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: Breakout: Magician’s Revenge

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.

This room was attempted in collaboration with the awesome Pá and Trapspringer from Lock Me If You Can! Check out their review here.

Their description: Having incurred the wrath of the Magician when you attempted to steal his secret, he is back to seek revenge by trapping you inside another of his chambers.

Everything seems familiar, feels like you have been here before. Can you remember how you escaped from him the last time around? Will you succumb to fate or will you prove yourselves to be his apprentices by outwitting him?

**Special Note — This room is a sequel to Magician’s Secret! We strongly recommend players to attempt Magician’s Secret before playing Magician’s Revenge, so as to allow players to immerse into the story deeper, and to better appreciate the storyline and the puzzles of the sequel.

It’d been more than two years since I played Breakout’s Magician’s Secret room, but I still recalled enough to appreciate some of the references in its sequel, from decor to certain puzzle aspects or mechanics. So that was fun.

Somewhat less fun, however, were a few misaligned cues in the room. At the risk of mild spoilers, let me just say this: I feel that if an aspect of room decor could be reasonably perceived as part of a puzzle (due to corresponding pieces elsewhere, say), then it is misleading to not incorporate it into a puzzle.

There were also some clues that were helpful in how to approach the room, but partly backfired because we read too much into them. Teams less attuned to clues might actually do better in this room.

That having been said, it isn’t a bad room. Most of the puzzles are rigorous and logical, and although there isn’t much in the way of exciting flourishes, there’s still some good use of decor. There are some structural touches in the puzzle flow which I also appreciated, though I can’t say more without spoilers.

One or two amusing moments also help to break the tension. And there’s a bonus puzzle that could be distracting at first, but does justify its existence by the end, if you choose to solve it.

I’d say the room is WORTH A TRY, especially after playing Magician’s Secret. Just try not to be misled.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 1.5/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

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

Room review: BreakOut: The French Connection

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: A series of attacks on major cities has been traced to a crime organization in Paris, who call themselves The White Society.

You and your team of agents have been tasked to infiltrate their basecamp to obtain evidence of any wrongdoing, and more importantly, to discover the location of their next target so you can prevent yet another attack. Can you escape successfully from your mission? Remember, your efforts will be futile if you fail to identify the location of the next attack.

One of the oldest and most reliable players in Singapore’s escape room industry is back with new permanent rooms. The French Connection is a room perhaps best suited for teams that have matured along with the industry, and are looking for a bigger challenge.

Like BreakOut’s new temporary room (a collab with Nomis Piy), The French Connection is a treat for puzzle-lovers. There’s a consistent and rigorous logic underlying all the puzzles, and yet the experience isn’t boring, thanks to the constant string of aha moments required to make progress. There’s also a pleasing coherence to many of the puzzles, which thankfully stops short of being repetitive.

It’s not just puzzles, though. Technological devices are used to great effect — or, more accurately, teams will have to use technological devices in some fun and creative ways. This more than makes up for the lack of flashy special effects. Some other fun tech-enabled moments also enlivened the game as a whole.

Clues and puzzles are integrated neatly into both the setting (which is arguably too cozy for a crime HQ, but does make for a very comfortable solving experience!) and the plot itself, in a way that pays off satisfyingly by the end.

In short, this room is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for experienced teams that enjoy puzzles. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for beginners; such teams should try BreakOut’s older rooms instead, which are much more beginner-friendly and are good rooms in their own right.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: n/a
My suggested number of players: 3 to 6

Room review: BreakOut: Trapped in my own mind

Their description: You felt an acute headache, and then your bedroom was spinning like a top. The next thing you saw when you opened your eyes was a room full of puzzles.
This was not the first time it happened, but each time the room was different. You knew you had to solve all the puzzles to wake up from this madness; you knew you had to outwit your own mind.

This collab between escape scene stalwart BreakOut and escape event organiser extraordinaire Nomis Piy is around for a limited time only, so I’ll start with the conclusion: if you enjoy puzzles, this room is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and you should get tickets for the remaining sessions on 28th May  book it like any of BreakOut’s other rooms before its last day on October 2.

Right. So, the review. This is, essentially, a room for puzzle enthusiasts. How much you enjoy this room will be determined by how much you enjoy clever, logical puzzles that require eureka moments rather than execution.

The corollary is that if you come here looking for other things, you might be disappointed. The market has come a long way in the past few years, with code-locks being replaced by all sorts of exciting mechanisms and tasks; in that respect, Trapped in My Own Mind is a bit of a throwback, with code-locks galore.

It’s modest in other ways as well. The “trapped in a puzzler’s mind” framing isn’t much of a narrative, and you shouldn’t expect more of a storyline to emerge as the room progresses. The abstract setting also means that there isn’t too much in the way of decor, although there was one particular stretch I apppreciated.

But that’s because the thrills here are intellectual. There were some exciting physical flourishes here, but even those were an active part of our own puzzle-solving, rather than being some automatically-triggered effect.

And the puzzles here are true puzzles. There’s no blind matching, no tedious mathematics, no counting and searching, no sudoku-style brute logic. Instead, each puzzle turns upon some flash of insight, the ‘aha’ when everything clicks as satisfyingly as the last digit of a code-lock.

Nor are these pen-and-paper affairs; although there are quite a few puzzle-panels (perhaps where Nomis Piy’s event background shows through), there are also plenty of puzzles which make satisfying use of objects and decor — including two particularly clever ones which were genuinely exciting to crack.

