coming soon: the RED DOT hunt!

If you enjoy escape room puzzles, but wish they were more interesting;
If you love the intense puzzles that some escape game events offer;
If you want more escape rooms to be like Trapped in My Own Mind;

Then check out the RED DOT hunt!

It’s a free 48-hour online puzzle hunt for teams of one to four players, happening from 10pm on Friday, September 29 till 10pm on Sunday, October 1.

There’s also a 🌟 prize 🌟 for the first Singapore-based team to finish!

Registration’s open now.
Head over to reddothunt.sg to find out more!

Advertisements

Room review: Freeing SG: Twilight

Their description: A girl from your tribe has been kidnapped by an immortal being. Werewolves attempt to save her but failed miserably due to an unexpected lunar eclipse during the battle with the immortal. You, one of the werewolves, are chained up in the immortal’s courtyard. How would you escape? Nightfall is approaching. You’ll need to call on the moon by howling to gain back your immense strength.


For a relatively brief room, Twilight ticks quite a few escape room boxes, for better or worse. There’s the start-of-room handcuffs, the thematic first task, some hands-on stuff and trigger mechanisms, a dash of logic, an (unfortunately easily ignored) attempt at narrative, and some surprises along the way.

Unfortunately, its ‘main’ puzzle (or what seemed like the main puzzle to me, anyway) is somewhat unsatisfying, despite some twists which I appreciate in theory. And because this room is so brief, experienced teams might be underwhelmed.

I’d say it’s WORTH A TRY for beginners or those who (like me) just want to play more rooms — just adjust your expectations.

This room is not for players with mobility issues.

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

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

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

Room review: Freeing SG: White House

Their description: As a top notched [sic] agent, you’re tasked to infiltrate The White House to retrieve confidential documents and nuclear activation code. Your organization has provided you with a tablet for communication, but the signal seems to be jammed. You’ll have to get out in 60 minutes before the mission is compromised.

Will you be able to complete the Mission?


The most interesting aspect of White House is probably the use of a tablet as a central device for progressing through the room. Some other rooms have made good — arguably even better — use of digital devices, but not in the same sustained manner. In the White House, the tablet provides and justifies a linear structure, strengthens the theme and narrative, and simply provides an alternative to regular locks.

White House also has the fun technological flourishes you can expect from a Freeing room, and a finale that’s very cool and narratively strong… in theory. As it happened, my team ended up skipping it by mistake, which was a shame. (But it’s also a shame that the room’s construction allows that to happen.)

That’s the good stuff. Unfortunately, White House gets off to a shaky start, with an early puzzle that’s cool in theory but frustrating in practice. The puzzles do get smoother, but some questionable phrasing (and unintentional red herrings) midway through might hamper your progress.

Still, I do consider the room WORTH A TRY — just don’t be afraid to ask for help in the early stages if you’re stuck, and keep moving towards the latter half of the game, where the payoff is better.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 3.5/5

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

Three years on

So this blog turned three on July 19, and while I didn’t have an update planned for then, I did play my 99th and 100th Singapore* escape rooms today — reviews to come soon. This was after having gone for S-capegoats‘ excellent NS-cape event, of which more over on escaped.sg (eventually).

After four years of escaping from rooms and three years of running this blog, I’m glad that the escape event scene continues to expand and improve, and that there are still new rooms here which I haven’t played (Freeing’s ongoing takeover of the former U Escape space; the fourth chapter of The Escape Artist’s Forsaken Vault room; an apparent upcoming Captivate (!) room). Though the industry has seen its share of casualties, here’s hoping that the escape scene in Singapore will stay very much alive.

*I’ve also played a further 26 overseas.

Room review: Freeing SG: Poseidon

Their description: The gods are furious with mermaid princess Ariel’s relationship with the prince. Her father Poseidon, God of the Sea, refused to give them his blessings and sealed the Pearl of the Seas in his palace. Legend has it that this magical Pearl will allow mermaids to live on Land.

