Modern Fables – The Escapist

Summary
In a warehouse in the deep depths of South Bermondsey lies The Escapist, a rough speakeasy where you can get rough drinks and meet rough people. Lavinia, one of the operators, has turned up missing. We needed to go and discovery what on earth was going on.

Review
I’ll try not to over-egg the pudding in terms of travel, but you could scarcely believe this venue is in Zone 2 – we took a bus to South Bermondsey station from whence it was a 15 minute walk, but it felt like we were much further out. We arrived just on time and after getting through the gate found ourselves in, well, a very rough-looking room with board walls and a bar in the corner. And Alfie, Lavinia’s assistant.
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Escape Rooms Angel – The Dark Side of the Moon

Summary
One of London’s newest rooms, sadly disappointed us with the theme and with a mechanical breakdown that terminated our game part way through. I suspect they’ll get over the teething problems in due course, but few of the puzzles made sense much less indicated what to do, and this isn’t saved by the amazing technology, set design, and build.

Review
At an enthusiasts’ meetup a few months ago, The Logic Escapes Me and I were discussing the relative merits of attending and playing rooms early in the run. I like the idea of getting in early to deliver a review which will help others decide whether they’d like to play or not. The opposing viewpoint is that you could get caught up in teething issues or untested rooms. And sadly, that was what happened to us this time around.
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Clockwork Dog – Loop

Summary
I wasn’t sure that Clockwork Dog could outdo their last attempt at a pop-up escape game. And yet they have. I’m still not quite sure how. We’ve rated it Generally Awesome, and you should go and play it, ideally before reading the rest of the review.

Review
First and foremost, this room is highly difficult to review without causing potential spoilers. If you read further it is at your own risk of finding out something you may not want to have known. I’ve put in some collapsed spoiler boxes but they don’t cover everything.
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Clue Adventures – Book of Secrets

Summary
Chock-full of puzzles, a room where if it isn’t nailed down (and maybe if it is) it’s a clue. Great build, wonderful host, and originality of theme. Just a little over-stuffed.

Review
This venue had been quite a while coming, and it seemed like months ago that I signed up to a mailing list which promised a reduction in price when they opened. The email jogged the memory and I put it onto Team Amaze’s list.

As the story goes, a legendary magician’s apartment in London is being demolished in an hour, and you are tasked with extracting his legendary book of secrets from the apartment before it was demolished.
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Omescape – Biohazard Laboratory

Summary
A strongly linear adventure with impeccable theming. Limited light means a need to concentrate carefully. Despite being Omescape’s lowest-difficulty room, it’s not one for new players. Puzzles, technology, and build quality are excellent with virtually no reliance on padlocks and not a key in sight. Five players is probably too many.

Review
Team Amaze booked both copies of Biohazard Laboratory for a total of ten players. On the day we lost Bubbles who had to drop out at short notice, so after asking around the rest of Team Amaze and drawing a blank, we picked up Emmy from Team Ninty to fill out the second team. She had transport issues on her way up and therefore it was 8 minutes into our slot before everyone was on site. Mig and Vicky led team Alpha featuring Emmy and Will whilst Agent P and I were on Team Omega. [Both teams were 5 players, we just haven’t got alter-ego names for everyone else yet =p]

Our host gave us the short version of the welcome so as not to delay things further. He kindly did not deduct this from our time clock, and we got underway with the explanation of our mission – poisonous agents have been introduced into the water network and we needed to go into the sewers to add the antidote and get back out again, collecting some MacGuffins on the way.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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