Looking ahead to 2017: predictions for the year

Peering into a Crystal Ball

This site ran prediction features over the last three years, albeit penned (so to speak) by a different author, with varying levels of success. Time for this new author to put a stake in the ground so that in a year’s time we can look back and laugh at his naivety. It’s always hard to predict the future and even harder to put some level of certainty on those predictions but the following predictions are based on things that fall somewhere in the 50-75% likelihood range.

Prediction: Escape rooms will appear in more than half of the following locations:

  • In Scotland: Falkirk, Stirling.
  • In England: Basingstoke, Bolton, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Colchester, Luton, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • In Wales: Bridgend.
  • In NI: Derry.
  • In Ireland: Limerick

At this stage, there are very, very few obvious gaps in the UK market. This site is aware of possible companies starting up in three of the above locations, but the rest have no activity.

Prediction: Escape rooms will appear on a UK made soap opera or equivalent.

We’ve seen them appear on The Big Bang Theory, The Middle and various other US shows but it feels like they’ve become mainstream enough in the UK that they’ll appear in some context on a nationally-aired soap.

Prediction: Escape rooms will appear on a UK made nationally broadcast reality TV show.

There are plenty of UK escape room companies looking to expand rapidly and what better way than to get themselves into the limelight via reality TV? There are any numbers of ways that could happen but a few that spring to mind:

  • The Apprentice: Creating their own pop up escape room would be a great set of property/production/marketing challenges with the opportunity to laugh at contestants for coming up with outlandish ideas or not understanding the solution to simple puzzles.
  • Dragon’s Den: Plenty of companies are looking to expand rapidly so perhaps one of the smaller players in the market will look for seed funding and a fair amount of exposure?
  • TOWIE or similar: Want to see human interactions at their worst? Then throw people who don’t get on well into an escape room.

Prediction: A new escape-room-like venue will be announced in the UK similar to Boda Borg, the Crystal Maze or GoQuest.

Boda Borg’s recent expansion to Boston is proving popular while the Crystal Maze has shot to success in London and has a new location opening in Manchester. It seems almost inevitable that a company such as Boda Borg will attempt to expand into the UK.

Prediction: At least four overseas franchises not currently in the UK and Ireland will open a room.

It’s hard to predict which companies might find these shores attractive, but it feels like that at least a couple of the Russian franchises will choose to target the UK and Escape Hunt making a reappearance seems almost inevitable given its recent acquisition by a UK-based holding company. Perhaps SCRAP will see fit to bring one of their games across from the US or one of the other major US players will put some feelers out on this side of the Atlantic (where Escapology from Florida seems like a good bet).

Prediction: At least one theme park operator will open a permanent escape room

We’ve had a couple of Hallowe’en escape rooms open in the past in Alton Towers and Thorpe Park but this year feels like the one where they’ll go mainstream enough to open a permanent attraction.

Prediction: At least one company will have 50 rooms running across the UK and Ireland by the end of the year

Escape currently have 30, Clue HQ are on 28, Locked in a Room have 21 and The Escape Room have 19. It seems just possible that one of those (or maybe as a long shot, Escape Reality?) will open enough venues to pull themselves across the line.

Prediction: At least 50 venues will close in 2016

It can’t all be happy news, not that all closures are necessarily unhappy. We’ve seen around 20 venues shut their doors in 2016 but as the market hots up and the big players start throwing their weight around, this site expects to see a few companies decide to close the doors. Some will be sudden closures but I expect a fair number to just see out the end of their leases and then call it a day.

Prediction: At least ten new play-at-home escape rooms will launch and be available in the UK

With ThinkFun’s offerings proving reasonably successful and various other companies getting in on the act in 2016, it feels likely that the trend will expand in 2017 with new versions from the existing companies but also brand new companies piggy backing off the existing success.

Prediction: At least 100 people will gather for an escape game industry related event

Specifically, not an escape room experience but some sort of event that is aimed at owners and enthusiasts – a conference or unconference or just some sort of fun meet up. The UK unconference in London in July of last year saw around 50 people gather and next week’s looks likely to have around 70 so, assuming expansion continues and a suitable venue can be found, it seems reasonable to assume the industry can bring together 100 people.

And finally the big one:

Prediction: At some point during 2017, 1000 escape rooms will be open across the UK and Ireland.

1000 escape rooms across the UK and Ireland. Yes, One thousand. Last year saw the market more than double. I think we’ll see a similar level of new rooms opening but I think we’ll also see a huge number of rooms closing with the result that we’ll just scrape over the line in the last quarter. I don’t think the market will quite have peaked and I certainly don’t expect the bubble to burst. Sadly, for enthusiasts, I suspect a significant proportion of those games will be franchises expanding across the countries so there won’t be anything like as many as 1000 experiences. Perhaps “just” 700?

Escape Room Rumours – 9 January 2017


Happy New Year and welcome to the first 2017 installment of the UK and Irish escape game rumours. This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Things have understandably been quiet over Christmas but they’re just starting to wake up again:

  • National/International
    • In case you haven’t heard, President Obama played an escape room in Hawaii on Christmas Eve.
    • I came across this interesting blog post from the University of Southampton about creating an escape room in an educational setting.
    • No idea where in the country but the Escape Legends site popped on to my radar. Anyone know more?
    • Escape rooms in another educational setting as part of a medical conference in Gloucester.
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Stoke are launching on 27 January with two copies of the brand’s Da Vinci game. That’s just the beginning – in the next few months they plan to bring EMCU Trials, Area 51 and Taken to the area.
  • South East England
    • Escape Hub‘s website popped very briefly on the web.  Long enough to find out that it’s due to be opening in Maidstone, Kent.
  • South West England
  • North West England
  • East of England

That’s all folks

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Looking back on 2016: predictions for the year

Peering into a Crystal Ball

In early January of 2016, this site posted an article predicting what would happen in 2016. It didn’t attempt to predict the results of the referendum or the US presidential election but it did talk about puzzling and escape rooms. Since then, Chris, who ran the site at the time has moved on to exexitgames.co.uk but that doesn’t stop us taking a look at how those predictions panned out. Since the site has taken a fairly firm focus on escape games since his departure, this article looks at the escape side of those predictions.

