For international visitors: Please note that this blog (and its recs!) are intended for a Singapore-based audience. I wouldn’t recommend Singapore as a destination for escape room tourism; it has few must-plays on an international scale. (None of my personal top 10 still-operating rooms are in Singapore.)

Please use the Contact form if you have specific questions about which rooms to try, how scary/difficult a particular room is, etc.

I’ve also noticed people searching for walkthroughs. I won’t give spoilers for rooms. However, if you failed to escape from a room, don’t want to try again, and the escape room company didn’t tell you the answers, drop me a line and we can chat about it.

Puzzle kit review: Nomis Piy: Quest for the Merlion Eye

Their description: During this holiday season, we present to you a treasure hunt puzzle game that will bring you deep into the heart of Singapore. Play it with your family, friends or play it solo. Do it at your own time and at your own pace. Travel to five locations using the SMRT lines to search for clues. The treasure awaits. Will you find it?

Following their excellent puzzle book, Nomis Piy has released a play-at-your-own-pace outdoor puzzle game kit, reminiscent of similar offerings in Tokyo. Quest for the Merlion Eye is a delightful experience on multiple levels, showcasing Nomis Piy’s established strengths while introducing new aspects.

First, the game is a chance to rediscover parts of Singapore. The locations are chosen well: interesting, easily accessible, close to shelter (and cafes), and without too much walking. There’s no danger of getting lost.

Second, the puzzles are up to the usual high Nomis Piy standard: clever, logical, and fun. Though the game starts off simple, it soon increases in complexity. There’s lots of subtle but conscientious clueing, and all the intuitive leaps are fair. One danger of outdoor puzzle events/kits is that ‘info collection’ may be trivial. Apart from one or two early instances, that isn’t the case here; you’re really using your surroundings to solve puzzles, not merely collect info.

Third, the production values are great, from the cute artwork to some very cool surprises that are revealed in the act of solving. The hands-on, physical aspects of the kit are a highlight; to say more would be spoiler-y, alas.

The narrative is perhaps the only aspect where the game doesn’t shine; though sustained, it’s a little thin. Nonetheless, that doesn’t detract from the overall experience, which is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a great puzzle-y way to spend an afternoon.

Each game kit costs S$35 including postage (or S$32 if you’re buying 5 or more), which is a very reasonable price for several hours of gameplay. We spent about 2.5 hours including travel time (with some walking), but I imagine most teams might take longer. Although a whole group could, in theory, just share one kit, I’d recommend having at least two kits — though of course the ideal would be one kit per player.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 5/5

Physical kit aspects: 4/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

Their suggested number of players: n/a
My suggested number of players: 1 to 4

Black Lake Facility – The Armoury

Their description: The soldiers’ living quarters bear witness to the secret and intimate conversations between soldiers. Get a close in on the inexplicable and peculiar mysteries surrounding the seemingly innocent common military spaces. You and your team are about to find out that the nondescript bunk holds a dark and sinister secret. One warning though, leave the place before it’s too late!

What’s frustrating about The Armoury is that it could have been a great experience, with high production values and fun ideas — but various flaws get in the way. (While I’ve given feedback to the team behind the rooms, I don’t know if/when changes will be made; if you’ve played the room and would like to share some thoughts, please do get in touch!)

The very beginning demonstrates this, with a rigorous puzzle that would have been perfectly fine if not for ambiguities in clueing. Generally, The Armoury’s puzzles have solid underlying ideas, but some are marred by implementation.

The middle stage of the experience is the strongest in terms of atmosphere and drama, with some cool moments and physical touches — so it’s a shame, again, that its puzzles have frustrating aspects. The endgame stretch, too, contained both clever ideas… and tiny annoyances.

One thing I did appreciate was how this room’s narrative is conveyed through the setting and physical discoveries, rather than text-based exposition. More is suggested than revealed, which feels in keeping with the Black Lake Facility’s overall sense of mystery.

