Month: November 2015

Room review: The Escape Artist: The Forsaken Vault (Chapter 2)

This room has been replaced and no longer exists.
This review is left here merely as a record.

Their description: You’re out with your friends when you overhear an archaeologist talking about the location of a dungeon, said to have once belonged to Baron Richard Percy.

Legend tells of the many treasures that would belong to anyone brave enough to enter and find the last clue left by the mad Baron. You decide to take action before the archaeologist’s team, and as you arrive at the dungeon, you are greeted by two pathways leading east and west.

With the archaeologist’s team hot on your heels, what adventures await you as you explore The Forsaken Vault?

Chapter Two: Holding onto the last clue left behind by the Baron, your excitement grows as you realise that the treasure is indeed here, hidden amidst the rooms of the forsaken dungeon. With thoughts of gold and jewels burning in your mind, a frenzied spell of avarice falls upon you, and you begin to feel that perhaps you should take steps to ensure you get your share of the treasure. As you set out to decipher the final clue, will you find the lost hoard or will you be driven mad by greed first?

After the solid first chapter of The Forsaken Vault, the second felt a little underwhelming. Having the arguably hardest puzzle at the start is not the friendliest design choice, particularly if a somewhat tenuous intuitive leap is required in said puzzle.

Sadly, the first puzzle is also one of the more inspired ones. There’s more of a reliance on logic than usual — not a bad thing insofar as it means that TEA’s usual rigour is present, but not everyone is a fan of traditional logic puzzles. And while some effort was made to maintain a storyline, this lapsed in the case of one completely setting-irrelevant puzzle midway through.

In terms of atmosphere, the vault still doesn’t quite feel convincingly made of stone, but the second chapter certainly has a few more surprises than the first! There’s enough physical activity to give you that crypt-breaking feel, though this also means that this isn’t a room for players with mobility issues.

It’s clear why The Escape Artist recommends that you play the chapters of Forsaken Vault in order. Storyline aside, being able to eliminate red herrings is a huge help. Simply rediscovering the vault and unlocking its further mysteries also helps to make the second chapter WORTH A TRY — something which the puzzles alone, alas, might not have done.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

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: 2 to 10
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4


Room review: Circus of the Dead

Their description: As an aspiring group of performers craving for fame, you have been invited as a back up for a performance and were assigned to an abandoned dressing room due to a lack of facilities.

After entering the dressing room, strange things start to happen and your performance is starting in an hour. Will you be trapped and lose your mind like the others before you?

Circus of the Dead isn’t the flashiest of escape rooms, but it has enough tricks up its sleeve to make for a pretty cool experience, with a solid core of puzzles underneath.

The atmosphere is suitably eerie but never scary enough to impede solving. While the setting is on the bare side, it gets the job done — and, perhaps just as importantly, it’s meaningfully incorporated into most of the puzzles.

The puzzles themselves are a decent mix. Some are forgettable or lean a bit too much on execution, but none of them felt disappointing, and one genuinely clever setpiece elicited a collective “wahhh” from my very jaded escape room team.

The storyline felt rather superfluous at the start, but the narrative link to the puzzles was strengthened by the end. For its all-round competence and cohesiveness, and for that one great puzzle in particular, I’d say Circus of the Dead is RECOMMENDED — as long as you’re not seeking a scary experience.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 3/5

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

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

Room review: The Forgotten Temple

Their description: Archaeologists claimed to have discovered an ancient temple that has been forgotten for centuries. All the tomb raiders are now trying to locate it but you seem to be the first to find it after a long search. Will you be able to find any treasures before the others reach?

As the escape room scene in Singapore evolves, older industry players are reinventing themselves — and doing so rather well, if some of Lockdown’s new rooms are anything to go by.

For a start, the Forgotten Temple boasts higher production values than one might have expected. We were impressed and pleasantly surprised upon setting foot into this temple’s depths, and that feeling only grew as the temple revealed its secrets. While the use of tech is usually accompanied by the danger of malfunction, we didn’t experience any problems here.

The puzzles are also solid. There’s a decent mix of puzzle types, and though they’re all manageable, they’re not too easy (although experienced teams may not feel challenged) — the endgame in particular has a nice mini “aha” moment built into it. Apart from the somewhat lacklustre first puzzle, there’s barely a code-lock in sight, and you’ll have to do a range of fun and storyline-appropriate things in order to progress.

Speaking of which, there’s a sustained attempt at building a storyline and tying the puzzles into it, which I always appreciate. In all, The Forgotten Temple was a fun adventure: RECOMMENDED for beginners or anyone who appreciates the experience at least as much of the puzzles, and still very much WORTH A TRY otherwise.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 4.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 4.5/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: 3 to 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 5