— Room reviews

Room review: Xcape: Shutter Island

Note: Bugis Village (which houses Xcape’s entire empire of rooms) is slated for redevelopment, with existing tenants able to stay until March 2021. It’s not clear how or when this might affect Xcape — I’d suggest playing their rooms ASAP!


Their description: Waking up not knowing who you are in an unknown place is a scary thought. What if it couples with a patrolling mad doctor (or whoever he is!) Will you be able to rise to the challenges of finding your identity, differentiating friends from foes, and getting out from that facility?


Shutter Island is a frustrating room: full of ambition and potential, and therefore all the more disappointing in failing to live up to this.

The first impression is a strong one, with an atmospheric and extensive set. The occasional appearance of a live actor (from whom players have to hide) spices up the experience — I’m glad to see that such actors (known as NPCs in some countries) are now in Singapore too.

Unfortunately, the rest of the experience is less satisfying. A lot of effort has clearly been put into the narrative, with revelations and plot twists even in the finale video. Yet all this is mostly unrelated to puzzle-solving, and it’s thus easy to end up ignoring the story altogether — which is a shame. Incorporating plot elements into puzzles would have given players a reason to care about their own personal backstories and therefore improved the gameplay.

And there’s certainly a lot of room for adding more puzzles. Because Shutter Island breaks a major rule of escape rooms: it uses the same code more than once. I’m breaking my no-spoiler policy here, because I think that teams can easily and unfairly get stuck simply because they don’t expect to have to use the same code more than once.

The endgame stretch of puzzle-solving, at least, is quite complex and rigorous. But because of the four-way (!) split start, there aren’t actually that many puzzles for each player to try.

If you don’t mind the relatively small amount of puzzle-solving, Shutter Island is still WORTH A TRY for its sense of adventure. I just wish this had been a room that I could confidently recommend, instead.

Puzzle difficulty: 2.5/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

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

Their suggested number of players: 6 to 8
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6. Note that there’s a four-way split-start.

Room review: Xcape: Busan Express

Note: Bugis Village (which houses Xcape’s entire empire of rooms) is slated for redevelopment, with existing tenants able to stay until March 2021. It’s not clear how or when this might affect Xcape — I’d suggest playing their rooms ASAP!


Their description: In 2040, a mysterious virus spread across the world. Everyone infected by the virus turned into bloodthirsty zombies. You are one of the selected groups of lucky citizens to be transported to the Busan quarantine zone. Welcome aboard the Busan Express. Will your life be saved?


My favourite part of this train ride was its emphasis on setting and narrative, from the compartment where the journey begins, all the way through to the dramatic finale. Narrative is conveyed in some refreshing ways (rather than the usual pages of text), and good use is made of the train’s layout. It would be spoiler-y to even hint at some of the aspects I enjoyed the most, but suffice it to say that as an adventuresome experience alone, Busan Express is well worth playing.

The puzzles themselves aren’t particularly integrated into the narrative, but that’s true of most rooms in Singapore. There’s still a good mix of puzzle types and tasks that should keep most teams satisfied.

As for the question of how scary the room is… I’d say that it’s definitely a thrilling experience (with some quite clever scares!), but you’d be missing out if you stay away just because you don’t like horror. Conversely, if you’re a horror fan, do note that the horror elements aren’t relentless — there’s in fact quite a bit of time for calm puzzle-solving. In short, whether or not you enjoy horror, this train ride is RECOMMENDED for an all-round experience with solid production values.

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

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

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

Room review: Amazing Chambers: Princess Radin Mas Ayu

Full disclosure: After I emailed some unsolicited feedback on the two games I played during their soft launch, Amazing Chambers offered me 50 per cent off this room and/or 1603 Changi Naval Battle. After playing a third room (undisclosed to them), where I saw that one of my general feedback points from a previous room might indeed have been taken up, I accepted the discount for this room.

Their description: Princess Radin Mas Ayu is a tale of a beautiful Javanese princess with the plots of love, deceit and betrayal.

You secretly amassed the villagers to search Tengku Bagus’ home after receiving a tip-off about the possible kidnapping of the Princess’ father.

Discover what happens next as the plot thickens.


Amazing Chambers rate this as their second-hardest room, and I was glad to discover that this was for the right reasons. Its main strength is simply its lack of obvious flaws, allowing for unmarred satisfaction.

Unlike their Badang and Sang Nila Utama rooms, Princess Radin Mas Ayu did not have any red herrings or misleading aspects. It included multiple clever and rigorous puzzles (whereas other rooms tended to have a single standout one). Of the rooms I’ve played so far, this also required by far the closest engagement with the storyline (and I did learn a lot, having not known anything about the Radin Mas story beforehand).

I don’t want to oversell the room, mind. It still suffers from obviously anachronistic tech — though at least one instance is used to cool effect — and immersion-breaking moments. The exposition remains wall-of-text-y, although there’s more of an effort made than usual to integrate it into the setting. And despite the need for storyline engagement, most puzzles are not part of the narrative per se.

