Now open in Birmingham: Panic!

panicConventional wisdom tends to downplay the importance of providing a tangible reward for those who excel when solving an exit game. The prospect of there being a physical prize, rather than just satisfaction, may bring out people’s less enlightened natures and may lead to the risk of bad feeling from players if they feel that they were at all slighted and did not have a fair chance of winning for reasons outside their control.

The great thing about conventional wisdom is that it’s OK to ignore it – and, if you do, better go big or go home. Firmly going big in this regard is Twisted AttractionsPanic! of Birmingham, an exit game with a strictly limited duration; it only opens on Fridays and Saturdays from June 5th to September 19th. They will also be paying out a £1,000 prize to the champion team over the course of their three-and-a-half-month run. That makes it a one-of-a-kind exit game on its own.

The other way in which it’s completely distinctive is that it is, first and foremost, a scare attraction. “An experience like no other, as you go to investigate a series of missing persons cases which has lead you to this twisted warehouse of traps! Things turn drastically wrong as YOU and YOUR friends fall victim and soon become “The Game”. You have exactly 1 hour to escape. This will take brains and nerve to complete.” Teams are of 6-8, smaller teams may be merged with other, larger ones, and tickets are £18 per player, plus £1 per player booking fee.

You don’t see many exit games where the web site suggests “From the moment you arrive, even before you have presented your ticket, you are a part of the experience. This means that actors MAY/WILL interact with you.” Different horror attractions have different levels of tactility, and another part of the site suggests a rule that “There is to be NO touching of any of the actors, sets or props inside the attraction but actors may touch you.” The terms and conditions also set expectations for what sorts of scares are to be expected. “You will experience intense audio, lighting, automated motion, extremely low visibility, strobe lighting, fog, damp/wet conditions, special effects, sudden actions and overall physically demanding environment.” Official comments on Facebook hint that the wet conditions might go more than ankle deep, so consider bringing spare footwear, socks and maybe more. (Safe storage is available.)

There’s also information about the way the competition will work, and it looks sensible. “Any person/group deemed to be cheating will be INSTANTLY DISQUALIFIED. That also includes informing other groups of the combinations/answers to puzzles. In retrospect to the combinations and answers, these will be changed at regular intervals and the same combinations/answer will not be used twice. ((…)) Guests directly related or associated with staff working in the attraction will not be eligible for the prize fund, however are entitled to experience the attraction at a discounted rate. ((…)) An individual can only compete ONCE. If a team contains one or more contestants who have competed before, the WHOLE team will NOT be eligible for the prize fund“.

You know whether you like scare attractions or not. (Here, that’s a firm “no”.) You may well want to look on scare attraction web sites for reviews and comparisons to other events you might have attended. Nevertheless, the people behind Panic! have a strong track record, as discussed in this article in the Birmingham Mail. That article also has a gallery (as does this follow-up piece) and a video. Lots of big red buttons to push; this site wouldn’t dare.

A very welcome addition to the line-up of exit games in the UK, even if it’s one that this site will appreciate from many ten-foot bargepoles afar.


  1. The Hyde maze kickstarter had me until the line “And Hyde is searching for you”. And then it was a big No from me…

    Interesting to see that it’s struggling for support at the moment.

  2. While the horror aspect puts me off, I do love the idea of making actual combined physical/mental challenge rooms. Lot’s of games pride themselves on being accessible to disabled people etc. (and that’s very much a good thing) but I like the idea of going the opposite direction of “an overall physically demanding environment”. Though of course, it creates some interesting problems in the puzzle design space – if you make it so climbing things, pushing heavy things out of the way, etc. is a valid and expected way to finish things, you need to make sure puzzles can’t be ‘wrongly’ solved through those methods.


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