Month: September 2014

Room review: The Escape Artist: Quarantined – The Final Hour

The Escape Artist’s Bukit Timah branch is now closed.
This review is left here merely as a record.


Their description: As the last remaining survivors of a global flesh eating pandemic, you spend your days in a Biosel safehouse facility, waiting for the virus to run its course.
One day, you found out that Biosel actually have their own plans and decided to take matters into your own hands.
You suspect Professor Hito, is the mastermind and decided to sneak into his laboratory in the hope of finding more information..


Unsurprisingly for The Escape Artist, Quarantined – The Final Hour makes an effort to integrate most of its puzzles with the storyline: mostly in terms of the form they take, but sometimes in the content, too. (It’s an improvement from the original rooms at their Bukit Timah outlet, which had far more arbitrary puzzles.)

One might have a few minor quibbles with the logic, particularly in the endgame, but it’s overall a fair room that doesn’t have many artificial hindrances or unsatisfying solutions. There are also helpful hints along the way to point you in the right direction.

The room doesn’t start off too atmospheric, but it gets better. A decent experience overall, and WORTH A TRY for experienced groups or beginners.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2.5/5
Storyline integration: 4.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 3 to 7 or 4 to 8, depending on where you check…
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5

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Room review: Lockdown.sg: Haunted?

LOCKDOWN SUNTEC IS NOW CLOSED.
This review is left here merely as a record.


Their description: Every school has its own secrets. Eager to impress your seniors, you agreed to meet them at night for an orientation school party. No one showed up but you noticed a classroom with its lights on. It was a normal music room, but you realised the door was already locked when you tried to leave…


One of Lockdown’s strongest rooms, Haunted? combines multimedia aspects, a range of puzzle types, and a convincing integration of puzzles into the setting, making for an overall satisfying experience.

That third point is especially important, in my opinion. Too many escape rooms just hide their puzzles around the room, but Lockdown’s Haunted? room incorporates some of its clues naturally into the setting, for a more immersive experience. It might be the best example I’ve seen of an escape room doing this.

As usual for Lockdown rooms, it’s relatively low on frills, but there’s at least one cool moment and the sense of setting is strong. The room is also non-linear, but not punishingly so, which some players might appreciate. And despite their description above, the room isn’t particularly scary, so don’t be put off by that.

Do note that this room is located at Lockdown’s Suntec outlet, not at The Central.

RECOMMENDED for experienced teams. Beginners might find it a little tough.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
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
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: 3 to 8
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5

 

Room review: Lockdown.sg: Trafficking

Their description: A reporter friend of yours got a lead on an incredible story, but did not return the next day. Fearing for her life, you followed her tracks in hope of finding her. Are you ready for the truth?


The first thing to do, if you’re an experienced escape room team attempting this room, is to adjust your mindset. Don’t overthink puzzles. Go for the most obvious answer.

I say this because this room managed to stump the experienced team I went with, mainly because we assumed that some of the puzzles were much harder than they were. (We took several hints and almost the full hour to escape from this — in contrast, we cleared a harder Lockdown room with no hints and in just over half an hour.)

That’s not to say that every single puzzle in this room is easy. There’s some variation in puzzle difficulty and puzzle types, including a verbal puzzle, which I always find refreshing. However, apart from one somewhat cool moment, this is a relatively no-frills room.

WORTH A TRY for beginners. NOT ESPECIALLY RECOMMENDED otherwise.

Puzzle difficulty: 2/5
Puzzle logic: 3/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

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

Their suggested number of players: 3 to 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4

 

Overall review: Freeing SG

NOTE: This review has been edited to reflect changes in Freeing’s branches and policies.


Freeing SG’s rooms are great if you’re looking for fun experiences rather than intellectual stimulation. Even after the games changed from 45- to 60-minute ones, they don’t necessarily contain that many puzzles — but they’re certainly not boring. (The main exception is the excellent Back to the Future room, which provides both a fun experience and real challenges.)

