Madog’s Asylum, Paniq Rooms

Paniq Rooms

Played: July 2020

How we did: 2 person team – 56:24

In a nutshell:  Immersive horror-themed room set in a disused old Welsh hospital…

4.6 / 5

Host – 5

Puzzleology – 4

Fun Factor – 4

Immersion – 5

Room Quality – 5

Stash – Team photo, found on Facebook page 

Even before you arrive, when you’re told to meet your host outside an old, abandoned hospital, you know you are in for a fun and scary time. Nestled just outside the town of Porthmadog in Snowdonia, North Wales, there is a lot to love about this room. 

Before we get into it, a word to say how well the host explained the safety measures taken around Covid. We were both a little nervous about our first post-Covid room, but the host was thorough, reassuring and professional, taking a high standard of care around this. 

Set in a mental asylum, the room is horror themed. There’s a fun mix of non-linear puzzles and riddles here. Some puzzles will shock, some will tie you up in knots, some you’ll have to use your brain. As we were just a pair, we attacked the room in a linear fashion. 

Like all of the best rooms, there is a sense of fun and satisfaction throughout. Using your hands. Feeling things, picking things up, getting your hands dirty. What I especially love about this room is its commitment to the local history. Some of the puzzles nod to the building itself, and the history of the community. 

Clues and hints are available when needed, and our host was always there, always present if we needed her assistance. 

Clearly, a lot of love, care and thought has gone into this project. It really pays off, results in an authentic, unique and fun escape room. Much needed in the Snowdonia region. 

Full Disclosure, we weren’t charged for this room

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

The Dentist, No Escape, London

In a nutshell: Unlike most trips to the dentist, this was really fun

Played: August 2019  

How we did: 4 person team, 57 mins

3.6 / 5

Host – 4

Puzzleology – 4

Fun Factor – 4

Immersion – 3

Room Quality – 3

Stash – Team photo using our phone + with props

High up above a Londis on Oxford street, space was always going to be a premium for these guys. In fact, finding the venue could be called the first puzzle here. They double down on the macabre at No Escape, and the result is a fun room with a solid blend of puzzles. 

Side note – this featured image is not taken from the actual room. Sadly it’s a promo shot from the No Escape team

My team comprised of some escape room newbies and we had that perfect mix afterwards of kicking ourselves for not getting some of the clues. But also smiles and satisfaction that we got out and worked together so well. 

The folks running the show have clearly given a lot of thought to the dental theme, and they’ve combined some classic puzzles in a satisfying manner that keeps them fresh. 

There was one notable red herring right there in our faces, that didn’t add anything to the game. But, as is so often the case, it takes away. 

Joker’s Asylum, Omescape London

In a nutshell:  Ambitious but flawed origin story for Joker

Played: September 2019

How we did: 4 person team, 54:31

3.2 / 5

Host – 3

Puzzleology – 3

Fun Factor – 3

Immersion – 4

Room Quality – 3

Stash – Team photo using our phone + whiteboard leaderboard

Joker’s Asylum is the hardest room at Omescape. The dark theme and the fact that a minimum of 4 players is required intrigued me. 

There’s a pretty hefty twist early doors, around which, in fitting with the circus theme, I’ll delicately tiptoe along the tightrope. 

After a disappointing debut in the Biohazard room, this was a lot more fun. While some of the puzzles and objects are worn and tired, we were laughing and smiling, and really having to work together as a team. 

Walkie-talkies are essential here, and as the game went on we found ourselves getting frustrated at our reliance on them.

The puzzles are ‘out there’ and it is commendable how they all aim to push forward the story and combine into the room’s last challenge. 

Previously, we’d had issues with host comms and support. This time, I’m sorry to say, a major boo boo in the form of the wrong locks being put on two objects. It resulted in us receiving a padlock code over the radio. And 15 minutes given back to us for the time we lost. 

While it is a step up from Biohazard, this room is a real challenge. Solid teamwork and communication is crucial here. If you (or your friends) get frustrated easily this might not be the game for you. 

Taking a step back, it’s hard for me to recommend a visit to Omescape. This is because both times I’ve visited we’ve had loooong waits to enter the room and either long delays on requests for clues or, as here, schoolboy errors with setting up the room. 

I’d love to see a rethink on the staffing support and a refresh on some of the puzzles, which are looking a little tired. 

The Cabin, Escape London

In a nutshell: Intense. Puzzle heavy. Recommended

Played: September 2019

How we did: 2 person team, 63 mins

4.2 / 5

Host – 4

Puzzleology – 4

Fun Factor – 4

Immersion – 4

Room Quality – 5

Stash – Team photo emailed after, with time and team name 

This is billed as the hardest (and scariest) room at Escape London Shepherds Bush. Just a two-person, we knew it would be a challenge.

After a hit-and-miss from the last two visits, this was a really fun, intense, head scratcher of a room. 

I’m a man who likes a lot of puzzles and this really stretched me. I can’t actually recall a more puzzle-heavy room. 

It’s all on theme, and the progression really works. The spooky elements spooked, and I’d actually like to go back and re-do this room again to take it all in. There is one red-herring that frustrated us. It wasn’t a fun or satisfying reveal. 

This was only the second time I went over 60 minutes, but we consoled ourselves that it’s a tough room, and I think a team of 3-4 is ideal here. 

Thanks to the staff for providing us with one big scare and resultant big belly-laugh for me.