Games played by Armchair Escapist

Played: 5 May 2021 Team size: 2 Time taken: 2hrs 23 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

If the presentation of Charm of Christmas Past is a gift under the tree, the puzzles are the coal in your stocking.

It looks absolutely lovely. But at nearly £50 a pop, you can certainly get a less frustrating puzzle experience elsewhere.

After being unimpressed with The Network, I hoped something with less of a detective focus would be the saving grace for The Escapement’s games. But after slogging through Charm of Christmas Past, I think it’s safe to say their games aren’t for me.

If you enjoyed The Network, then maybe give this a go. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend it – it promises a festive feast, but we finished with a sour taste in our mouths.

Society of Curiosities: The Memory Stone, Subscription box
Played: 18/04/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 48mins Outcome: Successful escape!

With each game Society of Curiosities manage to up the ante on their games. The quality of their materials speaks for itself and their puzzles have some wonderful ‘a-ha’ moments. There”s creativity and ingenuity abound in The Memory Stone, and it shows Society of Curiosities is going from strength to strength.

I’d recommend The Memory Stone to anyone who wants their games to feel as real as possible. If you’ve tried The Balthazar Box from The Mystery Agency, and are after something more challenging, then definitely go for the Society of Curiosities.

Played: 20 March 2021 Team size: 2 Time taken: 59:47 Outcome: Successful escape!

I loved The Balthazar Stone. It had all the right elements of mystery and discovery that I want in a good at-home escape game. The game materials are great quality and feel like real artifacts.

The puzzles are really well designed, making me feel like a real armchair treasure hunter. The seamless attention to detail that I’ve come to love about Mischief Theatre is clearly evident here.

I’d recommend this game for anyone who’s a fan of Society of Curiosities and is hungry for more. It’s less challenging than the Society of Curiosities games, so I’d say it lends itself more towards a casual or family game night.

Played: 06 April 2021 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 19mins Outcome: Successful escape!

I really enjoyed playing Tunnelling Through Time. It’s filled with the charm, humour and clever puzzle design we’ve come to know and love about Deadlocked.

We finished the game in just over an hour and we were a little sad that it had ended. As with their previous charity collaboration, this game is more accessible for less experienced escape room fans.

Die-hard puzzle veterans might get more of a brain workout from their meatier options – The Insiders and The Cyphstress – though there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.

Give it a go, support the museum and learn something while you play!

CodeBakers UK: CodeBake, Play At Home
Played: 29/01/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 44 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Codebakers is a fun, light game with a unique concept that will be a good gift to send someone as a surprise treat. I’d recommend this for older or more experienced players given the complexity of some of the puzzles.

I think the puzzles need a bit of tinkering to improve the signposting, as well as a rethink to the hint system to make it less cryptic for players who might already be lost or frustrated.

That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing their next bake. I really like the concept and I can never say no to both puzzles and sweet treats!

Played: 15/02/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 45 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Humbug Hijinx is a fun, light puzzler that’s suitable for anyone to play. I think it needs a little bit of polish in one or two areas, but you’re still in for a good time. I’d recommend this to anyone wanting to connect with friends during lockdown – with up to five simultaneous connections, it’s a great party game.

Played: 16/02/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 23 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Mechanics of the Heart was a joy to play. It’s riddled with charm and personality, and we had loads of fun with it.

I’d highly recommend this game for couples wanting to do something different on date night. Pour yourself a glass of red, lower the lights and get romantic!

Played: 10/02/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 40 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Loot Per Suit is a really fun way to recreate the escape room experience at home. I’d recommend this game for anyone stuck at home and wanting to scratch that itch. The challenge level is good for both families or couples, and I think everyone will get a kick out of running around the house busting locks.

Played: 31/01/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 50 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

I’m a fan of the Hincks Gazettes, but the January 2021 edition has been their best yet. If you’re tempted to start, I’d recommend getting the January 2021 issue first.

The Gazette is for anyone who likes wordplay and enjoys their puzzles with a side of silliness. It’s an hour of pure fun and it’s sure to put a smile on your face.

Played: 27/01/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 2hrs 1 min Outcome: Successful escape!

