable. I don’t actually know whether the company sometimes has other hosts; it seems likely that they do, but I struggle to imagine their rooms being run by someone else, or another person managing to bring an similar ex...
Gespielt am: 2024/05/01 Teamgröße: 2
Incognito opened not long after my first visit to Escape Nation, and I’ve been meaning to play it ever since, on the strength of their first room, so was delighted to finally get a chance.
This is a light hearted secret agent game, decorated in bright comic book colours with a distinctive art style. Your mission is to correctly identify the titular bad guy from his host of near-duplicates, something you can hopefully accomplish over the course of the game while also escaping.
In visuals and pl...
Gespielt am: 2024/04/27 Teamgröße: 3 Benötigte Zeit: 65:55 Ergebnis: Entkommen!
I’m very overdue a proper trip round the escape rooms of Devon and Cornwall, but in the meantime I’ll take whatever brief chances I get to try them. So on a fleeting visit to Plymouth I picked a room at random at Escapism and booked in.
In Legacy you’re trying to rob a tomb to loot the valuables hidden there - but it’s okay, because the deceased lady set the puzzles there as a challenge, with her jewels as reward to any sufficiently smart grave robbers. This is one of the rooms that Escapism ru...
Gespielt am: 2024/03/11 Teamgröße: 2 Ergebnis: Entkommen!
Of the UK’s scary games, Séance is one of the most highly rated by enthusiasts, so we were always going to include it on any visit to the area; it was pure coincidence that we found ourselves there on Halloween. The premise is classic supernatural horror, with a sickly girl and a deal with demonic powers that goes wrong.
The lovely and creepy decor immediately immersed us in the setting as soon as we entered. It’s designed to unnerve and keep you on your toes, and does a good job of it. Our hos...
Gespielt am: 2024/03/11 Teamgröße: 2 Benötigte Zeit: 52:01 Ergebnis: Entkommen!
It seems like Area 51.5 has been tantalisingly under construction ever since I first visited The Escaporium, many years back; it’s been through quite a catalogue of setbacks, but is finally open and receiving considerable acclaim. In it, you’re trying to get into the home of a UFO enthusiast who might just be hiding a live alien - who you’d better find before the alien fleet turns up.
The Escaporium never short-change players on puzzles, in either quantity or quality. As with their other rooms ...
Gespielt am: 2024/03/11 Teamgröße: 2 Benötigte Zeit: 42:35 Ergebnis: Entkommen!
There are vanishingly few occasions in which I’ve replayed an escape room, and I’m not sure this counts as one of them. This new version of Henry Fortune is part of Escape Quest’s Chapelgate Mysteries, an overarching time travel setting that now includes four different games. The general premise, some of the decor and a distinctive segment of the game are familiar from the original Henry Fortune; but all of the actual puzzles are new.
Each time I’ve visited Escape Quest they’ve made a further c...
Gespielt am: 2024/03/12 Teamgröße: 4 Benötigte Zeit: 26:52 Ergebnis: Entkommen!
My knowledge of classic 80s movies is clearly lacking, because it took me quite a few months after hearing of Outatime before I realised it’s inspired by Back To The Future.
As you’d expect from a time travel theme, this is a game that spans different settings. There are of course a great many nods to the movie, some subtle and some blatant, though I’d say that the majority of this game focuses on the movie’s setting more than on the movie’s plot. The premise here is that you’re lost in time a...
Gespielt am: 2024/03/11 Teamgröße: 2 Ergebnis: Entkommen!
When rating escape rooms I’m not exactly generous, and I’ve sometimes been asked before, by the owners of exceedingly good games, what persuades me to give a 5* score. My usual reply is that it needs something beyond just all-round excellence: some way in which it stands out that’s specific and distinctive. Loudini has that.
The premise is that you’re sneaking into the dressing room of the conjuror The Great Loudini, in search of the magician’s notebook and also the notebook he may have stolen ...
At time of writing there are two escape room companies in La Paz (and indeed in all of Bolivia). Atrapados is likely to be a longer journey from where most visiting tourists tends to stay, but if you want to play an escape room while you pass through, this is the one to go for.
