Death at the Lab by Salisbury Escape Rooms

Escape room number: #36
Completed: August 2020
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 66 mins 57 secs

Overall rating: 8/10
Puzzle quality: 5/5
Puzzle range: 5/5
Storyline: 3/5
Immersive quality: 3/5
Difficulty: 5/5
Gamemaster: 4/5

Game stats:
Allocated game time: usually 60 mins
Players: 3-6

FINALLY we were able to return after lockdown to live escape games. We had missed them. Our first one back was the latest game by Salisbury Escape Rooms. They change them approximately every year and this one did not disappoint.

We loved the fact that we got an email beforehand with an attachment setting the scene and when we arrived, the gamemaster was dressed up ready to set us to work on our challenge. We had to escape whilst also solving a serious crime!

Without giving too much away, there was a huge range of puzzles with some exciting equipment used. There were certainly some that we had not come across before. Some of the puzzles – which are the ones that we found the hardest – required some level of physical skill and accuracy.

We were frustrated that we did not manage to complete the escape in the usual hour slot but we were kindly reminded that it is usually an escape room for 3+ people. Some of the puzzles did require you to be positioned in 3 places at once and apparently, on average, couples take 15 minutes more than a full team. We were, therefore, happy to accept this as an excuse – it was either that or we were completely rusty from lockdown. I suspect it was a bit of both.

Overall, we had a great time at Salisbury Escape Rooms and would recommend that you visit if you’re in the area.

Houdini’s Secret Room – Printable Escape Room Kit

Another first for us in the ever-growing escape game market – a printable escape room kit.

This brilliantly designed escape game, which is aimed at children aged 10+, impressed us from the off. The easily downloadable pdf files showed incredible graphic design with vivid colours and mysterious-looking documents. Unsurprisingly, we couldn’t wait to print and get going.

Using the handy set up guide and game master’s how to play guide, one of us set to work on organising the resources and sorting them into the three challenges. The guides themselves are colourful, detailed and very easy to follow.

It is very simple and can be set up anywhere – all you need is a printer, scissors, glue and a stapler.

We did find that a lot of ink was required and used about 1 and a half ink cartridges to print it all. However, some of the pages we printed at A5 size. We also decided to laminate those which don’t need to be cut up during the game so that we can reuse them (it is worth checking the “How to Play” guide for which sheets need to be full size for the puzzles to work). Overall, spending on the ink is worth it to give justice to the high-quality graphic design.

The game itself involves working your way out of Houdini’s museum after being trapped inside. The mission is to find the hidden key by solving a series of clues. Along the way, there are characters to help you with specific clues or to give you hints and extra time should it be needed. With an hour on the clock, would we escape?

As escape room enthusiasts and primary school teachers, working with the target age group on a daily basis, we were interested to see how the game had been pitched. The whole challenge took us about 25 minutes but bearing in mind this is aimed at children, it provided a decent level of challenge. We can easily imagine our year 6 (UK – age 10-11) classes grouping together to come up with theories and ideas for how to solve each of the clues. We would love to try this out with them in the future.

Considering all of the components were printed, there was a large variety in the type of clues – some logic, some riddles, some physical and some skill.

Overall, we would recommend this printable escape room kit for older children and think many of the accompanying adults will love it too. It is a fun way to spend an hour and the quality of the artwork is outstanding.

Recommended teams: 2-6 players (additional copies can be printed for larger groups)

Age: 10+

Price: $29

Visit https://houdinisecretroom.com/ for more information and to purchase.

Sherlock Holmes Online Escape Room by The Panic Room

As well as the escape boxed games and escape books, another way we have been scratching our escape room itch during lockdown is with online escape games.

This one by The Panic Room was the first professional online one that we tried and we were very impressed.

First of all, the buying process was easy and it was straight forward to set up. Having been given a link and a password, we were ready to go. We did this one as a couple with one computer but you are able to play virtually with other people using the same code and a video calling app such as Zoom.

The puzzles and story are very well made and work seamlessly. They use a good mixture of videos and documents with a range of clue types. We did find that some clues were extremely easy whilst others were quite tricky but overall this made for an appropriate game length.

Overall, we would highly recommend this online game.

Rating 8/10

Price: £15

To access this game, as well as other games by The Panic Room, visit

https://www.thepanicroomonline.co.uk/

The Escape Book

As well as escape box games and online escape experiences, one other way to recapture the enjoyment of escape rooms at home – especially during this period of Covid-19 lockdown- is with escape books!

This was bought as a present for me and I had no idea what to expect.

You start at the beginning, reading the context of the story until you are faced with the first puzzle. Once solved, the numerical answer that you arrive at is the page number to turn to next. There are pages at the back for clues but it is much more satisfying when you can solve them without any hints.

There are a good variety of puzzles including hidden numbers, optical illusions, mazes, logic and even practical ones.

Overall, this book took me about 2 hours to complete but it was an enjoyable activity to keep me occupied whilst sat in the sun during the lockdown.

The Crystal Maze board game

When lockdown began, we knew we needed to invest in some new games to keep us entertained, especially as we knew we wouldn’t be able to visit escape rooms for some time.

We ordered this game, having enjoyed the show in the past. It took a while to set up the first time but was well worth it.

You begin by working through the 4 themed sections, each with a mental game, a skill game, a physical game and a mystery game. This gives a brilliant range of puzzles for all abilities.