The Scattered Cards is a great game that’ll be fun for puzzle fans as well as would-be detectives. The puzzles are challenging and there’s an enjoyable mystery to solve. If you’re a fan of true crime, this should be a good game for you.

Teams of 2-4 I think would work well for this – the separate case files makes it perfect for a small group to sink their teeth into.

Played: 20/01/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 14 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

BoxONE‘s evolving gameplay is an incredibly satisfying to experience, regardless of your experience as a puzzler. But for newer players especially, this is a perfect introduction to the genre.

Although we tackled it as a duo, I’d recommend going with the game’s instruction to play it solo. But if you’re in a team, no more than two people.

If you like the ‘big reveal’ aspect of playing escape rooms, then this is definitely a game you should play.

Played: 19/01/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 2hrs 29mins Outcome: Successful escape!

The Network hits all the right marks but ultimately wasn’t my cup of tea for theme or mechanics, but that’s purely down to personal preference. The game is premium quality and there’s solid sleuthing to be had. But that all-seeing eye on the box hinted at an entirely different experience to what we had.

I’d recommend this for fans of detective mystery boxes who want a hint of escape room puzzles with their experience. If you lean slightly more towards traditional puzzle solving, do a bit more research before commiting.

Played: 03/01/21 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 47 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

The Posey Ring and the Chapbook is another feather in the cap for Society of Curiosities. They’ve expanded their world and built on the narrative that made the first adventure so gripping. Their puzzles are innovative, fully embedded in the theme and so satisfying to solve.

I’d recommend this one to anyone with an adventerous spirit and wants to experience some true treasure hunter moments. I can’t wait for the next part of the subscription to arrive!

Played: 15/12/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 56 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Beneath this seemingly simplistic exterior, Carnival has some solid puzzles and good puzzle flow. Appropriate to the carnival theme, anyone playing this game is in for some good clean fun with a light, bright storyline. I’d recommend this one be played with two or three players (four if there’s more than one device).

Played: 4/12/2020 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 47mins Outcome: Successful escape!

I see this being a great game for fellow history geeks like me. While the historical references were lost on my teammate, I revelled in them. I even called dibs on anything Egyptian-related as soon as it came out of the dossier.

There aresome clever puzzles and a nicely-woven story to this game that’ll entertain and educate you a little too. I’d recommend this game for fans of history and ancient cultures, or those who want a refreshing twist on the treasure hunter puzzle adventure.

Played: 29/10/2020 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 49mins Outcome: Successful escape!

From the moment you crack open that large silver case, you know you’re in for something special. An immersive detective story with challenging puzzles, excellent attention to detail and great elements of deduction.

I’d recommend a larger team tackle this one – four to six would be ideal. With the wealth of evidence and materials to pore over, you’ll need every brain you can get. This makes CSI Bristol perfect for team building or a family gaming night.

Played: 23/11/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 44 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

I fully plan on sending a Post-a-Puzzle to family members on their birthday next year. It’s a fun puzzle experience that looks great and has a satisfying, personalised ending.

We played as a duo but solo players would have zero problems playing this (and given that it’s designed as a gift, playing solo is recommended).

Post-a-Puzzle is a bright, fun game that makes a perfect birthday or Christmas gift. Check it out!

Played: 12/11/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 48 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

The Bewitched Circus continues the great style of storytelling and puzzlecraft that Society of Curiosities is known for. You immediately feel part of the story as you direct your contact through the mysterious circus. If you enjoyed Mysterious Map Heist, I'd highly recommend playing The Bewitched Circus.

Played: 31/10/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 38mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Witchery Spell is one of the most immersive puzzle games I’ve played. The narrative is solid and grips you from the moment you open up the box.

The puzzles are solid, but it’s the storyline and the sense that you’re an active participant in the narrative that will stay with you.

Played: 23/10/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 35 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

There were some nice puzzles in this, but overall I felt wanting more at the end of it. As it’s a game designed largely for kids, I can see them enjoying it for the most part. Portioning off parts of your house to serve as different parts of the space ship would help add to the atmosphere.

But there are more polished games available for a lower price, and with more content. At almost €20, you can get more bang for your buck elsewhere.

