Some after-dinner fun

Winter scene with a snowmanWhether you have elaborate plans for your lunch or not, there are a few fun things you can do today between the main meal of the day and the last episode of Downton Abbey.

If you live near Preston, or even if you’re just visiting, you can get your exit game fix today at The Escape Room, who are open for business today as they are every other day. Hardcore! Are there any other sites out there who aren’t taking the day off? Will there be enough demand to make opening worthwhile? It’ll be interesting to see.

If Preston is too far to travel at little notice, there are alternatives where puzzles come to you. Dr. Bob Schaffer is running another online Holiday Puzzle Hunt. This is the fourth in the series; previous years’ hunts have been deliberately genuinely accessible and beginner-friendly yet thematic and imaginative. Experienced solvers will probably sprint through the three puzzles and the meta in a very few tens of minutes, but legitimate family fun to be enjoyed.

For a bigger challenge, East Anglia’s mobile pop-up Puzzle Room have put on a virtual Armchair Treasure Hunt to be enjoyed over the next two weeks. Thirteen cryptic questions hint at locations within East Anglia, letters of which can be extracted to reveal the location of the virtual treasure. One submitter of a correct answer will win a voucher for a team to play at the Puzzle Room in 2016; if you’re far from East Anglia and have no plans to visit, perhaps you can still enjoy the puzzles while taking part hors conours.

One more discount that arrived too late to make the previous post: Exit Games Scotland pointed to The Room of Glasgow’s deals page which has a code for a third off when you book before the end of the year to play before the middle of Feburary 2016.

Whatever you’re up to today, enjoy yourselves!

Good news for mid-December 2015

Cartoon of people reading newspapers and a bookToday feels like a day where three cheerful news stories would not go amiss.

The Room of Glasgow are distinctive for reasons including the sizes of the largest games that they offer; their Mansion Room game is designed for teams of 8 to 16 (though there may be some wiggle room) and their Party Room for teams of 10 to 16. Throughout December, there are a number of promotions being launched “by the resident elves”, notably a discount code available for those playing up to December 20th. The most delightful initiative is this one; as discussed on Facebook: “On the 16th of December, we will be hosting a Charity Day. We are offering 3 Party Room games for free for groups of disadvantaged children (from an orphanage, care home, or from poor families). We would like to give the gift of fun to these kids for Christmas, the way we can. We want to give back to the community, and thought it would be great to surprise kids with some caring and fun.” How kind! Exit Games UK commends the site on this thoughtful – and original! – gesture.

Breakout Manchester have launched a second site within the city centre, on the High Street near the Arndale shopping complex. (It’s about eight minutes’ walk from their first location, which remains open.) The new location will feature another John Monroe’s Detective Office, with a new room entitled Vacancy opening tomorrow – “Exhausted after a long journey, you place your bag down on the freshly made bed, ready to relax. Suddenly, an ominous sixty minute countdown begins. No matter what you try, the door will not open. Welcome to Crimson Lake Motel. You check in, but you NEVER check out…” – and a horror-themed Facility X room for players aged 16+ opening soon. “You arrive at an unknown location for a once in a lifetime opportunity; a conference held by the critically acclaimed, Dr. Andrews. His work is widely known throughout the research circles, but he has remained hidden in the shadows for years. What you don’t know, is that Dr. Andrews has gone mad, creating a string of tests that have gone disastrously wrong. He has brought you here for his final experiment.” A fourth room on the site is promised for January, and that’s not all; this new location is a big old space and there may very well be more to come.

Jackie from Locked In Edinburgh got in touch to enthuse about their second room. “Our theme has stemmed from having Pickering’s Gin Distillery sited directly below our escape rooms.” Exit Games UK loves games with local flavour, no pun intended, so the localism here is hard to beat. “The distillery reported a breakin which is thought to be an inside job. Which employee is plotting the distillery downfall and to where are Pickerings planning to move their gin stock for safe keeping? ((…)) A tour of the distillery can be incorporated, although probably best after players escape as the tour includes gin samples which may cloud people’s thinking heads!

Here’s a bonus cheerful news item, not related to exit games: while the shortest day of the year doesn’t happen for nearly another week, we’ve already reached the point in the year where the sun is starting to set later and later. Indeed, the UK is at a point in the year where both sunrise and sunset are getting later in the day, and which one is moving more quickly determines whether the day is lengthening or shortening. Take it as a sign that we’re already making it through the winter!