At some point in the last three (!) years of playing escape rooms, I think I started lowering my expectations for puzzle quality, and became more willing to simply enjoy rooms as experiences. This room made me rediscover the simple thrill of cracking a clever puzzle; it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who wants to do the same.

If strong puzzles aren’t enough to make up for other aspects of an escape room, such as exciting tech-enabled flourishes or a strong storyline, then this probably isn’t the room for you. But maybe you should give it a try anyway, and see how much fun pure puzzling can be.

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

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

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

Room review: BreakOut: Magician’s Secret

NOTE: This room no longer exists.

Their description: “You and your friends were accepted as apprentices under The Magician for a while, but he has yet to impart any skills to you.

As one of the greatest illusionists of all time, he has guarded his trade secrets and kept his magic tricks close to his chest. Feeling frustrated, you and your friends decide to sneak into his training chamber despite his several warnings, only to find yourselves locked inside. Consequences are dire, can you escape from the chamber unscathed before The Magician discovers your betrayal?”

This is probably the most linear of BreakOut’s three rooms, which is quite helpful given the number of puzzles to solve. Puzzles are tied in very satisfyingly with the plot, at various levels, and the logic underlying them is solid.

This room also features one of Singapore’s best moments of technology use in a puzzle, which requires a bit of creativity. However, the setting is otherwise fairly mundane, without many other interesting touches.

One weakness is the endgame, which requires more “busy work” than actual puzzle-solving. However, it’s relatively forgiving in its demands, and shouldn’t mar the overall experience.

RECOMMENDED for experienced groups. Probably too hard for beginners.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 4 to 8
My suggested number of players: 5 to 6

Room review: BreakOut: Forever Young

NOTE: This room no longer exists.

Their description: You and your young friends have been kidnapped by a mysterious lady! Waking up in a strange playroom, you realise that you are trapped.

Fortunately, you have discovered some clues left by a girl who managed to escape successfully. Can you and your friends work together to uncover the identity of the mysterious lady, and escape unharmed before she returns?

Rated as ‘medium’ difficulty by the owners, this room actually proved fairly straightforward. Besides the puzzles themselves, there are also clues around the room to help you solve the puzzles — something you don’t see that often.

While the puzzles are not out of place for the storyline, they aren’t really woven into the plot. Some puzzles can seem a bit arbitrary, though that doesn’t make them hard to solve.

While sort of billed as a scary/creepy room, it is still completely manageable even for cowards such as myself. Of course this also means that it won’t offer any thrills for adrenaline junkies.

WORTH A TRY for beginners. Experienced groups may find it boring.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2.5/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: 4 to 8
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4; probably possible with 2

Room review: BreakOut: The Scientist

NOTE: This room no longer exists.

Their description: “An eccentric but genius scientist has discovered a miraculous cure to any form of cancer – it is rumoured to be a previously unknown species of the mushroom family.

Its wondrous properties are worth a fortune, and you and your accomplices have broken into his laboratory to steal his discovery. Unfortunately the paranoid scientist has booby trapped the room and you are trapped in his laboratory. Can you escape before the police arrive?”

This is billed as the easiest room at BreakOut; personally I think it’s a little trickier than their ‘medium’ room, Forever Young. However, the logic behind all the puzzles is satisfyingly clear without being too obvious. You won’t have to make wild guesses, but you won’t be bored either.

It’s worth noting that the clues do not show up in a purely linear fashion; clues that are around from the beginning may only be relevant later on. There’s thus a danger of getting stuck on one puzzle without realising that you literally can’t solve it yet since you don’t have all the pieces.

The puzzles are all related to the setting and storyline. The endgame puzzle is especially satisfyingly connected to the plot.

RECOMMENDED for experienced groups. Might be a bit tricky for beginners.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 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: 5/5

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

Overall review: BreakOut

Some escape room companies have a mix of great rooms and less impressive ones. The rooms at BreakOut Games, however, are consistently good. Each of their rooms has puzzles that are logical rather than arbitrary, one or two creative twists, and a few exciting physical aspects so you’re not just solving combination locks all the time.

Granted, the rooms are not the most technologically advanced in town. Special effects are limited. But they still have some nice flourishes and surprises in store, and at $25 on weekends, they’re more affordable than most other escape room companies.

One possible complaint you might have, depending on your puzzle-solving preferences, is that the clues are not strictly linear. You might end up spending too much time wondering about a puzzle, without realizing that you can’t solve it at this stage because you haven’t found all the required parts of the puzzle yet. However, some people might prefer this instead of a very linear approach, so it really depends on your taste.

After being a pillar of the industry for years, BreakOut made a comeback in mid-2016 with new rooms. Some feature more challenging puzzles that will thrill veteran teams who have levelled up alongside the industry; others are still very beginner-friendly and make a good introduction to escape rooms.

RECOMMENDED for beginners and experienced players alike.

Staff: Friendly and welcoming.

Hints: Unlimited hints via intercom phone. Staff make sure to give hints and let you work it out by yourself, rather than revealing the answer.

Will your group be combined with strangers? No.

Rooms tried: 4 out of 4 former rooms; 3 out of 3 (or perhaps 4 out of 4) new rooms

Recommended team size: 2 to 4 people

Specific room reviews

Current rooms
Magician’s Revenge
The French Connection
The Forgotten Treasure (two versions)

Former rooms
The Scientist
Forever Young
Magician’s Secret
Trapped in My Own Mind [collab with Nomis Piy]

BreakOut Escape Game