Played: 06/10/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 12mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Deadlocked’s Moscape room is great fun. Being a charity collaboration, it’s more accessible than their first two games and so is an easier entry point into Deadlocked’s puzzle-verse. So if you fancy yourself a more serious puzzler, I recommend playing the extended edition (just add EX at the end of your game code when you first play).

The game lets you become hacker and detective all in one, and its heart and humour carry you through to a satisfying conclusion.

The thing I love most about Deadlocked’s rooms is that you’re never just a player trying to get to the end goal. They craft characters that you can’t help but bond with, and the journey becomes almost as important as the destination. Like I said when playing The Cyphstess, you’re left with a warmth that goes beyond the satisfaction of winning.

Played: 6/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 34mins Outcome: Successful escape!

This opening adventure from Society of Curiosities is one of the most immersive and satisfying escape games I’ve played. A great deal of care has been taken to make sure that you feel like an adventurer every step of the way.

Playing through Madok’s Lost Treasure, you don’t feel like you’re just solving puzzles. You feel like you’re taking part in a huge discovery, and the interactions with your ‘team’ at the Society only strengthen this.

I finished the mission invigorated and hungry for more adventure!

Played: 23/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 45 min Outcome: Successful escape!

Alice in Puzzle Land Live is a fun romp through a familiar setting that’s been well adapted to work remotely, the experience made all the better with Lorna and Jo as your eyes and hands. We played as a duo, but I think a group of three would work well so you’ve an extra pair of eyes to pick up on anything important.

This would work well for a family that wants a fun activity together but can’t make it to the physical room.

Played: 24/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 34 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

An Enola Holmes Adventure was a load of fun. The game perfectly encapsulated that spirit of light-hearted adventure that made the film so enjoyable.

I’d recommend this game to anyone who likes the film and wants to have a crack at solving their own mystery. I’d say its challenge level is better suited to families, but it makes for an excellent way to round out movie night for anyone.

Played: 02/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 49 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

I had a good time at Hotel Crime Scene – the two-games-in-one aspect was a solid success and I’d love to see other games replicate this format for that extra achievement.

The game was a little rough around the edges in one or two places but the puzzles were good and flowed well.

I’d recommend this room to those that want a more traditional escape room experience but with the added flavour of a murder mystery. Groups of 2-3 would work well – any more and you might step on each other’s toes.

Played: 02/09/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 49:00 Outcome: Successful escape!
Jumunga was a fun room to play - it had good puzzle flow and it marked a nice 'welcome back' after so long away from the scene. I'd recommended this one for families or newer players - if you're more experienced, a group of 2 is ample as the room is quite small.
Played: 23/8/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 40mins Outcome: Successful escape!

The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks from Bluefish Games was a joy to play. It’s filled to the brim with good humour and a wonderfully light tone that’s refreshing to see.

There’s creativity abound and it was able to breathe new life into some tired puzzle formats.

Played: 18/08/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 46 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

The Missed Flight makes for a perfect puzzle gift. The story has believable stakes, the puzzles are solid and the quality of the components is excellent. I’d recommend this for anyone wanting to send their favourite puzzler something a little different for that special occasion

Played: 1/8/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 15:48 Outcome: Successful escape!

We blitzed through the game in no time at all, but we still had fun. This isn’t a game for escape room enthusiasts by a long stretch.

If you’re after a challenge, I’d recommend going for the other games in the Trapped series – The Art Heist and The Bank Job.

But if you’re looking for some fun themed puzzle activities for a kid’s birthday party, then The Carnival would be a great fit.

Played: 11/08/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 13mins Outcome: Successful escape!

A Death in the Red Light is a wonderfully polished game that blends the play-at-home escape experience with an interactive noir detective novel. I’d recommend this for someone wanting to take their time and absorb themselves in the story so they get the most out of stepping into the street-worn shoes of the detective.

Played: 03/08/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 1hr 24mins Outcome: Successful escape!

A delightful and challenging puzzle game with a solid story and great humour througout. I’d highly recommend this room to anyone who wants a touch of silliness with their game – we had an absolute blast!

Played: Oct 2019 - July 2020 Team size: 2 Time taken: 9 months? Outcome: Successful escape!

Legend: A Game of Maps is a wonderfully-crafted and in-depth puzzle experience that is as close as you’re likely to get to feeling like a real treasure hunter.