Prediction: “This site will become aware of more than 51 exit game openings in the UK and Ireland in 2016.”

Actual: In case you were in any doubt, this prediction came true. In much the same way as “Leicester City won’t be relegated from the Premiership” came true last season. On 1 January 2015 there were, to this site’s knowledge, 103 venues across the UK and Ireland. As 2016 draws to a close there are now 238 venues open. All in all, there were 152 venue openings in 2016 – almost exactly three times the prediction. Wow!

Prediction: “This site will become aware of more than 13 exit game closures in the UK and Ireland.”

Actual:  A total of 16 escape rooms closed in 2016, although (as the prediction made clear) it’s not always lack of business that prompts the shutters to come down. In fact, since this site is often asked why escape room closure occur, it’s worth going into a bit more detail.

  • 1 owner emigrated (Fathom Escape)
  • 1 lease expired (Enter the Oubliette)
  • 4 temporary hiatus – expected to re-open (Clockwork DogClue CrackerEnd GameTime Trap Escape)
  • 4 planned closures – game was temporary (A Curious Escape, Hide and Shriek, Code-X, Milestones Museum)
  • 6 permanent closures – reason unclear (Hidden Rooms London, The Lock and Key, Dr. Knox’s Enigma, EVAC, Sherlock Unlock, A Great Escape)

Prediction:  “At least one brand will have at least nine locations open in the UK and Ireland in 2016.

Actual: Achieved. In fact, two separate brands made it to nine locations:

  • Clue HQ with nine locations in: Warrington, Brentwood, Blackpool, Sunderland, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leicester and Coventry
  • Escape with eleven locations in: Glasgow, Edinburgh (two), Blackpool, Hull, Doncaster, London, Chester (Escapism), Livingston, Newcastle and Dublin. Even if you argue that Escapism is branded separately and Edinburgh is just a single location that’s still a healthy nine.

For the record, no other company made it past five locations.

Prediction: “Crowdfunding will get harder; no reasonably traditional exit game based in the UK or Ireland will attract more than £5,000 in funding in 2016 unless the people behind it have an established track record in this or another closely related industry.

Actual: Several companies launched crowdfunding campaigns this year with varying degrees of success but this site couldn’t have seen Hugo Myatt on the horizon which helped catapult Bewilder Box’s campaign to £5216, just breaking the prediction.

Prediction: “At least one exit game will open in 2016 within eight miles of the main train station in at least four of the seven following locations: Reading, Portsmouth, Milton Keynes, Hull, Middlesbrough, Coventry and Peterborough.”

Actual: Well, given that the prediction for the number of new escape rooms opening was beaten by a factor of three, it’s perhaps not surprising that this prediction was also beaten, and some! In fact, of the seven locations suggested only one of them failed to open two venues and, even there addresses have been confirmed for a couple more that would fall inside the eight mile radius specified in the predictions.

Prediction:  “The exit game industry will continue to grow sufficiently quickly that this site’s estimate for the number of unique players in the UK or Ireland by the end of December 2015 reaches or exceeds 750,000.”

Actual: This site has stopped making predictions but it’s safe to say that this has been beaten unless the slots at all these additional venues are being filled by experienced players!

Prediction: “There will be a meeting in the UK or Ireland in 2016 with exit games as its focus which attracts more than 50 attendees.”

Actual: The biggest meeting, to this site’s knowledge, was in London with just under 50 participants. Within a couple of weeks of the new year, this site is confident that the 50 will be achieved with the unconference in London.

Prediction: “This site will become aware of someone that it does not already know at the time of making this prediction running an exit game for friends and family on an amateur basis within the UK and Ireland in 2016 using something more elaborate than, say, a Breakout EDU kit or similar.”

Actual: No one that this site is aware of but it would be great to hear otherwise.

Prediction: “This site loves stories of marriage proposals taking place at exit games and there have been at least ten customer proposals on record. A more interesting prediction is that by the end of 2016, this site will become aware of at least one proposal between a couple who got to know each other by both working at the same exit game.”

Actual: Escape game staff couples definitely exist – this site isn’t aware of any proposals but would love to be contradicted!

Prediction: “Some company may bring larger-scale live escape events to the UK, with relatively many teams playing the same game at once. (This is inspired by SCRAP’s Real Escape Game events playing in France and Spain as well as other continents, and is surely slightly more likely than last year.)”

Actual: Sort of. Locked in a Room opened up in London with up to 8 teams playing the same game in parallel. That isn’t quite like SCRAP but, under the letter of the law, it probably meets the above prediction.

Prediction: “An exit game brand in the UK and Ireland may take over at least one other existing game, or maybe even another exit game brand altogether.”

Actual: This looked like a possibility with both A Great Escape in Milton Keynes and Enter the Oubliette in London closing their doors but neither appear to have sold on their game to another company (STOP PRESS: There’s a strong hint on A Great Escape’s site that a sale may have taken place!). When Escape Land in London shut up shop, Hidden Rooms took on some of their IP but since then the roles have reversed with Escape Land re-opening and Hidden Rooms closing their doors for good.

Prediction: “There may be some interactive transmedia storytelling (or an Alternate Reality Game, as people called them a decade and a bit ago) to promote a new exit game or a new room at an exit game.”

