The Betrayal of Cluetankhamun by Clue HQ – Bournemouth

Escape room number: #43
Completed: October 2020
Team: 2 adults, 2 teens
Escaped?: yes
Time: 55m 43 secs (4m 17secs left)

Overall rating: 6/10
Puzzle quality: 3/5
Puzzle range: 3/5
Storyline: 4/5
Immersive quality: 4/5
Difficulty: 3/5
Gamemaster: 3/5

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 2-6
Success rate: approx 40-50%

We had been waiting for Clue HQ to bring their Cluetankhamun room to Bournemouth for so long after loving their Bunker 38 and Cell Block C rooms. It opened last weekend so we went at our earliest opportunity!

Walking into the room, the aesthetics and props were really impressive. The hieroglyphics, chests and lights created a wonderful, intriguing setting and we were eager to get to work.

We were tasked with venturing into the tomb after an earlier group of explorers had gone missing and finding the valuable crystal but of course, with many obstacles in the way.

As always, we don’t want to give away too many spoilers for anyone wishing to have a go at this room. The set up and immersion is excellent whilst a handy screen lets you know how much time is left and conveys any clues that are needed. Most of the puzzles simply require the use of logic rather than guess work which is always refreshing in an escape room.

There is also a lot to do in the time, especially compared to their other rooms, which made us feel we got good value for money. This, however, also makes it much more difficult to complete in the time given. We managed it with just over 4 minutes remaining and were told that very few groups had completed it since opening.

Whilst there are some puzzles that are a little different, the vast majority are finding 3, 4 or 5 digit codes which had to be entered into padlocks. Altogether, we counted over 20 padlocks – unfortunately, this was slight overkill! There were so many chests and boxes to be opened that they just kept getting in the way and it got quite repetitive.

Overall, we still enjoyed this room and it scratched our escape room itch for the day. Is it our favourite from Clue HQ? Theming – yes; actual game play – definitely not. It was still a fun way to spend an hour and we are glad we gave it a go.

Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures – Brighton

Escape room number: #42
Completed: October 2020
Team: 4 adults
Stars: 12

Overall rating: 8/10
Puzzle quality: 4/5
Puzzle range: 4/5
Storyline: 5/5
Immersive quality: 5/5
Difficulty (time limit aside): 3/5
Gamemaster: 4/5

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 3-12
Best stars (group of 4): 20
Worst stars (group of 4): 3

What a mixture of awe and fun! Phileas Fogg’s World of Adventures is a cross between an escape room, Crystal Maze and a walk through adventure experience.

From the moment you enter the building, you are greeted by Queen Victoria as she takes you through the story and all important safety rules.

Once the experience begins, you are met by Phileas Fogg himself. With his guidance, you go through room after room, each a different stop on his world adventure tour. Our Mr Fogg was a fantastic actor with a huge presence and a great sense of humour.

The rooms themselves are INCREDIBLE! They are totally immersive and the theming has been created with attention paid to every minor detail. Each location is filled with amazing sets, props, sights, sounds and smells.

Along the way, you are given challenges of varying degrees of difficulty with the opportunity to win stars and make it onto the leaderboard. Most of these are fairly straightforward in themselves but the short time limits make it a tricky race against the clock. Some are simply puzzles to piece together; many are mechanical puzzles and sequences to input; and some are purely down to skill and teamwork. We did thoroughly enjoy them.

So what could have made the experience better for us in order to award it a 10/10? Unfortunately, we felt really rushed the whole way through. It was clear that each room has many different puzzles to explore and we only got the chance to experience a fraction of them. We barely had the chance to take in the amazing scenery and appreciate the room before being whisked off to the next.

Secondly, we felt the instructions we were given were not always clear or we were told important information too late into the time limit. An example of this is that in the first room, we thought we simply had 5 minutes to complete the task we were shown so took our time . It turned out that there was a second challenge which we very nearly completed but ran out of time. If we had known, we would’ve worked much more quickly on the first task and would have been successful on the second.

