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Welcome to the July 2019 edition of the London-focused immersive gaming rumours post. Note that this focuses on London (and the surrounding areas). If you want to know about escape games further afield, then you can follow exitgames.co.uk, where I publish a weekly update on the UK escape room scene.
It’s been a while since I last posted an update – the Red Bull Mindgamers World Championship took over my life in March and April then Up the Game kept me busy in early May before non-escape room stuff dominated in the last couple of months. That’s seen me falling behind with blogging again but there’s light at the end of the tunnel and over the last few days, reviews have started to appear again. Hopefully that will continue for a while…
For those of you interested in what I’ve been up to, I’ve been on four escape room trips. First Vienna, where the highlight was Going Underground from Crime Runners, although Western Jailbreak from Time Busters was another great game. Next up, I took a tour round the south of England with highlights including Sub Terra at Co-decode in Swindon, Station X at Time Trap Reading, Titanic at Houdini’s in Southampton, Silence is a Virtue from Exciting Escapes in Southampton, Broken from Pressure Point in Ashford, The Pit from the Escapement and Detention from Ctrl-Alt-Esc, both in Margate and The Comms Room from Escape in the Towers in Canterbury.
After that I headed over to the Netherlands where we played a host amazing games – The Catacombs from Logiclocks, Flight 815 from Down the Hatch, Honeymoon Hotel and The End, both from DarkPark and the Artifact from Escape Experience. We also snuck in 10 Doors at Escape-O-Holics which, while not an amazing game, did see us become the first ever team of three to complete their challenge and only the third team from 800…
Finally, we spent a weekend in Paris, playing some of their top picks. I can safely say that Paris is a far stronger destination than London (but which major city isn’t these days?) with the higlights of our eight game trip being Lock Academy’s Revolt, La Piece’s Space Odyssey, The Game’s Space Mission, Majestic’s Atlantis and Hint Hunt’s Secret of the Pirate.
Over in London, we playtested the new game at Buckingham Palace, checked out Kingdom of Cats at Omescape and recent played Adventox’s new game, The Curse of Dr Stevens.
Escape Plan Shoreditch has launched an escape room version of their previous party game, Roll out the Barrel. Games from Escape Plan have been some of the best in London, so this is probably the game I’m most looking forward to playing in the city at the moment.
Modern Fables has opened a new venue in North London and with it launched their second game, Hypersomnia. They’ve got a very different take from most escape room companies, with a heavy emphasis on audio to create immersion and a desire to put story centrally in the experience. I’m keen to see how they’ve progressed since they launched their first experience.
Possibly the most exciting news in the escape room community was the announcement of an escape room at Buckingham Palace that uses original Leonardo da Vinci works of arts. Seriously. Buckingham Palace (The Queen’s Gallery) opened Leonardo’s Artmergency in June and I was lucky enough to playtest it just before it opened. While it had some rough edges, I’d still recommend people sign up, if only to see the art and the space.
No Escape is expanding with an Aldgate venue. After the scary dentist game in their original location, they’ve added two new experiences: The Haunted Toy Store and The Butcher. A veritable high street of fear…
Fox in a Box have finally opened their venue in East London. They’ve got four rooms (including head-to-head prison break games), all of which are tried and tested in other parts of the world. While Fox in a Box may not bring five-star games in terms of puzzles and immersion, my experience (from Spain and Austria) is that they deliver consistently good customer service, which also bodes well. Escape Room Tourist raves about Zodiac Killer, the one game coming to London that I haven’t played elsewhere.
clueQuest have added Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed sequel, Medusa’s Gate, to their line up. While I haven’t played the second volume, I did play the beta of the original VR game and everything I’ve heard is positive.
HintHunt have expanded again, this time bringing Golden Share to their venue – tripling the number of experiences available at their London venue over the last six months. By all accounts, there’s a big difference between their original experiences and the latest offerings, so it’s probably time to give them a second chance.
Clue Adventures have closed down the Book of Secrets, their popular game over in Mile End. That’s sad but rumour has it that a new game is due to open very soon. Watch this space!
Trapped, who brought us Trapped in a room with a Zombie are launching their Trapped Undercover experience as a permanent game (it’s previously been a mobile game). See below for a discount code.
