Emergency Exit Escape Games UK – The Beast (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: Up to 6 connections (We recommend 2-5 players)

Price: £100.00 per room (About $128.06 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 90 minutes

The number of the Beast is 10/10

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From the Emergency Exit Escape Games UK website:

Exclusively play a unique experience – only available online – combining Conjure + Poltergeist! The game includes spoilers from both physical games. The rooms may LOOK the same online, but the game-play isn’t!

Deep in the forest of Crowley Manor lies a secret as dark as the house itself; maybe even worse?

There’s a cabin in the woods with a legend of the supernatural. Long abandoned, there have been strange sightings and many people have disappeared, as reported in the news over the years, never to return.

You should NOT enter! The question is… can you escape parts 2 and 3 of the Crowley Manor story? There’s lots of puzzles to solve before you can.

Based in the same reality as our Exorcist game, Crowley Manor. You’ll be playing in the actual Conjure and Poltergeist rooms by controlling a Game Master.

First Impressions:

We have been anxiously waiting to play The Beast since the second we were told there would be a sequel. Exorcist was, and still is, our favorite virtual escape game we’ve done, and honestly, is probably one of the best escape games we’ve experienced, period. We could not wait to get back into the horror filled universe that Emergency Exit has created, and when the day finally came, we were more than thrilled to be returning to Crowley Manor!

High Points:

Emergency Exit continues to impress with yet another brilliant foray into the dark confines of Crowley Manor. Every facet of this game is polished, and impresses from start to finish. From the moment we entered our Zoom meeting, an intro video was playing, reacquainting us with Crowley Manor and setting the mood while counting down the time until the game would begin. The anticipation was absolutely palpable, and the production values were already high, and we hadn’t even entered the room yet! Once we were connected to our avatar, Ronnie, we picked up right where we left off at the end of Exorcist. From there, we broke back into Crowley Manor, (bad idea number one,) found our possibly possessed cameraman inside, (bad idea number two,) and began messing about with a bunch of creepy dolls, (you guessed it! Three’s a charm.) The set was beautifully well designed, and the videos and effects all work together to ensure that we were appropriately spooked, and that there was never any certainty as to what creepy happening was around every corner. An amazing attention to detail and beautiful design work is apparent in every room we visited, and though we were not physically in the room, the designers have done an awesome job of ensuring that the atmosphere and ambiance is preserved for the virtual experience through some of the best lighting and sound design we’ve seen in a virtual room. In fact, this is one of those rooms that just oozes immersion, combining the sound effects, music, and characterization of Ronnie and Liam, our avatar and cameraman, respectively. Truly, Emergency Exit has continues to set the bar for what a remote escape room should strive to be.

The game flow is wonderfully smooth within this room, and runs linearly, with subtle hints and clues to ensure that players never feel lost, but are still challenged to put together the pieces. The whole experience is intuitive, and filled with a variety of puzzle types that allows all different types of puzzlers to shine. There are loads of amazing interactions in The Beast, and it is honestly hard to pick a favorite moment. One section of the game near the midpoint that I really adored subverted our expectations fantastically, and allowed for a few minutes of unsettling uncertainty and scares while still presenting some great puzzles to solve. The experience is absolutely filled to the brim with immensely satisfying ah ha moments, and each puzzle is integrated into the room’s theme convincingly. I really loved how during our solves, bits of story and lore were drip fed to us by our host, who despite the creepy situation he finds himself in, still finds time to be a good ghost tour guide! Other bits of story were realistically integrated into the rooms via notes, radio broadcasts, and haunting happenings, and the mystery kept us guessing until the end. The climax of the story is an unexpected, yet fantastic conclusion to the saga, but leaves things open to interpretation, keeping us guessing even long after the game had ended. Overall, The Beast mixes immersive theater, escape rooms, and haunts together to create an experience that is second to none. Though The Beast caps off the Crowley Manor saga excellently, if Emergency Exit releases another remote game, we will be ready to book without question.

Low Points:

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Verdict:

I can say without hesitation that Emergency Exit has outdone themselves with The Beast. Exorcism was an amazing room that absolutely must be played by any escape room enthusiast, but The Beast is a worthy sequel and an evolution that somehow manages to be even better than its predecessor! I cannot recommend this one enough, and encourage players new and old to book Exorcist and The Beast as soon as you can, as these are without question the best remote escape games you will find. Book your return to Crowley Manor here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Emergency Exit Escape Games UK provided our team with a complementary game.

Swamp Motel – Plymouth Point (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 1-6 (We recommend 2-5 players)

Price: £35.00-40.00 per team (About $45.71-52.24 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 75 minutes

How deep does this rabbit hole go?

