REVIEW: DODGE CITY - TULLEYS ESCAPE ROOMS

TULLEYS FARM, CRAWLEY SUSSEX

Dodge City Escape Room Tulleys Farm Reviews

Our previous experience at Tulleys Escape Rooms playing Mutiny, The Outfitters and Nethercott Manor certainly exceeded our escape game expectations, so we were excited to revisit the venue during the opening weekend of it’s newest room - Dodge City - to see what Tulleys had been harvesting next.

Dodge City in 2127 remains a stronghold of the Wild West. The constant tussle between the Sheriff and local gunslingers means there’s opportunity abound for some creative bank robbery for those with wits and courage. As members of the notorious ‘Barn Door’ gang, we’ve been caught by the local sheriff breaking into the bank. Locked away with little hope, hired by an unnamed outlaw and facing the ruthless justice of the old west we are left with only one option….

As the sun sets the race is on to break out, reclaim our supplies, pull off the bank job of the century and get out of Dodge City! 

Invited to the thematic pregame lobby for our health and safety briefing, our team of four was separated into pairs for the rooms unexpected split-start. A well-produced video offering a more detailed introduction played out synchronistically within our teams respective start-points and our 60 minute escape began. 

As expected, the impressive theme-park quality of the build of this room was evident from its offset and continued to impress throughout. With realistic wood panelling and a western-inspired beam structure making up the majority of the games set. The multilayered, environmental attention to detail of this room is faultless, effortlessly immersing players from its true Crawley farmhouse into the depths of the Wild Wild West. This was supported further by the majority of purpose built props and furnishings, offering some unique physical interactions and resolves that you're unlikely to have witnessed elsewhere. 

There was also a great spatial inclusion that personalises the room for each individual team, an easily implemented clever novelty that we’d surprisingly not experienced before!

Dodge City Escape Room Reviews Tulleys Farm

We likened the puzzles to be of a similar standing of those within Tulleys' other excellent room, Nethercott Manor. Whilst none were ever particularly troublesome, there was more than plenty to plough through within its sixty minutes. The puzzles here ran parallel and again much like Nethercott Manor, we advise that all players are wrangling their way through its various tasks at all times if there’s any hope of escaping! 

On this advice it could be assumed that larger teams would be of benefit, but we felt any team over four players may start to feel overcrowded and imagine its advertised maximum of 8 would make it near on impossible to manoeuvre the areas comfortably - possibly resulting in team members missing aspects of the otherwise impressive space.

The puzzles were a pleasant mix of styles from those requiring strong communication skills, logic, observational, to the inclusion of mildly mathematical and physical tasks, with one stand-out, novelly fun team inclusion that you won’t forget in a hurry! They all cumulated together to pleasingly cover the entire spectrum of escape game puzzle bases.

Whilst there was always lots to see and do at no point did anything offered feel unachievable. Its puzzle difficulty level we felt was set at a medium, meaning casual or new escape room players will still find the room accessible - although perhaps unlikely to finish in its hour without much needed guidance from attentive GMs. With enthusiasts thriving on its relentless bombardment of tasks to get to its end game in time. 

If we’re honest we were expecting to find more Westworld inspired, futuristic elements that Dodge City almost alludes. However, we figured the plots timeline of 2127 AD allowed for the few impressive technological editions included in the room to not appear misplaced in the otherwise old west environment, so didn’t feel too disheartened by their absence.

We did suffer a technical issue towards the final puzzle of the room, but are empathetic that we attended during the rooms opening weekend where teething problems are possible. Our excellent GM’s Tyler and Dan were also extremely attentive in preventing this being detrimental to our experience by timely fixing the issues without breaking the rooms immersion, suitably avoiding its temperamental use being a negative during our game. We imagine individual experiences of this particular task (until a suitable fix is established), would be entirely down to your GMs handling. 

Overall, Dodge City with it's impressively immersive, multilayered set design that kept on giving, alongside it's relentless puzzle-slinging ambush lassoed together to offer not just another excellent escape game for Tulleys roster - but a great addition to the expanding collection of must-play escape rooms to be found in the UK. 

As one of the most-wanted escape room venues for enthusiasts to visit, you can attended Dodge City spurred by the knowledge that for Tulleys Escape Rooms - this ain’t their first rodeo!

