Omescape: Joker’s Asylum


Outside the room

It’s always exciting when a new escape room arrives in London, but I was particularly looking forward to Omescape‘s arrival since it’s a franchise and the rooms would therefore already be tried and tested. And not just any franchise – this is one that has had significant success in the US and Canada. Sadly, their most popular room hasn’t made it across (Kingdom of Cats), but the company had a good enough reputation for me not to worry too much.

Initial impressions were good – easy-to-use website, pain-free booking process and a reasonably convenient location in Kings Cross (interestingly, just around the corner from clueQuest – could this be a new northern escape room hub?). Inside there was a large waiting area with a huge, almost-too-brightly-lit Omescape logo to greet you as soon as you crossed the threshold. We met our quiet but friendly host who gave us a quick introduction and, before we knew it, we were entering the room.


The Joker was the star of the circus, until he started to experience psychological problems. He locked himself away in a custom-built asylum, where a private doctor treated him. Away from the public eye, his asylum allowed his insanity to grow until he broke down, and then people started to disappear from the local community. Your mission is to break into the Joker’s Asylum using the doctor’s notes and rescue the victims.

Inside the room

Warning: in the next paragraph (and throughout the rest of this post) I’m going to tell you about a part of the game that might be considered a spoiler. You’ll find out about it before you enter the room, and I don’t think telling you about it in advance will affect the game, so I deem it acceptable. However for those of you who absolutely don’t want to know anything before you arrive at the venue, I’ve put spoiler protection around it – click on “Spoiler!” to make it appear.

If you can read this and haven’t clicked on the “spoiler” button, then the spoilers aren’t being hidden! Stop reading now!


So…. What’s the big reveal? Well, before you play the game, you need to split up into two groups. One plays the people who are kidnapped, while the second group is in the asylum control room. That becomes critical in this game for a variety of reasons. Firstly, you’re kept separate for a relatively extended period, so it really influences the game in a way which other split rooms (that let you join up in a few minutes) don’t. Secondly, there’s a huge amount of communication over the walkie talkies. Thirdly the two teams experience the game in a very different way – because the game develops for the two groups separately.

When you enter the room, you quickly realise that this is going to be a more complicated game than most. There’s a lot of information to take in, and it’s not at all obvious how you’re going to deal with it. As each player searches the environment, they discover different things, so communication between the players becomes absolutely key, to a level which no other escape room I’ve played has achieved. It’s great to see a game that really puts communication into the limelight. These are, at the end of the day, team games, and communication is probably the most important part of teamwork, so it deserves its time in the centre.

Indeed, with the teams in two separate rooms for half the game, communication was absolutely critical. Unfortunately, we had to communicate over a walkie talkie, which meant that at any one time, only one person could be talking and that we regularly started speaking before the walkie talkie was ready so would miss critical parts of the sentence. Our team found that frustrating given the huge amount of information that was available to each side, and it really felt like it created an unnecessary bottleneck that a “full duplex” (i.e. simultaneous two-way) walkie talkie could have eliminated.

First impressions were good. There were plenty of potential clues to greet us, and relatively little that looked like red herrings. There were no gimmes in this room, though: you’d have to work for every puzzle and, in some cases, work damn hard. Several of the clues were delivered on laminated paper, which was a bit of a shame, and on occasion they were pretty wordy, which I always think interrupts the flow of the room. In effect it’s a bit like giving you red herrings – you have to wade through information deciding whether any of it is useful. Aside from those laminated sheets, though, it was a nicely decorated and constructed set, with one particular puzzle mechanic a real highlight. The puzzles fitted beautifully with the theme, generally making sense in the context of the room and adding tidbits of story as you went along. I left the room feeling sorrier for the Joker than when I arrived, which I think is a sign that the story isn’t just an excuse for the room but is woven into its fabric. To cap it off, the finale puzzle pulls elements from across the game together with a slightly but not too contrived solution.


We didn’t get out within the sixty minutes, but were given an extra five minutes on the clock, of which we used half to complete the game. Along the way, we got a few clues, although we were definitely left to struggle for longer than would be usual in a room – I’m not sure if that was because it was a difficult room, a deliberate choice of OMEscape/this franchise or because the host chose not to give us clues unless we desperately needed them or asked.


