Captivate Escape Rooms

Room review: Captivate: Murder on the Singapore Express

Their description: The murder of a little known Belgium detective in Singapore has captured the world’s attention. Mysterious murders on railway stations are normally limited to novels or movies. Especially those with devious clues left by an evil killer. Buy a ticket for the Singapore Express today.

Despite the references to Poirot and other well-known murder mystery properties, this train-themed room is very light on narrative, particularly when it comes to ‘figuring out’ the murderer and weapon — let’s just say that the way you arrive at these answers is wholly unrelated to detective work. (It’s also incredibly vulnerable to brute-forcing, alas.) If you can forgive that, however, then you might still be in for a fun ride.

The playing space is small, if set up decently; the decor is haphazard, though with charming touches. It’s the puzzles themselves that make the room worth playing. There’s a good mix of puzzle types and difficulty levels, with small surprises in store — delivered by puzzle-solving rather than room technology. And while the puzzles may not make much in-narrative sense, each individual puzzle is certainly logical from a solving perspective. (The puzzle flow, however, might be a bit head-scratching; our group managed to bypass one puzzle altogether, and you could end up skipping even more.)

Though neither perfect nor even very polished, there was something about Murder on the Singapore Express that left me charmed and satisfied. Despite the low scores below, I’d still say the room is RECOMMENDED as a solid experience — just don’t expect to be investigating a murder mystery.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4. The room might start feeling crowded with more people.


Room review: Captivate: Cirque

This room was attempted in collaboration with Escapist X from Singapore Escape Room Reviews.
Check out his review of the room too!

Their description: The smallest man in the world is found dead in his caravan at the Cirque travelling circus in Singapore. The police believe it was suicide but you don’t have to be a Fortune Teller to know otherwise. Can you catch the killer and escape?

Unlike some of Captivate’s other rooms, their new room Cirque has little in the way of handholding, making it marginally harder to breeze through. Fortunately, Cirque is harder for the right reasons. A mix of solving skills is required, contributing to the overall sense that this is a well-rounded room.

If the room is lacking in any aspect, it’s probably in the relative lack of technological frills (although there are some). The decor also feels somewhat token. But what made the room memorable, for me, were some brilliant moments of realisation — which demonstrated that you don’t always need special effects to provide a surprise. These included the clever little endgame that closed the game on a good note.

You also do get a conclusion to the room’s central mystery, although the narrative disappears a bit before getting picked up at the end.

This review might not sound that glowing, yet I finished the room with a sense of satisfaction. Despite not being flashy, this room is RECOMMENDED as a decent all-rounder that should prove entertaining for both beginners and veterans.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 2/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 1.5/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

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

Room review: Captivate: Elixir

Their description: Oscar Lee disappeared 50 years ago and his son and two visitors vanished exactly 25 years later. As you explore you stumble upon a hidden room that hasn’t been opened for 25 years. Can you discover what happened to the missing people before you vanish too?

Elixir is perhaps Captivate’s most satisfying room for escape room veterans. Things start off fairly straightforward, but there are some clever puzzles in store, and fun moments when items obtained earlier suddenly gain new relevance.

Captivate’s strengths are probably its scrupulous approach to clues, making for puzzles that never require leaps of logic, and its attention to physical aspects; not in the gimmicky way that some rooms try to incorporate technology, but with hands-on fun. Both of these strengths are on show in Elixir; even the tougher puzzles are fair.

There’s also a decent amount of effort put into the surroundings, particularly in the first room. Captivate’s rooms can generally feel a bit bare, such that it’s obvious when something is a puzzle part; you don’t get that to quite the same extent in Elixir. (Though there aren’t red herrings either, which is nice.)

The endgame is perhaps the only moment that’s a little head-scratching, but it’s a minor point in what was otherwise an unobjectionable experience, and a nice way for our team to cap off our Captivate experience. RECOMMENDED as a decent all-rounder room.

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

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

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 10
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5

Room review: Captivate: Black Out

Their description: You wake in an unfamiliar room with amnesia. You have no memory of who you are or how you came to be there. The door has been locked behind you. Outside, there is chaos on the streets as the world is threatened by a new catastrophe. Can you remember why you’re here and what you need to do to escape?

Black Out is a fun room. Simple as that. Most of the puzzles are straightforward, with that familiar staple of matching making an appearance — almost a disappointment, given the fairly original puzzles you get in Captivate’s other rooms.

But the room makes up for that in other ways. The bits of matching you have to do are enlivened in fun ways, making the room a truly multisensory experience. There are also some clever moments which deliver that much-needed frisson of realization.

Furthermore, I really enjoy when escape rooms lean into their real-world setting and involve hands-on tasks, and this room certainly delivers on that front. Better yet, these tasks are non-trivial but not tedious, which is a fine combination.

RECOMMENDED for beginners. Experienced teams might be a little bored, depending on their tolerance for matching puzzles, but the room’s other charms make it WORTH A TRY nonetheless.

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

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

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

Overall review: Captivate Escape Rooms

If I were to sum up Captivate Escape Rooms in a single word, it would be “friendly”. The staff are pleasant. The booking process isn’t demanding. Most importantly, the rooms are among the most forgiving ones I’ve ever played, from the gentle hand-holding via over-cluing, to the generous 75 minutes that you’re given for each room, and which you won’t even come close to using up.

Some escape rooms make you feel like you’re in a thrilling battle of wits with the game designers. At Captivate Escape Rooms, in contrast, the game designers really, really want you to win.

