The Island of Doctor Goorse by Unlock! Escape Adventures

You have been flown to the island of eccentric billionaire Dr. Goorse but a storm has forced you to bail out with your parachute. You and your team are tasked with escaping the cursed Island. But there’s a catch… your team have been split in half and have to regain communication to proceed.

With Unlock! games being one of the main boxed escape games on the market, we are definitely late to the party. We have loved other boxed games so were keen to see what all the fuss is about.

With a handy tutorial, we were able to have a practice run before starting the main game. Unlock! games have a handy app with an exciting interface which players are required to interact with during the game. It is used for inputting codes, operating machines and asking for hints. It also serves as your timer to keep you on edge throughout the game.

This game involves card clues only and by combining certain “key” and “lock” cards, solving puzzles and machine cards or searching for hidden numbers, you progress through the game. Along the way, you are introduced to different artefacts, documents and characters.

With this adventure, we loved having to work separately at first and then solving clues to allow us to finally work together. Even then, we were allowed to communicate but were unable to see each other’s cards.

Unfortunately, we didn’t do particularly well on our first experience with a time of 68mins and 4 seconds. We also used way too many hints! However, we took a while to get to grips with the format and lost quite a bit of time to penalties as a result. We’re hopeful that we will do better on the next Unlock! game that we try.

We found that these games, at approximately £10 each, are great value for money. Unlike many other escape games on the market, they can be played again and again or regifted as none of the puzzles require you to cut, tear or destroy.

However, we did find that this meant the clues and puzzles were less diverse and interactive than others we have played, especially when compared to Exit games.

Overall, we would still recommend these games and we found them a great way to spend an hour.

Game information:
Players: 2-6
Age: 10+
Difficulty rating: 3/3
Length: 60mins (but you can take longer)
Approximate Price: £10 – £12

Our ratings:
Overall: 7 /10
Difficulty: 9/10
Puzzle range: 5/10
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 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

The Magician by The MacGuffin Project – Bournemouth

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

Another really enjoyable room by MacGuffin. As with their other rooms, they create a fantastic atmosphere with their setting. The puzzles followed a clear logical sequence and there were a nxjd range. The quality of the puzzles varied – some were well made but others were on the cheaper side. We did enjoy this room but preferred the other ones Macguffin have to offer.

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 2-6

Escape room number: #33
Completed: February 2020
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 37mins 48secs

Loop by The Panic Room – Gravesend

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

This room came highly recommended to us by experienced escape room players. It has a good story and diverse puzzles. Some puzzles are of high quality but others are a little disappointing. It’s biggest selling point is that there is an unexpected twist. Although we didn’t think it quite matched the hype, we still enjoyed this room.

Escape room number: #28
Completed: December 2019
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 50mins 2 secs

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 2-8
Difficulty rating: 4/5

Enigma by The Panic Room – Gravesend

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

A really good room using the story of Bletchley Park. Not only do you need to escape but you need to find the correct name of the traitor by using the clues uncovered to rule out the suspects. I good range of puzzles and a clever, logical order. Another great room by The Panic Room.

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 2-8
Difficulty rating: 4/5

Escape room number: #27
Completed: December 2019
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes