New rooms from the newsroom

The NewsroomSeveral sites have refreshed their line-ups recently; others have just plan expanded. Here are details of the new rooms at existing sites that Exit Games UK has found recently. If your new room is missing, please let Exit Games UK know and the list shall grow longer.

  • Let’s go very roughly north to south, so that this way the list can start with a site with two new rooms. Breakout Games Aberdeen of the Granite City have overhauled their offering to introduce a pair of new treats for 2016. The Amazon has opened with a bang to become the most challenging game on site and is not recommended for beginners. “Plunged into the depths of the Amazon your team are charged with finding a priceless ancient artifact in an escape room filled with twists, turns and surprises. Will you be lost in the jungle for all eternity?” The two Lock and Key rooms have been replaced with two Deadlock rooms, enabling teams to race against each other: “DEADLOCK is the perfect escape game to introduce new groups to escape games in a race against the clock! With two identical escape rooms of DEADLOCK teams of 12 can race to escape completing exactly the same puzzles. With riddles, codes to crack and some twists and turns along this way this new puzzle is fantastic fun with a three star difficulty rating!” The site is also installing two identical copies of Black and White in March, which will make it one of the biggest sites in the land.
  • Down to Newcastle where Lost and Escape were feeling excited on Facebook about their new room, The Dungeon. Follow that link for the pictures; the story for the room suggests that “You accidentally went into an ancient house. The door of the house is a time machine, which brought you back to the 1900s. You found strange symbols everywhere. The only way to go back is to get the key in 60 minutes. The person who runs out of time will be locked in the past. Can you travel back successfully?
  • Next to Manchester where Breakout Manchester have added their ninth room, this one in their High Street offshoot. In Most Wanted, Ray Cokes chats with production and viewers while introducing… oh, not that Most Wanted. “It’s another race to escape although this time the bigger reward you collect, the higher up on the leaderboard you will go! ((…)) Think of yourselves as Bounty Hunters of the Wild West breaking in to a Saloon in search of loot! Make sure you’re out by the time the Sheriff returns, even if it means leaving some of your riches behind, or you’ll end up spending the night in a cell as Breakout Manchester’s Most Wanted!” There have been rooms which award scores in the past; sometimes scores can be analogues for solving time, as the longer you spend cracking the pre-scoring puzzles, the less time you have to work on the additional challenges which determine your score. Here, it’s clear; “Time is important to your game… but the reward means more to your team!
  • At the south end of Greater Manchester, Code to Exit of Altrincham have now opened their second room full-time. In The Test, which they describe on Facebook as being without keys, padlocks or furniture, “An alien life force has been experimenting with the human DNA. They tempered with few of us and mixed their genes with ours. You are being abducted to complete the tests and find out if it was successful. Are you intelligent enough to represent our species? If you pass you will be set free.” The site have also suggested that their third game is only two or three months away and will feature quite an unusual theme that this site is looking forward to. Code to Exit now offer discounts to people booking off-peak, to students and to birthday parties; they also offer team-building days during office hours as well.
  • Bristol is apparently further north than Gravesend by scant seconds of latitude, so Puzzlair have announced that they are taking bookings for their fifth room, The Poltergeist Room, which opens next week in their Puzzlair 2 location. “A widow lived in this room with her daughter, and suddenly they disappeared. Every once in a while people seen the silhouette of a woman walking around in the rooms. The players have to find out the reason behind the disappearance and also produce a successful ghost exorcism in order to escape the room in 60 minutes.
  • The Panic Room of Gravesend are running their current room for another week and a half, then will be taking a few days off to change it over to The Witch House, running in March and April. “Our next mystery begins with a student who rents a room inside an old house with a long and dark history. His dreams are haunted by those of a Witch from the town’s legend. During the witch trials of 1692 she disappeared never to be seen again. It’s 11pm and your team has been sent to help the poor student uncover the mystery that lies within the room. What happened to the witch? Can you break the curse before the clock strikes midnight?” Eek!
  • Salisbury Escape Rooms write to say “Since initially opening at Easter 2015 with the Magna Carta challenge, in October 2015 we changed the theme to Murder in the Museum. Players are met and briefed by a detective then led to the reception of the Salisbury Smithsonian Museum. A body has been found and a suspect is in custody. Police have one hour left to either charge him or release him. The team are required to find the missing evidence and get out within the hour. The new game, again designed, built and run by retired detectives is proving to be very popular. Tripadvisor reviews have been excellent and several teams who have completed many escape rooms have said that this is the best they have done!
  • Lastly to Exeter where Mission Escape have added a third room, with more promised to launch this year. This one is deliberately designed to cater for teams of no more than four players. In the Pharaoh’s Anger room, you must “Make your way through the tomb of the Kings… be careful not to disturb the dead. Align the Celestial bodies to release you from the Pharaoh’s wrath or be entombed forever“. Nobody wants that!