Actual: Sadly no, as far as this site is aware.

Prediction: “This site may become aware of an Irish exit game community.”

Actual: Still none that this site is aware of.

Prediction: “Someone might start an overtly humorous blog about the genre in the UK and Ireland: two-thirds serious content, one-third shtick.”

Actual: Not that this site is aware of.

Prediction: “Someone might start an attraction just north of Heathrow called The Crystal Hayes or in South Essex called The Crystal Grays.”

Actual: Again, sadly not. We’ll have to make do with the Bristol Maze.

Locked in Leeds and beyond


It seems like only last week we were looking at new venues in Yorkshire and the Humber but already there are four new companies to tell you about, spanning Scunthorpe, Sheffield and Leeds. That area forms a rough triangle around Doncaster, a triangle which, with the advent of these new ventures is packed full of games. It’s great to see Yorkshire thriving after a brief blip late last year that saw the closure of seven games at four different venues in just five months. Let’s not dwell on closures, though, and instead rejoice in recent openings:

1) Look Key Escape opened up in Leeds in early November with a single game, Murder Motel, although plans are are already in place to open up a second game Escape from Wonderland.

In Murder Motel, you run a down trodden motel situated on Route 70 on the outskirts of Pittsburg, Kansas. People come and go. Some use it as a pit stop as they head to better things. Some stay far longer than they had ever expected. Sam has been renting room 130 for some time now. He keeps himself to himself but that’s the way you prefer it. Recently he has caught your attention. His rent hasn’t been paid for over a month and he has been keeping unsociable hours, disappearing for days on end, hiding in the shadows and bringing young girls back to his room late at night. Enough is enough. You decide to investigate, letting yourself into his room one night just after you see him leave.But do you really want to discover the secrets that are hidden inside room 130?

2) Open the Door is the first UK toehold for an established international franchise with operations in Poland, Austria and, soon, Ethiopia. Their doors first opened in Scunthorpe in early December, bringing us two new games Sherwood and Prison. Unfortuantely, that’s about as much as I can tell you – the games don’t have a description on the website and so the reader is left to conjecture based on the photographs where Sherwood does indeed seem to refer to Sherwood Forest and Prison likely has you locked behind bars.

3) It’s not often that this site finds an escape room with a seemingly unique theme so it’s doubly surprising to find one where that theme isn’t just at the room level but is part of the brand name. Voodoo Escape Rooms certainly seems to fit the bill though. Indeed, the only other example of a company that’s tied the theme so heavily into their trading name is up in Whitley Bay where there’s the Pirate Escape Room.

Again, there’s not much information about the room on the website but I can tell you one more thing: it appears you can also have a drink after your game with the Voodoo Bar being located onsite.

4) Those readers that are already familiar with the local escape room scene will likely be aware of the Great Escape Game in Sheffield which opened in 2014 and now boasts four different rooms. The good news is that they’ve expanded to Leeds, still calling themselves The Great Escape Game, and launched three brand new games: King Arthur’s Secret, The Devil’s Playground and The Underworld. The website even hints at plans for a couple more games – watch this space!

In King Arthur’s Seat, following King Arthur’s death, the banner which held the United Kingdoms together has all but vanished. Houses of the North, South, East and West battle in a constant struggle for power, causing reckless destruction of everything we hold dear. The North is set to storm the capital, beginning what only can be imagined as centuries of needless war and devastation. However, there is just one glimmer of hope. To find a new King of England and reunite the seven kingdoms under one true leader. Legends speak of secret chambers built into King Arthur’s Castle, riddled with mysteries and guarded by Merlin’s magic. It is said that when the time comes to pass, the secrets of King Arthur’s castle will only speak to the worthy, the one who has what it takes to become the King of England. This is where your journey begins, brave adventurer. Here, deep in the heart of King Arthur’s castle… 

In the Devil’s Playground, you are his new toys. Driven by the desperation of your desires, you find yourself trying to beat The Devil at his own game. After having your soul trapped inside the very mirror you have used to summon him, you find yourself in the Devil’s waiting lobby, the elevator to hell, you discover that you are not alone. Instead, you are surrounded by his other contestants, enslaved to the game of sacrifice. You must work together to outsmart the Devil’s torments, traps and trickery as you play a game for the ultimate price, the game of sacrifice. The Devil has taken the liberty of possessing your body for the next hour. The consequence; he is perfectly capable of stirring up plenty of trouble in that time. At the end of the hour, The Devil will either leave your body or claim your soul. What he does with it, nobody knows… Yet.

In Underworld Conspiracy, you and your team of adventurers are on the brink of unearthing secrets of unimaginable power. Mysteries, which for nearly 1,000 years a clandestine powerful elite known as the New World Order have been searching for. The N.W.O has created a blueprint for world domination, with the goal of bringing the entire world to it’s knees. You now know the location of the missing object, lost deep in the depths of the underworld. You set out pursuing adventure, but this time the adventure really has found you. You have a head start, but time is slipping through your fingertips. This is where our story ends and your adventure begins. Can you enter The Underworld and retrieve it’s secrets before it is too late?

And there you have it – four new venues and seven new games. What better Christmas present?

Escape Room Rumours – 19 December 2016


Merry Christmas and welcome to this week’s dose of UK and Irish escape game rumours. This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Less than a week to go before Christmas, so only the lightest sprinkling of news.

That’s all folks

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Welsh evolution

Merry Christmas/Nadolig Llawen

It’s been a while since this site last cast its gaze across to Wales but things haven’t been quiet over there. Oh no – escape rooms have been opening (and, sadly, in one case closing) and where once there was a dearth of games, now it is a land of plenty, at least along the southern parts of the country. This time round we’ll be looking at three new venues, in Merthyr Tydfill, Cardiff and Swansea as well as going up north and seeing what Abergele has to offer.

