Room review: Unravel: The Ouija

This review is left here merely as a record.

Their description: October 15th, 1985

The headlines were unreal: “School Cleaner Missing After Student Found Hanged”. The police initially thought the student, Judy Lim, committed suicide as she was found hanging in one of the toilet cubicles. Post-mortem revealed that she was actually strangled and the killer made it look like a suicide. The biggest suspect is the school cleaner who had not reported for work since October 15th. Police spoke to his family and he had not returned home since the night of October 14th.

Are things really that simple? What will the Ouija board reveal to private investigator Kai?

The main thing I remember from The Ouija is being terrified. If you enjoy horror rooms at all, you must play this one. Just do it. Don’t expect the usual cheap scare tactics of rubbery body parts; this room takes a more sophisticated approach, and is thus also better than Unravel’s other scary room, The Haunting.

If horror alone isn’t enough of a draw, don’t worry — The Ouija is still a solid escape room experience.

I personally thought that the first puzzle was one of the tougher ones in the room, which seemed a strange way to start. Get past that, though, and it’s relatively smooth-sailing. The puzzles are not mindblowing, but they’re all logical and fair, and there are various fun (and occasionally creepy) mechanisms involved.

Setting, plot, and puzzles are also integrated well with each other. The first puzzle fits particularly well into the setting, and unlike many escape rooms out there, this one does actually provide a conclusion to its plot.

This room also plays very well on the tension between the need to search and the fear of doing so. Bring at least one brave person, or you simply won’t make it out. (My team made it out with three cowards and one brave person.)

Perhaps my only real quibble is that one late-stage puzzle felt a little misleading, in that the correct answer is not the most natural variation of what you have to hand. But that’s a minor point.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you enjoy horror. The solid storyline and decent puzzles make this WORTH A TRY regardless — unless you really hate horror, in which case, stay away.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 4.5/5

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

Overall review: Unravel

This review is left here merely as a record.

Unravel takes pride in its incorporation of local urban legends and history into its rooms. In practical terms, this means a lot of attention paid to setting and atmosphere, and a general attempt to keep puzzles tied to the storyline — all of which makes for a satisfyingly immersive experience.

These strengths are also combined: details in the setting are often directly relevant to the puzzles, which makes for a better experience than rooms where the puzzles are just lying around on scraps of paper. The corollary is that you’ll really need good observational skills. In some rooms, the setting details also contain red herrings, which could be annoying.

But for the most part, the puzzles themselves are sound and logical, with one or two particularly creative puzzles in each room. There’s also fun technology use and trigger mechanisms — most notably in The Ouija and The Haunting, though all of Unravel’s rooms have at least one or two elements more exciting than simple code-locks.

The emphasis on these rooms’ local flavour might seem a bit gimmicky, but I think it does add to the experience. Given that Singapore’s escape room scene already has several foreign chains, and even the homegrown companies stick to generic or international themes, it’s nice to have an escape company with rooms that belong squarely in Singapore. (The only other example I can think of is Encounter’s The Apartment.)

Though Unravel’s rooms do have the odd weakness or two, each one of them is still well worth playing. Add the friendly staff and customer-friendly policies, and this is an escape company that is definitely RECOMMENDED — whether you’re a beginner to the concept, or an experienced and jaded veteran.

Staff: Very friendly, not overly strict about starting time, and happy to talk about the rooms once you’ve done them. Their enthusiasm for the games is great to see.

Hints: Unlimited hints via walkie-talkie. Even though communication is via walkie-talkie, the staff tend to enter the room when you call for help; if you find that immersion-breaking, you could try asking them not to do so. Staff are very cautious and will simply ask questions and give hints rather than revealing the answer outright, which is great.

Will your group be combined with strangers? No.

Rooms tried: 4 out of 4 current rooms; 1 older room

Recommended team size: 4 to 6

Specific room reviews

Current rooms
The Betrayal
The Haunting
The Wish
The Ouija

Former rooms
The Missing


Room review: Unravel: The Betrayal

This review is left here merely as a record.

Their description: Kai receives a call for help from a man seeking to clear his grandfather’s name. Accused of being a spy for the Japanese, Mr Tan’s grandfather – a patriotic soldier – passed on labelled a traitor. His last words are a mystery: “The truth is behind the tunnels…”

To unravel the story behind the accusation, Kai traces the words to an abandoned fort, but loses his way in the dark burrows and winding tunnels. As he struggles in his hunt for the truth. Kai eventually stumbles across secrets that were never meant to see the light of day.

edit: Apparently The Betrayal has had a bit of a revamp since we played it, and the rigorous endgame puzzle — with which I was very impressed — might have been removed. It’s still probably a room worth playing, though.

The Betrayal is meant to be Unravel’s most difficult room. I think it does achieve that, though not necessarily because all its puzzles are hard. There’s quite a bit of pure matching required, and some of it is tedious — two elements which I always find disappointing.

Nonetheless, the room also features other puzzles that are fun, have interesting twists, or — in the case of the endgame puzzle — are satisfyingly rigorous. I wouldn’t call The Betrayal a bad collection of puzzles, by any measure.