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From the Swamp Motel website:

Plymouth Point is an immersive, online detective game that takes you from the comfy confines of the Plymouth Point Residents Watch into the heart of a deeply unsettling conspiracy. Played on an internet browser, teams will need to follow clues, crack codes and hack passwords in an attempt to find out why a missing resident has vanished. Part escape room, part immersive theatre and all online, Plymouth Point relies on you to peel back the layers of the mystery to find Ivy before it’s too late.

First Impressions:

We have really enjoyed all the virtual escape rooms we’ve visited over the past few months, and it is really great to be able to visit rooms we might not have been able to otherwise, but some of the best experiences we’ve had lately have been rooms and adventures that were developed solely for the online platform. Plymouth Point is just such an experience, and we were excited to see how this more story focused game would play out!

High Points:

For players looking for something new and exciting, Plymouth Point absolutely fits the bill. An interactive detective story full of puzzling enigmas and devious twists, we had an astoundingly good time attempting to find Ivy and discover why she’d disappeared in the first place. The game integrates some marvelous videos into the experience, all of which are well acted and ensure the immersion remains intact throughout. Small tidbits of the greater mystery are solved as we worked through the clues, and some late game revelations just oozed with a barely restrained foreboding. This immersion isn’t only present within the video, as the mystery escapes into the real world as well, utilizing familiar social networking, previously existing websites as well as ones created for the game itself, and messages between the characters themselves. Truly, Plymouth Point uses the online platform to its fullest, ensuring the line between fact and fiction are completely blurred during the entire experience. The mystery has multiple paths players can take, all culminating in an explosive finale that ties up the enigmas presented, but absolutely begs for a sequel at the same time. Should Swamp Motel decide to expand the world of Plymouth Point, we are here for it, no question.

Plymouth Point’s puzzles are mostly research based, tasking players with uncovering the truth by looking into the darkest corners of Ivy’s life, and tracking down what happened to her in the days leading up to her disappearance. Every interaction makes perfect sense within the world of the game, and does an excellent job of showing, not telling by deeply integrating the storyline into every action. Gameplay is brilliantly intuitive, and the signposting is just subtle enough to come naturally to players without seeming forced or overly obvious, and every revealed secret came with a massively satisfying ah ha moment for our team. The adventure is mostly linear, with one specific goal at any point, but since there is loads to investigate at any given time, each player feels engaged with the game as they share information and piece together solutions together. For only £35.00-40.00 per team, this experience is imminently affordable and a great value for the huge amount of enjoyment we got out of the game. We were still talking about it for a few days after, and I cannot wait to see what Swamp Motel comes up with next!

Low Points:

The beginning of the experience was a bit slow, as there was a fair amount of information to go through, and only vague ideas of where the information could be applied. Just a slightly subtle clue could help move things forward a bit smoother here. Passwords were also not standardized like other games with virtual components, meaning there was a bit of guesswork in figuring out if the password included capital letters or not.

Verdict:

Plymouth Point is an astoundingly immersive experience, combining the best features of virtual escape rooms and interactive theatre in order to deliver an adventure that is truly captivating from start to finish. I recommend checking it out as soon as you can as the mystery behind the disappearances in Plymouth Point is not to be missed! Gather your team of online investigators and uncover the conspiracy here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Swamp Motel provided our team with a complementary game.

Sleuth Kings – Case 201: Monster Madness Pt. 1 – Abduction (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

They did the Mash. They did the Monster Mash!

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From the Sleuth Kings website:

Sullivan King had only heard whispers about a new criminal group – until their reign of terror made things personal for him.

The group – filled with self-proclaimed zombies, vampires, and other monsters – has its hand in everything from selling drugs to abducting people. Although they have police baffled, Sullivan is sure of one thing: he’s going to do whatever it takes to stop them.

Can you help Sullivan uncover the group’s monstrous secret and bring them to justice before they hurt someone else?

First Impressions:

Sleuth Kings has made a slight adjustment to their subscription model, starting with this case. Abduction starts off a new set of four cases that will tie into an over arching mystery, while still remaining a stand alone mystery itself. I’m always interested in longer term mysteries and meta-narratives, so I was excited to see what was new with this case!

High Points:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sleuth Kings may have changed up the subscription model, but the general set up of the box itself has largely remained the same subscription we’ve gotten to know and have loved for the past few years. That being said, while this box works excellently as a stand alone mystery, there are still a few good cliff hangers left over by the time the current mystery is solved, and I can’t wait to see what sort of crazy high jinks initiate the proceedings of the next case in the series. I’m voting for Zombie Ghost Vampires… from space! The story line for this mystery is well written, and I love that Sleuth Kings continues to come up with light hearted, yet completely wild story lines for us to investigate. The fact that the kidnappers are part of this weird alien conspiracy theory network, (not a spoiler, it’s pretty clear from the start,) makes me immediately want to know more about them and their motivations, and the tidbits that are shared through the clues provided are fantastic. Especially their super handy, 90s teen magazine quiz! (I’m not even kidding. There is a quiz, it is hilariously written, and we took a break in the middle of the game to take it. Totally worth it.)

