Welcome to the March 2016 edition of the escape rumours post, and wow a lot has happened since last month. Firstly I’ve been busy escaping room – 11 in total and one with a celebrity (more on that another day). Secondly, lots has been happening on the London scene, so plenty of news there too.
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 in January. 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.
- Sherlock Unlock is offering a discount. I’m not clear on the exact amount but I think it’s 30% off your first game, and 50% off a subsequent game. I recommend reading my reviews beforehand, though.
- Escape Land (see below!) are offering 25% off weekday bookings. You’ll need to email them to get it for now, but it should be up on their website very soon.
- Reading this article might also lead you to find a special offer for Enter the Oubliette…
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.
February more than made up for a quiet January with eleven escape rooms, some interactive theatre and the chance to escape from a room with a celebrity for a TV show (more on that in a later post). Check out the front page for the full set of reviews.
For those of you who are more interested in what the future brings, here are my planned visits and reviews:
Currently, that leaves me with only one traditional escape room unreviewed – Lock’d’s Perpetuum Mobile – plus Agent November’s two outdoor games and Namco Funscape’s 15 minute game. London almost finished? Not for long – read on for…
News and Rumours
Top news this week goes to a new outfit that seem very likely to shake up the London market. Opening with three rooms, some time in March, Escape Games London stands out from the crowd in several areas (and in a very literal sense, given it’s located in “London’s tallest riverside venue”).
First off, they’re not doing hour-long games. Presumably in an attempt to maximise throughput and bring down prices, their games have a limit of 45-50 minutes. Secondly, they’re charging £30, well above industry averages, although not an unexpected markup given their location. Finally, one of the rooms is listed for up to 30 people!?! It’s hard to believe you can have a meaningful game with that many participants given how communications break down. I suspect they’ve addressed this, to some extent, by splitting that into two teams of 15, but I still have significant reservations. It also means we’ll have to choose between playing with strangers or booking out a £900 room. Watch this space!
Another big piece of news is the reopening of Escape Land (HT: Exit games). Those of you who’ve been following the scene for a few months might be aware of this relatively small player that used to be located near Cambridge Heath. The good news is that they’ve reinvented themselves and are re-opening near Oxford Circus. I think that’s fantastic news, because they had one of the most delightfully quirky games I’ve played. Even better news, for those of us who’ve already played Age of Steampunk (now named Professor Oxford’s Experiments) is that they’re opening a second room in mid-March for 2-6 people named Da Vinci’s Exploration.
Talking of companies opening a new room, clueQuest brings us Revenge of the Sheep in late March. With two highly rated and popular games, I’ve been anticipating this since they first announced the expansion six months ago. Good things aren’t worth rushing, though, so I’m pleased they’ve taken their time. We’re already booked in, so expect a review in late March!
At last, almost a year after I first heard about its proposed resurrection, The Crystal Maze is opening this month. If you haven’t already got tickets then it’s probably a bit late unless you fancy it as a Christmas celebration. Yes, this has proved super popular but, if you’re willing to go earlier in the morning, and you can convince your employer to stump up twice the usual list price, then there’s still a chance for you – take a look at their website for more details.
Archimedes Inspiration are on the brink of announcing their opening date and unlocking their booking pages. If you subscribed to their page expect a link in the next couple of days.
Still no solid news on the Unconference plans, but the provisional date I’ve heard is still 25th April. More details when I have them!
A Door in a Wall held the test event for their new production (A Veiled Threat) last week, and by all accounts it went well. Hopefully that means we’ll see a quick turnaround and following up running in the not too distant future. I also expect an announcement from them some time this month for their May/June game. Super excited about that one.
Handmade Mysteries already have three copies of Lady Chastity’s Reserve, but not content with that, I’ve heard that they’ll be opening another copy in their Clapham venue this month. (and yes, I know I said that last month – but it sounds like they were delayed).
OM Escape look set to open a site just north of Kings Cross. Hailing from Richmond, California, they’ve already got a few tried and tested games in their portfoio. According to their website, they’ll have one game from each of their existing facilities in the States and one brand new game.
