February 2016 news and rumours

Welcome to the February 2016 edition of the escape rumours post. When I originally wrote the draft of this article, I said that things were quietening down, but in the meantime, plenty of new gossip has popped on to my radar, and my February calendar has exploded. Read on to find out more.

Note that this is about London (and a little further afield). Exit Games does an excellent blog on UK wide news, with frequent news updates. If you’re not already a reader, then I highly recommend you sign up.

Competitions and special offers

There are a couple of offers for London games this month.

  • Hidden Rooms are still offering £31 for three players which represents great value. I’ve reviewed both Prison Break and Chain Reaction if you want to read more about the games they offer
  • Some of you might have noticed that I visited QuestRoom last month. If you skip down to the comments of my review, you’ll find that the owner’s dropped in a code for a 10% discount. They’ve also got a 20% reduction on weekday bookings at the moment.

Finally, check out PlayExitGames‘ card if you intend to visit a couple of different sites from their list this year – they’ve got Brighton, Cambridge and London and I fully expect them to add a few more.

Plans

Almost a dry January for me – just a single escape room, but February is going to more than make up for it, with an eight day cross country extravaganza including nine games (and I may even fit in a couple more!). Hopefully I’ll get a couple of weeks of rest after that though, which is good because not only will I need to wind down and play review catchup, I also see a fair number of openings in London’s future that will soon keep me occupied… So, for those of you who want to know what the future brings, here are my upcoming visits and reviews:

News and Rumours

The true enthusiasts among you might have heard of the Unconference up in Leeds. By all accounts that went well, which is good, because it’s resulted in plans solidifying for a similar event down in London, with a provisional date being set for 25th April. More details when I have them, but I’m fully expecting fifty people to be taking part and in the process for this to become the first of Exit Games’ prediction to be fulfilled. Watch this space.

In terms of new rooms, two arrived last month, with Enter the Oubliette the first to grace the stage on 9th January. You already know that I’ve been quite excited about this since before Christmas. Unfortunately, due to a calendar mix up by some of my teammates, we won’t be going till, gasp, March, so I’ll have to hold my excitement in a little while longer…

Not far behind them, Mind the Game opened their doors in mid January. This is a venue that I’ve been tracking for almost a year so it’s great to see that they’ve managed to launch their game “the Crazy Prof”. They’ve opened in Kilburn, just over a mile along the road from QuestRoom. I’m curious to find out whether they see that as a benefit or a curse. I’m quite clear though – if you’ve got two venues with one escape room in each, then it’s a clear benefit. Players will want a second go, so if I were them I’d make sure to swap business cards and hand out to happy punters!

In terms of future plans, A Door in a Wall announced that they’re adding an extra event to this year’s calendar: A Veiled Threat. Excellent news, because twice a year just isn’t enough. From what they’ve said, rather than have a solid month of performances, this will be produced occasionally throughout the year. The test event, scheduled for later this month, sold out within ten minutes, so hopefully it won’t be long before they put it on again.

Handmade Mysteries already have three copies of Lady Chastity’s Reserve, but not content with that, they’ve plans to open yet another copy in their Clapham venue this month. While it’s a shame they’re not creating a sequel to what is, without a doubt, a popular game, I suspect this will see a lot of teams having a lot of fun – definitely stag and hen do material here!

Archimedes Inspiration are on the brink of announcing their opening date. Still no confirmation of exactly when that will be, but from talking to them, all the roadblocks are out the way, final room testing is starting this week and they’ll be opening their rooms one by one very soon. From what they’ve said, they’re planning on each room being themed about a particular piece of history or book, so I expect strong storylines, and even more interestingly they claim that each room will have a different philosophy for how they’re built – with some being, say, tech heavy and others focusing on logic and careful analysis. I love the idea, and look forward to seeing how well they pull it off!

As you’ll have gathered by now, I’m always interested to see any gossip about escape room openings in London, so I was pleased to notice that one of the big Russian franchises, Claustrophobia, have put a London pin on the map. I do the research so that you don’t have to, and I can share with you that in the last few days they’ve had planning permission granted for a venue up in Islington, near Essex Road. The website suggests they aim to open with two games, but the permissions indicates there will be room for up to five. Great news for those of us starting to run out of London rooms!

You may remember City Mazes had plans to open rooms in March. Well those plans have quietly shifted out to May, although if you’re very keen, it looks like they’re now planning to open a venue in Reading in the March timeframe. Talking to the owner, it sounds like they’re focusing on getting a solid team in place for their Cardiff and Bristol operations, and Reading/London will follow once they’re confident about that. Sounds like a very sensible approach, even if it means we have to wait a bit longer.

The Crystal Maze are pretty close to sold out for tickets through to the end of October and the November tickets are now going thick and fast. It’s hard to believe how much interest has been generated, and all I can say is that when it opens next month, I really, really hope the initial reaction is positive or there are going to be a lot of unhappy people! A quick back of the envelope calculation suggests something like sixty thousand people are already signed up.

A slightly strange one to end the strictly London section of the updates – I came across “Escape Room in a Box” last month which aims to bring the escape room experience into your home. We’re not talking Agent November or Popup Puzzle Room style, but a one-time play, tabletop game that (according to the early images) has 19 puzzles, including 3 locks. They’re running a crowd funding campaign from 3 February. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out, but succeed or fail, I’m pretty sure we’ll see more things in this arena before long. Yes – I know it’s not based in London, but it *is* an escape game you can play in London (and which will be played in London), so I’m going to argue it counts!

On the borders

I’m London focused, but the M25 doesn’t actually have passport control, so occasionally I look a little further afield. Three items of interest there:

Mystery Room UK have just opened in Camberley (out east, 10 miles beyond the M25, near Farnborough). In their opening room, the Suspect, someone’s been kidnapped and you’ve been sent to the suspect’s house to search for clues and determine the kidnappee’s location.

Over on the other side of London, the Panic Room has opened in Gravesend (out west, 5 miles beyond the M25 on the Thames estuary). They’ve opened with a room where you investigate the disappearance of a conspiracy theorist. Just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. They’re already designing their second room, and with Escape Plan Live‘s venue only a few miles down the road and containing a bunch of games, there’s a bit of a hub out east!

If you’re willing to head a little north out of the city, then Milton Keynes isn’t too far along the M1, and I’m excited to see that they’re finally getting an escape room. In fact, it’s not right in Milton Keynes but at, wait for it… Bletchley Park. Yes, the home of the enigma machine is getting a proper codebreaking challenge. Fantastic!

That’s all folks

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

Thanks for reading!

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