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-5-STAR-FIN-2019

REVIEW: TOMMY - UNESCAPABLE

DERBY, DERBYSHIRE EAST MIDLANDS
Tommy Escape Room Review
During our recent trip to Nottingham, we made a d-tour to visit Unescapable in Derby to play the two games currently on offer at the venue: Tommy and Edith (with Mary, a new room that’s coming soon) 

Offering a quirkier reasoning to the room's background than most, Tommy is a World War I escape game that you enter via Unescapables' time travel portal - an initiation that cleverly runs throughout all of their rooms. 

We needed to test that this portal works properly. Tommy has landed somewhere in the midst of the Western Front in 1917 and that was where we were headed. There is a very significant chance that the portal could break when we go through ...and if it does our team are just going to have to fix it before the bridge collapses and we’re trapped in the past forever!

It’s no spoiler to inform you that the portal does break! …and this then forms the premise of the game. Met by our GMs in lab coats on our arrival, we were escorted to the game area and invited to access the portal to begin our escape. 

We were extremely impressed by Tommy’s strong opening. Whilst dimly lit so difficult to critique its decor, the sound and lighting effects here did well to believably transport us inside an immersive time-machine.

Unescapable Escape Room Reviews Tommy Edith Mary
Sadly once across the threshold of the main game space, our experience quickly declined. Whilst reasonably decorated to depict a scene from WW1 with its military paraphernalia, there wasn’t actually that much in the room for our team of four to explore.

There was also a disappointing lack of puzzles to be found in the space, with one of the main puzzles being particularly time consuming and tedious to complete. The remaining tasks were generic in nature, offered very little mental challenge, and the search aspect of one was particularly unimaginative in finding its obvious resolve. We felt this was a great shame as the space available could have been better utilised with trickier, less-linear puzzles. 

Another irritant for us is having two separate puzzles that completes the same outcome. We’re not fans of having multiple locks concealing one solution as it slightly revokes any sense of achievement or progress for teams - and if we’re completely honest, feels a lazy inclusion in any escape game design.

Overall there were approximately just 10 puzzles in total in Tommy, and had we not made an admitted hash of the aforementioned tedious task - we would have completed this room in sub-30 minutes.

We also understand from other enthusiasts the walkie-talkie based clue system here is usually portrayed by your GM in full character. We never had this experience perhaps owing to our early morning, mid-week booking at 10am - which our GM did comment on somewhat disdainfully, despite us being fully paying customers! We also felt upon chatting between games and exchanging recommendations of other local escapes (a conversation that's usually positively received by the community at other venues), that their air of elitism based on our experience was somewhat misplaced!

We had high hopes to play Tommy, purposely travelling out of our way to experience this room - but for all of its war escape room efforts, sadly for us it just tanked.

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-2-STAR-FIN-2019

REVIEW: ALASTAIR MOON'S HOUSE - LOCK'D

BERMONDSEY, SOUTH LONDON

Alastair Moon's House Escape Room Review

Alastair Moon’s House* is the most recent and advanced immersive room at South London escape venue Lock’d that promised a heartbreaking and beautiful story with plenty of magical mystery. 

Mr Moon had all a man could dream of; a beautiful wife, soon to be a father and a wonderful London mansion which he afforded through his art of magic. He was truly blessed with success, fame, fortune and family. Until the accident… 
For the faint hearted, it’s suggested turning back now as once entering, there may be no guarantee of return. And those of us with the will to go on are wished luck unravelling the tale of Mr Moon…

Involving three years of continuous research and development, we were excited to witness the progression of Lock’d's most recent room having previously played two other games at this venue. On entering the space we were invited to watch a well-produced cinematic introduction, which transpired to be amongst the stronger visual openings of any room we’ve seen. We also noted the film included subtitles, an aspect that is often overlooked in watchable intros and an inclusion we applaud.

The attention to detail in the opening area of this room was an evidential step-up from the venue's predecessor escape games. With its immersive decorative space and canny puzzles being more mentally challenging and rewarding to complete. It also included some refreshingly unconventional tasks that players will relish in. The only niggle was our teams ability to identify some of the puzzles working mechanics, which would have benefited from being appropriately housed in order to preserve its otherwise immersive illusion. 

Upon progressing in the space sadly the initial high standard waived - both in its decorative aspect and the quality and challenge of its puzzles. Whilst the space acceptably depicted the house of Alastair Moon it lacked the continuity of its earlier benchmark, feeling desultory by comparison.

