The Escape Artist (Prinsep)

Room review: The Escape Artist: The Forsaken Vault Heroes

Their description: 23 years ago, several groups of intrepid explorers entered the depths of the Vault… and were never heard from again. The authorities sealed off the entire area, and it seemed that the mysteries of the Baron’s castle would remain hidden forever. However, the discovery of a scroll with the Baron’s insignia describing a treasure of unimaginable value has sparked your team to make one final desperate venture into the Vault…


When it first opened, The Forsaken Vault was notable for being three escape rooms in one: Chapters 1, 2 and 3 took place in subsets of the same multi-chambered space. Now, the three separate chapters have been retired and the vault has become one large escape room instead. Billed as TEA’s hardest room, The Forsaken Vault Heroes has a longer-than-usual 75-minute time limit — which may still seem to fly by as you grapple with the multi-layered puzzles.

The decor is largely unchanged from the vault’s early days, and some of the room’s secrets and tricks may be familiar to players who’ve played earlier chapters. In that sense, the room might be most enjoyable for those who are visiting — and thus discovering it — for the first time.

Still, for returning players, it’s interesting to see how the decor and spaces have been repurposed. Most importantly, the puzzles are all completely new.

The puzzles are as logical as we’ve come to expect from TEA, but also more complex than before, making this a good room for puzzle enthusiasts. Highlights include a multi-layered puzzle which makes fun use of one of the room’s few physical changes, and a satisfying finale.

A reliance on flavourtext means that the room’s narrative serves mainly as a source of clues rather than immersion. But this isn’t a room that you should play for immersion, anyway (though it does make an effort on that front).

If you find the puzzles in other escape rooms too easy, then The Forsaken Vault Heroes is RECOMMENDED as a rare room that’s challenging for largely the right reasons. Beginners will probably find it too hard.

Puzzle difficulty: 4/5
Puzzle logic: 4.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

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

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 10
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5. Players are split into two groups at the beginning.

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Room review: The Escape Artist: The Forsaken Vault (Chapter 3)

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 Three: Instead of the treasure, you have discovered the mummified corpse of the Baron himself!. Having had enough of this treacherous Vault, you decide to leave. However, echoes and whispers start to fill the halls, promising death and torture by a hand unknown. Worse still, you hear the metallic grinding of the portcullis start to close. Can you escape the Vault or will the you join the ranks of the damned, doomed to wander this dungeon forever?


The final chapter of the Forsaken Vault felt like the most rigorously logical, and hence also the easiest, especially if your team is experienced. Some puzzles were perhaps a bit too straightforward, though there’s at least one nice twist, and a couple of good aha moments.

Since this was the third chapter, there were fewer surprises in store. The vault did yield up one final secret to us, but there wasn’t that much in the way of exploration or that crypt-breaking feel — though there was a little more (non-tedious) physical searching. The integration of puzzles into the storyline felt weaker than usual, unfortunately.

Despite how lukewarm this review sounds, I wouldn’t call it a bad room. The puzzles are certainly better than those which require bizarre leaps of logic or mere boring execution, and their scrupulously fair nature means this is a decent room for beginners. Yet despite some bright spots, there wasn’t anything fresh or exciting enough for me to call this a brilliant room. Still WORTH A TRY, particularly for beginners or two-player teams, but experienced teams might not be impressed.

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

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

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

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: The Escape Artist: Triple 9 Sleuths: Dangerous Secrets

Note: This room has been rebranded simply as ‘Dangerous Secrets’ but the puzzles are unlikely to have changed.

Their description: Based on the best selling Triple 9 Sleuths series by Maranna Chan, assist the team in their latest adventure!

You have been tasked by Corey, Colton and Stacy to enter Clemmons’ house to find more evidence and clues to his guilt while they bring their suspicions to the police and attempt to convince them to conduct a raid.

With only a short time available, you need to find Clemmons’ secret before he returns.


I keep giving similar scores to The Escape Artist’s rooms for individual criteria such as puzzle difficulty, logic, and so on. But perhaps that just shows the limitation of that quantitative approach, because their rooms do vary when it comes to how satisfying they are overall. For reasons I can’t necessarily pin down, Triple 9 Sleuths felt like a particularly satisfying room.

The setting and physical frills are at general TEA levels of competence, with some fun doors and moving parts, so to speak. But those aspects are rarely the highlight of a TEA visit anyway — it’s more about the puzzles.

