NEW ROOMS THAT HAVE CAUGHT MY EYE: AUGUST 2021
No one can deny that the past two years have been a struggle, with many escape room companies closing their doors for good. However, for others it gave them a chance to introduce creative new products (a myriad of virtual escape rooms and escape room boxes), but most excitingly of all it's given many designers a chance to pause and unleash all their creative juices into new projects. Since the start of summer we've seen lots of new games announced, but here are the few which have caught my eye and made me feel giddy for what's to come.
Tick Tock Unlock - Library of Broken Books
Everyone knows that books are the purest form of magic, but some tales are more powerful than others
First up is the Leeds based "Tick Tock Unlock", which claims to be the first of its kind in the UK. Rather than the traditional escape room, this experience looks like it will be blending puzzles with adventure across multiple time periods and genres. Think "The Crystal Maze" where the zones are the games, rather than the individual rooms.
Perhaps one of the most ingenious design factors for this room is the replayability aspect - as this is an adventure, you are able to return and play through multiple times, hoping to beat your high score.
Within these dynamic experiences, your goal is to collect as many keys as possible...this collection of keys makes for an arcade-like experience...ensuring that if you would like to play again you can attempt to collect them all!
As you journey through the room, you are ultimately tasked with solving the mystery of the library. I love any room with a common thread throughout, and as a book nerd I cannot wait to experience this live.
The team at Tick Tock Unlock are aiming for a November opening, and are currently offering early bird tickets (and looking for support) on their Indiegogo page. Head there to support them, and learn more about this amazing idea.
Ctrl Alt Esc - Quick-E-Mart PLUS Mini-Games
We try to add lots of fun and humour to our games and this one is no exception
Kent has fast become a hotspot for excellent escape rooms, and 'Ctrl Alt Esc' in Margate definitely takes a lot of credit for that. "Spacescape" remains one of my favourite rooms to this day, and one of the best examples of a room combining puzzles with adventure. I therefore cannot wait to see what they manage to do with their latest game 'Quick-E-Mart escape' - themed around Supermarket Sweep!
The room is reportedly full of plenty of supermarket stereotypes, with a campy nod to that famous game show and, I expect, a lot of fun moments to discover. From the sneak peaks they've posted on their instagram page, the set looks exactly how you'd imagine when walking into a classic supermarket, and given the plans it must be a lot bigger than it seems!
As if that wasn't enough, they will also be introducing two new mini-experiences to either play on site or rent out. I absolutely love this idea, but more so for their reason behind it:
Our aim is to provide enthusiasts with a quick puzzle fix...but also provide a less daunting step into the escape room world for those who have never played before.
I love this acknowledgment of how daunting it may be to walk into an escape room for the first time (I still remember the nerves from not knowing what to expect!). Being able to hire these out is also a fantastic idea - more of a high end '"escape room in a box" without needing to commit to a full hour in a physical room, or ending up with a box on your shelf that you can't use again!
"The Bomb" and "The Vault" are going to be available in the next couple of weeks, and the team are hoping to open Quick-E-Mart in September! Head over to Ctrl Alt Esc to book!
TimeTrap - Curiouser and Curiouser
TimeTrap in Reading is responsible for my 3rd favourite game of all time - 'Imaginarium' (read my review here). Unfortunately that has now disappeared...to make room for the sequel! It's always hard to see a good room go, but the team are doing it for a reason, and it's a lovely touch that "Curiouser and Curiouser" is going to be a natural successor to the first room.
Giving Imaginarium a refresh was briefly considered but...there were things we weren't happy with and we instead felt we could create a better and completely new experience
Rather than your generic "Alice in Wonderland" room, "Imaginarium" was based in Lewis Carroll's mind and the creation process he went through. It therefore makes sense that 'Curiouser and Curiouser' once more transports you to Carroll's mind, this time during his creation of "Through the Looking Glass". However, this time you will experience different parts of his brain before, with a completely new space. It also sounds like they're upped the literary theme, and introduce more of a tie in to Carroll's 'real' life than before.
TimeTrap are currently Beta testing the room, which will be open for general visitors soon! Head to the site to book now (and check out their other rooms).
The Panic Room - Magic, Pirates and a naughty night
Back to Kent now for one of the most reliably amazing companies I know. "The Panic Room" long ago earned their reputation for amazing, immersive experiences and creative ideas ("Loop" is one of the most creative ideas I've encountered), so their new rooms certainly have a lot to live up to! Not only will the team be opening at least 2 new rooms in the near future (with more to follow), but they've recently also opened a shop location with mini experiences in-store, with a chance to unlock in-store discounts!