Late September new game news

"+ NEW GAME" graphicNew exit games are coming, both as additions to existing sites and to brand new sites of their own.

  • Liverpool’s gamEscape‘s Facebook page shows day after day with their single room in heavy utilisation, so a second room is a logical addition. Their second room is entitled Prison Cell and booking is currently available for it from Wednesday 23rd September onwards. “You have been locked up for a crime you did not commit! You are in lockdown, where many prisoners of the inescapable prison have tried, and ultimately FAILED to escape, there is a rumour that one inmate has successfully escaped. They left many clues, use the clues, solve the puzzles and become the first (officially) to escape before the warden comes back and shuts you in FOREVER.” Hopefully this will prove as popular as their first Golden Cage room!
  • The Room of Glasgow have two pieces of exciting news: the nights of Thursday 29th October to Sunday 1st November will see a temporary Hallowe’en Thrill. As they say on Facebook, “Remember how we always promise there’s nothing scary in our rooms? Well, for our Halloween event, we can promise the exact opposite!” The room asks “Do you have the courage to enter a haunted house? When all is pitch black and you cannot know what you would face? Do you have what it takes to handle the paranormal? If you do, book our special Halloween experience, a multi-room escape event with a haunted house twist! The game lasts about 40 minutes, available for groups of 2 to 5.” Fifty pounds per scream. Er, per team.
  • Staying with The Room, from November 11th, teams of two to four can pay £66 (or £55 with coupon code MYRMSP1) to play the new Mystic Room at the same location. “The oracle was found dead in her room. What happened? Why police is reluctant to investigate? What fortune was told to whom? Did the prophecy come true? What clues did the oracle leave behind, and are you able to read them? Can you use your wits and your senses to crack the case? You have one hour to find the answers and your way out of the mystery. Clairvoyants read the stars, and communicate with the afterlife. You might also need to do it for the truth may well be out there….
  • At the other end of the country, thanks to Ken for notice that new rooms are a-poppin’ at Escape Plan Live of Chatham, which opens at weekends only. A new Nuclear Winter sixty-minute game for teams of up to eight will be available from 11th October. Notably, it turns the usual premise completely on its head; you’re looking for a key, but not to unlock a door. “The inevitable has happened – as the bombs rained down, the initial blasts wiped out most of humanity; starvation and the extreme cold caused by the lack of sunlight took care of the rest… almost. Of the few survivors, radiation has ensured most have become ravenous zombie-like beings who are now just an hour away from your hideout – a kitchen where the cupboards may now be bare, but it does have what you really need… a door that locks! Can you find the key and use it to keep the cannibalistic hordes out?” November sees the addition of festive-themed games Mission: Save Christmas and The Naughty List for up to six. Cutely, you can specify players’ names to appear on a letter from Santa, or to be put in place on the titular Naughty List for the players to seek to remove. Presumably these will only be available at the appropriate times of year; 2016 will see the addition of an eight-player Arctic Freeze game, possibly inspired by the admitted notorious coldness of the location where the games take place!
  • It looks like Lock’d of London are opening their third room, Perpetuum Mobile, on Friday 25th September. In this game, rated at 4/5 keys of difficulty, “In just one hour, the world will be plunged into eternal darkness. And there’s only one person who can stop it. You. The planet’s delicate energy resources are about to run dry. And Professor Richter, the only man with the knowledge to save the world, has disappeared. The future of humankind is in your hands“. Looking at all the games listed as coming soon, might the site have plans to expand to nine different games? That would be mightily impressive.
  • There’s not really been enough information to talk about Escape Rooms Cardiff yet; their web site is currently still a placeholder, though their Facebook page is up and running. (Honesty kudos points because it doesn’t yet feature five-star reviews before the site has opened.) What the world does know is that there is a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help scale up their plans – very strongly recommended for those who know they’re going to play and want to secure an early bird discount. If you’re local and want to know more about what they’re about, they’re running an event called The Quest on Thursday 24th September at an adults-only after-hours event at the Techniquest science theatre and planetarium.
  • Should these not be enough for you and leave you asking “What are we going to do next?“, e-mail has arrived suggesting that Invitation To events, known for their Treasure Hunts in London, are set to release a book with possible answers to just that question, filled with the sorts of answers that readers to this site would enjoy!

End of July news round-up

Newspaper with spectacles and pencilDouble news round-up? Aargh, so many longer pieces to write, so little time to write them. Here’s an assortment of quick stories.