The rooms generally make an effort with setting and storyline, and are filled with exciting mechanisms, special effects, or multimedia aspects, all of which are closely tied to the room theme.

The puzzles themselves are fairly logical, and often go beyond that tired old escape room staple of mere matching. And even if the puzzles are seldom novel in structure, there’s a whole range of methods in which they are conveyed and solved, making for a fun experience nevertheless.

edit, June 2015: Sadly it appears that the Freeing Cathay rooms have gotten a bit tired and worn out from overuse. I still think some rooms are worth a visit, but do adjust your expectations.

edit, July 2017: Freeing have opened a second outlet in Plaza Singapura, with more rooms still being added. Given their maintenance track record in the Cathay, I’d say it’s worth checking out the Plaza Sing rooms ASAP, so you can appreciate all their dramatic frills and flourishes while they still work.

RECOMMENDED if you care about setting and fun mechanisms. Still WORTH A VISIT otherwise.

Staff: Staff are friendly and responsive.

Hints: One (?) hint, via doorbell. Staff used to tell you the answer rather than give you hints, but are now more circumspect. You also get a walkthrough if you fail, which is nice. (June 2017: It seems that you can unofficially get unlimited hints at the Freeing Plaza Singapura branch; not sure if that’s the case at The Cathay.)

Will your group be combined with strangers? No.

Rooms tried: 6 out of 7 at The Cathay; 6 out of 7 at Plaza Singapura

Recommended team size: 3 to 5


Specific room reviews

Current rooms – Cathay
Alice in Wonderland
Funeral: The Mourning Widow
Secrets of the Past: From Russia with Love
Ninja: The Secret Disciplines of the Shinobi
Spaceship: Galactic Survival
War: The Battle for Freedom

Current rooms – Plaza Singapura
Poseidon
White House
Twilight
Jurassic
Back to the Future
The Enchanted Wardrobe

Former rooms
Mission Incredible (Bugis+)
Painter’s Murder (Bugis+)
Rise to the Challenge: Biohazard (pop-up)


Freeing SG
http://www.freeingsg.com/

Room review: Freeing SG: Secrets of the Past: From Russia with Love

Their description: “Amongst you, there is someone who knows nothing about his birth and antecedents. Today, your past shall be revealed.” This is the first time you and your friends are travelling to a foreign and mysterious country, visiting Russia for the first time ever. While touring the streets of Moscow, a peculiar wisp of smoke knocked out you and your friends. As you regain consciousness, you found yourself locked up in a strange room. Have you been kidnapped? What is going on?!

Unravel the secrets of the Tree of Locks, and decipher the clues from the mural to locate the escape route! The scattered pieces of stained glass on the floor holds the secrets to the truths about your past, and the one and only key to escape this room!


There’s a very strong attempt to give this room a storyline, yet strangely enough, this doesn’t necessarily translate into relevant puzzles. The forms of the puzzles are related to the setting, but their content still feels a little arbitrary.

Nevertheless, this isn’t a bad escape room. The verbal clues makes a nice change from number- or matching-based puzzles, there are some fun physical aspects, and the puzzles aren’t too generic.

WORTH A TRY for beginners and experienced teams alike.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 3.5/5

Their suggested number of players: N/A
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5

 

Room review: Freeing SG: Painter’s Murder

NOTE: Freeing SG’s Bugis+ branch has closed.


Their description: A famous painter was found dead by the river this morning. Various clues point to the painter’s mistress as the prime suspect. Unfortunately, the police lacks sufficient evidence to prosecute her, and she had denied all entries to her personal art gallery. As a top detective, you decides to sneak into the gallery to gather evidence and uncover the truth. Can you solve the mysteries and bring this women to justice? Or just helplessly await for the next tragedy to happen…


The murder mystery aspect is an enjoyable twist on the usual escape room format, and makes the room feel more connected to the storyline than is usually the case. Not all of the aspects of the ‘solution’ were satisfying, but they didn’t require leaps of logic either.