Building extensions

Building extensionsOctober has been a very fruitful month for existing sites adding new rooms. Here’s a round-up of at least some of the sites that have added, or are about to add, new rooms to their line-up.

  • Cryptology of Nottingham opened their new room, The Crypt, on October 10th. “Pharaoh Rameses has sent you and your peers to The Crypt where you will starve. Some of his minions are sympathisers and have given you the means to escape. Can you and your team unshackle and free yourselves before the guard comes to make their first inspection?” This adds to their already popular Cypherdyne room, both of which take 2-5 players, and their Group Detective tour of the city.
  • Exit Newcastle, of -on-Tyne rather than -under-Lyme, were a day later with their new Volatile Laboratories game for two to six. “You find yourselves trapped and infected in a top secret laboratory that’s been sent into lockdown. Will you be able to find the antidote and release the Exit? (Please note that Volatile Labs begins in a confined space. It is also not suitable for those with epilepsy.)
  • A day later still, Salisbury Escape Room reopened with a brand new game, Murder at the Museum, replacing their prior Magna Carta Challenge. There’s no written description available, but have an online video instead, showing how it takes advantage of the founders’ legal backgrounds.
  • Not just a new game at Puzzlair of Bristol, but a whole new location. The original location, Puzzlair 1 remains open with its two games; the new location, Puzzlair 2, opens on Monday 26th with two new games and a third to follow soon, as discussed at 365bristol. The new games are The Warehouse of Jack Travis, in which you search through said storage facility for clues to a hidden rare diamond, found during African explorations and set to be donated to the Crown Jewels until Travis’ untimely disappearance, and the Secret Agent room, wherein a double agent has stolen the complete list of MI6 agents and you are required to identify the double-dealing counterspy and return the agent list to its proper owners. The Poltergeist Room will be the third game at the new location, set to open in November for players aged 18+.
  • Code to Exit of Altrincham are set to open their second room on 14th November. In The Test, the story goes that “An alien life force has been experimenting with the human DNA. They tempered with few of us and mixed their genes with ours. You are being abducted to complete the tests and find out if it was successful. Are you intelligent enough to represent our species? If you pass you will be set free.” Maybe best not to find out what happens if you don’t pass.
  • Looking further ahead still, Lost and Escape of Newcastle have announced on Twitter that their Time Travel to the 1900s game must close at the end of Earth Year 2015 – but, in happier news, new games are under construction and will hopefully be available in Feburary 2016.
  • Ex(c)iting Game of Oxford have added not so much a new room as a whole new outdoor game on October 8th, The Time Machine. Apparently bus 8, regardless of whether it is being operated by Stagecoach or by the Oxford Bus Company, acts as a time machine when you take it towards the city centre. “You are members of a secret society who suspect the existence of the time machine and impending danger, but you cannot specify it. Now you will be engaged in a secret mission in which you need to get the information necessary to find out what will jeopardize Oxford and in what year! Your task is to detect the precise details, so you’ll have time to prepare for the impending danger and prevent it.” This game, for groups of 2-5 (but maybe up to a dozen or so such groups, each starting 15 minutes apart?) is only available before 2pm because it relies on the opening times of some of the other buildings that you may have to visit in the city, which do change from time to time. The short version costs £45 and takes 2-3 hours; the long version costs £55 and takes 4-5 hours, possibly split over two days.
  • While in an Oxford frame of mind, the Jailbreak! game at Oxford Castle has undergone a complete makeover. It’s now only available after 7pm and has been revamped so that it now caters for parties of 10-15; the price has likewise been revamped to £250 for the team, though this includes a glass of house wine. (Subject to confirmation: per player, not per team.)

And finally, in bigger news still, congratulations to Enigma Quests of London on their opening day today! Their first such Quest sees you “brew some potions and defeat dark arts” as you explore a magical academy.

Looking forward to DASH and more from north to south

DASH logoWhat are you doing on May 30th? If you don’t have FA Cup final tickets and you’re not competing in the London Triathlon, and if you’re not getting married, then you may well want to participate in the seventh iteration of the DASH puzzle hunt, set to take place in London, Montreal and over a dozen cities in the US. The official account has tweeted that “We’ll be opening up registration at the end of March” so time to finalise your team in preparation – or to work out if you want to help run the event instead.

