REVIEW: MADAME CURIO'S CIRQUE DELIRIUM - TRAPP'D

PETERBOROUGH, CAMBRIDGESHIRE

Trapp'd Peterborough Review

Troupes rounded, we run off to the circus to visit Trapp’d in Peterborough to play their bigtop themed escape room Madame Curio’s Cirque Delirium. 

Since the circus came to town people have started disappearing, Guests supposedly enter but very few come out and people seem to whisper of a ‘ghostly aura’ surrounding the big top itself. Still our attention has been caught and curiosity gets the better of us, we decide to go along and see what it’s all about… 

After entering we start to notice the abnormal silence among the workers. They seem to labour along in a zombie-like state. They don’t blink or speak to anyone - not even each other. It isn’t until we recognise a stamp on one of their hands for Madame Curio’s fortune tent that we notice they all have the same distinguishing mark. A quick glance towards the sage’s tent tells us that passers-by are being reluctantly coerced into entering…and they never seem to emerge. Something rather sinister is happening and we realise that we could be next! The circus closes in 60 minutes and we can’t see an exit anywhere. We need to find another way out of this nightmare before Madame Curio steals our mind and we remain Trapp’d in the circus forever!

Offering a heftier backstory than most escape games, we were already curious for what we was going to discover here so being led blindfolded into the room did well to enhance our intrigue further. 

Removing our blindfolds we were met by an eclectic mix of familiar and fun fairground games. We dashed up and down the sizeable space pointing out its many recognisable carnival stalls to our equally excited team mates. During our initial frenzied enthusiasm it was difficult to remain composed & we quickly had to remind ourselves that we were on the clock with an exit mission to complete! 

Trapp'd Reviews

The majority of its tasks steered away from the traditional logic-based puzzles we’ve become accustomed to in escape rooms, instead providing skill based and mildly physical challenges that were cleverly incorporated into its theme. These were exhibited well, supported by befitting decor and props that further enhanced the rooms immersion. The game was search heavy in places but presented in a fun and frantic way, avoiding the frustrating experience this aspect sometimes affords if not incorporated correctly. 

The challenges within this room were immense fun to carry out but never particularly troublesome. A few of these undertakings were at times best completed by a solo player which occasionally left other team members merely watching on. We’d usually criticise this aspect preferring that everyone gets an equal opportunity to participate but Cirque Delirium did well to keep us all engaged, even as supportive spectators championing the team member who’d stepped up to the task in hand. 

We found the setting to be more akin to zany fairground than the sinister circus escape it’s publicity and backstory perhaps alludes to. Although this is no critic as its more placid, entertaining environment provides the perfect escape space for younger players to still enjoy too, with any previously anticipated malevolent moments notably absent. Without giving too much away, the only mildly sinister opportunities here are offered during times we believe Trapp’d could easily tailor to your individual teams nervous disposition.

...And whatever your age, you’ll find it extremely difficult to not clown around during its uniquely impressive big finale! 

Overlooking a narrative that doesn't progress beyond its pregame briefing along with its in-game single rider opportunities, Madam Curio’s Cirque Delirium is still a helter-skelter of an escape room. Providing the perfect balancing act of strong, novel skill based challenges, with a handful of logical puzzles and an immersive, theatrical set design.

Comfortably somersaulting itself amongst the ringmasters of novelty, entertaining escape games currently on offer in the UK.

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

REVIEW: MODROPHENIA - PIER PRESSURE

BRIGHTON, SUSSEX

Pier Pressure Brighton Modrophenia Review

We donned our parkas and headed to Pier Pressure to play Modrophenia, an escape room centred around the 1960’s youth subculture. The location of Pier Pressure in Brighton has true historical links to the sixties Mod movement and to this day still holds annual Mod rallies on its iconic seafront.

We arrived met by our games master outside the room. Dressed as a cliched Mod, he enthusiastically recognised us as his mod-mates and welcomed us to the space before retelling the games plot with full swagger. This unexpected introduction and our GMs excellent sense of occasion succeeded in getting us into the spirit of the theme that we almost felt guilty for not arriving on a stream of Lambretta's!