Unfortunately, each time you play the possible puzzles are the same. However, each game is able to be replayed or has enough resources to avoid too much repetition of the same riddles and clues.

As per the show, each successful game earns you a crystal which equates to time for the final challenge.

We thoroughly enjoyed this game which did include many of the types of puzzles we like from escape games. I would thoroughly recommend this for couples, groups of friends and families.

Game information:
Players: 2+
Age: 10+
Difficulty rating: 6/10
Length: approx 1 hour
Approximate Price: £30

Our ratings:
Overall: 8/10
Difficulty: 6/10
Puzzle range: 8/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Escape from the Starline Express

The theming of this game is brilliant if you love a historical, period setting.

This game follows the investigation of a criminal gang on the Starline Express. Following clues that have been left, you solve puzzles which open a series of doors, each leading to a different carriage or section on the train.

An added touch is that each puzzle is available in duplicate which works well if completing this with more than 2 people. Each carriage comes with an optional hint tab. We found that the puzzles were the right level of challenge and we didn’t need to use the hints at all. They all use logic and do not rely on guess work which helps the game to flow well.

As a relatively cheap game in comparison to some of the others on the market, this is good value for money.

Game information:
Players: 2-8
Age:12+
Difficulty rating:
Length: approx 1-2 hours
Approximate Price: £12

Our ratings:
Overall: 7/10
Difficulty: 6/10
Puzzle range: 6/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Escape the Casino

These brilliant games have been extremely popular and unfortunately have gone out of production. If you’re lucky, you can pick one up if escape companies have them in existing stock.

This is quite a simple game as far as escape boxes go but it follows a great story. Additionally, the board and resources are clearly made with good quality materials.

The game requires you to download an app which plays videos and allows you to input the codes you discover. You can replay the game as many times as you want but can only use the code on one device.

I would recommend this escape box if you want a simple game. It would be suitable for beginners.

Game information:
Players: 2-6
Age: 12+
Length: 30-60 mins
Approximate Price: £15

Our ratings:
Overall: 6/10
Difficulty: 4/10
Puzzle range: 6/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Escape Room The Game – by Goliath Games

These escape room box games are great fun. There are three games in this set which makes it good value for money. Each game is then split into three parts which need to be worked through, each with their own 4 digit code to find. Unlike the Exit games which do not have a time limit, this one gives you only 60 minutes to solve each 3 part game. It mainly makes use of picture clues and decoding puzzles but follows a clear logic.

Another unique aspect of this boxed game is that it comes with the chrono decoder. This works as a timer, holds the decoding information and most importantly, is where the code keys are inserted in order to complete each part of the game.

Chrono Decoder

Overall, I would recommend this game if you are a fan of escape rooms.

Game information:
Players: 3-5
Age: 16+
Difficulty rating: varies between games
Length: 3 x 60 mins
Approximate Price: £30

Our ratings:
Overall: 7/10
Difficulty: 7/10
Puzzle range: 6/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Exit: The Game by Kosmos

We discovered Exit games on a slightly disappointing escape room weekend break we had taken. The rooms, which we were really looking forward to, we’re good but did not blow us away and so we were left feeling a bit dissatisfied. At the hotel, they sold Exit games and so we decided to buy one to fill our evening.

Giving ourselves a bit of a baptism of fire, we bought The Catacombs of Horror which is not only a 2 parter (and by definition twice as long) but it also has a high difficulty rating.

We started off quite ambitious and confident but soon realised that it was not going to be as easy as we first thought.

The series gives you hint cards (3 for each clue) in case you get stuck and for the first game, we needed to use a lot! Some of the clues were logical yet difficult; however, I did find that many of the others relied on a lot of guess work about how to solve the problems. This first game we were playing until early hours of the morning.

Since then, we have tried several others and enjoyed them more. This has included The Stormy Flight and The Mysterious Museum. The difficulty ratings have been lower but we have found them to be far more logical and flow much better.

Our favorite so far has been The Haunted Rollercoaster which had a fantastic range of puzzles that made us think outside the box. It also flowed well and used logic meaning we didn’t need to use many hints at all.

Overall, I would definitely recommend these games. Unfortunately, they are one use only as parts of the game are folded or cut but at between £11 and £15, this is affordable as an occasional treat.

We have found that during the Coronavirus lockdown, they have helped to fill a part of the escape room gap.

Game information:
Players: 1-4
Age: 10+
Difficulty rating: varies per game
Length: 1- 2 hrs (4+ for Catacombs)
Approximate Price: £11-£15

Our ratings:
Overall: 7/10 (Haunted Rollercoaster 8.5/10)
Difficulty: 7/10
Puzzle range: 10/10
Logic and flow: 8/10

Mayan by Other World Escapes – Southampton

Overall rating: 7/10
Puzzle quality: 4/5
Puzzle range: 5/5
Storyline: 3/5
Immersive quality: 4/5
Difficulty: 3/5
Gamemaster: 3/5

We enjoyed this escape room. The set and puzzles were well designed and brought the Mayan theme to life. The story was clear and hints were only given when we asked for them. The best quality of this room is that it incorporates clues that use all of the senses. A very enjoyable room that was suitable for our team which included two teens.

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 2-8

Escape room number: #35
Completed: March 2020
Team: 2 adults, 2 teens
Escaped?: yes
Time: 43 mins 13 secs