Psychopath’s Den, AIM Escape

Played: March 2020

How we did: 2 person team – 63:15

In a nutshell:  Site for Saw Eyes with a few Shocks

4.2 / 5

Host – 4

Puzzleology – 4

Fun Factor – 4

Immersion – 4

Room Quality – 5

Stash – Team photo, emailed afterwards 

My first visit to AIM escape. The venue itself is beautifully modern and minimalist. Like something out of Kubrick’s 2001… Escape Odyssey.

It’s a mark of the high production and investment that has been made with AIM. This carries through to the game. It’s a really enjoyable room. Like a real life Saw movie. There are some scares, some awesome puzzles and some which slow things down too much and break the immersion. 

To start, much like taking the Central Line,  you find yourself in a dark, moody closed space with a maniacal voice over the PA. It really is dark, and the team running the show really commit here – only offering one torch between two. 

It was my team mate’s first ever room, and it was a hell of a first room for him. Towards the end, there’s a fine balancing act, with puzzles rolling around all corners. The finish was electrifying; kudos to the makers for committing to such a flair ending.

For us both the room lagged during the middle section. I spent a good 5 minutes holding the torch for James while he gave everything he had for one taxing solo challenge. The other big puzzle there didn’t land for us. Impressive idea, but we just didn’t find it fun. 

There’s a wonderful sense of progression through the game. Finding tangible clues and items which build and build and thread through to the end. Despite the investment and the use of tech, I loved how hands-on it was. Really fitting with that industrial, torture theme. 

The host and the team there are friendly, thorough and informative. Crucially, our host was efficient and attentive over the walkie-talkie when we needed some guidance. 

It’s a fun room. Well worth visiting whether a fan of horror or not. I’m excited to check out the other rooms.

Full Disclosure, we weren’t charged for these rooms

Roll Out the Barrel, Escape Plan

Played: February 2020

How we did: 3 person team – 58:58 – escaped with full barrel

In a nutshell:   Stealing a barrel of beer in WWII party room – it’s a corker

4.6 / 5

Host – 5

Puzzleology – 5

Fun Factor – 5

Immersion – 4

Room Quality – 4

Stash – Team photo, emailed afterwards + score card

This is a really fun, World War II themed room. It offers a broad mix of puzzles to work the muscles and the brain. So taxing are some of the puzzles it’s advisable to attempt this one stone cold sober – as Poirot would say – with all the little grey cells intact. Ironic for a room themed around stealing beer!

True to form, the team at Escape Plan have created a well thought out room. Like a lot of top escape rooms in London, they care about the little details and touches, and they clearly take pride in what they do. 

Where they stand out is the uniqueness of some of the puzzles and props. Lots of really hands-on puzzles involving wood, metal, glass and parts of planes – and the odd bicycle. As wacky as a party at the end World War Two should be. 

Now it’s in a unique location underneath a very snazzy Indian restaurant in Shoreditch.  They do well to get straight to the puzzling before you even get in the door. Regular readers of the blog will know how much I value a sense of progression, moving through the puzzles – as well as fun, personable and responsive hosting. 

In both senses, they really nail it here. Like all good rooms, communication and teamwork will be some of the many keys to success. After that, everything drops into place. 

While their Battle for Britain room remains my favourite room in London, I am happy to recommend this one hugely. For me it’s just lacking the charming setting and the spectacle of grandstand puzzle we enjoyed before.

I’m mightily relieved that we managed to escape this one without the incisive military knowledge, experience and heroism of my father.

Full Disclosure; we were not charged for this room

The Escapist, Modern Fables

Played: February 2020

How we did: 4 person team – 36:00

In a nutshell:   Stripped back, inter-dimensional detective bar work

4.2 / 5

Host – 4

Puzzleology – 4

Fun Factor – 5

Immersion – 4

Room Quality – 4

Stash – Team photo, posted on Facebook afterwards

Having really enjoyed my first visit to Modern Fables – good people with a commitment to science fiction and narrative – I was really looking forward to another Lovecraftian room. Before I felt that the Oracles was perhaps too heavy on the story and the detail. Here, with their original story and room, they get it spot on.

The set up, very simply, is that you’re in a bar and the bar owner has gone missing. As always, great use of human actors for the hosting, and lovely immersion early on. Spoiler alert – it feels like a real bar. Kudos to the team for creating a really weird mood to the room. A sense of unease, dread perhaps.

As you can see from the time, we raced through this. While it would be natural to fault the level of the puzzles, I don’t. They are well thought out, satisfying puzzles. Mixing different elements of clue work. Props to the team for the spooks along the way. This is a venue where it is always so much fun to make the most scared members of the team go first. 

I recommend this as a first entry into the Modern Fables universe. The narrative works, the puzzles are fun and there is a fun old ending to crescendo the room. Great use of text and wordplay, which is so rare in escape rooms these days!

What I think is lacking is perhaps one majorly memorable puzzle. More time in the first room perhaps. I spoke before about the Oracles having two of my favourite ever puzzles, and I think there might be room for one or two more puzzles in this one.