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.

Murder mystery review: AveLIVEX: The Golden Feather Thief

Their description: On the Eve of every Lunar New Year, the Gods in the Heavens would gather around the Holy Temple after the Great Feast to witness the annual Blessing Ceremony. This year, as the clock struck 12, the crowd began to gather outside the Holy Temple as the nightfall took the stage on the very last day of the year. To everyone’s surprise, the beaming aura from the Golden Feather kept at the top of Holy Temple has gone.

Did something happen to the Golden Feather? We must figure out!

This time, you and your friends will role play as 5 zodiacs – Mouse, Ox, Snake, Monkey and Pig, to uncover the secrets inside the Holy Temple and figure out who, among you, was the culprit behind this incident.

Apart from their virtual escape rooms, AveLIVEX offers a virtual role-playing murder mystery game. Okay, it’s not a murder mystery, but the format is familiar: a crime has been committed, players are suspects, and the real culprit has to participate in the mystery-solving without revealing themselves.

Such mysteries are available in various online and offline forms, including Murder Mystery SG’s in-person tabletop games; similar boxed games; and free mobile apps (though I only know of Chinese-language examples).

Of the many cases I’ve played in different formats, this AveLIVEX game ranks decently, in terms of the case itself; I also enjoyed it more than the company’s virtual escape rooms.

When playing such mysteries, it’s easy to wonder whether you’re overthinking, or giving the writers too much or too little credit. Without being spoilery, I’ll say that in The Golden Feather Thief, you can trust that the writers knew what they were doing. The case is reliably logical, while leaving sufficient wriggle room for the culprit.

What’s less fun is that instead of letting players choose what evidence to investigate, the gameplay is linear, with key information revealed in a fixed sequence. This artificial approach makes the process less interesting, though it does guarantee exciting late-game revelations.

I admit, I’m more used to playing on a free mobile app than paying for digital murder mysteries. But the price of S$18 per person (or lower, when there are discounts) isn’t that bad for two hours of gameplay, and is affordable compared to offline options.

Case difficulty: 4/5
Case logic: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: 5 exactly

Puzzle book review: Nomis Piy: Graffiti

Their description: Like its predecessor, it is a fully-colored escape novel, packed with puzzles with good a-ha moments.  In this story, you play the role of a police officer, going single-handedly against a notorious syndicate. You will solve numerous challenging puzzles as you go deep into your investigations. Will you be able to bring down the evil syndicate using your wits alone?

The sequel to Nomis Piy’s first puzzle book Missing, Graffiti is somewhat easier than its predecessor, but no less satisfying, providing several hours of surprises and discoveries.

For me, the best escape/puzzle experiences are those that make the most of their respective medium — whether it’s the physical world, the digital realm, or a book. Like Missing, Graffiti shines in this regard, with puzzles that are possible precisely because of its physical form. Some of the most exciting moments are when cluephrases push you towards the discovery of hidden secrets within the book.

The puzzles are scrupulously logical without being boring or obvious, and Nomis Piy’s usual attention to detail shows up in careful, subtle signposting. And although there was one puzzle in Missing which some of my friends thought was a bit of a stretch, Graffiti doesn’t have such mis-steps.

There’s also one incredible aspect of the experience that I can’t talk about without it being spoilery, but I hope you enjoy discovering it as much as I did.

Perhaps the only weak point is the narrative, which remains somewhat separate from the puzzles. But it gets the job done, and the revelations towards the end are intriguing, especially after Missing. There’s still one character we haven’t met — I’m certainly looking forward to Nomis Piy’s next book…

Graffiti is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; if you haven’t played Missing yet (but why not??) then you could even try playing Graffiti first, since it’s simpler. Unlike Missing, there are no official clues provided for Graffiti. (If you’re really stuck, I’m willing to unofficially give clues if requested; just get in touch via the Contact form.) The high production values and satisfying puzzling experience justify the S$25 price tag easily — here’s how to get your copy.

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

Use of multimedia/physical aspects: 4/5
Storyline integration: 3.5/5

Their suggested number of players: n/a
My suggested number of players: 1 to 2

Trapped – Carnevil

Their description: Billy, your eccentric best friend, in school has been talking about the carnival that has just arrived in your school. But he has been spreading tales of the evil behind the carnival hosts, especially the clowns. It is more than what meets the eye.

After school ended today, Billy was nowhere to be found. And word has it that he has went snooping around the carnival. You decided to put matters into your own hands by gathering your group of friends and charging on your rescue mission to save Billy from the Evil clowns.

Carnevil is a somewhat inconsistent room: it has some clever moments and fun puzzles, but also a couple of questionable spots, including the need for outside knowledge. We finished the room with varying degrees of satisfaction; I found it reasonably fun overall, but that wasn’t the case for all my teammates.