But maybe kindness has its place. These rooms would be great for beginners or groups with kids, for instance. And the surfeit of clues certainly makes a change from rooms which require torturous leaps of logic — part of the reason the puzzles are so solver-friendly are that they make perfect sense.

Furthermore, though the rooms are friendly, they’re not necessarily boring. The puzzles may be simple, but they’re fairly original, providing a breath of fresh air in a market saturated with familiar puzzle types and structures — and making them worthwhile even for veterans. There are also some clever or trickier puzzles mixed in with the rest, and some variance in room difficulty; experienced groups might find Elixir more to their taste than Kellar’s Magic Emporium, for instance. Cirque and Murder on the Singapore Express, their latest additions, should also prove more satisfying for experienced teams.

It also helps that the rooms contain fun little surprises. There isn’t much “high-tech” stuff of the sort that escape room players here might be familiar with, but there are still enough gadgets and physical aspects to help make up for the reliance on code-locks.

So yes, Captivate rooms are forgiving. But that aside, they’re also simply fun.

RECOMMENDED for beginners. WORTH A VISIT for veterans who don’t mind having fun rather than facing a challenge.

Staff: Friendly and chill. The place doesn’t feel like one of those soulless money-making operations, which is nice.

Hints: Unlimited hints. Just wave at a security camera and one of the staff will enter to help you out. If you find this immersion-breaking, well — you can probably get by without hints anyway.

Will your group be combined with strangers? No.

Rooms tried: 7 out of 7

Recommended team size: 2 to 4. A good escape room company for two-player teams.

Specific room reviews

Labyrinth: Dead Men Walking
Zero Hour
Black Out
Kellar’s Magic Emporium
Murder on the Singapore Express
Alien vs Human (coming soon)

Captivate Escape Rooms

Room review: Captivate: Kellar’s Magic Emporium

Their description: You have been short-listed for the role of Magician’s Assistant. Arriving at Kellar’s Magic Emporium, you are tasked with solving a series of puzzles and riddles in order to prove your skills. You’ll need to pay close attention to pass this test, as things may not always be what they seem…

Captivate’s tendency to over-clue their puzzles is especially strong in Kellar’s Magic Emporium, making this a very forgiving room. Experienced teams might be disappointed at the ease of the puzzles.

But there’s still enough to make the experience fun, even if it’s brief. The magic emporium hides various little secrets and surprises, which liven up the rather straightforward puzzle-solving process. And although the puzzles are straightforward, they’re original and rigorous.

A brief review for a brief room. RECOMMENDED for beginners. WORTH A TRY for experienced teams if you don’t mind finishing it in twenty minutes.

Puzzle difficulty: 2/5
Puzzle logic: 5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

Atmosphere and setting: 3/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3.5/5
Storyline integration: 2/5

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

Room review: Captivate: Labyrinth: Dead Men Walking

Their description: Death row inmates are disappearing from the prison morgue after their execution. You are hired to go undercover as an inmate at the jail to try to discover why. But someone found out that you are investigating the prison and has scheduled your execution for one hour from now. Can you unravel the mystery of the disappearing bodies and escape from the jail as the clock counts down to the time of your execution?

Labyrinth: Dead Men Walking was a bit of a mixed bag. I think the negative feelings I have about this room can be summarised like so: the way that puzzles and puzzle-solving interfaces are presented will shape the expectations that players have about how to solve them, and if the solution doesn’t fit those expectations, then that’s unfair.

This mismatch of signal and solution happens at least three times in Labyrinth: Dead Men Walking: once at the start, and twice in the busiest section of the room. It meant that our attention was completely misdirected at the start, to the extent that we had to ask for help.

In the middle section of the room, it meant that we disregarded two correct answers that we had already found, and were thus stuck for quite some while. My general policy is to avoid spoilers, but here I think I would be neglecting my duty as a reviewer if I didn’t say this: don’t assume that a lock with x spaces means that the solution is x units long.

With that out of the way, I should say that Labyrinth: Dead Men Walking is still a decent room. There are some fun physical touches, and some great elements of the setting, particularly in the first half.

Some puzzles are weak, but many are fresh, and some are really quite clever. And there’s at least a spirited attempt at reminding players about the storyline… though I personally didn’t think it really succeeded, alas.

WORTH A TRY for both beginners and experienced teams. Just try not to be misled.

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

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

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

Room review: Captivate: Zero Hour

Their description: You recognise a face on the FBI Most Wanted List. Intrigued, rather than call the FBI, you decide to investigate. Can you discover the dark secret they are trying so hard to keep hidden before time runs out? An extraordinary experience with amazing hidden surprises waiting to be discovered.

This is another of those reviews where the numerical scores don’t quite capture the nature of the room. Zero Hour was something of an anomaly for my team, I think: a room that was simple, yet felt satisfying nonetheless.

That satisfaction, I suppose, came from the logical and scrupulously-clued puzzles. Perhaps even over-clued: a common experience in this room (and several other Captivate ones) was that we’d solve a puzzle, only to find that it provided the clue for another puzzle we’d already solved.

But when that’s one main complaint about a room, I suppose the room isn’t doing too badly! And though the puzzles weren’t that challenging, there were some refreshing and original ones — no boring, blind matching required.

The other main complaint I have is that the storyline just wasn’t there. There’s barely anything I can think of from the room which matches the plot description above.

However, the provided description is accurate in another aspect: there were at least two hidden surprises that made me feel a genuine sense of childish delight and glee.

RECOMMENDED for beginners especially, but also experienced teams who are willing to forgo a challenge in exchange for original puzzles and a fun time. Do note that this isn’t a room for players with mobility issues.

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

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

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