Month: September 2017

Overall review: Trapped

A confession: I avoided Trapped’s rooms for a long time, partly because their previous rooms were reportedly lacklustre and partly because I’m not a fan of horror. As it turns out, I should have given them a chance earlier.

With a ground-floor location along the exterior of teen mall *Scape, Trapped seems particularly well-placed to receive walk-in customers. Unfortunately, I think the company does itself a disservice by playing up the horror element of its rooms. Creepy props fill the shop window, and their website’s room descriptions suggest that players will have a terrifying time. All of this could dissuade first-time escape room players, or those who (like me) dislike horror.

And that’s a shame, because Trapped’s rooms are beginner-friendly, suitable for small groups, and not actually that scary. Most of their puzzles are logical, fair, and relatively simple. The rooms contain some familiar tropes, providing a good introduction to the escape room genre.

While veterans may breeze through the rooms, they won’t necessarily be bored — there’s at least one particularly satisfying puzzle in each room, and the rooms do repay exploration. It does also appear as though soloing a room might be possible…

Trapped is very much WORTH A VISIT for beginners, or two-player teams who want manageable rooms. Experienced teams are unlikely to feel challenged. But if you’re an experienced player who is running out of rooms to play yet doesn’t want to end up playing bad rooms (like me), rest assured that Trapped’s rooms are worth checking out — even if your visit could be brief.

Staff: Friendly and helpful. They are careful not to reveal too much when you ask for a hint.

Hints: Three (if I recall correctly) hints via intercom phone.

Will your group be combined with strangers? Yes.

Rooms tried: 2 out of 3

Recommended team size: 2 to 3 people

Specific room reviews

Escape from Pulau Tekong
World War 3 (Zombie Edition)
The Purge

Trapped SG


Room review: Trapped: World War 3 (Zombie Edition)

Their description: The World is at war with the Zombies. As you and your friends seek shelter in an abandoned building, you realized that you are not alone. You have 60mins to solve the mysteries and escape within 60mins before you too join the ranks of the undead.

As with Trapped’s Escape from Pulau Tekong room, World War 3 is nowhere near as scary as the website might have you believe. It’s adequately lit and contains no jump scares; you’ll only really be scared by your own apprehension.

The puzzles are fair and logical. Most are on the easy side, but there are some clever touches and one particular late-stage puzzle that I liked.

The room is WORTH A TRY for beginners. Experienced players who don’t mind a quick game (I attempted this room with one other player and we got out in about 20 minutes) can check it out too — the game may be brief but it’s still fairly satisfying.

Puzzle difficulty: 1.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 1/5

Their suggested number of players: 7
My suggested number of players: 2 to 3

Room review: Trapped: Escape from Pulau Tekong

Their description: You have been sent by your commanding chief to Pulau Tekong to find out why the commanding officer there has not been responding to HQ. Upon reaching the island, you find something odd that the entire island is quiet and creepy. You managed to get to the C.O’s bunk and from there your wildest imaginations started to come alive!

Escape from Pulau Tekong was surprising on several levels, for me: it was surprisingly not scary (which I consider a plus); contained some fun or clever in-game surprises; and was just surprisingly good overall (given that I hadn’t heard much praise for Trapped before).

The room is completely playable even if you’re a coward like me, with adequate lighting and no jump scares. There’s a haphazard but decent attempt at setting the scene, and exploration of the room is well rewarded.

The puzzles are generally straightforward but not too trivial. For me, the room’s highlight was (the bulk of) its central midstage puzzle: logical without being tedious, and conveyed in a manner that fit seamlessly into the story and setting. There’s also a solid narrative pay-off that ends the room on a good note.

For me, the strength of that midstage puzzle alone is enough to make the room WORTH A TRY for both beginners and veterans — and the rest of the room certainly isn’t bad either. The room is not physically taxing, but you will need at least one player without mobility issues.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 7
My suggested number of players: 2 to 3

Room review: Breakout: The Forgotten Treasure

NOTE: Breakout is closing by the end of 2017 (possibly as early as October), so this room will soon be gone! Play it ASAP while you still have the chance.

Their description: One day, you stumbled upon a note left to you by your late relative. You suspect that he has bequeathed upon you some treasure before his last breath.

You gather your friends to join you in search of the forgotten treasure. Will you complete the mission before you are discovered by his immediate family members?

Although it’s not mentioned on Breakout’s website, The Forgotten Treasure is actually two escape rooms in one. The Escape Artist attempted something similar previously, with their original three Forsaken Vault rooms — but those rooms involved different subsets of chambers. In contrast, Breakout’s two room versions play out within exactly the same spaces.