On that front, the room gets off to a somewhat unsteady start. One early puzzle is both search-heavy and reliant on matching, neither of which is an appealing aspect. Yet the experience soon picks up, with some genuinely clever puzzles that require all sorts of connections to be drawn.

On the whole, Triple 9 Sleuths presented a fairly fresh experience — something by which I was pleasantly surprised, I have to admit, not least because I’ve played over 60 escape rooms by now. RECOMMENDED as a good all-round room, with a forgiving mix of familiarity and originality.

(While I managed to escape this room in a pair, having at least three people will help with one particular logistical aspect.)

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1.5/5

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

Their suggested number of players: 3 to 10
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4

Room preview: The Escape Artist: The Forsaken Vault (Chapter 1)

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

NOTE: This room was visited at the invitation of The Escape Artist.


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?


The post title isn’t a typo; for the first time, this blog broke with its general policy of not accepting any invitations, and went to a preview play-through of The Escape Artist’s new room, The Forsaken Vault, with the understanding that we could provide feedback that might help them improve the room. (We’ll get into the ‘Chapter 1’ thing later.)

The Forsaken Vault (Chapter 1) will feel familiar to anyone used to The Escape Artist’s brand of rooms, with logical puzzles and a sustained narrative thread. But the room’s distinguishing feature is that it applies clever twists to common experiences.

So yes, there’s quite a bit of matching, but this is livened up by variations on that formula, including a puzzle that makes great use of verbal clues, and another that rewards engagement with the storyline. It’s a wake-up call to overly task-focused teams who are too used to the sort of blind matching that many escape rooms require.

Sadly, there are also some intermediate puzzles which fell flat, but at least they’re logical as well.

The room makes good use of the split-start format, with more than mere information-swapping involved. There are some modest technological touches, including one fun puzzle mechanism, and a prop-related touch that I can’t mention without spoiling it (except to say that my group missed it entirely even though other groups figured it out quickly, apparently).

The atmosphere was a little lacking compared to The Escape Artist’s other rooms, but since we played a beta version, they might have improved it since.

On the whole, it’s like a standard Escape Artist room but with some clever non-standard twists, and hence WORTH A TRY even if you think you already know what The Escape Artist is like.

What about that ‘Chapter 1’ thing? Apparently, The Forsaken Vault’s secret is that it is three rooms in one, with Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 being playable in the same general space. Sounds like an interesting idea in principle; I’m looking forward to playing the next two chapters to see how it works out.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

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

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 14
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6, though it should still be possible with fewer. You’ll be split into two groups at the beginning, so take that into account.

Room review: The Escape Artist: Injustice: Liberation

Their description: Your friends have been wrongly accused and locked up in a high security prison, notorious for their crude executions and more recently, arrest without trial.

Seeking the help of a former escapee, you will have to infiltrate the prison, while your friends have to figure out a way out of the cell themselves.

The prison guards rotate shifts on 50 minute roster, and that is all the time you have. It all depends on you!


The sequel to Injustice lacks the endgame surprise of the original, but is otherwise a worthy successor. The usual Escape Artist strengths of storyline and setting are there, and even somewhat improved from the original room.

The puzzles themselves are also better. There’s some hands-on work, which is always fun, and a good mix of various puzzle types with solid logic and negligible ambiguity.

Unlike the original, Injustice: Liberation is a split-start room. It makes decent use of this format and isn’t too unforgiving; in theory, you could complete this room even if you only had one person on either side (although I’d still recommend at least two people on each side).

And though the endgame is no longer a surprise, the final puzzle is both fun and satisfying. All in all, a well-rounded room that’s WORTH A TRY for both beginners and experienced teams.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: 6 to 10
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6, though it should still be possible (if troublesome) with fewer. You’ll be split into two groups at the beginning, so take that into account.

Room review: The Escape Artist: The Beginning: After Dark 2

Their description: Twenty years ago, the case of the haunted theatre was solved by a group of curious reporters. Or was it?

Troubling dreams and visions have brought them back to the theatre, hinting that there might be more. The spirits have obtained peace but they are still bound to the place of their deaths, and they want out.

Your interference with the spirits will uncover something darker, something more sinister. Are you ready to help these poor souls, or will their despair devour you?


