Author: mereexpedience

Room review: Lockdown.sg: Bearry Potter and the Secret Doors

Their description: As a first year student in the wizarding school, you chanced upon the biography of the legendary Quidditch player Jordan Whittaker, who mysteriously vanished on his way to his secret training grounds decades ago. Tracing his path, you soon discovered that it is a bad idea as you unknowingly entered a maze of Secret Doors..


Lockdown’s new Orchard Gateway outlet takes a novel approach to escape rooms, aided by technology — specifically, a tablet and QR codes. While this might make sense from a business perspective (see fuller comments over at the company review), it arguably dampens the magic, particularly given the theme of this room.

On the plus side, the room still has some magical aspects and fun surprises, with significant amounts of hands-on room interaction in order to solve puzzles and proceed further through the room. The puzzles themselves are faultlessly rigorous and logical (to the extent that one is just a logic puzzle, which I personally don’t enjoy — though that’s more a matter of taste). There’s a sustained attempt at maintaining the theme, and references that might amuse Harry Potter fans.

While I would have liked a stronger hands-on feel (like that of the old Forgotten Temple room, for example), Lockdown’s Bearry Potter room is by no means bad. Although it could have been more magical, it’s certainly WORTH A TRY, or indeed RECOMMENDED if you prize solid, logical puzzles over a detailed setting. The very forgiving hints system (which my team didn’t use) might make it good for beginner teams.

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

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

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Room review: Virtual Room: Chapter II

Their description: Earth has once again been threatened! Only a few sources of energy capable of combating this plague have been spotted in different periods of time: you have 45 minutes to find them before it is too late!


After enjoying Virtual Room Singapore’s first adventure, we went back to play their recently-launched second game — which turned out to be even cooler and more expansive.

There are five (!) different environments to explore, up from three in the first room, and there’s some movement around within each environment too. What I enjoyed the most, though, was the use of environmental physics in certain non-standard environments. Like the low-gravity stage in the first game, these non-standard environments allow for effects that simply aren’t possible in a traditional non-virtual game.

The puzzling aspect and difficulty have also been ramped up. In the first game, you tended to be doing similar tasks to your teammates; in this sequel, team members are more often in unique situations. Each individual player has more to do in terms of figuring out what they — specifically — need to do. Some of the intuitive leaps required are greater or more complex, and hence more satisfying, while still remaining completely fair.

There’s also a great conclusion to this chapter, which ties together the whole adventure. To say more would be to reveal spoilers, so I’ll just say that… there is more to say.

The only aspect in which the second game loses out to the first, in my opinion, is that there’s a bit less in terms of interesting haptic feedback, due to the different range of tasks. This very minor complaint is possible only because I really enjoyed the haptic feedback of the first game — so in conclusion, make sure you play both games!

As Singapore’s escape room scene continues shrinking with the closure of former companies and branches, Virtual Room Singapore deserves the attention of escape room enthusiasts all the more. While there’s no escaping the heftier price tag, the experience — unique, high-quality, and simply really fun — is worth it. Play the original mission first, then be sure to try the sequel. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Game difficulty: 3.5/5
Game logic: 4/5
Gameplay variation: 4/5

Atmosphere and setting: 4.5/5
Exciting moments, effective use of VR: 4.5/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

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

Room review: Lockdown.sg: VR Escape – Abandoned Mine

Their description: Experience virtual reality escape games with your friends at V-Room Jurong East!
A landslide trapped you inside an abandoned mine as you tried to seek out treasure. Your only hope is to get the old elevator working, find a way to get out quickly because oxygen is running low!


Hosted within Lockdown’s V-Room virtual reality arcade in JCube, Singapore’s first full VR escape room works both as an escape room in its own right and as a VR-enabled adventure — though it might not gain new converts to VR.

The controls and VR experience are a shade less impressive than Virtual Room’s not-really-an-escape-room game — though Lockdown’s offering is much cheaper, at $30 per person for an hour, versus Virtual Room’s $39 (off-peak) or $49 for 45 minutes.

Lockdown’s helmets are decent, allowing for glasses to be worn. The physical limits of VR (players have a small area in which they can physically walk, since the VR headsets are wired up) are cleverly overcome via a teleportation mechanism. Unlike Virtual Room’s game, Abandoned Mine lacks haptic feedback from the controllers, but that doesn’t affect the gameplay too much.

Speaking of which, what about the gameplay? Abandoned Mine was a much larger adventure than I expected, with extensive spaces to explore. There are some ‘traditional’ escape room puzzles, but they’re not remarkable. More interesting is how the room requires you to interact with the environment and use objects; in some ways, this VR room resembles more closely the point-and-click online escape rooms that came before the offline versions. The VR medium also enables some ‘physical’ room aspects and flourishes that would have been hard to include in reality.