1) As escape rooms become better known among the general public and the larger urban areas become saturated, we’re increasingly seeing them pop up in smaller towns. The regions of the UK with the highest escape rooms per capita are now seeing around one for every 60,000 people so it’s not entirely surprisingly to see Merthyr Tydfill appear on the exitgames map, given its population of 65,000. Mystery Rooms Merthyr sprang into life at the very end of October with a couple of games, the Olympus Room and Witch Way Out? and very little fanfare.

In Witch Way Out? you and a group of friends have gone camping for the weekend. The beautiful summer evening has taken a turn for the worse and you’re all soaked to the skin from the heavy rain and cold from the wind.  Your group comes across an abandoned farmhouse that would make an ideal shelter for the night. As soon as you all enter the farmhouse the doors lock. You look around. There’s no way to escape. Or is there?

Meanwhile in the Olympus Room you and your team have been summoned to Mount Olympus by Zeus. All the Greek Gods have been kidnapped by Cronos and taken to Tartarus. Before they were kidnapped, each God managed to leave a clue on how to release them. Can you help the Gods escape from Tartarus?

2) Switching from an area that is only just big enough to support an escape room to one where they’re densely packed in, Cardiff is clearly a prime target for incarceration with a population above a third of a million. There are already a few games in the city but Escape Reality Cardiff joined the fold back in August of this year with, at first, five and now six games – a huge addition to the town. Their games tend to have a slightly darker storylines but still span a variety of common escape room genres – murder, prison escape, robbery and the supernatural.

In Jungala, you have discovered an old board game in your attic and once opened you are engulfed by a vortex and transported into an alternative realm. After only seeing a glimpse of the terrible world inside you are thrown back into reality. Vowing never to approach the game again you attempt to leave but the door has been locked trapping you in. Glancing over to the game you see the words “The dice have been rolled.” You have no choice but to complete the game or be trapped inside the other realm for eternity. 

Over in Enigmista, there have been reports that there is a serial killer on the loose. Many people in the area have gone missing and no traces of their whereabouts have been discovered. Only one survivor has lived to tell the tale of what happened the killers lair. Rumour has it that he forces his prisoners to perform ghastly tests to see how far they can push themselves in order to escape. You have suddenly awoken to discover that you have been locked inside a room of complete darkness with no recollection of how you found yourselves in this situation. Your captor has devised a series of games to test how much strength you have in order to your own lives.

Most of their games opened up in August, but The Heist followed on a couple of months later. In the heart of the most famous Art Gallery in Europe, lies the renowned group of the most expensive art collection the world has to offer. An anonymous request communicated through the black market has placed a high reward offered to anyone who can safely retrieve the painting collection and hand it over to them. You have been hired by an elite team of renowned con artists, specialising in the high profile embezzlement. You have broken into the gallery with the one aim – to take the painting and receive your reward. If you are caught you face being imprisoned, and all hopes of fortune will be lost.

In Misery, you were driving home late one night and your car broke down. A local nurse named Emily was driving by and offered to take you to use her phone to call for help. After agreeing to go back to her house you quickly realise that she is not as innocent as she first seemed. You try to leave Emily’s house and realise that you have been locked in. You discover you are not her first victim and begin to uncover clues left behind by the author she previously kidnapped. She has trapped you in her home and left to run some errands. You have 60 minutes to escape before you discover how far she will go to keep you here.

In Fibonacci you are a cryptologist assigned to work with a team of detectives to solve a gruesome murder in an art gallery. The corpse was discovered surrounded by mysterious symbols linking to the Fibonacci sequence. You have begun to unearth crucial information which has been kept a closely guarded secret for thousands of years. After discovering too much a ruthless group of dangerous individuals is following you, trying to catch you and keep you quiet. Preventing you from learning further truths, you have been trapped inside the room. You must use your expertise to solve the complex clues lying within or face the truth never being revealed.

The story behind Alcatraz sees you, unsurprisingly, tying to escape from the island: In 1934, Alcatraz transformed into a maximum high-security prison housing the most infamous and dangerous criminals. Situated in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay, no prisoner has ever successfully escaped. Alcatraz has just reached its maximum capacity for the first time in history – because of you. You are all masters of escaping and no prison has managed to contain you. As highly skilled individuals you have been plotting your escape plan and now the time has arrived. A diversion has been caused by other inmates and the warden has sprinted off to help, leaving you in your cells unguarded. This is your prime opportunity to make your escape attempt. Can you escape before he returns and catches you?

3) Locked In North Wales opened just a couple of weeks ago with three games, Mad Scientist, Black and White, and CSI, and another two to follow soon. You’d be forgiven for struggling to find Abergele on the map (although based on the company name you’d like have guessed it was towards the north of Wales!) but if you were to look halfway along the northern coastline, you’d find it sitting out on the bay looking towards the Isle of Man. With a population of just ten thousand, there must be a heavy focus on the tourist market for trade, so TripAdvisor ratings are going to be crucial for their success. Only one has appeared there so far but surely more will follow soon.

In Mad Scientist, you and your team have been captured by a mad scientist. You woke up in a dark cell and you have to find out how to escape his laboratory before he arrives and starts performing his crazy experiments on you. 

In Black and White you have to find a way out and escape the human size chessboard before you completely lose your mind and get stuck in there forever.

Finally, in CSI, a DEA Agent involved in an undercover mission has been killed. You and he were together on this case when he seemed to have finally found a lead. He called you right before he was attacked in his own house, so you and your team arrived there to find out what happened and see what leads he found.

4) After the early demise of Swansea’s Devastate/Lock and Key, it’s great to see a new room jump into the breach. The Escape Game opened just over a fortnight ago with three games – the Heist, Gold Rush and Saw.