I wish I could recommend The Armoury, but based on my playthrough of it, I can only say it’s WORTH A TRY — and be prepared to call for help. If it’s improved since then, I’d love to know.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 2.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 4/5

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3.5/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

Their suggested number of players: n/a
My suggested number of players: 2 to 5

Black Lake Facility – The Basement

Their description: Dark, dank and hidden from the rest. The Basement is the perfect place to conceal a gruesome tragedy. Someone or something twisted and depraved lurks below. There is imminent danger to anyone who poses a threat to its existence. Your investigation team must orchestrate a heart pounding escape fast through the twists and turns of the Basement before it is too late.

Fellow cowards or players with kids can rest assured that despite the official blurb, this isn’t a horror room — though there are certainly some creepy chills, right from the start. The Basement’s setting and atmosphere is perhaps its strongest point, with the layout of the rooms further contributing to a sense of exploration and adventure.

Besides the reveals of new spaces, The Basement also does well in narrative reveals — though these could perhaps have been more closely tied to the puzzles.

The puzzles themselves are varied and fair. There’s significant physical searching (some teams, like mine, might find the searching more difficult than the puzzle-solving!) and hands-on work, which adds to the immersion.

While The Basement doesn’t necessarily do anything groundbreaking, I’d still say it’s RECOMMENDED as a satisfyingly atmospheric and hands-on experience. You won’t really need a large team, but you can certainly bring one if you want, given the spacious rooms and not-that-linear puzzle structure.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 3.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3.5/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

Their suggested number of players: n/a
My suggested number of players: 2 to 5

Overall review: Black Lake Facility

Located within the Singapore Discovery Centre (!), Black Lake Facility is an exciting example of escape rooms being part of a larger attraction, as well as a company in which all rooms are narratively linked (something we haven’t really seen since Phantom Joker, r.i.p.).

First, to clarify: Black Lake Facility brands itself as having “13 rooms, 4 chapters, 1 secret”. What they mean is that they have 4 actual escape rooms/games, but a total of 13 rooms/physical spaces across those 4 rooms.

That “1 secret” part is where Black Lake Facility is most distinctive, in having an underlying narrative that ties all four rooms together. This narrative is established well, from the in-character briefing and introductory videos with which teams are welcomed — in front of a dramatic central prop — to glimpses of the larger story scattered throughout each room.

The rooms themselves have high production values, atmospheric settings, and dramatic flourishes, all of which provide a real sense of adventure. The puzzles are pleasingly hands-on and rooted in physical elements of the room, further increasing the immersion.

This makes it all the more frustrating, therefore, that some are compromised by logical leaps or poor clueing. Of the two rooms I’ve played so far, The Basement was smooth sailing, but The Armoury had frustrating flaws in several puzzles, which weakened our experience. I haven’t played the other two rooms yet, but I’ve heard that they also contain similar problems.

However, the team behind the rooms seems open to feedback, so it’s possible that these issues may be addressed — if you’ve played these rooms more recently and have views to share, please get in touch!

I’ll update this after I’ve played all four rooms; for now, Black Lake Facility seems solidly WORTH A VISIT, given its production values and sense of discovery. But be prepared to call for help multiple times — and perhaps to not always be satisfied by the solutions at which you arrive.

Staff: Friendly, polished, and cautious in providing hints instead of just giving the answer. Sometimes a bit too cautious — if initial hints are not helpful, try asking more directly.

Hints: Unlimited help via intercom phone.

Will your group be combined with strangers? No.

Rooms tried: 2 out of 4

Recommended team size: 2 to 5 people

Specific room reviews
The Armoury
The Basement
The Medical Centre
The Research Lab

Black Lake Facility

Room review: C2020 Ultra

Though I’ve been playing escape rooms since 2013 (!), I’ve never thought of creating one. So I was intrigued and impressed to receive an invitation to play C2020 Ultra, a DIY escape room created by an enthusiast.

Making reference to the historical CIA mind control programme MK Ultra, C2020 Ultra starts with a clear safety and gameplay briefing, then a fun narrative introduction leading into the game itself.

As a DIY room in a residential unit, it understandably lacks high-tech flourishes or dramatic secret passages. But even without special effects, there were still plenty of hands-on aspects, props, and interactive elements, with moments of discovery.