We originally booked for the Titanic game, but on hearing we were experienced players the owner suggested we switch to their cabin murder mystery, to give us more of a challenge, despite the four player minimum on the ro...
This might be the cheapest escape room I’ve ever played. Sadly, the low price reflects a pretty low bar for the room design.
The game takes place in one large tent, which of course is dark. We did have a second torch after solving the first puzzle, and to the venue’s credit they replaced it promptly when I told them the battery was dead.
Most of the game time was taken up by two or three laborious puzzles; the first of these in particular was fiddly and fairly ambiguous. I’ve seen the same thi...
English-friendly games in Chile are a rarity, but Escapology is a franchise of a large US chain, and so set up slightly better for international players, with three of their rooms officially playable in English. In practice that meant that all written items in the game were in two languages, though everything else was in Spanish: welcome, briefing, story and hints. So there may be aspects of the plot that I didn’t catch, though I believe it’s based on the real-life disaster in 2010 where Chilean...
Having played Refugio, we impulsively asked if they had availability for Laboratorio, the other game available in English and the one they’d told us was a good option if we were first time players. They did, so after a short pause while they reset it to be in the right language, we gave it a go.
Visually it was a step down from Refugio, a clinical white room that embraced the science theme but came across as a bit plain. I can see why we were told it was a good choice for beginners, in that it’...
Mendoza is near the Andes, so I guess this theme is a natural fit for the location: stranded by bad weather, you seek refuge in a lodge that turns out to have dark secrets. Escape Room Mendoza is part of Argentina’s largest escape room chain, with two venues in this city alone, but the choice of game was made easier by them having only two in English. They told us that if we were beginners they'd recommend their lab game; so we booked the other.
The room gave a good impression: simple but atmos...
Generally in Argentina, the claim ‘available in English’ needs to be treated with a pinch of salt; I think this game at Sinapsis was the first one we found in the country that genuinely didn’t need any Spanish knowledge whatsoever.
It starts you off in an old fashioned classroom, and certainly feels like an old-fashioned style of escape room to begin with: laminated papers to give clues, didactic theming to the linear sequence of puzzles. These are implemented in a more technically sophisticate...
The games I’ve played so far in South America aren’t lacking in fun or creativity, but broadly speaking would struggle to stand out in the European market. El Bosque is an exception - this is a game I’d have no hesitation in recommending if it were in the UK or elsewhere.
The setting is the haunted forest of Aokigahara in Japan, into which you venture in search of a missing friend. Games with Japanese or Chinese settings tend to pack in the Oriental clichés and make it the centrepiece of the th...
El Otro Lado was the third room we played at Game House, and it’s based on the TV series Stranger Things. I’ve tried a few different escape rooms with that theme now, and it tends to work well - the setting provides some immediate distinctive elements to use for fans of the show, but also a combination of retro 80s nostalgia with creepier dark fantasy and/or high technology. That’s the case here, and made for a game that combined different styles of set and puzzle to good effect.
Retro doesn’t ...
Gespielt am: 2024/04/21 Teamgröße: 4
You’d think that there could be only so many puzzle ideas available in the familiar environment of a plane cabin, but perhaps because it’s a relatively rare setting, each new take on the theme seems to manage a new twist. In this case the freshest and coolest section for me was also the reason this is a three player minimum room.
I’ve seen airplane games that go to considerable lengths to simulate the setting, but while this one is lower tech than that it succeeds in placing you in a convincing...
There is a troll puzzle in this game, and I bit it hard, losing a full ten minutes even while saying out loud, I’m pretty sure we don’t actually need to solve this. Eventually I was reluctantly dragged off it, and even after we completed the room I wanted to go back because I was pretty sure I just needed another 30 seconds to finish solving it. Whether that’s good, bad or ugly game design I’ll leave to your judgement.
That aside, El Narco is a classic-style sequence of puzzles considerably lif...
There are plenty of escape venues in Buenos Aires, but this branch of Eureka was just down the road from where we were staying, so we couldn’t not try one there. Their Facebook page suggested that El Atraco (The Robbery) was the newest of the ones available for two players, so that’s the one we chose.
From a large and atmospheric entrance hall, we were led into a small white room. There is of course more to the game, but the style here is to present you with a limited amount of space, with a li...
