Index

Real Escape Game
REG vol. 1 – Escape from the Mysterious Cathedral
REG vol. 2 – Escape from the Werewolf Village
REG vol. 3 – The Crazy Last Will of Dr Mad
REG vol. 4 – Escape from the Haunted Ship
REG vol. 5 – Escape from the Bank
REG vol. 6 – Escape from the Moon Base
REG vol. 7 – Escape from the Walled City
REG vol. 8 – Last Garden: Save Nature, Save Humanity
REG vol. 9 – Escape from the Conspiracy

Encounter
Encounter – The Dormitory
Encounter – The Community Centre

FindX
FindX – Office Breakout [beta-test]
FindX – Saving Dua Tau

Lockdown
ThinkOut x Lockdown – Journey to the End and Back
Lockdown – Whisper of the Guardians
Lockdown – Artefact Tempus

Nomis Piy
Nomis Piy – Meltdown – Rescue Mission
Nomis Piy – The Abandoned Chapel
Nomis Piy – Murder on the Blue Atlantis
BreakOut x Nomis Piy – Trapped in My Own Mind [temporary escape room]
Nomis Piy – The Triads
Nomis Piy – Escape from the Forbidden Mansion
Nomis Piy – Enigma – Quest for the Code Book

The Escape Artist
The Escape Artist – Escape from Reverie
The Escape Artist – The Mystery Mansion
The Escape Artist – Anti-Drug Escape Game
The Escape Artist – The Four Horsemen of Doom
The Escape Artist – Project ILC
The Escape Artist – The Guardians

Other escape, mystery, or puzzle-style events
I Know Who Killed You This Halloween
Where’s Max?
Changi Revisited – The Hendon Horrors
Freeing SG – Rise to the Challenge: Biohazard
Roomraider – Amazing Race
Premonition: 90 Minutes Before
Stranded on Mars
Xcape – CIA Crisis
Crime City
S-capegoats – NS-cape

Not events, but always-available murder mysteries
Lockdown.sg – CSI: A Good Night to Die
Xcape – Shanghai 1943

Other events with escape or mystery elements
The Inside Job

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Lockdown – Artefact Tempus

When: 11 Aug 2017
Team: just me
Venue: Asian Civilisations Museum

Held at the Asian Civilisations Museum as part of the Civic District Outdoor Festival (though the game took place inside the museum), Artefact Tempus was interesting to me chiefly as an example of how escape events have become mainstream — a trend that should hopefully aid the industry’s survival.

The 40-minute game was compact (some would say too compact) and beginner-friendly — in the case of one puzzle, perhaps too easy, resulting in my overthinking it. Some puzzles made better use of the exhibits than others. I did like the neat metapuzzle, and the use of physical props in the endgame provided a nice concluding flourish.

But ultimately, this was a free event, with added freebies upon completion, and so there really wasn’t anything to complain about.

More than that, I appreciate the very existence of the event. It demonstrates the willingness of large institutions to partner local escape room companies (this wasn’t the first time ACM had done so, either). It could have introduced escape games to several beginners, generating more interest in the genre. It did actually make me more interested in revisiting the ACM in my own time. I’d also love to see more site-specific partnerships between escape companies and venues such as museums, which seem particularly fertile ground for puzzles.

Result: Got to the treasure in under half the allotted time.


Lockdown – Artefact Tempus
[Facebook post]
http://lockdown.sg/

S-capegoats – NS-cape

When: 22 Jul 2017
Team: Four people
Venue: TÜV SÜD PSB building

With the holding of their first (and hopefully not last) escape event, the guys from local escape room review blog S-capegoats proved that they’re impressive not just as players, but also organisers.

The greatest strength of NS-cape, for me, was the rigorous adherence to theme and narrative (perhaps unsurprising given that NS wasn’t all that long ago for the organisers). I haven’t undergone NS myself, but I appreciated how both the overall hunt structure and the individual puzzles were tied closely to the NS experience. This extended to various sub-spaces in the game and the roles of the facilitators, and culminated in an endgame that was clever, fun, and satisfying on several levels.

NS-cape had one of the most layered structures I’ve seen, which broke the game up into manageable stages and constantly provided a sense of progress. It also enabled teams to keep rough track of how far along they were.

As for individual puzzles, there was a pleasantly wide range of formats and ahas, and even some fun hands-on aspects. There were a few bumps along the way, including the repetition of one sub-puzzle mechanism, but the standard was generally high. One memorable puzzle was frustratingly tedious, yet nevertheless so thematically justified that you had to forgive it (and which contained a clever twist, too). Other highlights, for me, included an early puzzle that made clever use of the background setting, a rigorous mid-stage puzzle with several mini ahas, and the excellently hands-on near-final metapuzzle.