London Escape Room Reviews

The puzzles here also floundered from the rooms' strong start with tasks on offer now time consumedly monotonous. We felt minor tweaks to one particularly lengthy puzzle could have adverted it away from the laborious chore it sadly became, feeling relieved by its eventual completion rather than suitably rewarded. 

Another issue was the rooms use of fully automated tech. Whilst admittedly this would impress had its intended use be faultlessly executed, during our game we were often able to trigger resolves having felt we had not quite completed the tasks to operate them. This lead to confusion and disorientation in what props should have been utilised at certain points - and of those, that continued to remain part of our game play going forward.

We don’t want to be too harsh as Lock’d's considerations of next-gen IoT mechanics is something to be applauded. An aspect that once flawlessly achieved will catapult them to the forefront of futuristically evolved, state-of-the-art escape room venues. 

We ended our escape having successfully completing the final task - although once again somewhat haphazardly! So rather than us taking full notice of the finale as it played out, it instead led to us discussing how our preceding actions (or lack of!) could have possibly completed the final task. Ultimately, because this had now happened on a few occasions, it led to us exiting the space a little disconcerted after the promisingly strong opening. 

Until the technological aspects here are honed to execute efficiently, we are inclined to thinking perhaps a good old fashioned slight-of-hand aka manual trigger by the GM would work to maintain the magic throughout its full sixty minutes. Further consideration of its sorcerous theme put into operation with more potent puzzles would conjure less of a hocus-pocus experience that parallels its magnificently, mystical start. 

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-3-STAR-FIN-2019

REVIEW: PERPETUUM MOBILE - LOCK'D

BERMONDSEY, SOUTH LONDON

Perpetuum Mobile Escape Room Review Lock'd

Self proclaimed as “The best science-themed immersive escape room in London” we approached Perpetuum Mobile* at Bermondsey venue Lock’d both intrigued yet slightly apprehensive to play. In the past we’ve not faired particularly well in science based rooms, acknowledging that having a greater understanding of the periodic table prior could often be of benefit!

In just one hour the world will be plunged into eternal darkness. Professor Richter, the only man with the knowledge to save the world, has disappeared and only we can stop it! The answer lies in the mysterious crystals the professor left in his lab. The future of humankind is in our hands…

Whilst it was easy to predict the offering of white lab coats to wear upon entering the game space (and perhaps a prognostic cliché to be found in all similarly themed rooms) It did well to add to the immersion of the room’s scientific plot. 

The room itself was predominantly white walled throughout and although slightly uninspired, it suitably commensurates the clean lines expected within any reputable laboratory set-up. What was perhaps lacking in its overall decor was compensated by the inclusion of its theme-appropriate furniture and props to explore. 

We did find there to be some irrelevant items that were presented in such a way that they could be easily misinterpreted as pivotal aspects of the game play - and these left us a little deflated upon discovering they were no more than elaborate set dressing. 

We were impressed however, by the technological aspects in this room; keeping padlocks to a minimum which further supported its scholarly, science theme.

Lock'd Escape Room Reviews

A tactile sand hourglass acted as our countdown timer and whilst a suitable addition in context of the rooms premise, it offered little to no precise awareness of our progress and was therefore a marginally defunct inclusion. 

To counterbalance this, a good measure of progression could be formed by the room’s clever presentation of its puzzles. The main bulk of the game provided lots of sub-missions to achieve an overall greater goal. These puzzles were resourcefully created, providing a good variation of logical challenges to complete. These could also be undertaken parallel meaning that every team member was kept busy. The use of one particular puzzle that can be viewed as an escape game nuisance depending on its delivery, sadly we found to be demonstrated on the more unfavourable, frustrating side. 

The big finale was an interesting concept we’d not seen elsewhere and enjoyed its inclusion, although the specifics of its precise operation could hinder some teams who may fall foul by its slightly fiddly implementation rather than lack of understanding of its purpose. There is also an aspect towards the end where time slips away that players have no control over - and we imagine failing the room based on this could be a fractious outcome for teams.

Overall this is still a great escape game, with its well thought-out puzzle placement, pacing, and variation of mental challenges. The puzzles were a pleasing, eclectic mix of styles that thankfully for us did not require nor reward any prior knowledge that could not be sought in the game.

…and any fears of not rehearsing the periodic table prior to attending Lock’d to play Perpetuum Mobile Argon! 

