Month: January 2015

Room review: Xcape: Tomb Raider

This room was attempted in collaboration with some of the cool guys at S-capegoats.
Check out their review of the room too!


Their description: In the inheritance of the murdered scientist, Glenn, there was a map marking the exact location of an ancient tomb built in the period of the Five Dynasties. What could have triggered the Western scientist’s interest in a tomb in the Far East? Could it be the exotic treasures, the mysterious ba gua and geomancy, or even the legends of the ghosts and spirits? Nothing seems to be able to explain why this tomb would draw the Company’s attention.


I feel that Xcape’s Tomb Raider room is the unpolished, beta version of what could have been an excellent escape room. There were a lot of great things about this room, but also many annoying flaws that made the experience somehow less than the sum of its parts.

First, the good things. This room was a veritable warren of chambers, with more unlockable areas than I’ve seen before, and also various exciting physical things you had to do. This added to the sense of adventure and made for a grander experience, even if the actual number of puzzles to be solved wasn’t that high.

The puzzles, while not mind-blowing, were more imaginative than in some other Xcape rooms. There was a mix of puzzle forms and ways of both presenting and solving them, making things more fun than if you just had to read clues and enter number codes.

But then there are the flaws. There were fun verbal clues at every stage, but some seemed misleading or ill-fitting for what they were trying to convey. At least two puzzles also felt somewhat poorly crafted, making them hard to execute despite knowing exactly what to do.

Another inescapable flaw was in the physical locks involved. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that if you want a good chance of getting out of this room, you should familiarise yourself with this sort of lock. It is very easy to have the right combination and yet be unable to open the lock — a physical flaw that I don’t think good escape rooms should have.

Overall, this room is RECOMMENDED if you are used to successful escapes and would like more of a challenge — though the challenges may not be due to actual puzzle difficulty! — or if you really enjoy a large, multi-chamber room and physical aspects. Otherwise, it’s WORTH A TRY, but don’t get your hopes too high.

Do note this room has some pretty unforgiving physical requirements. You’ll need at least one member with good upper body strength, and people who are larger in build might have some trouble. Less mobile players should not attempt this room. Xcape advises people not to wear skirts and heels when attempting this room, and I’d agree with them.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 6 to 9
My suggested number of players: 5 to 6

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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.

Overall review: LOST SG

LOST SG seems to pride itself on its use of technology, and that’s certainly one big selling point. Its rooms are full of fun mechanisms and triggers. Some of them are genuinely part of a puzzle; others liven up what could otherwise just have been the standard box-with-a-number-lock method of hiding the next clue.

It’s not just all style and no substance, though. The puzzles themselves are fairly solid and sometimes imaginative, with a good mix of puzzle types in each room. There’s the odd red herring, but so far, this hasn’t seemed unfair.

There’s also a short video you’ll have to watch for each room before you try it, which is a nice effort on their part (even if it doesn’t necessarily add much!).

Though each room tends to have one or two annoying flaws, LOST SG is a great addition to Singapore’s busy escape room scene. RECOMMENDED as a good all-round escape room company: fun tech, solid puzzles, decently atmospheric rooms, and friendly staff. It’s just a shame about their policy of combining smaller groups.

Staff: Generally friendly and not overly strict, and happy to talk about other groups’ experiences with the room you’ve tried.

Hints: Three (?) hints, obtained via intercom. Staff seem generally cautious about revealing too much unless you ask for it, which is good.

Will your group be combined with strangers? Yes, unless you book the room for at least 7 players.

Rooms tried: 5 out of 5 current rooms; 1 older room

Recommended team size: 3 to 5


Specific room reviews

Current rooms
Exodus
Alcatraz
Castiglione
Aokigahara
Mausoleum

Former rooms
Isometrick


LOST SG
http://lost.sg

Room review: LOST SG: Isometrick

Their description: While exploring for new study materials to better engage his students, Professor Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube. Overwhelmed with the sudden onslaught of attention, Professor Rubik fell into the claws of depression. Driven by heavy criticisms, Professor Rubik remained unfazed and began working on a new project. Back at school, students are concerned about Professor Rubik’s absence and decided to drop him a visit. They soon found out from his family that the Professor went into the lab, and he has no intention of coming out.

Where is Professor Rubik and what is he doing? Your assignment, should you choose to accept is to unearth the mysteries within and find Professor Rubik.

CAN YOU FIND PROFESSOR RUBIK AND MAKE IT OUT IN TIME?


Isometrick is meant to be LOST SG’s most difficult room. I would say that that’s because it’s really more of a puzzle room than an escape room.

Rather atypically, there are lots of instructions included, and most of the difficulty comes in the execution rather than figuring out what to do. But unlike some other rooms where the execution is difficult because it is tedious, Isometrick does pose some genuine intellectual challenges, which is appreciated.

The storyline is basically irrelevant. Still, at least the room design is stark and stylish, and there are fun technical flourishes which liven things up.

RECOMMENDED only for teams which like puzzles more than the experience of escaping, and don’t mind if the puzzles are basically context-free. NOT RECOMMENDED for casual players and those looking for a particularly fun or immersive room.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 4/5
Storyline integration: 1/5

Their suggested number of players: 4 to 10
My suggested number of players: 4 to 5

Room review: LOST SG: Castiglione

Their description: In the 1860s during the Second Opium War, the British and French Empires invaded China. In the midst of the war, all 12 of the zodiac head statues designed by Giuseppe Castiglione for QianLong Emperor miraculously disappeared from the Imperial Summer Palace. Rumours and news soon spread that the 12 statues were kept hidden in the hometown of the zodiac’s designer home. Take on the role of a secret agent and unravel the mysterious hidden castle belonging to Castiglione.

Your mission is to recover the 12 zodiac heads and escape from the Castle. But BEWARE, there might be guards on patrol.

Escape, Survive & Recover the 12 Zodiac Head Sculptures.


LOST SG prides itself on its use of technology, and that’s very evident in this room. Expect lots of exciting trigger mechanisms and room interactivity. There’s limited use of multimedia in conveying the puzzles, but the execution can get very hands-on, which is always fun.

In terms of content, the puzzles are of a good mix of types, and mostly go beyond simple matching. There’s also a strong and sustained attempt to tie them in with the framing storyline, and the setting is decently atmospheric.

The only real quibble I have is with one particular puzzle in the middle, where the clue wording doesn’t properly lead you towards the solution. We had to ask for a hint at that stage, and without that, I’m not sure we would have realised the rather counter-intuitive thing we needed to do. So if you feel stuck at a certain point despite thinking you’ve got the answer right, consider asking for a hint.

Overall, a solid, satisfying room (except for that one aforementioned puzzle). RECOMMENDED for experienced teams. Beginners might find it a little tough. Less mobile players may have difficulty at various points.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

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

Their suggested number of players: 4 to 10
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6