In Gold Rush, the date is January 17th 1948, You have heard about a famous gold miner who went missing in 1854. Legend has it that before he went missing he concealed a large amount of gold in his log cabin. It has been searched many times but has never been found. Your mission is to try and find the gold no one else could find. The mob has also figured out where the gold is and they are on their way. You must be in and out before they arrive in one hour. 

In Saw, you’re unsurprisingly part of a horror game conceived by a psychopath. As the description reads: You’re probably wondering where you are. I’ll tell you where you might be, you might be in the room you die in. Most people are ungrateful to be alive, but not you, not anymore. You must solve Jigsaw’s clues to escape and live another day. Can you survive all his traps and escape before he returns to finish the job? Live or die, make your choice.

In Heist, you and your crew have been selected to steal a priceless painting which is located in Dr. Watson’s private collection. As soon as you enter the gallery the alarm will been raised. Dr. Watson is one hour away and you have to bypass the security systems, locate and steal the painting before he gets back!

Congratulations for reading this far. As a bonus, don’t forget that the Escape Rooms in Newport is about to open in the New Year. Full details on that in a future article but in the meantime…

Nadolig Llawen!

Escape Room Rumours – 12 December 2016


Welcome to December and this week’s dose of UK and Irish escape game rumours. This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Welcome to the last full week before Christmas, and as predicted, the news is getting shorter and shorter.

  • National
    • The Red Bull Mind Gamers competition took place last week in Cardiff and Manchester with at least four escape room bloggers involved. 13 teams successfully completed the challenge (including all three of the teams with bloggers) and ReallyFun.UK‘s team will be going forward to represent the UK in the global escape room tournament next year.
  • East Midlands
    • Escape Asylum in Leicester opens its third game on Saturday – Cabin.
  • South East England
    • I’m sorry to report that this is the final week of A Great Escape with them closing down the ENIGMA room at Bletchley Park to pursue other interests. Fingers crossed they don’t entirely retire the game.
  • Scotland
    • The geography department at Stirling high ran an escape room. No more details, but always great to see educational establishments getting in on the act.
  • South West England
    • It’s been open for a while, but I’ve just come across Van Escape, a Weston-super-Mare escape company that hires out a 30 minute mobile escape room experience for weddings and other functions.
    • Dean Rodgers of Crystal Maze, Time Run and Heist fame is part of the team behind Eden Escape, a three month game running at the Eden Project.
  • London
    • There’s a new company on the horizon for London – Adventox. Details are only just appearing but it looks likely they’ll have a couple of games to start with, one of which can be played by a pair of teams.
    • …and if you’re looking for a job in the captial then they’re looking for staff.
    • Another game from Dean Rodgers (see above), this time as part of the Vault Festivals in London. Escapemobile will be based there until April and then plan is for it to tour the country.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • Congratulations to TRIPLE award winner Hannah Duraid of the Great Escape Game in Sheffieldwho picked up three awards in twenty four hours – National Young Entrepreneur, the Next Big Thing and Young Businessperson of the Year. Fantastic recognition!
    • Not sure if this is related to ParaPark or another existing prospect for Leeds, but I came across this planning application for a new venue in the city.
  • North West England
    • Atherton Escape Rooms open their new Asylum room this week.
    • I’ve seen hints at this for a very long time but Escapology, a Florida based company, have finally gone live on the website and look like they’ll be opening a venture in Manchester.

That’s all folks

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Random rooms in South East England

See Saw

Back once again to the South East to find out about new rooms that have been opening over the last couple of months. So not entirely random rooms, or for that matter, Randoms Room… Read on and that might make more sense as you find out about games in Canterbury, Tonbridge, East Grinstead, Bournemouth and Southampton

1) Canterbury Escape Room opened their doors (or should that be portcullis?) in late October with a single room. It’s always interesting to find out about where a new company has come from and there’s a hint on their website that it’s heavily connected to Dodgems and Floss – a creative company in the same city. Room Escape Artist, an excellent US escape room blogger, once posted about all the different skills that escape room companies need and it seems, looking at their website, that Dodgems and Floss probably have quite a lot of those already.

The proof of the pudding is, of course, in the eating but for those who can’t actually play the game, the best we can do is scour the website and judge the book by its cover. This site loves games that fit well in their setting and for a historic town like Canterbury, it’s great to see a room that’s set in Medieval times. There’s not a huge amount of background to the story but what the website does mention is that you and your teammates are transported back to medieval Canterbury, a time when the pettiest of crimes were met with the harshest of punishments. Locked in jail, there is just an hour left before heads will roll. You must escape to survive.

2) Exciting Escapes, in Southampton, is a new family-run affair that opened just a couple of weeks ago. For now they’ve got a couple of rooms but they plan to expand significantly over the next six months – exciting by name, exciting by nature!

Change the Record is a 1980s, music themed game. In the story, it’s 1989, and in a small record shop in Southampton there are dark deeds afoot. As communism comes crashing down across Eastern Europe, the last vestiges of a crumbling empire try to exact revenge upon the west. You are recruited by British Intelligence to uncover their plans, but with only 60 minutes before the foreign agent returns, can you find what’s needed and get out in time?

A Hidden Past is another spy story but set a few decades earlier in the 1950s. In the game, it’s 1957, and as the Cold War is waged across the world, a small, innocuous flat in Shirley is the scene for the latest battle. British Intelligence have captured an enemy agent, but with their own networks compromised by double agents they need you to help them. Can you get in, discover the truth, and leave before the agents handlers arrive and clear up the evidence….you included!