We have taken on the role of a gang of Mods in 1964 Brighton who are investigating the murder of one of their friends. Puzzles, riddles and discovery will lead us to uncover more and more of the story, but will we find out what happened in time? 

The game area was dressed to a very good standard that befitted it's theme effectively (and it was also clearly well maintained!), with its era-appropriate props and trinkets being its main decorative highlight. We were very impressed by Pier Pressure's use of real items that they have skilfully adapted for an escape room leading to a satisfying number of unique puzzle experiences. A nice touch we thought given that pricey props are usually reserved for enhancing decoration and never normally form part of tactile gameplay. For the Pinball Wizards an original 1964 pinball machine featured, alongside an actual 1963 Vespa centrepiece to name just a few of this rooms lavish inclusions. 


The puzzles here were equally as impressive and came at varying levels of difficulty and variety that covered almost all puzzle types, we liked the fact each task rewarded us with information needed to complete the penultimate puzzle. The games puzzle structure was multilayered, so there was plenty to investigate, search and solve, which meant at no point were any of our team members stood around without anything to do. Our team of four was kept very busy at all times and although we appreciate Modrophenia has been designed with larger groups in mind, enthusiasts may even find this room a tenacious challenge. 

A major room highlight was the witty and inventive clue-system, which additionally provided an appropriate soundtrack complimenting the rooms theme further. The music was well placed and never brash enough to impede your concentration. 

As you advance throughout the game, you whittle down the suspects to identify your mod mates murderer, which in turn offers awareness of your progress in the game. We’re usually cynical of plots that still administer a “fail” if you're unsuccessful in identifying the resolve of sub-plot despite escaping, but this narrative worked well in Modrophenia right through to its pressurised and wholly gratifying finale.

Pier Pressure does an admirable job by resourcefully incorporating Brighton's colourful and interesting past into its rooms. Not only does this keep its escape room theming exclusively relevant to them, but their rooms are entirely unique - and marginally educational too! 

Perhaps Modrophenia is not one for “absolute beginners”, but if you scooter down to Pier Pressure for your own 60 minute Jam here, the eclectic array of puzzle styles with its anomalous theme held together by a hyper-cool GM provides all the mod-cons for a sharply dressed, challenging escape room experience.

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


REVIEW: STRANGE THINGS - ROOM LOCKDOWN

HORNCHURCH, ESSEX

Room Lockdown Hornchurch

As fans of the cult Netflix series Stranger Things, we were excited to play Room Lockdown’s homogeneously titled Strange Things - Escape The Upside Down. 

Similar to the shows own plot, we were to be transported to a small town in Indiana where unexplainable goings on; flickering lights, fuzzy TVs and unusual power activity have occurred, along with 5 members of the community reported missing. A witness says he saw a man type figure with no face and long arms and after investigation it turns out the children of the neighbourhood were right after all! … Demogorgons have teamed up with other creatures and plan to take over the world. Our mission? To stop these strange things!

We were invited to sit on a sofa inside the room during the generic rules chat with our games master. Unless the GM is in character, we’re not huge fans of this talk taking place inside the main game space as it breaks the immersion a little. It’s also rather difficult to not snoop around at your surroundings whilst simultaneously nodding in agreement as the lock instructions are explained to your team. 

The room started well, with us all being instructed to remain seated until the first task allowed one member of our team to evoke the games 60 minute countdown timer. The space had a few interesting props to investigate and puzzles to solve which kept us busy for a short time but in our effort to reach the latter stages of the game we soon became bottlenecked upon completing these initial obvious tasks . 

Strange Things Escape Room Review

There were a few novel additions we enjoyed but nothing we hadn’t seen elsewhere. Most tasks were traditional in their execution - with the odd temperamental NFC puzzle to break away from an otherwise primordial padlock/code heavy game. The game flow was fairly open in terms of puzzles to complete throughout, but lacked any 'wow' moments at its previously mentioned linear points, and whilst its challenges admittedly suit newbies or younger players, enthusiasts who favour a tougher ride will likely plough through the game within no time at all. 