This is, without a doubt, one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. The game left me genuinely unhappy – not at failing (that would be mere disappointment) but at how the team dynamics had played out. I remember once having a conversation with Mrs Logic about her feeling she’d let me down when we played as a pair and I failed my first escape room. I said to her at the time that you win as a team and you fail as a team – individuals don’t count. It didn’t feel like that at the end of Joker’s Asylum. This game messes with you, as befits its eponymous antihero, and I suspect will cause strain in even the tightest knit of teams.

There are two big negatives in this game, both of which involve spoilers. Sorry to those of you skipping these sections!

First off, the walkie talkies are a pain to use. This game is centred around communication and does a fantastic job of it, but the walkie talkies are a massive issue. They take something difficult and make it frustrating. Yes, you could argue that this is a difficult game, but my retort would be: does it genuinely make the game more fun? I’d argue the communication does, but the walkie talkies don’t. Talking to enthusiasts who’ve played this game in the States and Canada that’s a widely held opinion. To counter that, though, I’ve heard some people say it didn’t get in their way at all.

Second, the two start points are very different, so the experiences you get and how you much you enjoy the game very much depend on which choice you make. I talked to other enthusiasts afterwards and unanimously, the members of their teams who played in the half of the room where I was enjoyed it significantly less. Obviously any split room setup is going to mean different experiences for the two teams, but this felt too unbalanced.

One of those negatives is fixable, and I think, talking to the owner afterwards, that they’ll work on it to make a significant improvement if other players feel the same way. The other is trickier, but I think will become less relevant if they resolve the first problem.

On the plus side, I like the set, I like the story, all the puzzles made sense and I loved that the puzzles were less numerous but required us to talk a lot more – it’s a team game after all, so anything which brings you together is great. I even loved the tension that the game introduced in the team, even if it ended up making the game less enjoyable for me.

I came away from this game excited about Omescape and playing their next game but, in all honesty, disappointed in this experience, so I have to put a big caveat on playing this room: I’d only recommend it to players who want a good challenge, and I’d recommend you approach it with a group where everyone knows each other.


It was an early booking, and we were short of time, so we dropped by 5 Guys for a quick burger and fries. I’d never been before and made the rookie error of chatting in the queue rather than reading the menu, and ended up declining the (free) extra toppings – not realising that they consider things like lettuce and tomato toppings. On the plus side, I ordered the large fries, which were great and enough to feed all four of us at the table.

Detailed Room Ratings

Wow! factor


  1. // Reply

    I thought the same thing! I liked the story, the clues and found it pretty hard, I was in the investigator team and we started really slow, some of it can be blamed on the bad walkie talkies…I thought some parts of the room were really well done but definitely could be improved…my friends in the other team got really bored after a while…their upcoming rooms are supposed to be less difficult, so let’s see!

  2. // Reply

    I did this game yesterday and I really wouldn’t recommend it on the hostages side. In a small room and within 15 minutes we had solved everything we needed to in there so then spent the next 15 minutes just reading out what was written on our wall to the other group. A task made so much harder by those walkie talkies! A real pain!
    I’d even say a lot of the puzzles weren’t hard so much as cumbersome. For example the last puzzle to get the PIN to finally escape you had some numbers that required a lot of work, then you tried lateral thinking on another and it turns out it was just the number written down! A lot of those numbers felt like there were 2 or 3 solutions not one clear unique solution.
    So from the hostages side I’d say maybe even 2 stars.
    (Try ClueQuest across the road – much, much better!)

  3. // Reply

    We did this game on the weekend and can confirm that the walkie talkies are a still awful. The 2 second lag connecting makes natural conversation really hard. With a room based almost entirely on talking it seems like a massive burden on the teams. I played as the rescuers, not the hostages, and while we got to move through more rooms the puzzles weren’t that much better.

  4. // Reply

    This escape room is stupid hard and we didn’t even get through half of the room because we didn’t know how to open the number lock. The hints were useless and not helpful. The clues written on the walls were very difficult to piece together and pretty random and arbitrary. Not recommended, didn’t enjoy the experience at all.

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