3) Escape Kent are another company based in Canterbury and opened at pretty much the same time as their near-neighbours. If variety is the spice of life then the Canterburians are blessed indeed because the two games on offer have very different themes, both from each other and from Canterbury Escape Room. It’s worth mentioning that the opening in October wasn’t just a low key affair – they got double Olympic gold medallist (not to mention also a bronze medallist) Dame Kelly Holmes to open the rooms and play a game.

In Alien Attack, it is the year 2086 and you are 4 months into your time aboard the scientific research laboratory Astro262. Everything seems to be running smoothly in the attempt to find a new settlement for the human race to colonise, until, without warning you receive an unwelcome transmission from a nearby defence satellite. Aliens from a nearby planet have heard about your research and in an angry retaliation, they have built a missile in order to destroy all of planet earth, with their one priority in mind – to make the human race extinct. It is now your job to ensure you disarm the missile before it’s too late and the aliens triumph in destroying all of planet earth. Good luck scientists, the fate of the entire human race depends on you.

Their other room, Kidnapped, is horror themed.  In the game, after years of hard saving you have finally made your dream come true, to be able to travel throughout the USA, but little do you know where this trip will take you. Midway through your travels you find yourself in the grasps of one of Texas’s most renowned serial killers and cannibal, ‘The Butcher’. No one knows who he is, only that he leaves little left of his victims after he has satisfied his appetite for human meat. You find yourself locked in a dark, dank basement with no recollection of what’s happened, all you know is that you need to escape alive, or risk succumbing to the disturbing appetite of the man who had kidnapped you, The Butcher.

4) Escape Room Bournemouth opened about a month ago and, on the face of it, look to be setting up for a series of related rooms. Their first game, M.A.R.V.O. Induction, sees you being inducted into their clandestine organisation and surely subsequent rooms will see you carry out related missions.

They set the story up as follows: What if Fairy Stories were more real than you ever imagined? If the power to destroy the world was hidden in a small trinket, and that trinket had been lost to history, only remembered in an old bed time story. Would you try to recover it for the good of all? So there you have it – you’re training as an agent and have to recover some sort of artifact to save the world – what more could you want!

5) Randoms Rooms is one of the most down to earth companies this site has encountered. Firstly, they’re not situated in some glitzy building, in the town centre or even paired up with laser tag or bowling. No – they’re located inside a sports centre which, to this site’s knowledge, is a first in the UK.  Second, they’ve kept their first room, which opened back in September, very much in keeping with the setting by basing it around a locker room.

In Rundown Locker Room, it’s 60 minutes before the final game of the season. The opposing team don’t reckon much on their chances of beating you with the season you’ve had so they took it into their own hands before the match to lock you in your locker room, in the hope that you’ll miss the start and have to forfiet. So with 60 minutes before that starting airhorn, can you and your team break the codes and find the clues to make it to the finals?

6) TimeQuest are a Tonbridge based company that have been operating for under a month. Again, they’re theming their different games as part of an overarching story line with you starting out by qualifying as an agent.

In their first game, Agent 101, the story is as follows:  As our most decorated and successful squad, we need your full attention for this next mission. We believe your lives are in danger and if not rectified your involvement with TimeQuest could cease to exist!! While monitoring the space-time continuum our analysts have noticed a number of odd time shifts occurring around the same period of time. Information from our intelligence agents, suggests that the Sniglets are attempting to eradicate your involvement with TimeQuest. We believe they are targeting your final exam, in an attempt to stop you graduating from the TimeQuest Academy. We don’t need to emphasise how important this mission is, not only for you as a team but for the history of TimeQuest. Your missions is simple, return to the day of your final exam and qualify as a TimeQuest agent. As you may remember your final test is a culmination of the numerical, cognitive and physical techniques you learned in your three years of training. Our window for this mission is small, meaning you will only have 60 minutes to complete the mission and return to TimeQuest HQ.

Once you’ve passed the exam (and probably even if you don’t take it) you can play one of their other missions which see you travelling to different eras. If you have a penchant for recent history then Saving Operation Neptune may appeal.  In that story you are told: Over the past few month we have seen little activity from the Sniglets. While our intelligence agents suspect they were planning their next attack we have not had any concrete evidence to go on, until now. We have just received intel that suggests that the Sniglets have sent back a small faction to June 5th 1944, the day before ‘Operation Neptune’ was launched. As you may well know Operation Neptune was the codename for the D-Day landing operations scheduled to take place on the 6th June 1944, as part of the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. While we do not know their exact intentions we believe their objective is to disrupt the channels of communications to the Allies, ultimately placing ‘Project Neptune’ in danger. Your missions is simple, return to June 5th and repair the Allied communication chain. You will need to draw on your training to ensure you complete your mission and return to the present day within the 60 minute time window.

Finally if you fancy travelling much further back then sign yourself up for the Quest to Save Camelot. Interestingly, the two previous missions are for the Alpha and Bravo teams but this mission is addressed to the Delta team. I can’t help but wonder what happened to the Charlie team… Putting that sort of curiosity to one side for a moment, the mission you’re given here is as follows: There has been a lot of activity from the Sniglets over the past few hours. Intel has reported that the Sniglets have returned back to Medieval times to Camelot and the court of King Arthur. What we have been able to intercept and decipher is that they are planning to cause chaos in Camelot by destroying the brotherhood of the Knights of the Round Table. Both King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are powerful symbols of the knightly code and our heritage. Allowing the Sniglets to tamper and ultimately fracture the code of chivalry would cause chaos to the order we know today. Your mission is simple, return to Camelot and repair the fracture caused by the Sniglets. You will need to draw on your training to ensure you complete your mission and return to the present day within the 60 minute time window.

So, six more south eastern escape rooms to add to an ever growing collection. Don’t forget to check out the Exit Games map for full coverage of every escape room in the UK and Ireland!