How you feel about The Escape Artist’s sequel room to After Dark will probably depend on: 1) whether you played the original, 2) your tolerance for a certain puzzle type, and 3) how much you care about narrative.

But first: although The Beginning: After Dark 2 (or possibly After Dark: The Beginning, it’s hard to tell) is billed as a scary room, don’t worry if horror isn’t your thing. The room maintains a spooky atmosphere and has some thrills in store, but it’s still manageable for a coward like me.

Besides the focus on setting, After Dark 2 showcases The Escape Artist’s usual loving attention to narrative, though in this case that means quite a bit of reading. This is not a good room if you find text tedious. But at least the text is always relevant to puzzle-solving, instead of being unnecessary.

The puzzles are all logical and not arbitrary, and the room itself is one of the most coherent I’ve seen, in terms of structure and form. Unfortunately, these strengths are also weaknesses. The straightforward logic of the puzzles can seem boring, and the coherence can seem like repetition; you might get tired of the main puzzle-solving mechanism.

I also think my team’s enjoyment suffered because we had played the original After Dark and therefore had a good sense of the room’s layout and secrets. This made our After Dark 2 experience more predictable and less exciting (although the puzzles are all completely different from the original After Dark, never fear).

Overall, it’s a solid, competent room, but not amazing. If you haven’t played the original, it’s certainly WORTH A TRY. If you have played the original, it’s still worth a try if you don’t mind repetitive puzzle structure and/or enjoy narrative, but could be underwhelming otherwise.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 10
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6

Room review: The Escape Artist: CSI: Dismembered Body

NOTE: This room has been replaced and no longer exists.


Their description: Hot on the trail of a serial murderer, it soon becomes apparent who the next target is – you.

In the ultimate game of wits, who will prevail?


This room has a low ‘fear factor’ rating despite the name, and indeed, it isn’t that scary. Instead, there’s a strong attempt to create a sense of setting and to keep the puzzles relevant to the plot.

The first puzzles are a little arbitrary, but the storyline integration soon improves, and you’ll find yourself having to think like police officers (somewhat, anyway). The puzzles themselves are not the most sophisticated or strictly logical, but they get the job done and are satisfying enough to solve.

Nothing mindblowing, but WORTH A TRY for experienced teams and beginners alike. Less mobile players might have difficulty at one brief point of the room.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: 6 to 10
My suggested number of players: 4 to 6

Room review: The Escape Artist: After Dark

NOTE: This room has been replaced and no longer exists.


Their description: “It has been a decade since a raging inferno reduced this once magnificent theatre to the ground, taking the lives of everyone inside.

Your team has been invited to an exclusive private re-launch of the venue. As soon as you enter, though, the doors slam shut behind you!

An eerie chill runs down your spine…”


Not actually that scary, which I consider a plus.

All the rooms at The Escape Artist’s Prinsep branch try to tie the puzzles in with the plot, but After Dark is arguably the room which succeeds most clearly. The plot and setting are relevant both as vehicles for conveying the clues, and in being needed to actually solve the puzzles. This makes for an overall satisfying experience — the clues may not be particularly multimedia, but their formats are distinct enough to be enjoyable.

RECOMMENDED for experienced groups and larger groups of beginners.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2/5
Storyline integration: 5/5

Their suggested number of players: 6 to 10
My suggested number of players: 5 to 7

Room review: The Escape Artist: Injustice

NOTE: This room has been replaced and no longer exists.


Their description: “Framed and sentenced to death for a crime you didn’t commit.

This is your last window of opportunity before your meeting with the hangman. Will you surrender to fate, or take destiny into your own hands?

You decide.”


A fairly strong, satisfying room overall. There’s a good use of the room itself, with ‘site-specific’ aspects to some puzzles. The puzzles are tied in closely with the storyline, to the extent that some cannot be solved without really paying attention to the plot. And the endgame is the most immersive I’ve ever experienced — though less mobile players may have trouble with it.

What about weaknesses? Well, the dim lighting in part of the room is annoying since it feels like an artificial constraint, but it doesn’t get in the way. The puzzles are solid but not necessarily that inventive. One puzzle also suffers from arguably poor construction, though that is easily remedied by calling the staff for a hint, as we did.

WORTH A TRY for experienced groups and beginners.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 6 to 10
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4. You really don’t need 6.