For the news rooms they've gone in two very different directions. Their first new room, 'Marvelous Magic School', has recently opened. This is a 75 minute experience, packed full of manual and technological puzzles taking inspiration from the theme park The Efteling, which holds a lot of memories for Alex and his wife.
In contrast, the second new room, "Riddled", is very much for adults only:
...you and your friends have stiffed an escort for her fee and she wasn't having any of it. She has handcuffed you inside her sex dungeon and is off to get her pimp.
Certainly sounds like a sticky situation! I love the idea of the adult theme, and I only know of one other room in the UK with this theme. I can imagine this being a lot of fun, and opens up the audience to stags and hens who may not have considered rooms otherwise.
As mentioned it's not only the rooms that are new, but smaller experiences too. There as currently two smaller, 5-15minute experiences in the store as well as the longer 'Dead Man's Chest' experience. Although this is a chest rather than a room, I think it is a great way to introduce people to the concept of escape rooms, as well as being more cost effective for those who are not ready to commit (£40 for a group of 1-4). In September they will also be adding a second 60 minute experience based in a single room, which will be similarly priced and perfect for families.
I think Alex and the whole team are doing a fantastic job of introducing new, creative themes and opening up the market to new audiences. They have a few more projects coming this year, including some big announcements, so make sure you follow them on social media to hear them! In the meantime, head to the site to book some of their already open rooms, or browse their range of both virtual and physical games.
The Escapement - Water, Wizards and WW2
The final entry in this list comes from a company who managed to create many exciting play-at-home games over the last year, and are the reason I found my wonderful escape room community when I played their current games a few years ago.
Currently based in Margate, already with a very unique room called "The Pit", "The Escapement" are expanding into Broadstairs with three new rooms, which have been a tightly guarded secret. However, from what I've heard I am extremely excited and cannot wait for them to open their doors.
First up, we have "Quartz", which will see you come head to head with a piece of WW2 technology, which has suddenly awakened. It is up to you to break into the secure facility where it is kept and figure out how to destroy it.
I have often seen WWI & WWII rooms, and seen a few AI rooms, but never together. I'm intrigued to see which way the set design goes (as the sets of their other rooms are top notch), and particularly can't wait to see the impact of AI.
The second room (currently unnamed) sees you, a human, transported into the world of magic:
...something is a miss in their world, magic is, err, leaking? ...but one thing is for sure, the hole needs plugging! They've got all the ingredients to create the potion and cast the spell. Well, all bar one...
I am a huge fan of magic rooms, particularly when done well. There is a very obvious fandom which rooms often try to hints at, and flirt with the line between parody and infringement, but I believe "The Escapement" are not going to be one of them. Personally, I find this refreshing - I want a completely new experience, without the same clichés or lazy puzzles you often find in those rooms. Instead, this rooms promises to be magical in its own unique way, and (from what I've head) very immersive. Rather than a single small room, you will instead be transported into an actual 'world of magic', with plenty to explore. After being locked in my flat for the last year, I'm itching for more big rooms to play in, so I can't wait to take on this quest!
Finally, possibly the most unique of all - 'Atlantis':
Hop on board the Discovery Submersible Vessel for a deep dive exploration mission, but hold on tight, it's going to be a bumpy ride to an ancient bioluminescent world
I mean....wow. How amazing does this sound? Knowing what they built in 'The Pit' and 'Pirates of Polaris', I have big expectations for real water, a moving submarine and beautiful lights (and I believe I won't be disappointed).
I think one this is clear - "The Escapement" are definitely pushing the UK industry forward (although I'd expect nothing less from a Red Bull Champ!). Rather than using existing themes, the team have taken known themes and built on them, introducing new concepts. Rather than being content with 4 walls, they are pushing those boundaries and are going to deliver 'experiences' rather than 'escape rooms'. I can imagine these rooms bringing a lot of additional tourism to the area too - Kent has already become a favourite holiday destination for many escape room fans in the South, but perhaps these may encourage travel from further afield too!
Given these experiences are set to be large and impressive, there is no set open date yet. The team were aiming for the end of summer, but I am content to wait for them to be ready, whenever that is. If you haven't played their other rooms yet, head to the site to book now!
What do you think?
So there was my round up of all the rooms I cannot wait to play. What do you think? Have any piqued your interest? Do you think I've missed any that you're looking forward to? Leave a comment of DM me on instagram!