Escape Room Rumours – 5 December 2016


Welcome to December and this week’s dose of UK and Irish escape game rumours. This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Another quietish week – and things will probably get even quieter in the next few weeks as Christmas approaches.

  • Scotland
    • Escape Reality Glasgow opened  with five games: Jungala, Enigmista, Alcatraz, Misery and Murder in Whitechapel
  • South West England
    • A new venue appeared on the site list: Escape Dungeons is based in the Richmoor Hotel in Weymouth and has three rooms: Save the Houses of Parliament, Prison Break and Save Christmas.
  • North East England
    • Teesside Escape Rooms opened their doors. For now just a single escape room, Jail Break, but more to follow.
  • South East England
    • A local Southampton paper covered Exciting Escapes recent opening. I’ll forgive the owners for claiming there are only 120 escape venues in UK when a quick read of this website will show you that they’re out by almost a factor of two. Reminder: You can get the latest count by looking at the top of the Exit Games list.
    • The Panic Room Gravesend opened The Gilman Hotel, their sixth game in Gravesend across two venues.
  • London
    • First sighting of a new game in town: Breakin’ Escape. It’s due to open near Highbury & Islington in January. A quick look at their Facebook page suggests that they’ll have high production values. Unfortuantely that’s all this site can share at the moment.
    • Archimedes Inspiration opened Kill M.A.D., their second escape room.
    • Escape from the Room opened Murder in the Village, a 30 minute mini-escape game – perfect as a taster for locals or perhaps as an aperitif for more experienced players.
    • Room Lockdown opened in Romford with two games: Prison Break and Escape the Curse of King Anum
  • International
    • Not really relevant to the UK but perhaps interesting to some readers. Chris Evans of Captain America fame is going to be playing an escape game with a lucky player as part of a charity contest.
  • North West England
    • A little escape gamy, a little immersive theatre, a little treasure hunty. Theatre on Foot, in Liverpool, might be of interest to some of our North West readers.
    • Lucardo, the new Manchester company, opened The Dream
  • Wales
    • Locked In North Wales opened their doors with three games in their initial offering: CSI, Black and White, and Mad Scientist
  • East of England
    • Thinking Outside the Box opened their doors with their first game, Stranded, having a desert island theme
    • Cryptx opened in Cambridge with The Haunted Pub and another game to open in a week’s time.
    • They’re also apparently looking in Essex and this article suggests they’ve submitted a planning application in Kelvedon (which isn’t, as you might have assumed, close to Kelvedon Hatch – the location of Clue HQ Brentwood)
    • Clue HQ Brentwood opened their third room, Dungeon of Doom, which is a popular game from their Warrington location.
    • Room Escape Southend closed down their Asylum game last week and opened up The 12 Deaths of Christmas – the perfect game for the holidays…

That’s all folks

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

New in the NW

North West

North West England has been at the forefront of escape rooms since soon after they came to the UK.  That seems set to continue with the Crystal Maze opening a bigger and better site up in Manchester in a few months.  In the meantime, plenty of other new companies are available if you’re looking to be locked in a room.

Read on to find out more about Breakout Chester, Clue HQ Manchester, Timed Trap in Preston, Lucardo and Mission Exit in Manchester and Moviescape in Stockport,

1) Breakout don’t open many venues but the ones they do open tend to be pretty big so, at first sight, Breakout Chester‘s opening in mid November with just two rooms might have come as a bit of a surprise. Look more closely, however, and you’ll see that there’s room for a massive seven games at this franchise.  Indeed, just as this article was being written, another room popped up on their booking page, available from early December. All three games, Wanted, Identity and Vacancy have been taken from the High Street Branch.

Wanted is a game with a confusing history, so worth paying careful attention if you plan on playing. It originally appeared in Liverpool and came in one of two variants: Cowboys, a relatively easy game and Indians, meant to challenge even the most hardened team. The Manchester venue decided it would get in on the act and produced Most Wanted, an entirely different game but with similar theming. Chester’s version takes Liverpool’s name but Manchester’s game.

As for the game itself, it’s another race to escape although this time the bigger reward you collect, the higher up on the leader board 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 Chester’s Most Wanted!”. Yes – this is another of those non-binary win condition games where it’s not just a binary escape/don’t escape but a score attached. If you’ve loved Casino Escape, Bad Clown and the Ruby Factory then perhaps this is a game you’ll want to head along to before too long.

In Vacancy,  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…

Finally, in the soon to be open Identify, your friend has been murdered! You know who did it, but the police do not believe you. In a desperate attempt to find justice you have invaded the killer’s lair in the hopes of finding the proof to bring the killer to justice. However, the maniac could return at any time. Gather the proof and send this killer to prison before he returns. Do you have what it takes to IDENTIFY this psychopath’s other victims?

All games take 2-5 people and cost £34-£70 depending on number of people and day of the week.

2) The original North West company, Clue HQ took a short hop across the M62 a couple of weeks ago, to open Clue HQ Manchester. For fairly obvious reasons, they’ve brought two of their non-Warrington games to the new venue, Detonation and Cell Block C, although who knows what games will appear there in the future.

In Detonation, you and the rest of your detective team have been on the case of Danny Badd. Badd has been wanted for 7 years and is a known criminal all over Europe. He’s wanted by many different countries for various crimes. After a year of gathering information, 24 hour surveillance, and even capturing Badd’s brother, you’ve finally got the best lead that any intelligence unit has ever received with regards to his location. You’re going in, but not without a plan. Badd is notorious for blowing up anyone who attempts to track him down. Watch your step.