When we asked at the beginning, we were told there was a possible 35 stars but we were definitely only given the opportunity to collect about 20 ish of them so we are not really sure what we could have done differently to be in with a chance of the rest. Were there 3 challenges in some rooms? More? Were some challenges worth more stars than the ones offered to us? It wasn’t really explained.

Overall, we still loved this experience. It really does have the potential to be a solid 10/10 with just a few tweaks and a bit of extra time in each room.

Chalice of Champions by Escape Live – Stratford upon Avon

Escape room number: #41
Completed: October 2020
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 47m 42secs (12m 18 left)

Overall rating: 8.5/10
Puzzle quality: 5/5
Puzzle range: 5/5
Storyline: 4/5
Immersive quality: 4/5
Difficulty: 4/5
Gamemaster: 4/5

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 2-6
Success rate: approx 30%

Game Difficulty 5/5

Any Harry Potter fans out there would love this magic themed room by Escape Live. With the help of Horace the Magnificent – the magical hat – you have to solve a series of puzzles to break the curse and reveal the chalice.

The room itself is totally immersive with mesmerising artwork, vivid colours and amazing lights. The puzzles are also very varied and exciting with a great mix of padlock codes, physical games, written clues and of course, a little magic. Each one links back to a central puzzle which helps the game move seamlessly and keeps the players on track.

The gamemaster Tom was funny, welcoming and helped to make the experience even better.

We would definitely recommend this room and we are already planning when we can visit some of Escape Live’s other locations.

To book visit https://www.escapelive.co.uk/the-games/

Pavilion Perplex by Pier Pressure – Brighton

Escape room number: #39
Completed: August 2020
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 48 mins 26 secs (2 hints)

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

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 2-6
Difficulty: 4/5 stars but tougher for groups of 2-3 people
Average time: approx 57 mins (with around 10 hints)

Pier Pressure have been recommended to us by so many escape room owners that we had to give them a try when visiting Brighton.

From the moment we arrived through the door, we could see why. The staff were so welcoming, cheerful and enthusiastic about their games. For anyone concerned, their Covid measures are excellent too!

Having chosen the Pavilion Perplex room, we were greeted by Mildred, a Victorian maid who explained that they desperately needed to find the stolen petition to save the pavilion. Having a gamemaster in full character and costume completely added to the whole experience!

The room itself is amazing! The decor and props magically recreate the Victorian elegance of the royal pavilion and as a player, it is easy to feel totally immersed in the period setting. Like all the best escape rooms, even their hint system is in keeping with the time.

The best thing about this room is that there isn’t a padlock, 4 digit code or keypad in sight! Every single puzzle is appropriate to the time and uses some of the amazing period items that the company have sourced. We absolutely loved every single clue. The puzzles themselves flowed extremely well and could be figured out using logic. Luckily, there were no irritating red herrings to spoil the fun.

Once we had found the hidden petition, we were awarded with some cute pin badges and a card stating our top 3 achievements: Small but Mighty; Solved in under 50 minutes; and Eagle Eyed Searchers. This was another great little added touch!

We definitely left with that indescribable escape room buzz and really cannot wait until we can get back to Brighton to try more of their rooms.

Escape the Vault – Brighton

We were chuffed to be invited to play Escape the Vault in Brighton so jumped at the chance to give it a go.

This intriguing escape room is hidden inside an old bank vault in Brighton and players are tasked with breaking into it and stealing the codes for the account of world renowned arms dealer, Charles Fawkley.

This is a solid, back to basics classic escape room, filled with hidden codes, safes and padlocks. What makes it different from most escape rooms is that it is one of only 4 unmanned escape rooms in the UK. Don’t worry though – you have your man on the outside, Terrance the getaway driver, on hand to assist if needed. All you need to do is send a quick message for a hint or a hack and you’re helped on your way.

The escape room itself is a shorter 40 minute experience (which is reflected in the price) and has about a 70% success rate. We didn’t find it particularly difficult but it flowed extremely well and logic could be applied throughout. This makes it a great room for beginners or for anyone who wants an affordable and enjoyable activity on a free afternoon.