Despite the horror branding, the room is well-lit and honestly not scary, so no worries on that front (but no expectations either, if you’re a horror fan).

Overall, it’s a decent room that’s WORTH A TRY, but not necessarily one to prioritise; I’d still recommend Trapped’s Jigsaw room for puzzle-focused players.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 3/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3.5/5
Storyline integration: 2/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 5
My suggested number of players: 2 to 3

New book from Nomis Piy!

The ever-reliable Nomis Piy has just launched Graffiti, the sequel to their excellent first puzzle book, Missing. I’ve bought my copy and am looking forward to playing and writing about it — but I thought I’d mention it here first, since things are rather busy and I might take a while to get around to the review.

If you haven’t yet tried Missing (or Nomis Piy’s also-excellent play-at-your-own-pace outdoor puzzle game kit, Quest for the Merlion Eye), consider this a reminder to do so!

Trapped – Jigsaw

Their description: There have been numerous ghastly murders in the local town that resembles the work of a serial killer who is known to be dead for decades. Whilst investigating the murders, you end up being kidnapped and now lay helpless in his lair. Little did you realise; the murdered victims and you are somehow connected to the murderer.

Save yourselves, uncover the truth and make your way out before you be his next victim.

Trapped recommends this room as their most challenging one, with its 75-minute runtime reflecting this. Happily, it’s challenging for the right reasons (though we did finish comfortably within the time limit).

This is a satisfyingly substantial room, containing some clever puzzles and fun surprises. The narrative is sustained and developed throughout, with reveals conveyed in various ways.

The production values may not be the most polished, nor are the puzzles all narratively coherent. But I’d still say it’s RECOMMENDED, particularly for puzzle-focused teams, as a solid experience full of little discoveries and ahas. While there’s a bit of creepiness, the room is well-lit and generally coward-friendly.

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

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

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

Trapped – Hide and Seek

Their description: You and your group of reckless friends breaks into the house of an unsuspecting blind man, thinking you will get away with the perfect robbery. Much to your horror, your victim is not who you think he is.

Spend the next 60minutes in hiding and avoid being captured by the demented mad man.

Trapped’s rooms tend to be less scary than they’re made to sound. While Hide and Seek is one of their scarier rooms, cowards (like myself) should still be fine. As the description implies, there is an NPC in this room, but they’re quite forgiving in their behaviour. It also helps that the room is well-lit, which facilitates puzzle-solving too.

The puzzles themselves are decent, with a couple of satisfyingly complex and interesting ones in the mix. The overall experience includes some clever or cute touches, with flashes of dark humour.

Apart from one or two red herrings, Hide and Seek is a solid experience that’s well WORTH A TRY, even if you’re not a fan of horror.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3.5/5
Storyline integration: 2.5/5

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

Captivate – Gretel & Hansel: Witch Hunters

Their description: They escaped from the witch’s hut in the woods but then Gretel realised she has left her phone behind! Why would anyone go back?

This new Captivate room has some cool aspects and ideas; it’s just a shame that it ends so soon.

If I’d encountered this room as a beginner, I’d likely have been impressed. The room opens with a simple but effective setting. There are fun hands-on aspects, cool flourishes — including a setpiece that genuinely impressed us, despite how jaded we are by now — and clever ideas, and the puzzle logic feels entirely fair throughout.

But there simply isn’t that much content; we were out of the room in under half an hour. (The premise also suffers from some incongruity, with the idea of retrieving a phone from a witch’s hut.)

There are enough interesting bits that I’d say this is RECOMMENDED for beginners; but perhaps NOT RECOMMENDED for veterans who want an extensive experience.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 3.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 4/5
Storyline integration: 2.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4

Amazing Chambers – 1603: Changi Naval Battle

Their description: The year is 1603.

Your crew and you are part of the Dutch Armada. The Dutch had four battleships – Zerikzee, Hollandsche Tuin, Maagd van Enkhuysen and Papagaaiken.

You have received instructions from your Commander, Vice Admiral Jacob Pietersz van Enkhuysen, to get your battleship ready in 1 hour to prepare for battle with the Portuguese Armada.

Your battle is to break the Portuguese Armada’s blockade of the Johor River.

Which side will triumph and emerge victorious?

For better or for worse, this is a very representative Amazing Chambers room: some inspired ideas and cool touches; a sustained if perhaps slightly confused effort at having a themed setting; boards of exposition; and one or two unfortunate flaws.

The puzzle logic was generally smooth, and there were some fun ideas. Given the layout, you never really feel like you’re on a ship, but there were still some cute setting touches. There’s just one annoying, somewhat unintuitive snag near the end that might necessitate calling for a hint. But overall, this naval-themed room is still WORTH A TRY, especially if you’re accustomed to the Amazing Chambers style.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: Up to 10
My suggested number of players: 2 to 3