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-4-STAR-FIN-2019

REVIEW: GRANDPA'S LAST WILL - LOCK'D

BERMONDSEY, SOUTH LONDON

Lock'd Grandpa's Last Will

We travelled to Lock’d in Bermondsey, South London to play their beginner friendly escape game Grandpa’s Last Will* 

The room’s plot - surmised easily from its title - told us that wealthy entrepreneur, scientist and world Traveller Neil Morgan has recently passed away. Fortunately, he has left his multi-million pound mansion, business empire and life savings to us! - But there’s a problem, we only have 60 minutes to find his Last Will before the police arrive and arrest us for trespassing…

The space was decorated to a sufficient standard, adequately depicting the study of our fictional, well-travelled Grandpa. There was a few befitting, generic props and furnishings to explore but admittedly nothing that we hadn’t seen in the many similar themed rooms we've played previously. However, we agreed that the space was decorated sufficiently enough given that it is candidly advertised as an introductory escape game for beginners. 

Our main issue was that some of the props were quite well worn and as a result made the ability to reach the resolve of some tasks unintentionally easy. This occasionally averted any mental challenge with us being able to arrive at solutions due to the unavoidable, evidential use of items at certain points in the space by previous players - although minor maintenance here could easily eradicate this issue. 


A positive was our prior assumption of the venue’s location which is situated in what is now known as The Biscuit Factory. We had assumed due to the likelihood of planning restrictions at the South London landmark (Founded in 1857 the building was once home to Peek Frean, a well-known biscuit makers who provided wedding cakes for both Queen Elizabeth II and Charles & Diana) that we would be unlikely find an escape game that offered purpose built areas or hidden passageways, and resigned to the fact that the games plot could be shoe-horned around its probable structural restrictions. Whilst this is somewhat true, the room remained skilfully designed and still offered inventive ways to manoeuvre the space that pleasingly kept with the habitual escape room formula we’ve come to expect at any location. 

The puzzles themselves were rather impressive despite them being traditionally lock-and-key/code heavy. There were some fun and interesting puzzle ideas that were offered simultaneously and kept all members of our team busy. Whilst some puzzle styles are likely to be unoriginal to seasoned players, who will advance through Grandpa’s Last Will without difficulty, they were still fun and rewarding to complete - even for enthusiasts. Remaining pleasingly on theme with its plot throughout. There are a few time-wasting red herrings to be found here though, which we know are not always a popular inclusion!

Overall and in consideration of its admission as an introductory space - Grandpa’s Last Will is a pipe-and-slippers example of a sturdy, traditional, early generation escape room. After a much needed revival of some of its tired props and decor, this room has the potential to inherit the title as an excellent starting point for beginners. Bequeathing all the assets required for a first-timers foray into the world of 60 minute escape games. 

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-3-STAR-FIN-2019

REVIEW: CARFAX - CAVE ESCAPE

NOTTINGHAM, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Carfax Cave Escape Escape Room Review

We were amazed to learn that hidden beneath Nottingham’s bustling City centre that there are over 500 original sandstone caves dating back to the Dark Ages - which subsequently offers an ideal location for a uniquely immersive escape room experience!

We couldn’t wait to visit Cave Escape to play their Victorian gothic quest Carfax. Armed with the knowledge of its unique environment we were surprised to find ourselves entering what initially appeared from the outside to be an antiques store! We need not have worried though as any initial confusion about the site faded upon being welcomed into the commodious waiting area. It was here we spotted the timeworn staircase that debouched below ground into the space housing our 60-minute escape.

Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the noted Dutch Metaphysician and his former student, Dr. John Seward who’s patient, the aristocrat Lucy Westenra, is presenting a series of bizarre symptoms, have called us upon. She seems to be drawn under the power of an unknown force, which yokes her strength day by day. What is causing her decline and could it be in some way connected to the eerie appearance of the deserted ship upon Whitby’s shore? Only we can find the truth…

We were duly impressed by the narrative of this room and that Cave Escape had averted the arguably easier option of forming a plot around its unique environment - instead choosing to draw inspiration from Bram Stoker’s Dracula with additional references from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992’s film of the same name. The impressive cave structure was used in supporting role alongside the narrative, rather than relying on the unconventional space to be the main crux itself. 