Following on from last month’s gossip about Claustrophobia putting a London pin on their map, we’re seeing an attempted invasion from France this time. Mission Evasion, a Lille based firm, have made a planning application for a four room centre in Kentish Town. There’s something about the interior that’s particularly interesting, but I’m not going to say just in case – let’s see if they can put it to good use…
Hot off the presses, Escape Zone London has launched on crowdfunder.co.uk with plans to build a pirate themed room in London. Very few details beyond the sparse information on the link above – let’s see if they release more as their campaign progresses.
The presses have obviously been busy over the last couple of days, because just as I was finalising this month’s update, I spotted Clue Adventures who launched their Facebook page and website over the weekend. Very little information at present, but their website talks about a TV and Film background. Interestingly, though, they seem to have enlisted the help of a group of puzzle setters plus there’s mention of having developed “popup rooms” so it definitely sounds slightly more serious than your average newcomer to the market!
And finally for this section, a quick update on the “Escape Room in a Box” Kickstarter project I mentioned last month. They funded within a day and are now sitting at approximately four times their goal. As a bonus, they’ve also deceloped EU friendly shipping, so if you were umming and aahing because you thought you’d have to pay import duties, wait no longer!
On the borders
I’m London focused, but the M25 doesn’t actually have passport control, so occasionally I look a little further afield. This month I’m going to focus on a couple of specific towns that are seeing their fair share of escape room action, Milton Keynes and Southend, both well within day-trip distance of London.
Milton Keynes has long been one of the most obvious gaps in the UK market. Well, that gap is being firmly filled this month, as two escape rooms open up.
First up, in Bletchley Park, is A Great Escape, who are opening in mid March with a single room for 2-6 people. Much to my delight they’ve themed their room around a group of cryptographers from Bletchley Park. It’s always pleasing when a a room taps into the local history to create their theme, and with the National Museum of Computing just across the road, you could have a great day out immersing yourself in the wonderful history of this place.
In towards the centre of town, Room Escape Milton Keynes will be home to a couple of rooms. Similar to A Great Escape, they’ll be opening in March with their room able to host 2-6 people and an intelligence theme. Their first game, Decipher the Voynich, is set around retrieving a classified document from a spy’s apartment.
Anything Milton Keynes can do, Southend-on-Sea can do better. At under an hour from London by train, with a beach, a pier and a night life, this is a perfect place for a day trip, especially if you live out towards Liverpool Street. More importantly, it’s about to have a thriving escape scene, especially if you’re into horror or zombies, as three different venues are set to open over the next few months.
Room Escape Southend have already started taking bookings for their zombie experience which opens in April. Like the London game with a similar scenario you’re trapped in a room with a zombie on a chain and up to 11 other people. Every few minutes the chain extends and you’re a little closer to becoming zombie food… If the London room is anything to go by, this will be a fun filled adrenaline rush. At £15 per person, it’s available every weekend at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm, so perfect for those stag and hen dos before a night out on the town.
If zombies aren’t your thing, then Escape Live Essex is probably the best option – they’re bringing in two games from the Birmingham head office, Room 13 and Dr Wilson’s Office. It’s worth mentioning, for those of you of a nervous disposition, that they’ve said Room 13 isn’t a scary room – just eerie. Booking prices yet to be announced for their rooms which hold 2-5 people, but I’ll retweet any opening offers I spot.
Finally, it’s back to fear attractions, for a room that I find absolutely fascinating. At 11,000 sq ft, this is almost certainly the largest escape room in the UK and possibly even the world. Alien Escape is part of the Hide and Shriek “Year of Fear” set of attractions that are taking part in and around Southend. Booking opens in March for their June launch and tickets will be £15, but for £100 you can book out all 10 slots. Like your fear attractions? Then for £45 you can get the annual pass, which gives you access to their after hours shopping centre zombie attraction, Dead Centre, as well a couple of other attractions in the second half of the year.
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!