Nonetheless, out of the four rooms I’ve played so far, this is the one room at Amazing Chambers that I can say is RECOMMENDED for experienced teams, with some rewarding puzzles in store. Beginners should try one of their other rooms instead.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: Up to 10
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5. For logistical reasons, it helps (but is not strictly necessary) to have more than 2 players.

Room review: Amazing Chambers: Badang the Magnificent

Their description: If you ever had the chance to have a superpower, what would it be?

Well, step into this vortex and travel back in time to meet Badang who was blessed with superhuman strength. It was said that he gained his immense strength after he devoured something from a mystical creature. He soon gained popularity as he began to defeat many strong men in competitions and was summoned to the court of the King of Singapura, Sri Rama Wira Kerma.

In one of these competitions, Badang was said to have picked up a large smooth rock from on top of a hill and flung it so far away that it landed at the mouth of the Singapore River. The rock came to be known as the Singapura stone.

Your quest? Enter the portal and time travel to the court where Badang had been invited to stay in and you only have an hour to uncover the truth before the portal closes.


Badang the Magnificent is an interesting exercise in integrating a traditional folktale into a sci-fi time travel adventure. I did learn quite a bit about the Badang legend, having previously known little more than what’s in the description above. To this room’s credit, this information is conveyed in a more entertaining form than the walls of text that, unfortunately, at least one other Amazing Chambers room has.

The rigour of one early puzzle is compromised by a detail that felt, to me, like a deliberate red herring. There are more red herrings later on, in the form of locks that remain locked for the whole game. (I don’t consider this a spoiler, since I think the presence of unused locks — with nothing to indicate that you don’t need to unlock them — is unfair game design.)

Those are the main flaws in an otherwise decent experience that has a couple of magical moments and a cute finale. Although there’s an attempt at maintaining a storyline, you shouldn’t expect close integration of puzzles and narrative. Keep your expectations in check, and you might find this room WORTH A TRY.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 3/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

Atmosphere and setting: 2/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 2.5/5

Their suggested number of players: Up to 12
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4

Room review: Amazing Chambers: Sang Nila Utama and The Lost Crown

Note: This room was played during the company’s soft launch (as a regular player, without revealing that I’m a blogger). Some details may have changed since. If you’ve played it more recently and would like to share your experience, please do get in touch!

Their description: Sang Nila Utama – a Srivijayan prince from Palembang was said to have founded the kingdom of Singapura in 1299.

While his ship was out at sea, a great storm suddenly erupted and the ship was tossed about by the huge waves. On the advice of the Nakhoda (ship’s captain), Sang Nila Utama threw his crown overboard as a gift to the sea. At once, the storm died down and he reached the shores of Temasek safely.

About a century later, rumour has it that the crown, which has been kept hidden at Sang Nila’s last resting place in Bukit Larangan, has been recovered by an obsessed archaeologist who then hid it at a secure and secret location.

Infiltrate into the Archaeologist’s hidden home in the middle of the forest to retrieve the crown and discover his other hidden treasures. He may have set a trap or two to fend off any intruders. Be observant and avoid detection or you and your team will lose the chance to escape!


Sang Nila Utama and the Lost Crown feels like an Indiana Jones-themed room that happens to take the myth as a reference point — another example of how Amazing Chambers integrates folktales into broader genres. With its attempts at drama and changes of setting, this could be a fun adventure for beginners and younger players — which, to be fair, is probably its target audience. For us, though, it had a few too many flaws.

The experience starts off with tech that may excite beginners, but struck us as hilariously incongruous. There’s a strong puzzle midway through — true to the apparent Amazing Chambers formula of having one standout, rigorous puzzle in each room — but soon after that comes a puzzle that contains what I consider an inexcusable flaw (though it doesn’t make progress impossible).

The finale is a mix of ambition and less-than-ideal implementation. I do appreciate how the room uses audio in its narrative-building, which is a rarity in Singapore — I just hope they’ve fixed the issue of too-loud background music.

Apart from that one inexcusable puzzle, I’d still say this might be WORTH A TRY for beginners, but perhaps NOT RECOMMENDED for players who care about thematic coherence.

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

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

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

Room review: Amazing Chambers: Sisters Island

Their description: Legend tells the story of two pretty sisters, Minah and Linah, who were inseparable. On one unfortunate day, one of them got kidnapped from their abode by pirates.

Being a Laksamana (an Admiral), you have been commanded by the King to investigate the kidnapping and disappearance of the sisters at the Pirates’ lair.

Whispers from the village says that the Sisters’ Islands emerged after a storm broke out after the kidnapping.

Unravel the mystery of the missing inseparable Sisters and the two mysterious islands that emerged overnight!


Sisters Island is a decent little adventure, if admittedly rough around the edges. There’s an attempt at sticking to a pirate-y setting (despite the fact that they couldn’t alter the rooms too much), a good mix of puzzles, and some fun flourishes. Unfortunately there’s also one egregiously anachronistic use of tech, and the room’s most rigorous puzzle is simultaneously the easiest to misinterpret.

Do note that searching skills are a must — although at least the hiding places aren’t unfair. Some aspects of this room also make it unsuitable for people with mobility issues.