Cave Escape Reviews

Environment aside the additional decor to be found in this room suitably supported its Victorian gothic theme, with some impressive physical interactions which aided our immersion further. The puzzles were predominately linear and although we’d usually favour a more multilayered space allowing us to separate, at no point throughout was anyone stood redundant without anything to do. We could all comfortably participate together on its various sequential tasks.

Whilst the majority of puzzles were traditional in their execution they were robustly designed with the portrayal of the theme on point, offering the occasional inventive resolve. Any technological elements were incorporated well and remained aptly befitting of its Victorian setting. There were times when the room was search and reference point heavy which may deter players who do not favour this puzzle style, although we perceived them to be sat just on the agreeable side of non-tedious. 

Towards the second half of the escape we felt that there were a few missed opportunities in relation to implementing additional puzzles and whilst the space always continued to decoratively impress, the facet of its mental challenges waived somewhat by comparison to the earlier stronger half of the game.

Overall Carfax with its impressive theme, unique environment and notable audio soundtrack ceremoniously impaled together to offer a sturdy escape room experience. However, as we slayed our way through with relative ease, we can’t help but wish the second half of the game had more at stake by offering additional puzzles that we really could have sunken our teeth into. 

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-4-STAR-FIN-2019

REVIEW: EPI CENTRE - ESCAPOLOGIC

NOTTINGHAM, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

EPICentre Escape Room Nottingham Review

EPI Centre (also often referred to as E.P.I. Centre and Epicentre) is Nottingham's Escapologics' third room - a disaster themed escape game. 

Buildings are collapsing. Fires are raging. People are screaming. And we're trapped inside the Edward Palatine Institute watching it all unfold on our screen. As a vital part of the Institute's disaster cleanup crew, we'd have to walk the tightrope between weighing up the consequences of our decisions and making them fast enough to survive. We had one hour to advert calamity... 

As this was a split start, our first decision outside of the room was to select which member of our team would begin the game separated from the rest of the group. We don't mind split starts providing the resolve to regroup comes about quickly, but separating just one person from the rest of the team was a relatively new experience for us.

Fortunately EPI Centre's clever set-up allowed for us to communicate comfortably with our isolated friend, meaning that even during our segregation and the pressure of one player working solo, there was always an effective way for both parties to interact in order for us to all progress in the game. 

The rooms interior befitted the disaster theming with its unkempt room of disorder. This made the search aspect of puzzle resolves chaotically fun over the laborious task this puzzle style can often present. Although in contrast this arrangement could also result in much time-wasting on irrelevant red-herrings when studying the space too vigilantly - something escape enthusiasts will find difficult to avoid!

A great addition to this room was its auditory inclusions, by the means of the Labs seemingly corrupted AI. It was superb executed and offered some entirely unexpected but welcomed comic-relief during our game and we found ourselves chuckling along upon hearing its well-placed interruptions.

Escologic Nottingham Reviews

Once reunited as a team, we moved into a space that housed an impressive industrial laboratory set-up. Kitted out with many tangible items, it provided plenty of physical interactions to inspect within the space. If we're honest we felt it was here where the room would have benefited from offering more puzzles to complete as a lot of the artefacts in the room - whilst impressive - were merely set dressing and again could be interpreted as puzzle-irrelevant time wasters.

The inclusion of more puzzles would have also made the room far less linear. Throughout the room one member of our team - whom admittedly still enjoyed the space - did not actively participate in the resolve of any puzzles at all. On occasion two members of our team were merely stood around without anything to do for a significant amount of time.

A positive aspect of the room was its big finale. We don’t want to give too much away here but it quickly evaporated any increasing annoyance of being left stood around without anything to do, suddenly immersing us once again with an intense scramble for its big, impressive end game.

We escaped in 37 minutes, which we were very happy about but upon reflection felt that if the main game area (which was more than accommodating enough) was better utilised from a puzzle perspective, then EPI Centre has potential to be a far meatier, less linear experience and would subsequently sit it side-by-side with the best rooms at this venue.

Overall EPI Centre is a worthy escape room. In its current form it is probably a little too linear for our personal preferences.

Our recommendation is that it is best suited to either a pair of enthusiasts or as an excellent start-point for a team of new or casual players.

We can safely say that this isn't our favourite room to be found within the walls of Escapologic, but that’s not the end of the world ...as thankfully it didn't come crumbling down around us and still held up to be a fairly solid escape room experience. 

NEW-REVIEW-SCORE-3-STAR-FIN-2019

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