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The puzzles for this box start out really strong, and we really enjoyed how well they fit together with each other. Though we did run into somewhat of a road block about halfway through, once we had overcome it, the game settled back into the usual, fantastic flow. All the puzzles integrate excellently into the story, and each new item is more excellent than the last! Especially, as can be seen above, the bumper sticker included. I kind of wish it came with two so I could put one on my review journal and keep the other one with the box! Abduction, more than other cases, has several clues that are just plain fun to read, and some of my favorite puzzles have some truly hilarious writing included. The design of each clue and prop is superb, and, as always, I love how they layer atop one another to create some really satisfying solves. To top everything off, the epilogue is great, and provides a tidy ending to the story, while keeping the door open for more monstrous investigations! It also includes my favorite ending gift of any case thus far.

Low Points:

While the mystery starts out really strong, things get very muddled around the halfway point. There was somewhat of a dearth of cluing during a particular puzzle which had us casting about, trying to find a foothold in one of the clues, but having quite a bit of trouble due to the ambiguity of the wordings. Once we had it solved, it made a lot more sense, but we really had to work for it as the hints provided weren’t quite as directed as we had hoped they would be. While we eventually got there, some tighter cluing and more direct hints would have taken a fair bit of the frustration out of the process. One puzzle in particular will be familiar to long term players, and those veterans will know immediately what to do, taking a little bit of the challenge out, but we haven’t seen this sort of puzzle in a long while, so it isn’t that low of a point for us, more of a heads up for veteran sleuths. (I myself was actually really excited when I saw the telltale prop!)

Verdict:

Abduction starts off strong, but can be a bit difficult to parse before finishing up with an interesting climax. We did enjoy the case overall, however, and are interested to see where the Monster Madness saga takes us next! It’s no secret that I loved Blood P.I. and The Haunting, so I’m hoping for Vampires and Ghosts next! You can purchase this and other previous cases from the Sleuth King’s archives here, and if you’d like to subscribe to upcoming adventures, you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! You can also read the rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews here!

7.5/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

District 3 Escape Rooms – The Cabin (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 2-4 players)

Price: $27 CAD per person (About $19.87 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Serial Kidnappers and Puzzle Filled Cabins… the new Peanut Butter and Jelly!

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From the District 3 Escape Rooms website:

There has been a series of kidnappings near a cabin. After locking your group up, the kidnapper leaves to find more trespassers. In trying to escape, you begin to learn more about who’s cabin it is, who the enemy is, why he kidnapped you, and what he is trying to hide.

First Impressions:

District 3 Escape Rooms came highly recommended to us by another escape room in the area, Mystery Mansion Regina, and I’m glad they gave us the heads up about these virtual rooms, and we had an excellent time working through an escape room double header during our lockdown! It may not be the 8-23 room marathons we’re used to, but taking on more than one room in a day helped us feel just a little bit more normal during the pandemic.

High Points:

As with most rooms we’ve experienced virtually, we would have loved to take this one on in person, but due to the pandemic, we are glad we were able to visit District 3 virtually! This room translates very well to the remote play experience, and it is, as always, a great time seeing our “Keyed Up!” team for some weekly escapes. Our Game Master/Avatar ensured we had a great time by interacting with us as we joked around, and assisted us with giving the room a thorough, streamlined search. Once we’d had a good look around, he was very responsive in reacting to our requests, and piecing together exactly what we were trying to say when we asked him to “put the doo-dad in the whatzit.” Truly, all remote escape game GMs absolutely deserve a pay raise for their long-suffering patience with us. The inventory system is great, displaying those items that were harder to read virtually, or we needed to come back to reference, and as we utilized props successfully, they automatically disappeared from view so as not to clutter up the window.

Puzzles themselves glide well across the linear game flow, and as we revealed new clues, it was fairly intuitive what needed to be done next. The breadcrumbs that have been sprinkled along the path are clear, and never become obtuse, ensuring that challenges remain fair. Though this is an older room with a few puzzles that may have popped up a time or two for expert players, these puzzles are still presented in an entertaining way, and don’t give off a feeling of “been there, done that,” but rather conceal a twist or two to ensure the process of solving stays fresh. One particular favorite of mine took a style of puzzle we’ve seen a few times, and tweaked it ever so slightly to ensure that we had to think just a little bit further out of the box than usual in order to put everything together. I thought it was a fun tweak that displayed the creativity of the designers well. As referenced in our previous review of Haunted, District 3 does a great job ensuring that the final debriefing continues the fun by presenting us with achievements that tie into their point system. It’s fun to see what sorts of milestones your team overcame during your game, and the extra personal touch to the finale is a fantastic way to cap off a room.