And then you have the room’s other strengths. Unravel’s usual attention to the storyline is there, with some setting-appropriate means of conveying puzzles. The atmosphere and setting is solid, there are a few fun multimedia elements, and everything builds up to a real sense of adventure.

But the corollary to this sense of adventure is that physical activity is required, as the room operators themselves note. Less mobile players should probably not attempt this room, and larger players might have some trouble.

For everyone else, however, The Betrayal is RECOMMENDED as a solid all-round experience.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 4 to 8
My suggested number of players: 4 to 7; 8 might get rather crowded.

Room review: Unravel: The Wish

This review is left here merely as a record.

Their description: The request is a peculiar one. The object in question is a family heirloom, a wristwatch belonging to a man named Lim—abruptly confiscated by the Japanese during the Occupation. 35 years on, word on the street has it that the Japanese stored valuables in a chamber within the automobile factory where Lim worked. Only one problem: nobody can confirm if this secret chamber exists.

When Lim’s grandson appeals for Kai to locate the family heirloom, Kai sets out to fulfil Lim’s wish……

The Wish is essentially a room of straightforward puzzles, made trickier by some ambiguity and the need for good observational skills. While the individual puzzles themselves are fair and logical, it’s not always obvious which puzzles are meant for which locks, so try to be a little flexible if you feel you aren’t getting anywhere.

There’s a bit of simple code-breaking, which is a fun change from the simple matching-type puzzles which you often see in other escape rooms. Observational skills are highly necessary to get anywhere at all in this room, and will also reward you with one of the room’s coolest moments.

Nothing too mindblowing, but it’s a fairly fun, accessible room that’s WORTH A TRY for beginners and experienced teams alike.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1.5/5

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

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

Room review: Unravel: The Haunting

This review is left here merely as a record.

Their description: The call from Kai’s old friend came suddenly. James, a property developer, has recently made the news for plans to redevelop a defunct hospital into a premium condominium. The abandoned hospital has a reputation for being a hangout for cults and rumour has it that sacrificial rituals were held on the premises. To Kai, James reveals a chilling secret: the group of colleagues sent there for a site survey never returned. With his company’s reputation on the line, James pleads for Kai to investigate the matter before the media jumps to unsavoury conclusions.

As Kai races against time to locate James’s missing colleagues, he uncovers a truth more frightening than rumours suggest.

So, the obvious things first: yes, this is meant to be a scary room, and yes, it succeeds. There are lots of multimedia scares in store, so if you’re at all interested in horror-themed escape rooms, The Haunting is already worth your time.

But even for cowards like myself, there’s enough to appreciate about this Unravel room. The aforementioned scares are actually puzzle-relevant, which isn’t always the case in scary rooms. The use of multimedia also extends to how puzzles are conveyed and solved, which makes for a fun experience.

The puzzles themselves are a little weaker. One intermediate puzzle in particular was unsatisfyingly ambiguous and had a somewhat counter-intuitive approach to sequencing. The ambiguity could have easily been fixed, so it’s a shame that it hasn’t been. In general, there isn’t a huge deal of creativity on show either.

That having been said, this is still a very worthwhile room with some great touches — though to describe them would be to spoil the fun. RECOMMENDED if you like horror rooms, and still WORTH A TRY if you don’t. However, do note that less mobile players are likely to have some difficulty with this room.

Just one tip: keep in mind is that Unravel’s puzzles aren’t always of the straightforward one-puzzle-one-lock variety. This could trip up teams that are used to more straightforward puzzle-to-lock matching.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 4.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 4/5
Storyline integration: 2.5/5

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

Room review: Unravel: The Missing

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

Their description: Four young children have gone missing. They were last seen having a game of hide-and-seek by the Dragon playground. Local authorities come up short of leads, and investigations reach a dead end. Haunted by kidnappings of the past that included the urban legend of a dog-headed culprit, desperate parents engage Kai to break the deadlock.

The clues are mind-boggling. Curious objects left behind at the playground. Contradicting witness accounts. Anxious parents seeking answers. For Kai, time is ticking—a simple case of abduction soon reveals more sinister forces at play.

The Missing has an overarching mystery to be solved, making it quite atypical for an escape room. Some other escape rooms pay lip service to the mystery theme but don’t really require you to think like a detective. In this room, however, you’ll have to genuinely engage with the overall mystery and draw upon assorted clues to identify the culprit, making for a very satisfying endgame. And that’s after you solve another overarching puzzle that also requires you to integrate and process various bits of info. These two more ambitious, rigorous puzzles were a pleasant change from the more common one-puzzle-one-lock setup.

Puzzles aside, the room starts off strong in terms of atmosphere, and while the mood lets up a little after that, there are still nice setting details. Technology is also used in some fun ways.

If I had to identify weaknesses, they would be: a fair number of red herrings/superfluous information; one slightly random (but amusing) puzzle; and one puzzle where it was possible to get the right sequence but apply it in the wrong order. There are also some pure-execution puzzles, which I personally find boring but which at least provide some variety.

But those are minor quibbles. Overall, The Missing is a solid and refreshing escape room, and RECOMMENDED for beginners and experienced teams alike.

Be warned that this is an unforgiving room for those with weak observational skills! You’ll really need to pay attention to your surroundings.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2.5/5
Storyline integration: 4.5/5

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