Throw in some dramatic moments (within an admittedly under-explained storyline) and an entertaining (if possibly for the wrong reasons) ending, and you have a room that’s RECOMMENDED for the novelty of the experience as well as a decent underlying game — unless you dislike VR, in which case this room might not change your mind.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Gameplay variation: 3.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3.5/5
Exciting moments, effective use of VR: 3/5
Storyline integration: 2.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 6
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5

JB updates

Amid closures in the Singapore escape room scene, I headed back up to JB instead. Check out updated reviews for four rooms at LOST in JB’s Haunted House branch at Sutera (spoilers: the games there are seriously worth playing, even for cowards like myself!) and the third and final case at LOST in JB’s Crime Scene branch, The Castle.

In unrelated news, Lockdown is holding a rerun of its Battlebox event this June; you can get tickets here. The Escape Artist is holding a new game on the first weekend of June, but sadly I won’t be in the country for it.

Room review: Freeing SG: Old Changi Hospital

Their description: The infamous Old Changi Hospital, occupied by lingering souls since the Second World War. Legend has it that it was used as a lab for conducting heinous experiments on the prisoners of war. What lies within are research that’s capable of creating super soldiers, said to be invincible in times of war. As terrorism rises around the world, it could spell disaster if landed in the wrong hands. You’re tasked to retrieve research within an hour. Complete the mission before the “residents” lay their hands on you…


Old Changi Hospital is not one of Freeing SG’s strongest offerings. Its main flaw is simply that it’s over too fast (in our case, under 20 minutes), as it has a small number of puzzles and none is particularly challenging.

Still, at least the puzzles are fair and rigorous (apart from one late puzzle which I’m still not 100% sure how we solved). As for non-puzzle aspects, the room gets off to a strong start with a cool moment of discovery, and there’s a sustained effort to create a creepy atmosphere. But the experience is less extensive than I’d have liked, it isn’t actually that scary (could be a plus or a minus, depending on your tastes) and the finale felt slightly random.

That having been said, there’s nothing actively bad about the room, making it WORTH A TRY for beginners or experienced teams who don’t mind a brief experience.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 6
My suggested number of players: 2 to 3

‘Room’ review: Crime Scene by LOST in JB: The Tenants Upstairs

Note: I don’t usually post standalone reviews of games in JB, but I thought this Crime Scene case deserved its own post.

Their description: In Fortune Apartment lives a single 48 year old rich man called “Landlord Shi”. He has a strange personality and a bad temper, and all his tenants dislike him. Even weirder is that the 7th floor of Fortune Apartment is a restricted area, none of the tenants are allowed to go up there. However, one day, Landlord Shi was found dead lying in a pool of blood, someone had given him a heavy strike on the head. The 5 tenants in the apartment immediately became the top suspects. Was this an accident or a planned murder? Visit the scene of the crime, it is up to you to find the real killer. A forbidden storeroom, and a bizarre murder mystery. The real killer is among you…


If, like me, you enjoyed Xcape’s Shanghai 1943 roleplaying murder mystery game and wish there were more such cases available, then you absolutely need to visit LOST in JB’s Crime Scene branch to play The Tenants Upstairs.

LOST in JB collaborated with Xcape on the Shanghai 1943 case, and both games draw upon the format of Korean murder mystery reality gameshow Crime Scene (as well as its Chinese adaptation 明星大侦探). [For a description of the game structure, please check out my Shanghai 1943 review; if you’re based in Singapore then you might as well play that game first before going up to JB!]

The only real structural difference in the JB version is that the suspects’ timelines are stated by the gamemaster rather than the suspects themselves; they are also provided in black-and-white to the detective. I found this slightly unsatisfying, as it potentially limits the murderer’s scope for lying, but it’s a minor flaw.

So, the game structure is a huge draw in its own right. What about the case itself? I personally found The Tenants Upstairs even better than Shanghai 1943, due to its clever use of evidence.

Admittedly, given the setting, the costumes are less elaborate and the set more pedestrian than Shanghai 1943. However, the set boasts greater verisimilitude and more of a “lived-in” feel, which also made the evidence feel more naturally integrated into each room.

As for the plot, the character storylines aren’t interwoven as densely as in Shanghai 1943, and some tenants have more satisfying storylines and motives than others — but on the whole, there’s nothing to complain about on this front.

In any case, the greatest strength of The Tenants Upstairs is its use of evidence. Firstly, you have to do more to access some evidence than in Shanghai 1943 (which also makes it truer to the Korean Crime Scene/明星大侦探 experience). Secondly, the evidence is sometimes used very subtly and cleverly; you have to really think about the significance of certain items.

Indeed, for me, the highlight of The Tenants Upstairs was its incredibly clever use of certain decisive pieces of evidence. We didn’t manage to draw those links, so we were completely blown away by the reveal video. Yet rest assured that even without those specific inferences, it’s entirely possible to capture the murderer.

LOST in JB’s The Tenants Upstairs is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and well worth the trip up to Johor Bahru. Not just because it’s the only other game of its kind besides Shanghai 1943, but also because it’s an engaging, well-crafted mystery that keeps surprising you all the way till the full reveal.

If you’ve played Shanghai 1943 and liked it, you have to play The Tenants Upstairs.
If you’ve played Shanghai 1943 and didn’t quite like it, you might still enjoy The Tenants Upstairs.
If you haven’t played Shanghai 1943, go and play it first!!!

While you’re at it, do check out the Korean and Chinese versions of Crime Scene — they’re both well worth a watch.