This isn’t an ‘escape game’ like you might be used to – this is something to take your time over and enjoy the details.

I’d recommend this game to anyone who watched The Goonies and wanted to recreate that feeling of discovery. I can’t wait for part three!

Played: 06/10/2019 Team size: 2 Time taken: An evening Outcome: Successful escape!

Legend: A Game of Maps is a wonderfully-crafted and in-depth puzzle experience that is as close as you’re likely to get to feeling like a real treasure hunter.

This isn’t an ‘escape game’ like you might be used to – this is something to take your time over and enjoy the details.

I’d recommend this game to anyone who watched The Goonies and wanted to recreate that feeling of discovery. I can’t wait for part three!

Played: 12/7/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 40 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Trapped: The Art Heist is a fun and innovative take on the play-at-home escape game set up. It’s a great and inexpensive way to bring the escape experience home.

I’d recommend this for families or those fairly new to escape rooms. For experienced players you’d probably do better with their more difficult game – The Bank Job.

Played: 26/6/20 Team size: 4 Time taken: 48 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Sector X: The B.R.U.C.E. Project is a fun and quirky game that has a good range of challenging puzzles tucked under its belt. Its setup encourages communication and teamwork, and it gets that right in spades. The simplistic design betrays some solid puzzlework that plays well to its medium.

I’d recommend this for work team building events (as we did it), and teams of 3-4 who aren’t too bothered about immersion and just want a good time.

Played: 23/6/20 Team size: 4 Time taken: 36 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

The Sapphire Project is a cool concept with a slick interface and some good puzzles. There are some kinks to work out in the design and one or two puzzles that take away from the immersion, but we still had fun being anti-alien hackers for half an hour.

This game would be suited to families or players with a little less experience, as seasoned escapers may find it doesn’t quite sate their appetite.

Played: 19-20 June 2020 Team size: 2 Time taken: 2hrs 20 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

The Cyphstress is a wonderful, well-polished game that’s filled with charm and has excellent puzzles to boot. As we finished the game and the end credits rolled, I felt good. Not just because I’d ‘escaped’. Not just because we’d solved all the puzzles. But because I felt like I was a part of the story.

It’s a rare and joyous feeling in a puzzle game. I heartily recommend you give it a go. And at £10, it’s incredible value for money.

Played: 12/06/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 30 mins Outcome: Successful escape!

Mysterious Map Heist was a fun and well-crafted interactive puzzle hunt that served as an excellent taster for Society of Curiosities’ subscription box. Highly recommended!

Played: 08/01/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 29:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

City Mazes haven’t learned from the flaws in their rooms at the previous venue. Actually now, the escape experience now seems tacked onto the rest of the Play at Pins complex as a means of drawing in the stag and hen crowd.

The Subject 11 room was just on the wrong side of okay for me. It’s inoffensive, but lacked much in the way of a challenging experience and was quite uninspired given the subject matter.

Played: 07/07/2017 Team size: 2 Outcome: Failed 🙁
Torture Corp sets the gold standard in terms of how storytelling can enhance an escape room experience. The fact that the game begins before you’ve even entered the room is a unique and welcome touch.

I recommend Torture Corp for those who like the thematic and narrative side of escape rooms.

Played: 17/09/18 Team size: 5 Time taken: 44:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

On the whole, the room design felt rushed – an attempt at making fourth-generation puzzles but without much polish. A number of the technical elements didn’t work as they should have, which let it down.

It’s one of those rooms that you think was fun when you leave the room, but the more you think about it, the more dissapointed you are in it.

It’s less a puzzle room and more a crystal-maze-style room. If you’re into that, then go for it. If you like your escape fare a little more traditional and with a bit more polish, I’d suggest going with Mumbles Bunker instead.

Played: 13/08/18 Team size: 5 Time taken: 44:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Overal, Mumbles Bunker is a stylish, classic escape room with some puzzles that I’d not seen before. It’s well-decorated and has enough to satisfy a team of five.

It’s a shame that the second half of the game lowered the overall energy and didn’t have a satisfying payoff.

A word of warning - as you enter the second part of the room, a loud klaxon will blast out without warning. This was enough to give one of our team a panic attack in the room. It's not part of the puzzle - the games masters said they do it 'for their own amusement', but weren't aware or concerned of the effect it had.