Touched by their true love, you decided to sneak into Poseidon’s palace and steal the Pearl of the Seas for Ariel…


So it turns out that the U Escape unit at Plaza Singapura was bought over by Freeing SG a while ago, and all their rooms have been replaced. Good news for us — better an untested Freeing room than a U Escape room which you can rely upon to be tedious.

I’ve only tried one room at the new outlet so far, but it seems to be classic Freeing: lots of physical/electronic frills, a smallish number of generally-okay-but-sometimes-a-bit-dubious puzzles.

Credit where it’s due: this room has the most distinctive and surprising beginning of any room I’ve played (though some might find it questionable). The use of technology is generally storyline-motivated, particularly at one fun moment in the endgame stretch. And there are some dramatic things in store.

Weak points include some red herrings and a slightly rough-around-the-edges feel to the set. Sadly, this room is completely unplayable if you have mobility issues.

Nothing groundbreaking puzzle-wise, but WORTH A TRY if you care about fun frills; maybe even RECOMMENDED if you really enjoy novelty and dramatic elements.

Puzzle difficulty: 2.5/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 3/5

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

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

Room review: LOST SG: Mausoleum

Their description: Built to protect the Emperor in his afterlife, the Terracotta Army are clay figures of Emperor Qin’s army in an underground mausoleum.

You together with your group of friends decided to visit the Terracotta Army world heritage site one day. Intrigued by the history of the mausoleum, you wandered deep into the restricted area to feed your curiosity and unfortunately lost your way.

Cut from all forms of communication, everyone panicked and entered the restricted area in an attempt to escape. Everything is unfamiliar and you can’t shake the uneasiness creeping in.

Going deeper, you found a door and led everyone in. Little did anyone expect the door to be shut from the outside. It appears to be a trap door! As everyone panicked about the situation, you notice a reflective liquid filling up the room.


We were excited at the prospect of a new LOST SG room, given our decent experiences at their other ones, but unfortunately their newest room is a bit of a letdown.

First, the good stuff. LOST SG’s old strength of high-tech mechanisms is still very much in evidence, with barely a standard lock in sight. But whether flashy gadgets are suitable for an old Chinese tomb is another question. Some effects are both exciting and appropriate for the setting, with one mid-game highlight giving a frisson of tomb-raiding; many others are, unfortunately, a little out of place.

That applies to the setting and narrative more generally: although some effort has clearly been made, the room is still relatively unconvincing as a tomb, and the puzzles are vaguely thematic in form but not so much in substance.

The puzzles also have other weaknesses: an early one is (in my view) fairly impossible without reading the setter’s mind, and the endgame puzzle makes unintuitive and partial use of given information. Unless you really enjoy exciting effects, Mausoleum is unfortunately NOT RECOMMENDED.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 3.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 4/5
Storyline integration: 2/5

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

Room review: Freeing SG: Rise to the Challenge: Biohazard

This was a pop-up escape room that was only around for about a week (19 to 27 Jan 2017), which is why I’m not posting the actual review here. But it was a great and groundbreaking (for Singapore) room, and I’d love to see more like it.

You can find the review over on my escape event blog, escaped.sg, instead:
Freeing SG – Rise to the Challenge: Biohazard

Room review: Freeing SG: Funeral: The Mourning Widow

Their description: In one’s lifetime, a visit to the funeral palour is inevitable. One day, you receive a letter from your friend’s wife, informing you of your friend’s death. Successively, mutual friends receive similar letters. Tonight is the setting up of the wake. Following the address stated in the letter, you make your way to attend the wake. As you enter the mourning hall, you feel a strange sense of discomfort. You decide to call your friend’s wife but there is no response. With no alternative, you make your way in alone, wanting to pay your last respects to your dear friend. The room where your deceased friend’s body lie, it is locked! What is going on??


The selling point of this Freeing SG room is its unprecedented (in Singapore) use of VR technology — but that also makes this a hard room to assess.