Having now played nine rooms in Brazil and Argentina, I’ve come to expect a simpler level of decor than what’s currently typical in Europe. So it was a pleasant surprise to find ourselves plunged into a convincingly high tech, atmospheric rendition of a nuclear plant. This is a game of buttons and wires and pipes, set amidst control panels and steel walls.
As seems standard in Argentina, take the “available in English” label with a pinch of salt - there was one step with Spanish audio that was...
The second room at Escape Obligado, La Caza had only been open a couple of weeks when we played it, and we heard about it via the Argentina enthusiasts FB group. It was not available in English, but we booked into it anyhow, hoping that my meagre Spanish ability would be enough to get us through. And for the most part it did, with a bit of effort, partly because our host managed to provide some hints in English and partly because few puzzles involved written language. (There was one that did, wh...
Squeezing in a quick extra game before we left São Paulo, we booked into the hardest room at 60 Minutos at short notice. Most heist games involve breaking into a vault; in this one you’re trying to break out, though preferably still with the money.
Only a minority of Brazilian rooms are playable in English, and those that are may not be completely translated. This one had a couple of bits of Portuguese that gave instructions for handling locks and so were inessential, plus one puzzle where the ...
After not having been hugely impressed by this venue’s pirate game, it was a relief to find that the second half of the double bill we’d booked was a step up. The Magic Amulet is inspired by Harry Potter, with plenty of pretty blatant references to the franchise; it interprets the setting in a way that completely avoids padlock mechanisms.
There was an early logic puzzle that relied on a little trial and error to get all the items positioned correctly, but otherwise I had few criticisms to make...
Before anything else I have to give props to our host, who threw himself into his pirate character with unmatched energy, stomping and leering his way through his intro with gusto.
Escape Hotel is one of São Paulo’s larger companies, and all the games are available in English (and some for remote avatar play). They’re also considered one of the more advanced companies for set design and technical effects, though that was less visible in this room than in the other one we played here. What that ...
With this game we walked into the venue and asked if they had any immediate availability, preferably for a game playable in English. They did have a room in English, in the sense that they had English versions of the pre-recorded hints and the content itself was language-independent. None of the staff spoke English, and we got through the rules briefing mainly with the help of a helpful multilingual person who attended to be waiting for her daughter to come out of a different room.
Ironically, ...
Ninja Escape’s second room sticks with the Asian motif but shifts to a more modern and urban setting, replacing ninjas with yakuza. The premise is that you’re in the wrong tattoo parlour at the wrong time, and need to quickly gather evidence before the police arrive to convince them that you’re not the murderer.
This is an escape room not an Agatha Christie whodunnit experience; you don’t actually need to solve a murder as such, your aim is to solve the puzzles that will give you evidence items...
Ninja Escape have a theme and they’ve run with it: not only are both their games Asian themed, the lobby and waiting room are packed with Oriental knick knacks, with anime songs playing on loop on a screen.
Mission Ninja was their first room, and likewise indulges in all the tropes of the theme. The setting is a traditional izakaya tavern, and you’re searching for an Elixir of Wisdom that will grant you ownership of the establishment. (At least, I think that was the story; our host read ...
The theming here suggests a Dan Brown style plot perhaps involving the Illuminati or something, but it’s actually more original than that: following the death of the Pope, the holy sceptre that’s a symbol of his office has gone missing.
Holy Secret is unusual for having a live actor as a core part of the game, without any fear elements. The actor is your guide to the monastery that you’re infiltrating, and your first task is to find a way to neutralise him as an obstacle.
Having someone in th...
There are currently three escape venues in Heraklion, with five or six games each; and almost all of them have themes that are somewhere in the scale between creepy and full on horror. If that doesn’t appeal, Upside Down is one of the very few in the city that’s described as family friendly. It’s also recommended for four players, and that’s because it involves separation; if you play as a two, as we did, be warned that you’ll each be solving on your own for a chunk of the game.
Stranger Things...
The website currently offers three online point-and-click escape rooms, of which Escape The Tomb is labelled as the middle difficulty, and in which you need to solve puzzles to get out of a pyramid.
