A Hunt Across the Capital by Questventure

Following the fantastic time we had testing and reviewing Cocktails, Spies and Murder, we couldn’t wait to have a go at their longer game – A Hunt Across the Capital. With a mix of escape style problem solving, online detective work and real life location tracking, what’s not to love?

Tasked with investigating a mysterious Heist, your team need to follow a series of clues across London. Luckily, you are not alone – you have the support of your colleague Detective Huntley who is there should you need a helping hand.

With this, players do not interact with an online interface but instead work through a series of password protected pdf puzzles. Many of the clues require you to visit social media sites where you have to look closely at the content in order to pick out the information you need. Others need you to use the internet or online maps in order to track important locations. Once you think you have a solution for a puzzle, you are required to send a text message and will then receive the next password and challenge information.

Unfortunately, we did experience one or two technical hitches but this is likely to be due to the mobile network provider and not the fault of Questventure.

This game is the longest that Questventure currently have to offer with an approximate time of 2-3hours. With our team of 3, we managed to solve the clues in 1 hour 39 minutes but chose to work solidly with our game heads on instead of using it as leisurely evening entertainment.

Overall, we found this game much more challenging than their Cocktails, Spies and Murder game but loved the clever clues and use of social media and websites. Both games have been so much fun to have a go at and we would highly recommend them!

Price: £14.99

https://www.questventure.co.uk/huntacrossthecapital

Just a sneak peak – don’t want to give too much away!

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.

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.

Cocktails, Spies & Murder by Questventure

This online game is absolutely brilliant and makes excellent use of one of our favourite themes – cocktails!

Using a “cocktail menu” which you can download using a QR code, you tackle a series of puzzles. However, as you might imagine, it is no ordinary cocktail menu; observation, decoding and problem solving skills are needed to find the hidden information and then use it to help with the missions. The main mission is to find out which deadly mixture of ingredients was used to commit the ultimate crime. Once that has been completed, you need to find the culprit by solving a range of numerical clues.

The user interface is fantastic. It is easy to navigate and the graphics are amazing. If hints are required, there are also handy QR codes which can be scanned. Luckily, we only needed one clue but we were impressed with how seamless the system worked. We connected up our laptop to the television so that we could see the documents really clearly and involve the rest of the family.

In terms of difficulty, the main mission is rated at medium and the side mission as easy. We would agree with this and loved how logical and well thought out the puzzles were. Unlike some online escape games where you have to rely on guesswork or the processes seem a bit random, this one made total sense and everything could be worked out by the players.

The clock allows you to have 90 minutes to solve the challenges which is plenty of time. Our team (of 3) managed to move steadily from puzzle to puzzle and reached the end in 22 minutes. We were pleasantly surprised with our time and so chuffed that we managed to top the leaderboard (for now)!

We honestly cannot recommend this game enough and can’t wait to have a go at the other games that Questventure have on offer.

If you are looking for a fun way to spend an evening with family or friends, you really should give this a go. See if you can beat our time and top the leaderboard.

Price: £9.99 (a bargain for what you get in our opinion).

https://www.questventure.co.uk/

Extraordinary Investigations: The Morgan File – A puzzle novel by Rod Gillies

We were very excited to be invited to test out this captivating puzzle book and absolutely loved the style and aesthetics as soon as we saw it. For us, it was a perfect combination of intriguing puzzles and fascinating history.

Following the disappearance of a researcher, the investigations as you move through the book show that he was close to discovering some deceitful and shocking events that occurred during World War II. From hidden Nazi gold to espionage and murder, the plot – which is largely based on real life events – really captured our interest from the start.

Unlike some escape puzzle books, this doesn’t have pages and pages of written narrative to trawl through but instead, uses a series of engaging photographs, mysterious documents and handwritten notes which have been collected as part of the intriguing investigation. It’s our job to crack codes and ciphers, make links between the scattered documents, solve puzzles and find out information to solve the all-important questions we are given.

Another way in which this puzzle book is different from others we have seen is that you need to make extensive use of online searches and websites which are hinted at in the narrative. The answers are not necessarily all there within the images but instead we had to extract the important clues and use our own initiative in researching the historical events in question – this made it seem much more realistic as an investigation.

Another feature we absolutely loved is the way in which the solutions are inputted. Rather than finding a 4 digit code or simply checking an answer page, you have to log into an online system with a realistic interface which also helped us to feel totally immersed in the experience. The system poses a series of questions and answers are submitted, enabling you to find out if you are correct or if you need to think again!

Each of the 6 evidence files took us approximately an hour but we could’ve easily spent more time learning about the history as we went along. It has the flexibility whereby you can quickly work your way from puzzle to puzzle, you could spend hours reading around the historical events or find a happy medium somewhere in between. It can be completed all in one go but we found it more enjoyable to break it up and complete it over a few evenings.

We found some clues more difficult than others but luckily there is a helpful hints system – we would have been stuck a couple of times otherwise! The hints pages at the back of the book give three levels of tips to give a gentle nudge in the right direction without handing the answer on a plate.

Overall, we absolutely loved spending our evenings working through this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys escape puzzles, cracking codes, interesting plots and delving into history.

This can be purchased on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08C7GGLQJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_QopnFbKYH8FVR

Price: £14.99

Recommended for adults.

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.

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

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

Mission to Winchintzy by ClueCapers – Winchester

Overall rating: 9/10
Puzzle quality: 5/5
Puzzle range: 5/5
Storyline: 4/5
Immersive quality: 4/5
Difficulty: 4/5
Gamemaster: 4/5

Dream team and a great time for a 75 minute game.

This was a brilliant game. The setting takes you back to a dated house where you move between the different rooms. The range of clues and puzzles were excellent, using more than one of the senses, and some of the clues we had not come across before which was refreshing. It was a good mixture of logic, skill and thinking outside of the box to solve these clues. Even though we had a big team of 6, there was usually enough to keep us all busy. The game flowed well and followed a logical order. We would definitely recommend this game if you are in the Winchester area and we hope to go back to attempt their other rooms.

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 75 mins
Players: 2-6

Escape room number: #32
Completed: February 2020
Team: 6 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 47 mins 49 secs (leaderboard)

Escape from Titanic by Houdini’s – Southamoton

Overall rating: 7.5/10
Puzzle quality: 4/5
Puzzle range: 4/5
Storyline: 4/5
Immersive quality: 5/5
Difficulty: 4/5
Gamemaster: 4/5

Another great escape room by Houdini’s. This was a very immersive escape room with different parts of the Titanic ship forming the setting. The story was used well and gave a sense of urgency. The puzzles were good and well planned but none of them particularly stood out as clever or unique. Overall, not our favourite from Houdini’s, but a good one nonetheless.

Game stats:
Allocated game time: 90 mins
Players: 4-7
Success rate: 38%

Escape room number: #31
Completed: January 2020
Team: 4 adults
Escaped?: yes
Time: 1h 9m