The Lock of the Irish


After delving into Welsh news, it’s time to head across the Irish Sea to the Emerald Isle. Unlike Wales, Ireland has had escape rooms almost as long as anywhere in the British Isles with Escap3D in Belfast and XIT in Dublin being the second and third entries in the timeline respectively. Fast forward to mid-2016 and there are now thirteen venues open across the island. Many of those have already been covered in earlier articles on this site, but here’s the new news.

1) Discovering a new escape room is always a joy, but discovering one that has been open for a while is a rare joy indeed.  This site has never seen a room that has managed to fly under the radar for as long as the one at Lifford Old Courthouse. According to the Twitter feed, the first players entered Jailbreak in June of 2015, almost a full year ago.  At €8 per person, it’s a veritable steal, while if you fancy something that’s less of a metaphorical steal and more of a literal one then their new game, Heist, can entertain you for a still modest €12 per person. This site applauds the criminal theming of rooms set in a courthouse and looks forward to hearing more from Lifford in the future.

2) Back in January this site reported, somewhat belatedly on the October opening of an escape room in Galway.  It’s almost embarrassing then to find that not one, but two venues opened in Galway that month. So, almost eight months late let this site introduce you to Great Escape Rooms. The venue already boasts three separate rooms, Quarantine, Prison Room and the Auld Shebeen Room, each of which can hold 2-8 people at a cost of €40-120 depending on numbers.  No descriptions for any of those rooms, which was particularly intriguing for the final one – this site had to Google shebeen to find out that it was an unlicensed establishment.

3) Moving along to more recent openings, Escapade Cobh opened this month in, unsurprisingly, the town of Cobh. For those readers whose Irish geography is lacking, that’s on the south coast of Ireland near to Cork. Escape from Spike Island is a locally themed game for 2-6 players, costing €50-75. Spike Island, in the middle of Cork Harbour, has been an island prison for centuries but in the 1990’s it was used as correctional facility for young offenders. You and your cell mates are imprisoned for stealing cars and racing them through the streets of your home towns. By solving clues and breaking codes you can escape. Late Night Bank Robbery has the same capacity and pricing: You are a team of professional robbers that have been assigned to get into the Cobh Trustee Savings Bank and transfer into an offshore account the incredible amount of €1 Billion. Your client has made some arrangements to allow you to successfully enter the bank premises and vaults. An accomplice employee of the bank will have left clues for you to decode and instructions to follow to allow you to access an account and transfer the money to an offshore bank account. Finally, due to open in September, Sherlock Holmes’ Last Case pits your team in the role of the famous detective, tracking down some legal documents: One last case before his retirement brings Sherlock Holmes to Queenstown. There is evidence that Sir Hugh Lane, who died at the board of RMS Lusitania a few years before in 1915 had an office in the town. Here he might have kept a number of documents relating to his valuable art collection. It is Sherlock’s duty to follow any clues the collector might have left in his rooms and discover the documents which will end the legal dispute about where this art collection will be permanently exhibited.

4) Moving up to Northern Ireland, Escape Hour have brought their game over to the capital with bookings for Escape Rooms Belfast available for next week. Interestingly, at least for this site, they’ve opted to open two copies of the same room, rather than take across separate games which suggests they think the head-to-head market could be lucrative.  Major Plott’s revenge is a spy escape game, where teams of between 2 and 6 players enter the office of an ex KGB spy master with a mission to try and steal his top secret plan before he returns in an hour. The game has space for 2-5 players and costs £35-60 per team.

5) Finally, on the escape room front at least, Breakfree NI opened in Lisburn with two rooms, Curse of the Pharaoh and The Creepy Dark House. No descriptions of the games on their website, but they both cost £45 per team for 2-6 players.  Pleasingly, to this site’s eyes, the FAQ specifically mentions that the venue is wheelchair accessible.

6) Finally, while not an escape room, the opening of GoQuest is surely of interest to followers of this blog. Avid readers will have heard about Boda Borg and as far as this site can ascertain, GoQuest is a similar type of establishment. Described as an Indoor Challenge Zone, it aims itself at children and adults with 27 different “rooms”, 4 different zones and physical, mental and skill challenges. They charge €16.50 per person for an 85 minute session and teams are made up of 3-5 people. With the success of the Crystal Maze and these two establishments opening in Ireland, how long before we see similar challenge sites opened up across the British Isles?