The art is simple, clean computer graphics, the story is tissue-thin. The puzzles make heavy use of familiar ciphers regardless of whether they match the setting, and enthusiasts will likely breeze through the content in considerably less than the guideline time.
It’s a surprisingly sophisticated p...
UK enthusiasts may have played a room at Can You Escape Malta remotely, since they were one of the more active and well-regarded providers of avatar games during the pandemic. There are only three escape companies currently open in Malta to my knowledge, and the good reviews of their avatar experiences made me keen to visit in real life.
I’d describe Forbidden Castle as a quality example of the classic style of escape room. That’s not because of the types of technology used in it (there are qui...
The word ‘Cannibal’ is one I associate more with grim serial killer rooms, but this game is about as cheerful and upbeat as any game I remember that involves severed body parts. The cannibals here are tribesmen on an obscure island; don’t expect nuanced and sympathetic portrayals of indigenous culture, this is the Indiana Jones style of archaeology.
The bright, energetic action-movie feel encompasses the story, the style of decor, and the puzzles. Right from the start you’re thrown into the sto...
A wise piece of advice for escape room designers is that technology for its own sake adds little to a game, but it expands the range of possibilities for what you can create. Quest Factory illustrate that principle by using technology to do several things I haven’t seen elsewhere, creating not just the illusion of magic but also beauty and drama.
In The Fléau de Druid, or The Druid’s Fleas Bane, you’re delving into a site that might contain secrets from an old religion, on the ...
If you follow the TERPECA rankings (and you should), then you’re more likely to have come across Magician of Paris as one half of ‘The Full Experience’; Deep Inside offer it in combination with their second game as a double-bill. We chose to play just Magician because our group didn’t fancy the horror theme of the second game, and I’d heard that the connections between the two games are actually a bit tenuous.
What links them is the “City of Martyrs” setting, a fictional subterranean city benea...
A warning up front: even more than most escape rooms, this game may benefit from playing it with zero foreknowledge - so if you haven’t played it already, consider whether you want to read on at this point.
As escape room premises go, this one is hard to beat: you’re being recruited as agents to manage the world of stories and fairy tales. Once we’d weaved through the street market taking place outside and persuaded the host to let us in, we were immediately in a place of mysteries and surprise...
I try hard to rate games in an objective way, to the limited extent that’s possible with something as inherently subjective as enjoyment of escape rooms. By which I mean, I attempt to put less weight on considerations that are specific to me or that particular day. Sometimes I happen to enjoy a game less, or do badly at it, for reasons that really aren’t the fault of the game or how it was run, in which case I don’t want to penalise it unfairly. With Far West, the experience left me frustrated a...
The premise of The Examination is unusual for Lock Academy - because this is your graduation exam. The test is overseen by an AI assistant, and assesses a variety of skills that have a suspicious degree of overlap with the skills needed to beat an escape room. Naturally, there may be more to the story than it first seems.
With many games at this company, the initial impression is good but the highlights come later. The Examination is definitely a game that builds up in excitement and spectacle ...
Each room at Lock Academy is different and distinctive, but after playing a few of them you start to recognise a house style to the puzzles and the game structure. I’m not going to give away the plot, but Revolt starts off with the (fictional) founder of Lock Academy behaving suspiciously out of character, and escalates from there into the sort of big twist that the company revels in.
As with some of their other rooms, there are distinct stages to this experience and the decor is deceptively lo...
As part of the briefing (which, as normal in Paris, was not at all brief), we were asked to assign ourselves to roles: ranger, mage, dwarf, bard. Each role had a special characteristic. (Hot tip: mage is the best one.) Which should make clear the theme: this is a fantasy role-playing sort of escape room, where you’re entering a dark and dangerous dungeon in search of a magic crystal. It’s not actually all that important who gets which role; it doesn’t make a large difference in game experience....
I wasn’t sure exactly what type of expedition this was, other than “a cursed one”; the answer is that it’s an archaeological expedition, where the previous team of explorers have failed to return from a trip down a mineshaft. Our host explained, in a long and entertaining intro, that he was far too sensible to follow in their footsteps himself, but he’d be happy to support us by walkie talkie from the surface.
I thought the entry into the game, complete with mining hard hats, was unusually effe...
