Escape Room Manchester – Secret Lab

Summary
A small number of tough puzzles rather than a large number of straightforward puzzles or a mixture in difficulty awaits you at Secret Lab. Can you rise to the challenge?

Review
A bit of bumbling at the start of this, with the hosts unable to open up the front door because it was a bank holiday and apparently someone from the nightclub that’s colocated with them had padlocked a door which was usually left open. We eventually crowded in through an emergency exit after a host came around to the main door to see us looking nonplussed.

As venues go, The Escape Room Manchester is well-equipped and very pleasant. The waiting area was one of the best I’ve found, and they were also happy to store several members’ large items of luggage whilst we went off to the city centre afterwards for a couple of hours.
Continue reading “Escape Room Manchester – Secret Lab”

Omescape – The Penitentiary

Summary
A Generally Awesome award winner, The Penitentiary is a challenging game that you need to bring your A-game for. Technically excellent, well-themed, and a genuinely difficult one to get through. New to escape games? ClueQuest is up the road…

Review
Having knocked out Escape Plan a couple of weeks ago, Team Amaze was looking for a step up, and Omescape looked like just the ticket. With two sites in California and a shoal across China, this new arrival to the UK had plonked down a stone’s throw from ClueQuest and has brought across two of its popular scenarios as well as adding a third.

Arriving in good time, some wood puzzles were available to play about with at reception. With black walls and simple theming, we were put in the mood for the game pretty quickly.
Continue reading “Omescape – The Penitentiary”

Top tips for a great escape experience

When I try to get people into playing escape games, a lot of the time the first question is “what is it like?” And I tell them, usually involving a discussion about the Crystal Maze.

Another popular question from my friends and a topic I try to discuss before starting off is what tips and ideas I suggest to make an escape experience fun. Here are my top tips to make your play experience amazing.
Continue reading “Top tips for a great escape experience”

Mystery Cube

Summary
The host really pulls this experience together and makes a good room great. Lots to do with no linearity in a very small space.

Review
To get the minor grumble out of the way first, this place is pretty out of the way in London terms. It’s about 15 minutes on foot from South Wimbledon station. You can also walk from Morden, but you shouldn’t. Especially in winter. Nevertheless, Team Ninty trekked out to the outer limits of Zone 3 on a bright Sunday afternoon.

Professor QB met us at the entrance and we were asked to wait just inside the door for him; he asked us to wait and came back about 10 minutes later. (I suspect he was resetting the room.) He took us upstairs to a briefing room and explained the premise of the Mystery Cube, and our goal.

We were asked to lock up all our possessions and put on white lab coats and name badges before proceeding. (I was given the key to the lock to take with me.)
Continue reading “Mystery Cube”

Escape Plan Ltd. – The Adventure Begins

Summary
A WW2-themed escape with a range of deduction, search, and mechanical puzzles – many of which were on theme. Low-tech but they have made a lot of a limiting premises. Pretty high reliance on padlocks.

Review
Iliffe Yard is a curious little cobbled location near Elephant & Castle. We were a bit early but not early enough to wait in the recommended café so stood around outside the venue for a little while. Team Amaze was on duty for this one. We’d been warned there was no room for early arrivals or for waiting and this is no joke: the control room cum waiting area is a small corridor about 3 feet by 15 and it is literally impossible for a team that’s just finished to occupy the space as well as an arriving team.

The goal of the room is to escape a POW camp in wartime Germany. One unique aspect is that before starting we were handed a booklet of the diary of Bob Hails, which contained a range of clues and material to be used once in. This was slick and well-prepared, and we had the chance to peruse it before we were on the clock.
Continue reading “Escape Plan Ltd. – The Adventure Begins”

clueQuest – Revenge of the Sheep

Summary
A challenging room that’s not for newbies, builds on the previous two rooms in terms of story and style. The goal is in the style of a specific task rather than simply escaping. Style and build quality top notch. The inaugural winner of the London Escapists “Generally Awesome” award.

Review
Some rooms have got one or two unique puzzles or features that make you go “Wow”. Revenge of the Sheep doesn’t. It is one constant wow from start to finish. Right away when entering the room one of the earliest puzzles is so amazingly intelligent and precisely designed that I don’t know how someone conceived of it. This theme continues throughout, with beautiful design style, tricky but eminently solvable puzzles, plenty for everyone to do and little linearity, a great story, and even a couple of puzzle answers that were in-jokes.

Team Amaze returned for its second and my third visit to clueQuest. We had three rooms booked, one of Revenge of the Sheep and two of Plan52, with the returning players primarily on the former. Our four-person team was pretty early for our slot — the start time for Plan52 being 20 minutes earlier, but we all travelled and arrived together – but this didn’t cause any issues and we were able to get going promptly. And so it was that Mig, Vicky, Agent P and I got ready to prevent the Revenge of the Sheep.
Continue reading “clueQuest – Revenge of the Sheep”

clueQuest – Operation Black Sheep

Summary:
A step up in difficulty from Plan52, with plenty to do in parallel. Technology used well. Variety of locks and easy to progress quickly for a skilled team. Possible for new players but preferably with some more experienced folks in the same room.

Review
Operation Black Sheep was the first outing of Team Amaze, and nine of us split into two teams. I was joined by four colleagues including the inestimable Vicky and Mig to make for one room of five, with the remaining four in the other. A few of us had played one or two rooms before, mostly Plan52 at the same venue, but the majority were new to the format.

We were a bit early arriving but our two hosts welcomed us warmly. There’s a nice collection of chairs of different shapes and sizes as well as a water cooler (really good idea when the venue is a bit of a walk from the station). We got a quick tutorial on the padlocks that the room uses, as well as an explanation of the (very good) back story. Acting as secret agents, we were to foil Professor BlackSheep’s mission to take over the world.
Continue reading “clueQuest – Operation Black Sheep”

clueQuest – Plan52

Summary
Good for first-timers, groups with limited experience, or groups who don’t know one another. Good mix of technology, ingenuity, and codes, although a few too many padlocks.

Review
Before time began, before I knew about this world of escaping, and before our three teams had been conceived, one weekend I had some friends over and thought one of these games might be fun. That was how it came to be that early one Easter Saturday morning, my wife and I were joined by two friends from Ireland to start our escape game careers.

Without much to go on, we chose clueQuest as our preferred venue and plan52 (the red box one) as our game, and despite leaving the house a bit late and planned engineering works on the train, we arrived in good time.

Our host was far chirpier than us and eased us into the game, with a little padlock tutorial to make sure we knew what we were doing with them. With the (pretty honed and impressive) story out of the way, we were in play.
Continue reading “clueQuest – Plan52”

Welcome to London Escapists!

Hello and welcome to the London Escapists. This new blog aims to give a fresh view and direction to escape game reviews and our thoughts on them – and we very much hope you’ll feed back through comments on what you want more of or less of.

To come by the end of July:
Reviews of:

  • clueQuest (all three rooms)
  • OmEscape: The Penitentiary
  • Mystery Cube
  • Escape Plan Ltd.: The Beginning
  • The Escape Room Manchester: Slaughter House and Secret Lab

Thoughts on:

  • Padlocks
  • Laser mazes

Prof