So let’s set aside the VR component for now. The room isn’t bad. The atmosphere is appropriately creepy and the setting evokes a traditional Chinese funeral convincingly. It’s not cripplingly terrifying, so even cowards like myself can give it a fair shot. There are some cool mechanisms used, and the initial flow of the room is very much in line with the storyline.

On the puzzle side of things, the room does sag a bit. The puzzles are generally logical, but the wording of clues isn’t perfect, there’s one throwaway puzzle (so throwaway that it’s easy to dismiss the solution as surely not being correct), and none of the puzzles are that exciting as puzzles (although the mechanisms compensate for this).

But for me, at least, none of that was really the point. I wanted to play this room to see how the VR headset would be used — and I think it was used to good effect. The actual puzzle it facilitated wasn’t impressive, but the execution was pretty cool; it’s hard to explain further without getting spoilery.

One big problem, though, was that my team experienced some technical difficulties. Which is a shame, because if the VR headset had worked perfectly, I think we’d have had a more satisfying experience in the room and come away with a better impression of it. As it was, I’m personally willing to overlook a lot of flaws if a room is ambitious and different — but my teammates were much less forgiving.

If you’re interested in seeing how VR can be used in escape rooms, then this room is definitely worth playing purely for the experience. Is it a fun room in its own right? It can be, particularly if the technology is working. On the whole I’d say it’s WORTH A TRY — unless you really can’t bear any technical malfunction or are completely uninterested in the VR aspect, in which case this is NOT RECOMMENDED for you.

Do note that a knowledge of Chinese is basically required for one puzzle and very helpful (though not technically necessary) for another one.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 4.5/5
Storyline integration: 2/5

Their suggested number of players: 6
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4

Room review: Escape Hunt: 27 Club

Their description: The 27 Club is a group of real-life famous musicians like Jimmy Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain who have died tragically at the age of 27. You are playing a famous rock star who will turn 27 soon, and an unexplained mystery has occurred in your dressing room. With 60 minutes to midnight, can you solve it or be the next addition to the 27 Club?


This room is a little silly, but I mean that in the best possible way. Escape Hunt’s rooms weren’t previously known for their sense of fun; 27 Club stands out for bucking that trend.

The room starts out straightforwardly enough, with logical puzzles of varying difficulty which also make good use of the dressing-room setting.

But then things start to get… interesting. The tasks and puzzles in the latter half of 27 Club are ridiculous, but for reasons unrelated to their underlying puzzle-logic. This means that — if your team is anything like mine — you shouldn’t have trouble solving them, but you’ll likely have a few laughs along the way. The endgame is particularly cute, and does actually provide a solution to the mystery.

Despite the would-be creepy room description, there’s nothing scary about this room either. In all, it’s a fun, occasionally quite creative ride that’s RECOMMENDED if you’re willing to be entertained more than challenged.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: N/A
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4

Room review: Escape Hunt: The Whitechapel Murderer

Their description: The year is 1888. You and your friends are famous London detectives who have been tasked with investigating the mysterious killings of the most dangerous and wanted serial killer in history. You have found what you believe to be the secret den of Jack the Ripper, and have 60 minutes to sneak inside to confirm his true identity before he returns and makes you his next victim!


This felt like an atypical Escape Hunt room, for good and bad reasons. There were a few fun physical flourishes and puzzle-solving mechanisms, which enlivened the experience and marked a step up from the lock-filled Escape Hunt rooms of old.

But this was also the first room in which Escape Hunt’s usual rigorous logic seemed to falter, with one puzzle featuring unused information that served as a red herring (as far as we could tell, anyway — we forgot to confirm this with the staff on the way out), another having a somewhat arbitrary final leap, and a third with slightly questionable ordering.

Nonetheless, it’s not a bad room. The decor and layout are fine (and not that scary — I’d say this room is kid-friendly despite the theme), there’s a decent mix of puzzles, and there’s at least one cool moment which alone makes it WORTH A TRY.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 3/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2.5/5

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

Their suggested number of players: N/A
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4