Low Points:

The Cabin itself was a very first generation room, and while that translate to a virtual setting well, the set isn’t quite as fancy, and the game itself is very much focused on locks, for the most part. The game can come across as a little “escape room-y” in parts, as the story tends to be more of a back drop for the puzzles rather than the puzzles being fully integrated into the story. There are a few puzzles that tie in, but overall, the story is most present at the beginning and only evolves slightly during the game. On the whole, we enjoyed the room, but the puzzles were generally geared more towards a less experienced crowd, so we didn’t happen across any particularly mind twisting enigmas or explosive moments of revelation.

Verdict:

The room is a good time, and is a solid experience, but is definitely more geared toward newer players, and enthusiasts might find it a bit easier. We enjoyed our time (virtually) inside The Cabin overall, however and would recommend it to players looking for a more introductory style room. Enthusiasts will still find a lot to like, as there are some good surprises and fun interactions to be found. Book your time escaping the mysterious kidnapper here!

7.5/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: District 3 Escape Rooms provided our team with a complementary game.

 

 

 

Trapped! – Operation X-13 (Online Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players:  We recommend 2-4

Price: $59 for the first 2 connections, $15 for each additional connection

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

…we’ll do it live!

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From the Trapped! website:

You have discovered the enigmatic Cybortek corporation has been developing a formula, known as secret formula X-13, which they plan on using to genetically engineer normal people into killing machines for mercenary groups around the globe. You have learned the secret formula is being stored in their headquarters before it is sent to their secret lab for manufacture. Can you sneak into their headquarters and steal the formula while there is still time?

First Impressions:

We were invited by our fellow reviewers at Escape the Roomers for this, our first full scale live online escape room! We had played a live online escape before with YouEscape and had an excellent time, so we couldn’t wait to see what an actual room would be like to play remotely.

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Special thanks to Escape the Roomers for inviting us on this adventure!

High Points:

The singular greatest thing about Operation X-13 during our remote experience was, hands-down, our in room Game Master/Avatar, the “Recruit.” The game was a great time on it’s own, but the inclusion of so much personality and character from our GM truly made this room special. He added so much humor to the game, (following even our stupidest requests, up to and including, “parkour that chair!”) subtly delivered in room hints to us via what I started to refer to as “idling animations,” and truly felt as though he was a part of our team. Throughout the experience the Recruit was well integrated, bolstering the story, immersion, and interactivity greatly. Another fantastic thing about this remote experience was the streamlining of the searching elements within the game. While we are naturally horrible at finding things in a room live, we figured it would be even more difficult to uncover hidden objects via a Zoom call. Luckily, the Recruit was able to pull those items together for us naturally, allowing for us to enjoy the puzzling without an arduous pixel hunt. In a time sensitive game that could be made so much more complex by the online element, it was great to have this streamlining present in order to ensure things were only as complicated as they needed to be to present a fun challenge.

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The game flow is fantastic, and while it can feel a bit linear due to the limitation of there only being one camera within the room, this is alleviated via the amazing inventory system, which includes 360 views of each room in the game, allowing players to digitally search for new puzzles and items to look at, even while other things are happening on camera. Puzzles are woven superbly into the world of the game, and everything makes logical sense, with no red herrings or leaps to be found. All reveals and satisfying moments of revelation are just as effective from the comfort of our home as they would be live, and that in itself is a triumph for the designers! Actions that would usually require physical, in game interaction have been streamlined as well; incorporated digitally to allow players the freedom to take these puzzles on individually. There are loads of surprises, and a few interactions we would never have guessed would show up in this sort of adventure, all of which culminate in an immersive experience beyond what we figured to be possible for an at home game. It is obvious that a lot of care has been taken to ensure that this isn’t just an experience hastily put together for an online platform, and every element of the game fits naturally within the remote experience.

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Low Points:

There wasn’t much I could denote as a weak point during this experience. The only minor quibble we had was that the ending wasn’t quite as climactic as it could be, but short of actually being in the room, this experience delivered the feeling of being in an escape room fantastically.

Verdict:

Operation X-13 is an amazing experience for enthusiasts stuck at home, and I highly recommend checking it out! Boasting a fun story, well crafted puzzling, and a truly entertaining in room GM, I couldn’t have asked for a better first remote escape room experience! Book your time investigating Cybortek with the Recruit here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Trapped! provided our team with a complementary game.