(Despite the extensive use of Chinese on LOST in JB’s Crime Scene Facebook page, rest assured that the case is presented fluently in both English and Chinese; my English-reliant team faced no issues.)

Case difficulty: 4/5
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

Room review: Living Legends: Jeremiah’s Manor

LIVING LEGENDS IS NOW CLOSED.
This review is left here merely as a record.


Their description: As psychic investigators of great renown, we often received pleas for help, but none as wretched as the one we received from Jeremiah a week ago.

The poor soul was due to be married to his beloved, but tragedy struck and she was murdered. He reports strange sounds from his Manor, and he suspects something is afoul in his house. The police have come and gone, yet were not able to determine the cause of it all.

The wretched man is haunted by the thought of this and all but begged for our help.


Two things set Jeremiah’s Manor apart: its story-driven nature, and its attention to atmosphere and setting.

There’s a well-woven plot that you’ll have to unravel, with dramatic climaxes and even multiple endings. If you care about escape room narratives, you have to play this room. Simple as that. (The generous 90-minute runtime also allows you to savour the plot rather than rushing through.)

As for the atmosphere and setting, comparisons have been drawn with Encounter’s The Apartment. Unfortunately, this gave me unrealistic expectations. An important difference is verisimilitude: what makes The Apartment so effective is that it faithfully recreates the familiar setting of an HDB flat. Although Jeremiah’s Manor has relatively high production values, it’s much harder to replicate the feel of an old manor — so adjust your expectations accordingly.

What Jeremiah’s Manor might lack in physical realism, it makes up for in atmosphere and special effects. The use of magical investigative ‘equipment’ (you’ll see) to progress through the room is a fun and original touch, contributing to the sense of immersion.

Though eerie at times, this isn’t a horror room. Living Legends offers three modes: Easy (normal experience, easier puzzles), Normal, and Nightmare (more intense experience, normal puzzles). My team played on Nightmare mode, but even the more cowardly of us didn’t find it that scary. If you’re interested in playing but can’t bear horror, you should be fine on Normal mode. But if you can, you really should play on Nightmare mode, as that gives the richest experience…

…which is important because Jeremiah’s Manor shines chiefly as an experience, more than as a collection of puzzles. Granted, the puzzles are well-integrated into the plot and generally rigorous. Some are pleasingly multilayered, particularly near the end. But an early puzzle feels unoriginal, a late one features some ambiguity and red herrings, and in general the puzzles — although solid — are not the highlight.

Treat Jeremiah’s Manor as a real-life adventure rather than a regular escape room, and you’ll get the most out of the experience. RECOMMENDED as a great overall experience; HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you care about narrative.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 4 to 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 5

Room review: Trapped: The Purge

This room was attempted in collaboration with Escapist X from Singapore Escape Room Reviews.

Their description: It’s Purge Night, and your group is being held captive by a demented torturer…with only 60 minutes before the start of The Annual Purge


As with Trapped’s other rooms, The Purge is advertised as a horror room but isn’t particularly scary, so it’s perfectly playable by cowards such as myself.

There isn’t much immersion, whether in setting or in narrative, but the room manages not to be boring. An early puzzle is tough for arguably the wrong reasons (so do consider asking for help); in contrast, a later puzzle is pleasingly layered, though context-free.

There’s one room aspect that you might either find clever (as I did) or somewhat unfair — either way, it’s a good example of how Trapped’s rooms reward exploration in a way that few other rooms do.

Nothing spectacular, but not a room you need to avoid — in other words, it’s WORTH A TRY if you keep your expectations in check. Though you might want to prioritise Trapped’s other two rooms, which are somewhat more interesting.

Puzzle difficulty: 2/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

Atmosphere and setting: 2/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2.5/5
Storyline integration: 1.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 3. You really don’t need more.

Room review: Trapped: The Mental Ward

Their description: It is your first day as an intern in the Mental Hospital. During your lunch break, you and your colleagues decide to explore the codorned ward. Rumour has it, the most notorious mental patients were in that ward before it was shut down. You have an hour to find out if the rumours you heard about the ward are true, before you have to report back to your superior.


The Mental Ward provides a more comprehensive experience than the room it replaced, and is probably Trapped’s hardest and most engaging room.

First, the usual reassurance: despite the advertising, this is not a scary room — creepy, at most — so it’s perfectly playable even if you’re a coward like me.

The room starts off without much plot, but with some clever use of the space and of technology (for puzzle-solving, not special effects). As you advance, the puzzles remain largely context-free, but the narrative surfaces and there’s an attempt at strengthening the theme. I found one stretch interesting as it had a nice (albeit only initial) sense of world-exploration rather than puzzle-solving.

There’s a risk of technical malfunction midway through, so don’t be afraid to call for help if you think you should be getting something that you’re not. The finale, while underwhelming, is at least somewhat novel.

My reviews for Trapped rooms sound lukewarm even though I generally enjoy them; I suppose they lack stand-out moments that would lead me to recommend them. Nonetheless, when I say The Mental Ward is WORTH A TRY, I don’t mean that in a bad way.

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

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

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