One annoyance was the inclusion of a tinny prop that was frustrating to use rather than the novel challenge it was likely intended to be. Another bugbear was the resolve of one particular lock requiring a clue to complete. Without requesting a clue, there was seemingly no logical explanation nor hints within the space to find its resolve. The explicit necessity for a clue to resolve any puzzle in any escape game is - in our opinion - never good escape room practice. 

The decoration was adequate with the first space being the stronger of the areas available. We felt the room had far greater decoration potential than what was offered and sadly was not up to the same standard of immersion found at other independent escape room companies. With its mediocre build quality being far rougher around the edges by comparison. We also felt that there was an opportunity missed to create something special in the latter part of the game that unfortunately really fell apart in terms of puzzle quality, set design and was sadly topped off with a very lacklustre ending.  

Having said that, this is a new game and Room Lockdown are known for creating regular puzzle/room refreshes (in the form of different seasons of each game.) Should they incorporate some more trickier and unique puzzles paying homage to the array of 80’s nostalgic references it almost alludes, along with a greater attention to detail in its interior and some much required standout moments there is potential for Strange Things (season two) to be an excellent escape game. In its current format however, having completed it in just 34 minutes we couldn’t help but leave questioning whether we had spent our pennies wisely. 

It’s probably still worth playing if you’re a fan of the show for the novelty of its tepid tie-ins. Although if you attend expecting to be fully immersed in the world of The Upside Down there’s a high chance you’ll be leaving Room Lockdown with Eggo on your face. 

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

REVIEW: MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR - PRESSURE POINT

ASHFORD, KENT

Murder on the dancefloor escape room review

Fascinated by its novelty theme, we arrived at Pressure Point to play Murder On The Dancefloor - a jovial spin on the classic murder mystery game.

Set in 1978 within the glamour of 2P’s nightclub, we've heard rumours that the ‘King of Groove’ has been murdered. With our belonging still inside theres no way we can get home, so we must find another way in. Of course curiosity gets the better of us and we can’t help but have a snoop around - and this is where the gift of groove quickly becomes sinister!

Armed with new identities and into the first part of the challenge, we naively assumed we’d be thrown straight into a room of flamboyant, 1970’s disco psychedelia. Instead we found ourselves in a smaller space requiring us to complete puzzles in order to gain access to the main game area. Despite this throwing us off our proverbial platform shoes, the first few initial puzzles here were fun to complete and cleverly on-theme. They ran parallel keeping all members of our team busy searching and solving riddles. 

Despite its smallish size the space was utilised well and during any “ain’t no stopping us” enthusiasts run, the unconventional clue system here is still worth taking advantage of just for its original and amusing characteristics.

Murder on the dance floor escape room

As the game opened up the decoration continued to impress, with a variation of puzzle styles to suit all preferences playing nicely to our team members various individual strengths. There was plenty to search and investigate, a pleasingly tactile room with an interactive set that offered little in the way of traditional padlocks and codes. The puzzles veered slightly more towards mildly physical challenges than sterner logical tests but supported the rooms more affable synopsis well. 

As stressed in the briefing, throughout the game you discover evidence to point towards the King of Grooves’ murder culprit. Whilst arriving at these conclusions was never overtly challenging nor easily missed, it was still immense fun whittling down the suspects to obtain the name of our disco offender. The big finale puzzle was probably the rooms most challenging aspect, but one that did well to amp up the pressure of those last few seconds to escape ...and that’s the way (we like it)!

Despite its underlying premise of a classic murder mystery, Pressure Point have done a chic job in keeping this room light-hearted and humorous. We felt there were a couple of missed opportunities for tasks we were definitely expecting to find here, but on reflection perhaps avoiding this obvious route was entirely intentional. 