As referenced above, it’s perfectly possible for escape rooms to go under the radar for an extended period and this site is happy to find out about any escape rooms of which it was previously unaware. So, if you are aware of any sites that aren’t shown on the map, please do get in touch!

Now open in Dublin: Escape

Dublin graffitiSo many iconic images of Dublin to choose, but the first law of web site maintenance is that when the owls with laser eyes want something, you don’t argue with them.

The Escape chain is the first to get to four different locations covered by this site, though may not (or may yet!) be the first to get to four different locations within the UK, for this is their first site in the Republic of Ireland. Specifically, their new opening is in Dublin. For completeness: Escape also have two copies of their da Vinci room and one of their Contagion room installed at Escape Yourself in Tours, in France, and their Escape Game Design spin-off may well be involved with other locations around the world.

It may be the case that the process of getting this Dublin location has proved more difficult than any of the three before it, but that’s part of the additional difficulty of becoming a multinational corporation! The location is opening with a brand new game: Espionage, with an unusual story. “Our first game in Dublin is called Espionage. It is set in an everyday apartment. However as you may expect there is a twist. Your team have been challenged with retrieving data that has been obtained by the journalist residing there. The apartment consists of clean lines and minimalistic design to hide a variety of complexities. In rooms containing hidden drawers, locked boxes and other more obscure items you need to try and find where to begin. That could be the biggest puzzle of them all.” There may well be another twist in the tale as well! This brand new game is set to be accompanied by a da Vinci room very soon.

Dublin is becoming better and better served for exit games, with the native Irish XIT and a local representative of the international hit franchise Adventure Rooms. (Sadly the local branch of fellow multinational ESCAP3D is temporarily closed; we hope the return comes swiftly.) Considering the mix of originality and the experience of the game designers, it would be a great trip to try to hit them all at once!

Now open in Dublin: Adventure Rooms

Adventure Rooms Dublin logoThis site has mentioned the global Adventure Rooms brand in passing previously; a quick trip down a Wikipedia rabbit-hole suggested that they had now expanded to branded rooms in ten or eleven countries, putting them among the world’s most widely spread exit game brands – maybe at the very top, maybe joint top, maybe merely very near the top, further research is necessary. One of these countries, as of earlier in the month, is Ireland; Adventure Rooms Dublin‘s “About Us” page quotes a launch date of March 15th.

The site has a single sixty-minute game, “The Original Swiss Adventure“, which can be played either by one team of two to six or, in “duel” mode, by two teams each of three to five. This site couldn’t swear that the same thing has to apply here, but previously having written about a duel mode at Adventure Rooms in Kitchener in Canada, it might be that the same structure applies for duel games here as over there. The Adventure Rooms Canada blog also has more about the background of the Adventure Rooms operation; fascinating to read the creation story.

Room Escape Artist also reviewed the Swiss Original game at Adventure Rooms in another country still; while there’s no guarantee that the games will be the same in Dublin as the US, the site spoke highly of the cool equipment that the game contained and the way that the puzzles could be solved in a number of different ways. You can find other reviews elsewhere still.

An organisation with such a breadth of experience should be able to learn from its mistakes and spread global best practice quickly and effectively. It’s clear that the Adventure Rooms operation at large has some pretty cool ideas going on; it’s not so clear which combination of cool concepts that it has pulled out to play in Dublin, or which other twists it might bring to the table in the future when more rooms are added. This site looks forward very much to reading reviews and learning what people think!

Now open in Dublin: ESCAP3D

ESCAP3D banner showing two locationsCongratulations to the first exit game site to open a second location, Escap3d, which launched in Dublin on Friday 1st August. The achievement is all the more impressive for being international; Belfast is in Northern Ireland, Dublin is in Ireland. Different currencies, different laws, doubtless many other differences as well. The site is launching with a single hour-long game, charging teams of 2-6 €80 per game. The site is available over lunchtime and in the evening, Wednesdays to Sundays.

A very short-lived Groupon deal sold 78 vouchers extremely quickly; as the vouchers have sold out, there’s no point in going into detail, but those lucky enough to grab the vouchers while they were going have until the end of October to go and play. The Groupon deal also reveals the location of the site, which has been added to the map: it’s at Unit 2, Avonbeg Industrial Estate, Longmile Road, Dublin 12, which is within a mile or so of XIT, Ireland’s first site.

Escap3d in Belfast and XIT both seem to be proving popular, so this suggests that the people behind the Belfast site should be able to put their experience to good use and come up with another hit!