Escaping London

A 2019 trip allowed me to play more rooms than I’d previously had the chance to in 2015 — including two rooms that are now among my all-time favourites.

Archimedes Inspiration – AI Escape

Only had the time for one room here, but it was a uniquely satisfying experience that’s in my all-time top five. Great gamemasters too (and an adorable dog). [review]

Project Delta

I’d consider this polished, immersive, rigorous experience a must-play for any serious enthusiast. For me, the most impressive aspect was how it’s propelled by narrative logic, with every puzzle integrated into the storyline — yet the puzzles are rigorous and creative, and the game never feels like a mere series of tasks. It earns its 100-minute runtime for the right reasons, and there hasn’t been anything quite like it in the >200 games I’ve played. Highly recommended.

Difficulty: 4/5
Logic: 4.5/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5.

Clue Adventures

Cute rooms with an endearingly homemade feel that doesn’t preclude fun flourishes.

2 Tickets 2 Ride
This Tube-themed room is designed for exactly two players, with a good mix of puzzles and tasks alongside a well-sustained storyline. You’ll have to excuse one or two less inspired puzzles, but overall it’s a fun experience that’s recommended.
Difficulty: 3.5/5
Logic: 4/5
Suggested players: 2 players only.
The Book of Secrets
Only open till end-June 2019, this early room does feel a little dated, but it’s packed with puzzles and magical touches that make it definitely worth a try.
Difficulty: 3/5
Logic: 4/5
Suggested players: 2 to 3.

clueQuest

This well-established London company has puzzle-focused rooms that are relatively conventional but well-executed, with a fun sense of whimsy and cute surprises. The safe choice.

cQ: Origenes
clueQuest’s newest room is their most polished and most challenging, with satisfyingly layered and rigorous puzzles (as well as a very cute setting). Recommended for veterans.
Difficulty: 4/5
Logic: 4.5/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5.
Operation BlackSheep
A good room for beginners or mixed teams, with a varied puzzle mix, cute narrative touches, and some fun surprises. Recommended, especially for beginners.
Difficulty: 3/5
Logic: 3.5/5
Suggested players: 2 to 4.
Revenge of the Sheep
Has perhaps a bit more of a search-y or hands-on feel than the other rooms, and some clever use of tech. Recommended.
Difficulty: 4/5
Logic: 4/5
Suggested players: 2 to 4.

Secret Studio

Possibly the most narratively-immersive room I’ve ever played, with possibly my favourite endgame ever. One of my two must-play rooms in London alongside AI Escape’s Project Delta — the difference being that Secret Studio is much more accessible to non-veterans.

Secret Studio
One of those escape rooms best described as An Experience, from the well-delivered intro till the incredible endgame stretch that alone is worth the price of admission. Some puzzles are a little less inspired, but that doesn’t stop this from being a must-play. Highly recommended if you care at all about narrative/immersion. (Also very cleverly constructed; I enjoyed it in the moment, and also enjoyed thinking about its construction afterwards.)
Difficulty: 3/5
Logic: 3.5/5
Suggested players: 2 to 4.

Sherlock: The Game Is Now

Created by the team behind Time Run with the addition of BBC Sherlock IP, this is an expensive outing that displays the same virtues and flaws as Time Run’s first game.

Sherlock: The Game Is Now
Perhaps this game’s greatest strength is its varied nature, from the fun (if prolonged) intro case to the multi-stage escape room itself. The room’s first proper stage was probably my favourite for its non-traditional playstyle — sadly, the experience loses steam, with some not-too-rigorous puzzling and a bafflingly arbitrary-task-based finale. Given the steep price, it’s worth a try if you’re a Sherlock fan or looking for something a bit different, but puzzle-focused enthusiasts can afford to give this a miss.
Difficulty: 3.5/5
Logic: 3.5/5
Suggested players: 2 to 4.

Events

A Door in a WallDead Man’s Hand
This interactive mystery-solving experience takes teams through the picturesque streets of Farringdon to meet colourful characters and piece together a satisfyingly complex case. With cute character interactions and a good mix of puzzle-y aspects, it never sags into scavenger hunt territory (a common risk of outdoor games, in my experience). Highly recommended if you manage to catch another run.

Sherlock: The Game Is Now – The Case of the Poisoned Chalice
Set in the Sherlock-themed Mind Palace bar attached to The Game Is Now, this “immersive cocktail experience” was a fun mystery-solving experience with multiple cases to tackle. They seem to be running it on a fairly regular basis — I’d say it’s recommended for the unique gameplay, culminating in a delicious finale.

Reviews from 2015

Mystery Cube [review]

I attempted this room in a mixed group of experienced players and beginners, and I think that was truly the best way to experience it. The Mystery Cube was filled with so many pieces that there was always something for someone to do, but clever signposting and fair puzzles meant that it never felt overwhelming. The scattering of puzzle parts also made teamwork a natural and necessary part of the experience — despite being far from linear, the experience felt a lot less individualistic than some other non-linear rooms where it’s easy to end up in your own corner, solving a puzzle by yourself.

Time Run – The Lance of Longinus [review]

This had the highest production values of any escape-related activity I’ve tried. The early stages also seemed particularly driven by an exploration of one’s environment, rather than the usual sort of puzzle-solving, which I appreciated. I wasn’t necessarily satisfied with all the puzzles, since I’m averse to tasks that require more execution than inspiration, but this is a room best appreciated as an experience than a collection of puzzles. And what an experience!

Agent November – Major X Plow-Shun [review]

When you’ve done lots of escape rooms, variations on the theme are especially appreciated. This Agent November mission leaned satisfyingly into its espionage set-up, with some tasks that are less common in escape rooms. I also appreciated the more open-ended, intuitive nature of some puzzles.