1) Time Run of London have extended their run into 2016 – specifically, until the end of January. Last time this site looked at their bookings after an extension, it looked like they were going to put the price up; now it doesn’t. Hurrah! Interestingly, it looks like you can book tickets for Christmas Day – if this is deliberate, that could well make it a Christmas Day to remember (though getting there might be tricky as public transport shuts down). Take a look at the extremely positive review from The Logic Escapes Me, who did remarkably well recently.

2) The Logic Escapes Me largely keeps itself to London and does so very successfully, but feeds a few interesting stories here as well. St. Helens, in eastern Merseyside (a place whose name can only be pronounced in the dulcet tones of rugbeh leeeg’s Eddie Waring) has a library system that is running a two-week pop-up escape room this August. (Love the retro Teletext graphics.) Much of the content has been generated at a school already and there are drop-in sessions for the local youth to add further ideas. The finished game will admit either four or five teams daily, each of up to four players; free tickets are available between Saturday 15th August and Saturday 29th August. A really exciting initiative; other library systems, take note!

3) However, something else exciting is coming to Merseyside even before then; Breakout Liverpool are launching their fifth room on Saturday 8th August. The game is entitled The Facility, a title picked in a public poll. In it, “You arrive at an unknown location for a once in a lifetime opportunity; a conference held by the critically acclaimed, Dr. Andrews. His work is widely known throughout the research circles, but he has remained hidden in the shadows for years. What you don’t know, is that Dr. Andrews has gone mad, creating a string of tests that have gone disastrously wrong. He has brought you here for his final experiment. You have one hour to escape his maze of tricks and games, before a deadly virus kills you all.

4) Play Exit Games have posted a competition in which you can win tickets to play Escape Plan in London. Very cool!

5) A quick couple of discounts: The Room of Glasgow have a Wowcher deal. You’ve got two days to buy a £39 voucher (down from £80) and until August 12th to use it to book a space on Sunday, August 16th, 23rd or 30th. Pretty specific, and terms and conditions apply, but if you can make it work then you can get a team of up to 10 players who have the chance to solve the mystery of Sarah Lynn. Back down in Liverpool, Exit Strategy posted a special deal to Facebook; for a limited time, buy a ticket for three players and you can play with up to five!

Hatches, a match and an underground patch

Cartoon of people reading newspapers and a bookSome quick news stories:

1) This site has previously discussed Escapologic of Nottingham and gamEscape of Liverpool as locations opening soon; happily, both launched as planned on Friday 1st May. They look cool as well as being exciting additions to both of their cities; best of luck to them both.

A couple of weird coincidences: there are only two exit games in the UK whose names include the word “logic”, and they’re both in Nottingham. This site is also not quite sure where to put the stress in either of the names (EscaPOlogic? EscapoLOgic? EscaPOLOgic? GamEScape? GAMEscape?) when you pronounce either of them out loud. No matter!

2) The Room opened in Glasgow only four weeks ago, but already it has hosted its first proposal! Congratulations to the happy couple, and to The Room as well. This isn’t the first exit game to host a proposal; the Breakout Manchester Twitter was appropriately joyous when they hosted theirs, and it seems far more likely than not that other sites have hosted proposals as well. This site only hopes that exit games have hosted more proposals than they have caused divorces.

3) Last March, in the first dozen days or so of the life of the site, this site pondered whether there might ever be an exit game in a deep-level shelter, far beneath the streets of London. Entirely seriously, something rather similar to this might become an option. Transport for London recently announced that its “Commercial Development team are looking for third party partners to develop innovative commercial projects across Underground, Rail and Surface Transport assets“. The current opportunity is one of the most evocative of them all: Down Street station, on the Piccadilly line until it was closed over 80 years ago; Wikipedia notes that it was “used by prime minister Winston Churchill and his war cabinet until the Cabinet War Rooms were ready for use“.

TfL will be launching a Down Street station bidders’ conference to launch the tender process; the brochure (6 MB .pdf) invites you, among other things, to “Imagine a truly immersive theatrical production performed in front of a small, exclusive audience” in part of the lift shaft. If there can be a theatrical production, there can be an exit game, either there or in any of several other parts of the facility – and, with the right story, maybe one with as much authenticity as it gets. This site gets the impression that it wouldn’t be cheap, but if the right site ever thought about Going Underground, this might be the ideal opportunity.

Bonus! 4) Considering the world’s biggest sporting event taking place this evening, Escape Live win huge timeliness and topicality points for this delightful pun.