The genre of submarine games can be broadly divided into steampunk and non-steampunk variants, and if you’ve read your Jules Verne the name of this one will make it clear that it’s of the former type. And where other rooms with similar themes only take loose inspiration from the source story, this builds on it fairly closely as a reimagining and sequel.
Story and setting are primary here (though the very long pre-game introduction to the plot turned out to be fairly common for games in Paris). ...
Is Huntingdon an escape room? In most respects it is, but the emphasis and the experience are different enough that you should try hard not to bring to it any preconceptions about how escape rooms normally work.
Where many rooms introduce the story with a perfunctory video, our host went to some lengths to set the scene using verbal descriptions, setting it up with considerable effort made to give a more or less plausible backstory for how we, specifically, as real people, could have ended up i...
With only a day to spend in the beautiful historic city of Kraków, we… booked ourselves into an impulse escape room, of course. Gamescape is out to the west of the centre, but close enough to be walkable, and has a sufficiently large selection of rooms that they were able to provide one at short notice. Dragon’s Curse seemed like a good choice, as a 75 minute room.
It’s an oriental theme based around the Chinese zodiac. You need to collect twelve medallions corresponding to the zodiac animals; ...
Located in a shopping centre out by the Katowice Załęże station on the west side of the city, Mystical Machinery have seven escape rooms and a laser tag arena; when we visited, the lobby was full of excited children with plastic guns. They also have a few board games and a bar area, which was good for a post-escape game of Carcassonne once the laser melee had quietened down.
We chose Tesla’s Lab mostly at random. In this room you’re trying to repair Tesla’s radio so as to receive a cross-Atlant...
In a city famous for escape rooms, Poltergeist is one of the most famous, and famous for being scary. It has the alternative name Haunted House 2, but is a stand-alone game; the company’s Haunted House 1 is at the same address but has no narrative links.
Poltergeist aims to scare you, and it shouldn’t be a spoiler to say that it involves live acting. From the lightly immersive intro, you’re plunged into ominous surroundings that are only the start of an expansive and very atmospheric set. In ou...
Every spaceship develops potentially catastrophic problems at some point in its journey, and every spaceship can be fixed by sufficient fiddling with electronic panels and screens. That, at least, is what I’ve learned from escape rooms. In Galactic Pioneers you’re on an interstellar ship with the last remnants of humanity, en route to find a home on a new planet - but not only do you have to find a suitable destination, you also need to make some urgent repairs.
This is a game with distinct sta...
These days Mind Maze has three separate locations; conveniently for visiting enthusiasts, the two TERPECA-nominated rooms are both at the same address. We played both, starting with Nautilus.
You’d guess from the name that Nautilus is a steampunk-style submarine game, and so it is, but that’s only part of the theming. In the best tradition of Victorian fantasy stories, this one starts you in comfortable civilisation, and takes you on a journey to adventure and back. Specifically, you need to tr...
This game unquestionably should be getting a higher rating than I’m giving it. Safe, or The Secret of Jack Daniel, is an impressive game even by Prague’s high standards, and I can easily understand why many visiting enthusiasts consider it the best in the city. And yet…
Stepping into the room instantly puts you in the setting. That setting is somewhere deep in rural Tennessee, outside a wooden shack that might hold a secret or a treasure, hidden inside a safe that once belonged to Jack Daniel o...
The escape room industry is always advancing and becoming more sophisticated, so there’s little place for nostalgia, no golden age to look back to, when the cutting edge just keeps improving. Even so, Úsvit Cinema struck me as showcasing several virtues that I enjoyed in early escape rooms that a lot of modern, superficially more sophisticated, games have lost.
For a start, it appeared to be somewhere deep inside a large old building, through which we were guided by our host, who seemed to be t...
I picked Cube for our second game at Mystiqueroom because it was their highest rated, without really knowing what the theme was. As it turned out, the stronger half of the room design clearly takes inspiration from the sci-fi movie of the same name, though fortunately with fewer death traps; the rest is more generic ‘science lab’, with an emphasis on anything cubic.
Much more than in their sister room Pirate Bay I found the puzzles here interesting and original. They tend to use electronic inte...
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