Our sixty minutes in the boogie wonderland of Murder On The Dancefloor offered a funky multilayered space with an array of consistently rewarding, tactual puzzles. An all round excellent escape room with little to freak out about, with its unfamiliar plot and setting guaranteeing good times for both escape room newbies and enthusiasts alike.

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

REVIEW: STARPOINT ALPHA - CLOCKWORK ESCAPES

WOLVERHAMPTON, WEST MIDLANDS

Starpoint Alpha Clockwork Escapes

Starpoint Alpha had us intrigued from the second we made its booking. Explicitly no mobile phones or digital watches are allowed in and if you have a pacemaker fitted it was advised that you contacted Clockwork Escapes to discuss. In all of the escape games we’ve played, we've never read such cautions - what were we about to uncover inside this room?

Watches and phones safely stowed, we arrived at the venue in Wolverhampton to be met by ’Professor Clockwork’ - an eccentric fellow, suitably accessorised with a top hat and cane. With his well-spoken, booming voice and razor sharp wit we disjointedly likened him to a steampunk'd Victorian lovechild of Boris Johnson!  …with the former being far more endearing of course. 

Starpoint Alpha’s orbit is failing and it is only a matter of time before it will collide with the Earth. This was no simple game of escape. It required us to complete multiple sub-missions in order to take control of the damaged station; reroute its power, realign sensor matrices and restore its normal operations. Only once everything was working as it should, would we be able to find a way of evacuating safely…

We started our game in an area which on first impressions we found a little underwhelming. We need not have worried though, as the initial canny puzzles soon opened Starpoint Alpha up to its fuller potential. 

Clockwork Escapes Wolverhampton
The impressive decoration of the space station and its build quality was of an exceptionally high standard. So much so that suspending belief that you're merely within a nondescript building in Wolverhampton’s city centre was surprisingly easy to do. It offered effortless immersion. 

We found an excellent balance of puzzle styles within the room. With amusing whimsical elements that admirably counterbalanced the more ambitious, mentally challenging tasks that came at varying levels of difficulty, a number of which required strong communication within the team in order to succeed. 

There was also plenty of impressive technical elements - and to our surprise, some traditional aspects too. Whilst you’d be forgiven for assuming padlocks would look out of place on board a futuristic space shuttle, somehow they still worked. 

It's also worth highlighting the refreshingly original puzzle ideas that will satisfy even hardened escape room enthusiasts who may think they've 'seen it all before' - a testament to which we doff our hats to Professor Clockwork and his team!   

The pleasing flow of puzzles was bolstered further by the humorous assistance of our games master, whom never dropped character throughout our entire time at Clockwork Escapes. He timed his witty interventions during our gameplay to perfection. 

The smart requirement that players complete progressive sub-missions here also did well to provide triumphant moments of secondary achievement. This also assisted the awareness of your progress to its overall end game - suitably adding to the rooms time pressure and your earnest to escape. 

Starpoint Alpha’s puzzled-packed plot, along with its attentively invested games master and big climatic finish cumulated together to offer a cosmically enchanting escape room experience. 

Some might say it was out of this world …but us? We prefer our puns far meteor than that…

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

REVIEW: ENIGMISTA - ESCAPE REALITY

BIRMINGHAM, WEST MIDLANDS

Enigmista Escape Reality

We arrived at the 11th global location of Escape Reality in Birmingham to play their serial-killer game Enigmista.

Despite the generic plot and commonplace theming, our expectations here were high. Not only due to the impressive, sizeable space in which Escape Reality Birmingham is housed but also for the franchises' apparent success across the globe. The waiting area was huge, comfortably accommodating the lucrative corporate market alongside smaller casual groups like ours. 

Rumour had spread a killer forces his prisoners to perform ghastly tests to see how far they can push themselves in order to escape. We’ve awoken to discover that we had been locked inside a room of complete darkness with no recollection of how we found ourselves there. Our captor had devised a series of games to test how much strength we have in order to save our own lives…we had just 60 minutes to escape. 

After being retold this plot by our games master, we were handed an electronic tablet before entering the room. This doubled up as both our countdown timer and our clue system. We’ve already cited our reasons for loathing this set-up in our review of the same companies' Alcatraz room. And regrettably our time in Enigmista only served to validated these feelings further. 