Early April news

Rolled-up newspaper

A quick round-up of a few news stories:

The BBC quote Netmums as suggesting that On average, parents spend £135 on their child’s party, with one-in-six parents admitting to splashing out over £300. A few sites emphasise their suitability for parties, at least for older children; The Room of Glasgow have a room designed to be played by 10-16-year-olds (and 10-16 of them!) and The Gr8 Escape of Belfast have a number of party packages available. Definitely a route well worth considering.

This site was excited to see Can You Escape? of Edinburgh make a Pitch to Rich as part of Virgin Media Business’ so-entitled competition. The site launches its second, Operation Odyssey, room on Thursday, and even other local sites’ owners are looking forward to getting to play it. Can You Escape?‘s pitch seems to have got off to a popular start; this site wishes it well – and any other sites pitching for the funding, of course.

The Escape Game Addicts team played six exit games in a single day on Tuesday, escaping all of them, and made a must-read post about their epic day. To the best of this site’s knowledge, that’s an all-comers record for the UK – unless you know otherwise – though Daniel Hill of Escape played eight in a day in Budapest once. (Doubt that would have taken 110 miles of driving, mind you…)

Many congratulations to Enigma Escape of London, whose Kickstarter campaign finished up 112% funded, the first UK campaign to reach its goal. Follow its founders’ Twitter accounts at @sam_the_enigma and @hon_the_enigma to learn the behind-the-scenes story as the site gets built and under way.

Finally, this weekend sees the fourth round of the Puzzle Grand Prix series organised by the World Puzzle Federation – and this round has puzzles from Dutch authors. Take a look at the instruction booklet and if it’s for you, you have until Monday night to carve out a 90-minute window in which to answer puzzles to score yourself as many points as you can.

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.

Coming soon to Glasgow: The Room

The Room logoGlasgow has been the biggest urban area in the UK with only one exit game for some time; Escape Glasgow has been top of the Fun Activities & Games list there for some time, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that others see the area as ripe for further development of the genre.

The Room is set to open shortly in Glasgow, taking bookings from their opening weekend of 3rd-5th April onwards. They will be opening with four rooms: the Spy Room, the Identity Room, the Mansion Room and a Party Room. The extremely attractive and modern-looking (though, deliberately, not futuristic-looking) web site suggests that the Spy Room and Identity Room are both 60-minute games for ideal team sizes of 3-6, whereas the Mansion Room is a 75-minute game with a claimed ideal team size of 8-12 and the Party Room‘s 75-minute game is set up to host 10-16 bright sparks, aged ten and up.

The Spy Room sees you as MI6 agents, tasked to sneak into the office of a powerful and rich businessman, who is suspected of financing criminals. The pressure is now on you to find the hard evidence to nail the bad guys. ((…)) find the evidence and the spare key to the office (as it accidentally locked behind you when you entered) to accomplish the mission. National security depends on you!

Perhaps you prefer the Identity Room, where The owner of the apartment has gone missing for a year. Concerned neighbours have alerted the police and they have sent their best team – you – to investigate the case. Searching the apartment makes it clear that there are dark secrets beneath the surface. What do those reoccurring signs mean? Who is the mysterious tenant? Where is he now? This one is aimed at those who like devious plots in films (and who doesn’t?) and those who like to test their logical abilities.

The sheer size and scale of the Mansion Room catches the eye. Sir Riddles, the late lord of Fort Ardreck died in complete solitude, as he had decided to escape society and turn his back to the world decades before. His home castle at the edge of lands stood still forgotten until one day you and your friends sliding slightly off beaten tracks arrived at its once magnificent doors. Inspired by tales of ghosts and treasures, you entered and made your way to the main Hall, closing the heavy door behind you… This tale of plunder sounds particularly exciting if you have a large team who always fancied themselves as Scooby’s meddling kids.

The standard price of the 60-minute games is £65 between the team of probably 3-6, and that of the 75-minute game is £149 between the team of probably 8-12. That said, there are a number of opening discounts available for those who can act quickly. Book before 5th April and those prices are cut by 30% to £46 and £104 respectively. The site’s flyer suggests that if you can book before 20th March, then on top of your discount, each team member will also receive a gift as well. If you book for the opening weekend (3rd-5th April, though the Mansion Room opens a little later) then your team gets another gift on top – and these do stack, so a very early booking for the opening weekend looks like about as big a bargain as it gets.

A generous start and ambitious plans; ambition is to be celebrated and rewarded. Big games might just mean big fun!