Overall, the experience was tough yet rewarding, and worth remembering fondly. Perhaps a bit like NS itself?

Result: Managed to ORD just seconds before time ran out.


S-capegoats – NS-cape
http://s-capegoats-one.peatix.com/
http://s-capegoats.tumblr.com/

The Escape Artist – The Guardians

When: 17 Jun 2017 (event from 12 Jun to 2 Jul)
Team: Five people
Venue: Sentosa

It seems that outdoor escape events — and the specific subgenre of mobile-app-enabled outdoor escape events — might be becoming more of a thing now. The part of me that likes site-specific, real-world-dependent aspects appreciates this; the rest of me wishes Singapore’s weather was less awful.

The Guardians is The Escape Artist’s first foray into this subgenre. It’s notable for its tie-up with the Sentosa cable car line, which results in some great views and also breaks up the pace of the game quite enjoyably.

The cable car rides were also part of the game’s overall neat structure, which we found helpful in roughly indicating how much of the game remained. As for the puzzles, they all made close use of the setting — but were satisfying to different degrees, with some possibly being a bit too search-y.

Unfortunately, given the vast size of Sentosa, the ratio of actual puzzles to distance covered was perhaps a bit low. Teams will enjoy this more if they take their time and treat it as a day out to discover Sentosa, rather than trying to beat the clock.

The mobile app implementation was interesting, featuring videos and a linear storyline. (I guess having a mass event without fixed timings removes the need to avoid crowding, thus allowing for a linear game.) Sadly my team didn’t really watch the videos, since we were aiming for speed and our phones were also dying. I appreciate the idea of narrative/theme-enhancing video content and the effort that probably went into them, but I’m not sure they were appropriate for this game. The app’s location-based updates did add a real sense of progress to our game, though, and the storyline was constantly reinforced.

If your team takes on The Guardians hoping for a puzzle-heavy experience, you’ll probably be disappointed. But if you treat it more as a puzzle-led fun day out, with chances to discover parts of Sentosa you might not have seen otherwise, then you’ll have a better time.

Result: Finished the game in just over 1 hour 40 minutes, enjoying the views but not the weather en route.


The Escape Artist – The Guardians
http://the-guardians.peatix.com/
http://theescapeartist.sg/

Nomis Piy – Enigma – Quest for the Code Book

When: 27 May 2017
Team: Six people
Venue: TÜV SÜD PSB building

The ever-reliable Nomis Piy team shook things up a bit with the format of their latest game. Not only did it take place over two separate locations, it went beyond the usual metapuzzles to have some interesting puzzle-based transitions between stages. These innovations were a welcome twist on the usual formula, and I appreciated having to work out what to do instead of going through the metapuzzle motions.

I appreciated the lack of search-y puzzles this time around — perhaps having fewer first-round puzzles allowed for the difficulty to be raised a little? Some puzzles were a little predictable (possibly because I have high standards for Nomis Piy), but some which stood out included an early one that relied more upon lateral thinking than usual, and a final puzzle that drew upon Nomis Piy’s long-established strength of using details of the setting, and was made rigorous and fair in a clever way.

The actual transition from the first area to the second area added a pleasant bit of excitement while also letting some teams pull ahead, which I liked. The second area also felt a bit more dramatic while conveniently being well-suited to a debrief.

After a somewhat refreshing experience, Nomis Piy surprised us further with the news that their next endeavour would be significantly different — not even a mass escape game? I’m certainly looking forward to whatever that might be.

Result: Got the code book with the third-fastest time and decoded the message. I think it was a good choice to make the latter a sidequest; it was thematically appropriate and even a bit educational, and included a nice non-trivial twist, but ultimately gave less of a thrill than solving the actual final puzzle.


Nomis Piy – Enigma – Quest for the Code Book
http://enigma.peatix.com/
http://nomispiy.com/

Crime City

When: 21 May 2017
Team: Two people
Location: Science Centre

My unfortunate predilection for escape games and puzzle-related events sometimes takes me to odd places. In this instance, to the Science Centre in the far west, to play a game meant for preteens. (In my defence, the full description is ‘Suitable for Primary 5 and above, general public’.)

Sadly, it wasn’t even the first time I’d signed up for an event meant for a younger audience. But just like the aforementioned event, Crime City was actually a lot of fun.

From a game design perspective, I appreciated how there was a mix of crime scene investigation, observing details in videos, and paper-based puzzles. The crime scenes had relatively high production values — perhaps even too high, since they were necessarily simple, with only one thing to focus on in each. The videos were interesting: not only were they replayed, which is very helpful compared to events where you only get one chance to watch them, but the replaying was a necessary part of the solving process, thus justifying their repetition. The paper-based puzzles were okay, and I imagine quite fun for the intended audience.