Escape Reality Birmingham
Our GM for the sixty minutes was pleasant enough but we found her to lack the same enthusiasm as games masters at independent enterprises, instead appearing nonchalantly uninvested in our entire experience.

The decor inside the room was acceptable. It served its purpose but lacked the wow-factor we’d seen in similarly themed rooms elsewhere. As the serial killer scenario is somewhat over-saturated in the escape room genre, it may have been a wise decision to have included some big stand-out moments in order to set it apart from its competitors. 

The game's start was by far it's strongest point (although unoriginal, as most elements had been lifted directly from the first movie in a famous horror franchise), but following completion of the opening section, the game designers seemingly ran out of ideas and simply padded out the remaining main bulk of experience with generic puzzles that were robust and worked perfectly well, but much like Enigmista's decoration, we found nothing in the space that we hadn't seen before. In addition to this, some of the props were sub-standard, similar to what you might find upon the shelves of a discount retailer around Halloween festivities. An economical decision no doubt, given that this room is available at many of the companies various locations, but one that made the space feel rather twee over the sinister hour the rooms promotional video alluded to. 

Overall, we felt the space was missing any nerve-jangling, ominous moments that could have hauled it away from the generic, forgettable room it unfortunately was. We left Enigmista feeling apathetic about it and that is never a good sign. 

There was one horrifying addition to be found within the walls of Escape Reality though - Its irksome tablet based clue system, making it the only true escape room killer to be found anywhere at this venue.

Escape Room Review

REVIEW: RAVER QUEST - PIER PRESSURE

BRIGHTON, SUSSEX

Raver Quest Pier Pressure

We visited Pier Pressure in Brighton after hearing rave reviews (excuse the pun) about this venue from other satisfied escape enthusiasts. 

We managed to squeeze in 3 of the 4 games currently on offer at the venue during our visit and Raver Quest - set in a 90’s rave nightclub to an epic dance music soundtrack - sounded right up our street. 

The plot promised an hour of unique fusions of interactive puzzles, games and high octane raving in order to discover what had happened to our missing raver friends…

Our experience got off to a great start before even crossing the rooms threshold having been met outside by our games master 'DJ Clueless'. He performed his role as the happy hardcore, Ibiza frequenting stereotype to sheer perfection. Getting us suitably into the party spirit for our clubbing quest ahead. 

Entering the room we found everything we expected - and remembered from our own clubbing days; a fittingly darkened faux-basement/warehouse styled space, lit with strobes and a lighting rig that was admirably installed so that its inclusion never hindered our ability to complete puzzles comfortably. 

Pier Pressure Brighton
The theme was strengthened further with props and day-glo decor in an authentic throwback to the smiley-faced era. The puzzles were tech-heavy and a nice balance of styles; logical, memory-based and observational. There was also fun, mildly psychical tasks to undertake, supported further by the inclusion of highly produced visual elements. We also felt that the puzzles were set at a medium difficulty level therefore never conflicted with its jovial theming. 

The auditory aspect of this room was another major highlight. Never troublesomely stifling that it impeded your concentration, nor intense enough to prevent non-dance music fans from having a good time. 
The soundtrack however, was still present enough to occasionally stop you in your tracks for a quick boogie break whilst you reminisced along to an EDM classic you recognised! 

Sadly we experienced a tech-issue towards the end of our run but our GM handled the situation well. He went to great efforts in attempt to reset the puzzle and appeared genuinely disheartened that we would miss this aspect during our game.

Temperamental tech aside, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in this room. Its unique theme effortlessly lent itself to an array of exciting, flamboyant puzzles that were immense fun to complete. 

Its amusing big climax also guarantees that you won’t regret getting yourself on the guest list and booking your own hour inside Pier Pressure’s Raver Quest. 

...And as Kicks Like A Mule so eloquently put it - "if your names not down, you’re not coming in!"

Escape Room Review

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