Although the room doesn’t have any special effects or high-tech surprises, the decor and props still give it a strong sense of setting. Some puzzles are also presented in inventive ways, making for a decent overall experience.

RECOMMENDED for beginners. Experienced groups might not be impressed.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 1/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: N/A
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4

Room review: Freeing SG: Mission Incredible

NOTE: Freeing SG’s Bugis+ branch has closed.


Their description: In the centre of the Earth lies the Wonder Museum. Legend has it that the brightest diamond in it can either make or break the entire world.

As the secret police force, you must get hold of the diamond before The Evil steals it. You must now get out of the heavily guarded museum with the diamond in 45 minutes. Should you trigger the alarm, bear in mind that the government won’t admit your secret identity if you are caught….


This room was a little odd when I tried it, but perhaps they’ve fixed it by now. It contained one clue that referred to a puzzle that was no longer part of the room, so we ended up wasting time on that. There are also some physical requirements that, if not adhered to, essentially make it impossible to complete the room.

The puzzles themselves weren’t too convoluted. We ended up overthinking one puzzle because the solution was so simple we didn’t consider it. But there are some nice physical flourishes and requirements, which could make for a fun experience.

NOT ESPECIALLY RECOMMENDED, but I might have just had a bad experience. Feel free to give it a try.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 3.5/5

Their suggested number of players: N/A
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4

Room review: Xcape: Vampire Diary

Their description: In order to return a favor to Salvatore, Dr. Hachi has assigned you the mission to penetrate the place that is rumored to be Dracula’s castle. By “cooperating” with the supernatural creatures, you could overcome the perilous traps and hurdles to retrieve the one and only cure for the supernatural beings to become “normal”. The story of immortal being, blood thirsty soul, and the curse of darkness, may be more than just an ancient legend……


Vampire Diary is a bit of a disappointment for an Xcape room. While it does feature at least one satisfyingly dramatic, high-budget element, the puzzles themselves are not that creative. There’s quite a bit of tedious matching, general busy-work, and some leaps of logic.

There’s a bit more of an attempt than usual at preserving a storyline and making some puzzles relevant, but its effectiveness is debatable.

Still, if you want a room that makes you work up till the last minute — something which not that many escape rooms accomplish — then you could give this a shot.

NOT ESPECIALLY RECOMMENDED otherwise. Try another Xcape room; they have much better other ones.

Puzzle difficulty: 4/5
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: 2.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 4 to 8
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6

Room review: Roomraider: Dark Mansion

NOTE: This room has been replaced and no longer exists.


Their description: Baron Moncrieff is one of the biggest jewellery dealers in 19th century London. He has long been rumoured to have seized the Star of Angola, one of the biggest diamonds in the world.

You chanced upon one of the Baron’s many servants at the local pub and discovered that the treasured diamond is now hidden in his secret study within his enormous mansion.

The Baron is away for the night. This is the break that you and your band of professional thieves have been waiting for.

This is your only chance. You must act fast, find the diamond and escape, for the Baron won’t be gone for long. What other secrets lurk in his study?


Unlike many of Roomraider SG’s other rooms, Dark Mansion has no real special effects or use of technology. What sets it apart, however, is its reliance on verbal clues. It’s a nice change from the pattern recognition or matching required in many other escape rooms — here, you have to actually pay attention to what you’re reading. This also means that the puzzles fit neatly into the storyline, which helps with a sense of atmosphere.

That having been said, the relatively no-frills nature of this room might not be too impressive. There’s also darkness throughout, which might annoy players who don’t like dim lighting.

Do note that one physical requirement of this room means that older, larger, or less mobile players might have difficulty.

WORTH A TRY for beginners and experienced players alike.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

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

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 8
My suggested number of players: 2. Maybe 3 if you’re beginners.