There was generally a high level of care and a sense of fun, from the dramatic acting in the videos to the hint-dispensing method, which involved a very different and amusing sort of task. (We checked out the hint station after we’d solved the game, just to get the full experience.) The endgame is sufficiently dramatic and set up quite cleverly from a logistical perspective.

Crime City was apparently designed by Science Centre staff themselves, and it’s great to see the escape event format being used for educational purposes — upon completing the game, teams receive a detailed debriefing booklet which explains the neuroscientific principles (!) behind each puzzle. (Each player also receives a bottle of Brand’s essence of chicken or some other Brand’s brain food, thanks to sponsorship, haha.) But rather selfishly, I hope that the game designers try creating escape events for adults too — I’d certainly like to see what they can do when they’re not trying to dial down the difficulty.

Result: Saved the police chief in under 20 minutes out of the given 45 minutes; just as well, considering the competition. It was a fun 20 minutes, too.


Crime City (part of Brainfest 2017)
http://www.science.edu.sg/events/Pages/BrainFest.aspx

Lockdown – Whisper of the Guardians

When: 20 May 2017
Team: Five people
Location: Chinatown

Lockdown’s latest mass escape event was a significant improvement on their previous one, with a much better ratio of puzzle-solving to searching/info-gathering, impressive use of the real-life setting, and some fun interactive aspects.

Every puzzle was logically rigorous, and some were pleasingly original, including one hands-on puzzle component that was cool in itself and also had a great pay-off. The first-stage metapuzzle was satisfyingly non-generic — as was the linear stage that followed, which included one of the best site-specific puzzles I’ve come across in any game.

There wasn’t much focus on the narrative, but the later stage of the game did have nods to the overarching plot. There were cool moments and fun tasks along the way — the long pre-endgame stretch is essentially a series of cool moments strung together by necessary walking  — which added some flavour and created more of a ‘covert’ atmosphere.

The event wasn’t flawless: one task was a bit generic; there were a few unfortunate (and unintended, as we later established) early red herrings; and at one or two points in the game, it’s possible to spend too much time searching if you’re unlucky. But for solid puzzles and fun experiential aspects, Whisper of the Guardians deserves a recommendation — and should satisfy both beginners and veterans. As long as you don’t mind walking; the route is forgiving, in that it doesn’t make unnecessary back-and-forth loops or whatever, but it is a rather long game.

Result: Got to the treasure in just about two hours.


Lockdown – Whisper of the Guardians
http://chinatown200517.peatix.com/ | http://chinatown270517.peatix.com/
http://lockdown.sg/

Xcape – CIA Crisis

When: 23 Apr 2017
Team: Five people
Location: ‘Islandwide’ (but actually the Dhoby Ghaut area)

After my previous experience with another company’s mobile-app-enabled event, I was a bit sceptical about how this one would go. Thankfully, Xcape’s detective-themed game was a satisfying experience, in terms of both puzzles/tasks and logistics.

One challenge for any mass event is how to prevent bunching. Having an app-based game allowed Xcape to side-step this neatly, with puzzles/tasks occurring across three ‘clusters’ in the Dhoby Ghaut area. Teams covered all three clusters but not necessarily in the same order, thus spreading them out and reducing crowding. Clustering the puzzles/tasks also prevented teams from e.g. having to go from point A to a distant point B, then to point C back near point A — we appreciated the lack of such double-backs, not least given the horrific afternoon heat.

The puzzles themselves ranged from simple codes and information gathering to some commendably rigorous ones. Two stood out in particular: one that would have been a good physical puzzle in any event, and one that made great use of real-life surroundings. There were also several tasks involved, some of which felt random but were at least fun, one of which was cutely CIA-esque, and one of which was satisfyingly site-specific. Having to deduce where to head next was also pretty fun, though admittedly our familiarity with the Dhoby Ghaut area was an advantage.

There wasn’t that strong a sense of narrative immersion during the game, and the endgame deduction was fairly trivial. But I appreciated the thorough debrief (each team received a printed sheet upon finishing and didn’t have to stick around for a mass debrief) which tied the puzzles together narratively.

I wouldn’t call it perfect — some of the tasks/puzzles could have been dropped, and I don’t enjoy having to walk far in Singapore’s awful weather conditions — but it was definitely worth playing. Xcape might be doing a second run later this year, with improvements made based on feedback from this first version. If you missed it this time around, do check it out if it’s held again.

Result: Solved the mystery in about 1.5 hours, which isn’t bad given the 3-hour gameplay estimate.


Xcape – CIA Crisis
http://xcapeciacrisis.peatix.com/
http://www.xcape.sg/