The room is found inside an amazing, quirky café – Presuming Ed’s Coffee House – which completely adds to the experience. It is decked out with interesting posters, art, installations and furniture which captures your imagination from the moment you set foot inside. Whilst there, we enjoyed the most delicious toasted baguettes and drinks – highly recommended.

As well as all this, they also have arcade games, art for sale and even a VR room upstairs which we enjoyed having a go at! They are also in the process of creating their new room – Escape the Cell – which should be ready very soon. Without giving too much away, it continues the story with what has happened after the vault robbery. We were lucky enough to have a sneak peak!

Overall, we had a great afternoon experiencing all that Presuming Ed’s has to offer. If you are ever in the Brighton area, be sure to visit! Book now at https://escapethevault.co.uk/

Escape room number: #40
Completed: August 2020
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 18 mins 50 secs

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 40 mins
Players: 1-4
Success rate: 70%
Best time: 7 minutes

Cost: £12.50 each (with £1 of each sale going to charity!)

Temple Raider by Houdini’s – Birmingham

Escape room number: #37
Completed: August 2020
Team: 2 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 39 minutes 34 seconds (room record)

Overall rating: 9.5/10
Puzzle quality: 5/5
Puzzle range: 5/5
Storyline: 5/5
Immersive quality: 5/5
Difficulty: 4/5
Gamemaster: 4/5

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 90 mins
Players: recommended 4-6
Success rate: 29% (difficulty 79/100)
Average time: approx 1 hour
Best time: 39 mins 34 secs

Having absolutely loved all of the other rooms Houdini’s have to offer, we were excited to try the only one left – Temple Raider. We made a trip to Birmingham especially to try out this room and we weren’t disappointed.

We were greeted by a fantastic, friendly gamemaster and were interested to hear the low success rate and how the room had been extended from a 60 minute to a 90 minute time limit because it was one of the most difficult Houdini rooms. Obviously, we were now feeling the pressure!

As soon as we entered the room, we were impressed by the incredible immersive setting, from floor to ceiling. We have found that Houdini’s are one of the best escape companies as far as attention to detail is concerned. We were given the imaginative story of a newly discovered temple and were left to our own devices to solve its hidden mysteries and hopefully appease the ancient gods.

Every single puzzle we faced was exciting and innovative and they only got better as we moved through the rooms. It was also refreshing to complete a room without the standard key or digit padlocks. Instead, their various boxes were locked in ways far more in keeping with the theme.

The room layouts are also brilliant with secret tunnels, areas you need to climb and a scary surprise which speeds up the sense of urgency! The whole thing is everything you would expect from an Indiana Jones film but even better!

Whilst playing the room, the gamemaster was excellent, only giving clues when we asked for them or when he could see we were totally off track. We were otherwise left to figure things out for ourselves. The puzzles flowed seamlessly and were really logical and well designed.

When we had finished, we were chuffed to find out that we had completed the room in 39 minutes and 34 seconds (especially as it is a 90 minute room)! We were then told this was a record!

We are assuming that no one actually completed it in 1 minute 20 seconds – it would’ve taken longer than that to walk through the rooms!

Overall, we actually think this is our new favorite room by Houdini’s and would highly recommend that you have a go if you’re ever in Birmingham.

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.

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 Pandora Heist by Elusion – Southampton

Overall rating: 9.5/10
Puzzle quality: 5/5
Puzzle range: 5/5
Storyline: 5/5
Immersive quality: 5/5
Difficulty: 4/5
Gamemaster: 4/5

This was a brilliant room with excellent theming, props and puzzles. It has the perfect mix of historical and modern, using technology to enhance the experience. As well as the aim of escaping within 60 minutes, there is the added challenge of working out which artefacts to steal for the biggest financial gain. We would highly recommend this escape room – it was a lot of fun to complete.

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 60 mins
Players: 3-8

Escape room number: #34
Completed: March 2020
Team: 4 adults
Escaped?: yes

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