Played: 23/08/19 Team size: 3 Time taken: 55:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Mafia is AdventureRooms’ best room without a shadow of a doubt. It’s got a good mix of diverse and challenging puzzles, used in ways I’ve not seen before. It’s attention to set design is the highest quality of their three rooms, which only adds to the immersion once that door is locked.

I’d recommend Mafia to anyone who wants something a little different with their puzzle flavour. If you’re tired of seeing the same old, same old, then give this room a whirl.

Played: 31/10/17 Team size: 2 Time taken: 44:50 Outcome: Successful escape!

 While it’s decoration is just fine, it doesn’t pull you in with immersion. But it was a joy to play, with a great variety of puzzles that I’ve not seen elsewhere.

The Mad Scientist is a great room to serve as an introduction to the escape experience. Veteran players may find it a little too easy, however – for an added challenge the more experienced players should attempt this solo.

Played: 13/02/17 Team size: 4 Outcome: Failed 🙁

Overall, I really enjoyed The Black Queen. I’d say four people is ideal for this room if you want to make sure everyone has a job to do and isn’t just standing around. You won’t get completely immersed in the story, but you’ll be too busy puzzle-solving to notice.

With a great range of puzzles that’ll challenge you in different ways, The Black Queen is definitely worth a visit.

Played: 10/08/19 Team size: 6 Time taken: 52:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Alcatraz is a well-produced room with good puzzle diversity. The overall experience is ultimately let down by the sub-par hint system, but the room itself is good quality. I’d recommend this room for larger teams that have a few escape room victories under their belt – you’ll need every brain in the room!

Played: 14/11/16 Team size: 4 Time taken: 52:00 Outcome: Successful escape!
Misery was a fun and challenging room. I also stand by my statement that Escape Reality are the most difficult venue in Cardiff. If you’re after a challenge, I highly recommend you pay this room a visit.

If you’re a complete newbie, I’d suggest you either get a few other rooms under your belt first, or team up with folks who have more experience.

Played: 11/08/16 Team size: 4 Outcome: Failed 🙁

A room that looks great, but with puzzles that required too many leaps of  logic for our inebriated brains to handle. 

We'll redo the room one day, completely sober and with victory in our hearts.

Played: 11/08/16 Team size: 4 Outcome: Failed 🙁

A well-decorated and challenging room, Enigmista lures you into a false sense of confidence in its first half. The second half becomes much more difficult and requires more lateral thinking than our inebriated brains could handle.

Played: 26/09/19 Team size: 2 Time taken: 39:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Jungala is a fun, well paced room with a good variety of puzzles that (thankfully) don’t rely on clever tech to maintain immersion. There’s enough here for a team of four to work through and not step on one another’s toes.

It’s Escape Reality’s least challenging room and so serves as a great and fun entry point to the venues games. Definitely give it a go.

Played: 14/02/20 Team size: 2 Time taken: 52:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

An escape room / cancer research mashup that teaches you while you solve puzzles. Its sterile lab theme is unassuming but contains a breadth of refreshing puzzles that were both new and challenging.

Played: 18/12/19 Team size: 5 Time taken: 23:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Christmas Chaos is a charming and fun room to play. Our team of five had no real difficulties, so for seasoned escape room veterans, this might be a little too easy.

But we had a blast the ho-ho-whole way through!

Played: 06/09/19 Team size: 2 Time taken: 35:41 Outcome: Successful escape!
The Curse of Senutep is a fun, unique twist on the traditional escape puzzle experience. With its non-linear setup, there’s something for a team of any size to do here. It’s a well-built analogue room with cleverly-hidden tech and a range of puzzles to suit all skill types. Definitely worth a go,
Played: 20/09/19 Team size: 2 Time taken: 37:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Press Start is, I’m sad to say, all fur coat and no trousers. It looks incredible, and as a set piece it’s one of Cardiff’s finest. However, it’s brought down by a lack of diverse, quality puzzles and an lacklustre conclusion.

Our team of two breezed through it, but I’d say no more than three people in the room due to its size. You’ll also likely be not doing anything for portions of the game while the rest of the team crack on.