As a result, the second version of Forgotten Treasure which you play (whichever it is) has fewer surprises in store; it also means that red herrings can be harder to avoid. A happier difference is that, with the Breakout rooms, you can play the second version free if you complete the first version within 30 minutes.

At the start, you’ll get to choose between the Lights or Letters version. We did the Lights one first. I don’t think it makes a big difference which you choose — the Lights version perhaps has more cool moments, but playing the Letters version first could help to eliminate more red herrings.

In any case, both versions have solid, logical puzzles; some nice aha moments and little surprises; and even a mild physical element (but don’t worry, the room is completely playable as long as your team has just one member without mobility issues).

The storyline generally stays in the background, though some puzzle elements fit well into it. The decor is nothing amazing but it gets the job done — and the carpet is a pleasant touch!

Instead of being flashy or high-tech, The Forgotten Treasure is a cosy puzzle-focused experience. For beginners, both the Lights and Letters versions are WORTH A TRY as solid introductions to escape rooms. Experienced teams might get a kick out of challenging themselves to complete each room within half-an-hour. Both rooms are also entirely manageable for two-person teams.

Puzzle difficulty: 2.5/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

Atmosphere and setting: 2/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2/5
Storyline integration: 2.5/5

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

‘Room’ review: Xcape: Shanghai 1943

Their description: In 1943, The Paramount flourished, bringing about an unprecedented golden age in Shanghai night club scene. The sun is setting, and breaking news emerged. The Paramount’s top singer, Red Rose, was found dead in her personal dressing room. There were signs that she was strangled… Behind all the glamour and bright neon lights, chilling dark secrets are waiting to be uncovered: Who’s The Murderer?

Xcape has brought something new to the escape room scene with its new Xcape RPG experience, Shanghai 1943. As a huge fan of the Korean murder mystery reality gameshow Crime Scene (as well as its Chinese adaptation 明星大侦探), I was thrilled to have a chance to essentially become a player in an episode of that show.

The Xcape creators have indeed watched both versions of the series, and Shanghai 1943 is a faithful adaptation of the Crime Scene format. Five players are suspects, each with their own secrets, motives, and case timelines. Any remaining players take on the roles of detective and assistant detective(s). The case unfolds over several ‘rooms’ full of evidence to be found and storylines waiting to be pieced together.

All players investigate the case together — but one suspect is secretly the murderer, and has to participate in the mystery-solving without being discovered. Only the murderer is allowed to lie, but all players can withhold information unless directly questioned about it.

The flow of the game (which lasts about 2 to 2.5 hours) is also closely patterned to that of Crime Scene. Players introduce themselves and say what they were doing before the crime scene was discovered. There is an initial round of searching, followed by the first group discussion. The detective (who gets two votes, unlike all the other players) casts a first vote. Then there’s a second round of searching, a final group discussion, and the final round of voting.

That’s the game structure, and it’s intriguing in its own right. The roleplay element makes the experience more fun and engaging than if all players were simply detectives — particularly for the murderer, who has to cast suspicion on other players while avoiding suspicion themselves. The existence of a physical set full of clues sets the game apart from similar genres such as interactive theatre or murder mystery dinners. And the need to piece together storylines and infer motives makes for a richer intellectual experience than, say, simple possibility-elimination.

What about the content of the game itself? The central plotline is satisfying and not too obvious or shallow. The set rewards exploration and the evidence is well-calibrated — suggesting enough without giving everything away. Much of the fun comes from drawing links between disparate pieces of evidence and making inferential leaps to uncover all the suspects’ stories.

There are some caveats, the chief one being: the quality of your experience will depend to a large extent on whether the murderer plays well. If the murderer gives away too much, is bad at explaining themselves, or is just too obviously suspicious, then even though there are still other fun storylines to figure out, the central case might become too easy. My team was lucky to have an excellent murderer, making our game experience tougher and hence more rewarding. (Your experience will probably also be more fun if your team is willing to roleplay and banter a bit.)

The game also has some minor flaws. Some evidence is a little confusing or ambiguous. The initial briefing files (each suspect gets a few minutes to read up on their character) have a couple of weak spots. And the final solution, while satisfying upon revelation, might have one or two questionable aspects upon further reflection.

Nonetheless, Xcape’s Shanghai 1943 is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a must-play experience: firstly, as the only game of its kind here, and secondly as just a thoroughly engaging and satisfying mystery. (The only remotely similar thing here, not counting one-off events, is Lockdown’s CSI room, which offers a fun crime-solving time in its own right but lacks the roleplay element.)

Go and have fun — and definitely consider watching the Korean and Chinese versions of Crime Scene before/after your game, too!

Case difficulty: 3/5
Case logic: 4/5

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Storyline integration: 5/5

Their suggested number of players: 6 to 7
My suggested number of players: 6 to 7