Omescape: Penitentiary

 The Penitentiary

Outside the room

Back once again to Omescape for their final room. I was looking forward to this visit because the room was rated their most difficult game and, based on US reports, the most enjoyable of the ones they’d brought across the pond. A team of five to play a 4-7 game seemed like the perfect setup to enjoy the game to the max!

I still don’t like the way they do introductions here. Our games were fifteen minutes apart, but they seemed to wait for all the teams to appear in order to give our introductions together. Then one team got taken away to play their games while the others hung around. I get the feeling that there are maybe two members of staff for the four rooms – one does all the intro and welcomes people when they escape, while the other is watching the games. That may help to keep costs down, but I think it lets down the overall feeling of the place and leaves you with a far less personal experience.


You’re locked in a high security prison and have to escape by following a number of clues left by a previous inmate.

Inside the room

Damn it. How many times will I be wrongfully imprisoned before people realise I’m innocent? I keep on breaking out of the cells but they keep on capturing me and throwing me inside again. Come to think of it, I also seem to be a world renowned scientist with an unlucky knack for being at the centre of zombie apocalypses as well as a gifted spy with a knack for finding bombs that are counting down…. Why does everything always happen to me?

Omescape seem to have a theme of communication-heavy games. Now, obviously all games encourage you to communicate – you need to tell each other about what you’ve found, and sometimes the easiest way to solve a puzzle is to talk about it, but this is one of those games where the information is scattered about and not always movable. Plus, sometimes one part of our team just happened to be solving a problem in one place and was oblivious to what the rest of the team were doing. Good communication, or possibly even someone just running around like a headless chicken keeping everyone up to date, will definitely pay dividends here.

As with the other Omescape games, you’re given a couple of torches and, as with the other games, I found this quite annoying. Let’s ignore the fact that it was somewhat dangerous at one point to be wandering around without a torch and instead concentrate on what it brought to the game. Well, on the plus side, it made it more difficult. On the minus side, it made it less fun. Except that really the “more difficult” part wasn’t a plus because it wasn’t a satisfying piece of difficulty. No – it was just less fun. I can see why you might want to use a lack of light to set the mood, but I think you could set the scene of a prison just by having cold, harsh light.

There were some enjoyable puzzles along the way that included a nice variety of observation, decoding and pulling together information. One seemed a bit questionable, and almost required us to take a clue but, apart from that, they all seemed logical (at least once you’d worked out the answer!). Similarly, they were good fun with just a single exception: one puzzle involved a fairly tedious process in which you realised what to do quickly but then had to work through a load of steps to get the answer. It was acceptable but it tied up two of our players for a while and made them miss a significant (and fun!) part of the game.

Theme-wise, they did a decent job. They started off well but fundamentally struggled with what a prison should look like beyond having a cell, and some of the clues looked entirely out of place. There was one physical/skill puzzle which, while having no real place in the theme, somehow got away with it without me noticing till afterwards. I guess it was sufficiently associated with the theme that I was happy with it. Some nice reveals during the game kept me entertained including – something worthy of particular praise – a solution which was effectively a numeric combination but was used in a way that sat within the theme and avoided using a keypad/combination lock. Well done!


We got out in around 45 minutes without any clues. I think it was the record. It’s all a bit hazy!


This was a good game that had fun puzzles to solve along the way. Of the three rooms at Omescape, this was my favourite although, of the five of us who’d played all three games, I was the only one who felt that way. I think that was partly because I rushed around between the various puzzles talking to everyone, whereas other people were a little more static. I saw all the different puzzles being solved and was involved in pretty much all the action.

We didn’t need clues, so the host wasn’t an influence on our game (although reading Escape Review’s review suggests that we were lucky on that front) but, from what I saw outside the room, they’re still lacking really charismatic and exciting hosts. He did the job but didn’t sell the experience to me or particularly add to it and, while he was happy to talk about parts of the rooms where we had questions, he didn’t have the passion about the games that I’d really like to see.

Finally, a warning: as mentioned above, this room is played with poor lighting and has stairs. That seems like a big mistake in a game where you’re rushing around. I tripped a couple of times in my excitement and, if you’ve read Escape Review’s review (I’ve mentioned it twice – surely that’s enough of a hint that you should read it!), I’m not alone. Also, that’s not the only mobility issue in the game, so bear that in mind when booking!


Another early booking, so we made a quick visit to Chilango’s on Upper Street to grab a burrito on the way across. To be honest, it was pretty similar to the burrito from Chipotle across the street. I’d recommend whichever has more space/less waiting!

Detailed Room Ratings

Wow! factor


  1. // Reply

    Agreed on the trip issue. We had a member fall down part of the stairs whilst trying to read something. They promised us they were going to put luminous tape on the stairs after I fed it back. Did they get around to it?

    I think I also know which puzzle you have in mind that almost required you to take a clue; we got caught in that trap and burnt a lot of time.

    Also agreed on the hosts. They are still very transactional.

  2. // Reply

    We did this room about a month ago. Again agreed about the stairs. Rather annoyingly for us, a part of the puzzle was broken and a lot of time was wasted with an unresponsive host.. got there in the end though.

    We may have been *ahem* a bit faster than you 😉

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