I can’t actually talk about my favourite parts of the room without spoiling them, so I’ll just say that there are fun surprises in store, some of which may even impress experienced teams. Even if you think you already know the story of Sisters Island, this room is still solidly WORTH A TRY.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 3/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

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

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

Room review: Captivate: Alien vs Human

Their description: A spaceship hurtles towards earth containing a badass Alien species looking for a fight. Can you flush the aliens out of the airlock before the craft reaches its destination?

Remember: Everyone can hear you scream at Captivate.


Captivate’s latest room is an interesting one to review. What first strikes you is that it makes some effort to create a spaceship feel — though I wouldn’t overstate this.

The puzzles are hard to generalise about. Some are kind of clever; some are rigorous but not especially tied to the narrative; some are cool; some are cute; some are quite immersion-breaking. The endgame is impressively clever but has a minor design flaw that we didn’t like.

Overall, Alien vs Human is a decent if occasionally flawed experience, with some fun flourishes and moments of discovery, and enough content to earn a longer runtime of 75 minutes. It’s definitely at least WORTH A TRY. Frankly, in Singapore’s current shrinking escape room landscape, it’s possibly even RECOMMENDED.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2.5/5
Storyline integration: 1.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 12
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4

Room review: Lockdown.SG: VR Escape – Illusion

Their description: Trapped inside your own mind, inside your own dream! Test subjects of a secret organization that is feeding you hallucinogenic drugs, you are lost between reality and dream.
Your guard is gone for 2 hours and you have to find the antidote and return to reality so you can escape! Nothing makes sense though…
Just when you thought you found the solution, a door transports you to another universe, you will have to fight against your own logic, because the dream can become a nightmare!


When I heard about Lockdown’s two-hour VR room, my first thought was: How does anyone survive two hours in VR?? That was despite the fact that I’m keen on VR experiences. At $45 per person, the game is by far the cheapest dollar-for-hour VR experience around, but its long runtime can be daunting.

The good news is that the physical toll of VR wasn’t as great as I feared, and two hours passes faster than you’d expect. There’s plenty to do, ranging from environment exploration and tool usage to more standard escape-room-style puzzles. Indeed, the two-hour time limit is barely enough to complete the game — not due to time-wasting aspects, but simply the sheer volume of content. If you often feel let down by content-light escape rooms that end too early, then you should try Illusion for a thorough challenge. Some puzzles are admittedly challenging for the wrong reasons, but the overall puzzle standard isn’t bad.

Illusion is made by the same company behind Lockdown’s other VR escape room offering, Abandoned Mine, and starts out in a familiar environment: dingy, kind of ominous, vaguely industrial. Unlike Abandoned Mine, however, Illusion makes good use of the VR medium to take players to a vast range of environments as the game progresses. There are also some cool moments and transitions that are only possible because of the game’s VR nature.

If you’re interested in how VR can be used to its fullest potential in creating adventures, my top recommendation remains Virtual Room Singapore’s two excellent, haptic-feedback-heavy, multi-environment games, with their exciting use of non-conventional physics — the only problem being that they aren’t escape rooms per se. If you’re happy with a decent escape room adventure that takes place via VR, and/or would like to challenge yourself with a content-heavy room, then Illusion is RECOMMENDED. If you’re not already a fan of VR, though, this game is unlikely to change your mind.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Exciting moments, effective use of VR: 3.5/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

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

Room review: Lockdown.sg: Bearcraft: Dreamworld

Their description: This is why you should stop playing so much video games during the day. You are now trapped in your dream and this is a game where you must win in order to wake up!


Bearcraft combines rigorous logic puzzles with a pleasant if fairly minimalist setting. I can’t stress enough that your enjoyment of the game will be directly related to how much you like solving logic puzzles in an escape room. There’s still some hands-on interaction and a couple of cute surprises, but the room is ultimately much more of a cerebral experience than an adventure.

At the risk of repeating myself from my other Lockdown reviews: if you don’t mind the use of a tablet and logic-heavy puzzles, Bearcraft is WORTH A TRY. If you actually enjoy rigorous logic puzzles and don’t mind a less immersive room, it’s RECOMMENDED.

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

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

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

Room review: Lockdown.sg: Bears of Justice

Their description: A super villian has planted a bomb in a nuclear facility. It is up to the Bears of Justice to save the day!


Lockdown rates this as their hardest room, and that’s certainly the case. But there aren’t unreasonable leaps of logic required, at least. On the contrary, all the puzzles are scrupulously logical, to the extent that teams that aren’t fond of logic-based puzzles might find not find this room’s puzzles to their taste — though at least one puzzle has quite an inspired aha which I enjoyed.

There’s some clever incorporation of puzzles and reveals into the physical setting, with a few dramatic touches and a sustained attempt at maintaining the narrative. But as is the case with all rooms in this outlet, the tablet remains a somewhat immersion-breaking layer between players and the room. If that doesn’t bother you, Bears of Justice provides a very rigorous experience that’s WORTH A TRY, or even RECOMMENDED if you prioritise puzzles over setting and are a fan of logic puzzles.

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

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

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