Cell Block C appeared down in their Birmingham franchise earlier in the year and has obviously been judged good enough as it’s just appeared in two separate venues. This game sees you framed for a crime you didn’t commit, and you’re about to be sentenced to a lifetime in prison. You know that notorious criminal Danny Badd is responsible but with only 60 minutes before you face the barrister, you don’t have the resources to prove your innocence. Can you escape top security CELL BLOCK C and buy yourself some time or will you be locked away forever?

Both games take 2-6 players and cost £44-90 depending on numbers.

3) Timed Trap are proof once more that an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign doesn’t mean the end of the line, when they appeared on the scene in late October. This Preston-based room has jumped straight into the market with three separate games Serial Killer, The Great Escape and Treasure Theft.

In Serial Killer, which seems to relate to a certain film that is often associated with escape rooms, Jigsaw has returned! The brilliant mastermind behind the cruel identity is back for another round of his horrific live or die games. The serial killer has booby trapped a house for an unlucky group of unwilling participants. The house has been pumped with lethal nerve gas. You must try to dodge the traps so you don’t get killed and find the antidote to the nerve gas.

In The Great Escape, it looks like you’re going to have to escape twice to win the game – once individually and once as a team. A makeshift prison is set up in a research lab complete with cell, bars and surveillance cameras. For 2 weeks participants are recruited to play prisoners and guards. The prisoners are locked up and have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the ‘guards’ are simply told to retain order without using physical violence. Anyone is allowed to quit at any time, by forfeiting their payment. In the beginning the mood between both groups is insecure and empathetic. But soon quarrels arise and the warden employs more drastic actions to show his authority. You only have one hour to escape before your plan is discovered. You must break all the inmates out of their individual cells, before escaping through the infirmary. If you are caught, you will no longer be part of a research project, you will be an actual prisoner.

Finally, Treasure Theft sees a plot that wouldn’t look out of place with a fictional archaeologist at the helm. During the cold war, Russian agents watch professor Billy Jones when a young man brings him a coded message from an aged, demented colleague; Harold Oxley. Led by the brilliant Irina Spalko, the Russians tail Jones and a young man ‘Mutt’ to Peru. With Oxley’s code, they find a legendary skull made of a single piece of quartz. If Jones can deliver the skull to it’s rightful place, all may be well. Ageing professor and young buck join forces with a woman from Jones’s past to face the dangers ahead. You and your team follow Jones’s clue to hunt the treasure. Will you get to the treasure before it’s too late…?

Games can accommodate 2-6 players (The Great Escape has a minimum of 4) and cost between £44 and £90 depending on numbers.

4) Lucardo opened in the centre of Manchester at the beginning of September, the first new opening in the city for about a year. For a brand new venture, they wasted no time churning out rooms with a total of four already open and a fifth due to open tomorrow.

In Contamination scientists from around the world have developed a new modified deadly strain of poison: the T-200. It is capable of polluting the nation’s water supply within minutes. Only five vials were created and one has gone missing – we believe Professor Thomson has stolen it and has it hidden somewhere in his lab. Break-in to his lab and find the missing vial before Professor Thomson returns.

Enter Espionage and you’ll find the year is 1938, just prior to the outbreak of WWII. You and your team are part of the newly founded British Secret Intelligence Service. The War Office has had a number of classified documents stolen, which are thought to be held in a secret enemy bunker. Intelligence tells us the guards change every hour. Your Mission: crack the bunker security codes and recover the documents before the guards change.

Meanwhile, in Gem Runner, the famous 190 carat Saratov diamond from Russia is being deposited at the central bank in Manchester. Lucardo has hacked the security system, buying your team a one hour window to steal the diamond. Can your team pull off Manchester’s biggest ever heist?

Virginia House sees you on the tail of a serial killer. Every hour, on the hour for the past 24 hours a murder has taken place. The killer has been leaving clues around the murder scenes, sending Scotland Yard around in circles. Your team has been granted access to the murder scene and is tasked with cracking the clues, riddles and puzzles to track down the next location before the murderer strikes again. An innocent life depends on you.

Finally, in The Dream, your dreams are always happy and delightful, but tonight something is going wrong. Your wildest dreams of finding the magic numbers are slowly slipping away, through a whirlwind of riddles, puzzles and illusions. Can you solve your way out of this dream before your chances get lost in the subconscious forever? Be aware, things may not be as they appear…

Games take 2-5 players and cost £40-80 depending on day and numbers.

5) When it comes to escape rooms, Stockport might make you think of Extremescape, the outfit that opened in the tiny town of Disley nearby but now there’s a new game in town. Moviescape has a very clear vision of the type of escape rooms that it’s looking to offer – a movie like experience from a variety of genres – with their first game being the Haunted House where you are a group of Paranormal investigators sent to Crowley manor to investigate the disappearance of a previous Paranormal Investigation Team.

Booking is still by telephone and the website doesn’t include any details on price or capacity so all this site can do is point you at Brit of an Escape Habit‘s review and mention that the game is ranked 11 out of 64 at the time of writing.  

6) Finally, welcome to Mission Exit that opened quietly on the outskirts of Manchester in mid October. They originally branded themselves as Breakout Challenge but soon renamed for reasons unknown, although this site suspects that proximity to a similarly named escape game giant might have been relevant.

As of yet, there’s just one game at the venue. In it, you have stumbled across the office of Sir Rupert Chinn, without realising you have also activated his security system which means big trouble as you are now locked in. Under the wrath of Rupert, you have 60 minutes to save your skin and escape, but will you all ‘think, solve & escape’ before Sir Chinn arrives?

If you liked the sound of that room (and pun lovers everywhere surely must) it costs £32-60 for 2-6 players.

And there you have it – six new venues and fifteen new games in the space of just three months. The North West looks like it’s set on keeping the UK escape room crown. What more will 2017 bring!