The puzzles, of course, are the core of the experience. There’s a good mix of types and difficulty, including some significantly rigorous and complex ones. The ahas are logical yet non-trivial, with some clever moments that felt fresh even to our veteran team.

As for the storyline, it works as a light framing mechanism; there are mid-game reminders, but it generally stays out of the way (for in-narrative reasons) until the conclusion.

C2020 Ultra was a much-appreciated reminder of how satisfying a puzzle-focused game can be. In these dark times (for the world and the escape room industry), it’s also inspiring to see an enthusiast creating an entire room due to his love for the hobby. The creator, Clement, was a great gamemaster who adapts his style to suit the teams that play.

We were honoured to have had the chance to try the room, and I’d say it’s RECOMMENDED that more enthusiasts to do the same (and get to meet a fellow enthusiast)!

This DIY room will only be around until Nov 22. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can get in touch with Clement via this Google Form.

(It’s not really fair to judge a DIY room on my usual rubric, so here’s just the puzzle-focused section.)

Puzzle difficulty: 4/5
Puzzle logic: 4.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 5
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4

Room review: The Escape Artist: Pangaea

Their description: “Enter a land unfettered by civilisation! This magical game promises to delight and capture the imagination with a vast landscape, multiple exciting paths and a plethora of incredible challenges. Open the lid and discover the land of Pangaea, a lost realm full of dangers to overcome, treasures to be found and mysteries to solve! Beware however, once you enter, there’s no turning back. Can you survive Pangaea?”

Beset by wonder, you gather around the box and open the lid. As the lid opens, a blinding beam of light emerges from within, and as you all shield your eyes, you feel a current of magical energy suffusing the room.

When next you open your eyes, you find yourselves in a dense jungle! In the distance, the roars and grunts of wild beasts echo through the trees and as you look around, you see disembodied eyes peering at you from the darkness. The sky grows a little dimmer as the sun begins to set, and through the confusion and panic, you realise that all of you are within the game itself, and that you will need to play the game and win before the sun goes down in order to leave. Only one question remains: can YOU survive Pangaea?

To be clear, Pangaea is billed as an “interactive adventure game” and not an escape room. There are some solid escape-room-style puzzles in there, but there’s an equal emphasis on physical (though not taxing) tasks, all within the framing narrative of a magical boardgame.

Located in The Escape Artist’s new Enchanted Manor outlet in Joo Chiat, Pangaea is probably best suited for families, with puzzles that will challenge the adults, and mini-games (the aforementioned physical tasks) that will delight the kids — not to mention cute optional costumes to increase the sense of fun.

Any team that’s happy with physical tasks, though, is still likely to enjoy the experience. The puzzles are up to The Escape Artist’s usual high standard, and several decision points help to raise the stakes and add tension.

While the game revolves around a beautiful setpiece prop and there’s a sustained attempt at themed decor, don’t expect an extremely immersive environment — that isn’t really the point of Pangaea. Think of it more as a gameshow, with a facilitator/host guiding you through the experience.

RECOMMENDED as a fun experience for families, and for escape room fans who adjust their expectations accordingly. If you only enjoy puzzles and not tasks, the game is still WORTH A TRY for the puzzles that it does contain.

Given the non-escape-room nature of the experience, here’s a trimmed version of my usual rubric:

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Variation of tasks: 4/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

Their suggested number of players: n/a
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6

Room review: Captivate: The Hitman

Their description: The wife of an international hitman is found dead. He cannot remember the day she was killed but he is certain he will remember the day he gets his revenge.

One of Captivate’s new rooms, The Hitman is a solid if not groundbreaking outing. There’s a sustained aesthetic reminiscent of spy movies, and the narrative is maintained all the way to the end (if not necessarily conveyed via each puzzle).

The puzzles themselves are tougher than the norm and largely fair, providing a good challenge for experienced groups — though one or two intuitive leaps may not sit well with everyone.

Perhaps what I appreciate the most about The Hitman are its flashes of in-narrative humour, which enliven the experience. Not a room that one should be dying to play, but still very much WORTH A TRY.

Puzzle difficulty: 4/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 3.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 5
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4