For a long time Yorkshire looked distinctly under represented in the escape room industry. Only the NE of England and Wales took longer to jump on the bandwagon but Yorkshire is certainly making up for it now. So often, expansion is brought about by local individuals seeing an opportunity but this time round it’s mainly an invasion from north of Hadrian’s Wall as two out of the three companies, Escape and Can You Escape?, are originally from Scotland. The third is home grown in Doncaster but even they are looking to expand with plans already in the works to colonise other parts of the county.
1) Escape have an ever growing list of franchise locations, but this time round they’ve got their eyes set on Doncaster. With a large stable of games, it’s always interesting to see what they’ll release in any given town. This time round they’re opening with two games on 6th August, Da Vinci and Area 51. They’ve gone for an interesting pricing model of a fixed £66 per team of 3-5 people with a discount of £18 for teams of 2. If you get in quick, though, you can grab a veritable bargain. Any game booked during August is a mere £39 – as little as £8 per person.
Area 51 is a title that instantly brings to mind a particular type of game but in case you’re in any doubt: “Roswell is a highly debated subject. Imagine something similar on your doorstep… rumour has it that there was an incident and hidden away in a basement there is evidence to prove it. No one knows what it contains but you and your friends are about to find out as you have stumbled across it.”
The Da Vinci Room sees you “take on the role of thief, but for the greater good. Dr John Albright has studied the workings of Da Vinci in great detail. He has amassed a huge collection over the years, including what many believe to be the Holy Grail. Having gained his trust by helping him “acquire” items over the years, you have access to areas of his home and knowledge of his security that no-one else does. You’ve been paid well for your services over the years, but you’ve always felt that an item of the importance of the Holy Grail should be on display for all to see. The professor is away and now is your chance. Get in the room, grab the grail and get out. It should be easy! “The Da Vinci Room” is a live escape game with a twist, you need to get an item out of the room as well as you! The setting is a beautiful old study with artwork, certificates and various vintage items ranging from typewriters to violin cases! Primarily focusing on code-breaking, symbolism and association problems The Da Vinci Room offers an exciting challenge for players young and old.”
2) Enigma Rooms is a home-grown Doncaster company which already has three games to its name.
Opening on 8th April, the Clueless Detective Agency casts you as detectives in your office where a case has just landed on your desk. A murder! You only have 60 minutes to solve the murder and escape.
In parallel with that game, they also released Ward 13 where you’ve been mistakenly taken and have only 60 minutes to escape before been trapped here forever. Ward 13 is otherwise known as The Morgue!
Their most recent game, Hostage, opened on 1st July and sees you and your team captured and placed in confinement with only 60 minutes to escape before you are taken for interrogation!
Games are for 2-6 people and cost £40-70 depending on numbers. No word on whether they plan to open new games at that location, but not content with the Doncaster outfit, they’ve already started expanding and have targeted Sheffield for their first invasion. No details on timelines as of yet. Watch this space!
3) Completing the Scottish invasion, Can You Escape? are an Edinburgh-based company that have been looking to expand for a while. Indeed, they recently got funding to develop a portable game – a veritable Trojan horse of an escape room. Their franchise in York has but a single game for now: Operation Lone Eagle. In the game, an embarrassing incident earlier this year left world renowned scientist, Doctor Aquila Mind, red faced. Not taking the incident lightly, he has since been working on a machine that will erase the incident and all other memories from people’s minds. His Assistant has seen the light and wants to put a stop to the Doctor’s evil plans. He can’t do this alone and so is recruiting spies of the highest calibre to put a halt to things, do you have what it takes to stop him, navigate his room and retrieve the trigger before the clock hits zero?
The game opened back at the start of May and costs £40-70 for 2-5 players.