Operation Escape opened World War II – Wings of Victory, replacing the Ops Room. I wasn’t amazed by their previous game but I suspect their experiences are aimed mainly at locals who’ll likely enjoy the experience, especially their effort to portray a character during the intro.
Junk Yard is a new venue that’s just opened in Stratford. If you’re wondering why they chose that name then it might help to know that they’ve upcycled a lot of the props in the room. If you’re feeling particularly brave then they offer an extreme version of their game where you don’t get any clues and, if you escape in under fifty minutes, you get a free session at their 3D print workshop.
Horror Escape is a new venue that’s set to launch in August, or maybe before, with a series of scary escape rooms. With five games in planning, this looks set to become one of the bigger venues in London. Cabin Fever and Murder Mansion seem pretty typical horror escape room experiences but Lost in Space, Primal Fear and Wonderland all look to be interesting takes on the horror experience.
Room Lockdown in Hornchurch continue to cycle their rooms, this time opening Pirate Escape.
The Crystal Maze moved over to Piccadilly Circus a few months back. I’ve headed along and confirm that there’s (as far as I could see) no overlap with the games at the previous venue. I also think they’ve improved the quality of the games significantly. As a player, I enjoyed both my games, and when we weren’t playing the games were far more engaging. They also got rid of the mini-jails they had if you failed a room which I think is a good choice. I went in pretty cynically but came out very happy with the experience.
As ever, if you’re looking for general recommendations in the capital, you can check out either my London guide, which lists my favourite games, or the more detailed recommendations based on whether you’re looking for a two-player or eight-player game, like mechanical puzzles or need wheelchair access. And, if you’ve read this far, you may be interested in my irregular enthusiast meetups. If so, drop me an email and I’ll send you the details!
Colab theatre are back with Spy City, rumoured to be their last spy show that takes all they’ve learned from the previous experiences and combines it into a single performance. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed their shows, which are far grittier than similar experiences, especially when they’ve taken you out into the streets of London. You can see the trailer here.
A Door in a Wall continue on with their run of Dead Man’s Hand which opened over a year ago. We played back in June 2018 and by now I’d imagine they’ll have thoroughly honed their performances and tweaked the game to the max. Read the review here for more details but it’s always worth heading along to A Door in a Wall’s productions.
Buck Buck Games, run by one of the creatives behind the acclaimed Lady Chastity’s Reserve, has launched two experiences: The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar and the Viewing. Both are open now
Variant 31 is a new zombie-themed immersive gaming experience appearing near Holborn. It was originally due to open in April but that’s now been pushed back to September.
It’s not clear exactly what it will be, but Immersive Game Labs (£2.5 million in seed funding and run by the founder of Tough Mudder) are continuing to playtest their experience. Described as part indoor-theme-park part video game part escape room, I’m genuinely curious to see what they’ve produced.
If puzzle solving and eating are two of your favourite things then you might want to check out the Murder Express: Jewel of the Empire which seems like an immersive murder mystery experience with a meal.
Puzzles and more
As per usual, Puzzled Pint takes place on the second Tuesday of the month and this month’s puzzle is already released. If you’re looking for some fun, sociable puzzling, then it’s a great start. And, if you’re nervous that the puzzles will be too hard, don’t worry – there’s a games controller who’ll help you out as much as you need. You can check out puzzles and solutions from previous months on their website here.
Dash 11 takes place on 21 September around the world. You’ve already missed out on getting tickets so if you want to take part then you’ll need to find a team that’s short of players. Sadly, once again, I’ll be away when it takes place.
If you fancy signing up to puzzles by post then you might find Jack Fallows’ Cryptogram Puzzle Post of interest. He sends a monthly package that mixes art, gaming and storytelling. I’ve not yet played but I’ve backed him on Patreon and just received my first episode.
Groupon has London Escaped, Adventox, City Mazes, Omescape and No Escape on their site. If you want to take advantage of the offers but don’t want to support Groupon, I recommend dropping an email to the venue asking if they’ll offer you the same deal – they’re usually willing to match it, and the bonus is that they get the full amount rather than just 50-70% of what is already a reduced fee.
If you use the code UndercoverBetaTest you can get 50% off the new Trapped Undercover experience mentioned above. That’s valid from 15th – 29th July.
That’s all, folks
That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect, then let me know via email or in the comments below; or, equally, if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, tell me, and I’ll include updates in the next edition.
Thanks for reading!