Next scheduled opening is The Room of Glasgow, set to open on Friday and still offering attractive-looking discounts on the regular prices for another week. This site enjoyed reading this preview from playtesters and also a report from STV Glasgow. Very interesting to see mention of a future design intended to be played by couples, as well as the known-about Mansion Room, set to be playable by parties as large as 16. Thinking big and thinking small? There may well be a lot to look forward to from this site yet!

Salisbury Escape officially opened yesterday; the site has already earned glowing early reviews, presumably from playtesters, not that there’s anything unusual in that, and a revealing article courtesy of Spire FM. This site looks forward to more and more reviews for their first game, Magna Carta Challenge, coming in as well as seeing more times on their leaderboard. This site doesn’t often promote things without puzzles, but it looks extremely tempting to double up a trip to Salisbury for an escape with a visit to hugely exciting-looking Friday night pinball club Special When Lit which may well live up to its name.

Exit games in the news

"Daily News" newspaperThere have been several more interesting news stories recently about exit games, well worth a round-up:

  • Most recently, The Guardian had an overview of the genre, with a focus on the games available in Toronto. The article claims that there are 37 facilities, so clearly it was written quite some while before it was published, but it’s enthusiastic (if slightly spoiler-y) and in the right spirit.
  • Living North magazine’s edition relating to the north-east of England had a really enthusiastic piece about their trip to Escape Newcastle, with four different perspectives showing how much the game can be enjoyed whether you might consider yourself a natural puzzle fan or not.
  • From the north-east of England to the north-east of Scotland, the Evening Express of Aberdeen had one of the better-informed preview articles that this site has seen about the then-upcoming Breakout Games Aberdeen, which seems to have got off to an excellent start. Good to find out a little about the story that inspired the couple to start their site.
  • Towards the other end of the country, the Salisbury Journal had a preview piece for the upcoming Salisbury Escape Rooms, set to launch towards the end of the month. As the piece says, The attraction in Salisbury is believed to be the only one set up by real detectives who have spent their careers investigating crime as Wiltshire Police officers – now that is quite a distinctive claim to fame!
  • Further afield, the ARGNet web site approach the genre from a different starting-point and take a very broad perspective of not just exit games but other related puzzling pursuits and associated adventures that came beforehand.
  • The famous CNET tech site also have an introduction to the genre, but emphasise one particular site in Sydney’s particular approaches to hinting that help people stay in-character and go into detail over way that site integrates digital and physical gameplay. Lots to think about!

Sites’ preview articles and more general overviews of the genre are two of the more common formats for mass media coverage, so this site won’t attempt to list them all; however, these were some of the most interesting examples of their type, as well as offering good examples of how sites can get their names around quickly.

Coming soon to Salisbury: Salisbury Escape Room

Salisbury Escape RoomPerhaps “soon” is pushing it a little with this one, for the projected opening date is “Easter 2015”. Nevertheless, based on the description of the first room, it should be well and truly worth waiting for.

Remember how Escape Hour‘s Steve Nicoll said, of his game’s Edinburgh location: Tourists come from all over the world to experience our culture and immerse themselves in our history. Why not play an escape game and learn a wee bit about of the local history too?… Tick off that dose of culture instead of going to the museum! Something very similar could be said about the first game at Salisbury Escape Room and the consequences look spectacular.

The first game, Magna Carta Challenge, is based on “…the intrigue and disputes between King John, his half brother The Earl of Salisbury and Pope Innocent II”. Regarded as England’s most ruthless monarch, King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta to stave off civil war with the country’s barons. Now 800 years later the secrets it has hidden are about to be revealed by Professor Smith. The Professor and the the greatest copy of the Magna Carta have gone. Your task is to find them and save yourself by using your skill to decipher the clues left during the past 800 years.

The Magna Carta was originally signed on 15th June 1215 and there are great plans to celebrate the 800th anniversary. The effects of the protection of personal liberties that it sought to give can be felt through the centuries, to a greater or lesser extent. Why Salisbury? Well, the Cathedral there has has one of the four remaining exemplified copies. The game neatly evokes a sense of mild temporal progression by moving from medieval to modern times using physical and multi-media clues.

This sounds distinctive and delightful. This site looks forward to following the progress in Salisbury and seeing if it can fulfil its tremendous potential.