It’s a phenomenon that began in Japan and has unfold quickly across the world: the escape room, a bodily game the place contributors clear up puzzles and riddles towards the clock to interrupt out of digital prisons, dungeons and different “locations”. The variety of rooms throughout the UK has soared to round 1,200 this yr, a progress of 40% since 2017, in response to Ken Ferguson of Exit Games, and continues to develop. In 2013 there have been simply seven.
Sherlock: The Game is Now, London
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the writers of the hit TV collection Sherlock, have teamed up with Time Run – the company behind a few of London’s greatest escape video games – to create an immersive problem primarily based on the present. Sherlock: The Game is Now is a 90-minute escape expertise that includes units and places from the collection, and new video and audio from solid members. The game opens in December in a secret central London location, however tickets are already promoting quick regardless of the excessive price ticket – December has offered out, whereas January has some slots left, and tickets till the top of May went on sale this week.
A setting from the Sherlock: The Game Is Now escape room, London
“It’s the most anticipated game in the history of escape rooms,” says Ferguson. “The company behind it has always pushed boundaries, with amazing sets and actors – and it’s the first time intellectual property has been taken and made into a game. It will appeal to escape room fans as well as dedicated Sherlock fans. London needed a flagship game and this is going to be huge.”
It isn’t the one TV-themed escape room to open this yr: the BBC is working with Escape Hunt to launch a Doctor Who game in Bristol in December, and in Birmingham, Leeds, Oxford and Reading in early 2019.
• From £54pp, groups of 4 to 6, over-10s, thegameisnow.com
The Crystal Maze, Manchester and London
Photograph: Patch Dolan
This game faithfully recreates the cult 1990s game present, with groups guided by a Maze Master to sort out enjoyable psychological and bodily challenges in 4 zones over about 80 minutes. The extra challenges every workforce wins, the extra crystals they accrue, and the extra time they get to catch tokens within the Crystal Dome. Top scores are recorded on an internet Wall of Fame. There can also be a department in London.
Ken Ferguson’s knowledgeable verdict “As a Crystal Maze-mad kid, this is everything I wanted it to be.”
• Manchester from £30pp, London from £50pp, groups of 1 to eight, over-13s, the-crystal-maze.com
Escape within the Towers, Canterbury
As places go, this one is tough to beat: Escape within the Towers is about in the actual cells of Canterbury’s 1830s former jail. The sinister storyline entails a harmful physician and an previous crime and punishment lab, and there may be an hour to flee. Tickets embrace entry to the Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint – this medieval gatehouse is the most important surviving metropolis gate in England.
Expert’s verdict “A game worthy of its amazing setting.”
• From £19pp, groups of two to 5, over-12s, onepoundlane.co.uk
History Mystery, Norfolk
Photograph: Alasdair Willett
The Queenmaker is the primary escape game in an actual church: St Andrew’s in Blickling, close to Aylsham. Anne Boleyn worshipped right here as a baby and the bizarre plot relies on that heritage – gamers should clear up the puzzles inside the hour to advance the wedding of Anne and Henry VIII, studying slightly historical past alongside the best way. History Mystery has different video games at heritage places together with the 14th-century undercroft on the Museum of Norwich and the Norwich Guildhall, and is planning new video games in different historic cities.
Expert’s verdict “The masters of making history fun.”
• From £12.50pp, groups of two to 10, over-10s, historymysterygame.com
Extremescape, close to Stockport
For spectacular set design, it’s exhausting to beat Extremescape in Disley, Cheshire. In the Pirate Ship game, gamers are marooned in an 18th-century Spanish galleon. In the Lost Tomb, the motion takes place in an deserted Mexican gold mine and a Mayan tomb. A brand new Viking room can be up and operating by the top of the yr. Teams have 90 minutes to flee the rooms, making it a great-value expertise.
Expert’s verdict “Jaw-dropping moments and amazing sets.”
• From £15, groups of two to eight, over-15s, extremescape.co.uk
Department of Magic, Edinburgh
Magic is an rising development in escape video games, most impressed by Harry Potter. One of the very best is the Department of Magic in Edinburgh (the place JK Rowling started writing the books). In the Prophecies Quest game, gamers have 50 minutes to maneuver by means of rooms, fixing puzzles and riddles with a view to acquire prophecies and defeat the Dark Lord. In Dark Lord Resurrection, a brand new game that launched final month, the tables are turned and gamers are on the aspect of darkish magic. Non-gamers are welcome on the Magic Potion tavern for a pint of “Butterbrew”.
Expert’s verdict “A must for Harry Potter fans.”
• From £14pp, groups of two to 5, greatest for over-10s, departmentofmysteries.com
The Panic Room, Gravesend
The Panic Room has 15 escape video games, however Dino Land is the most important and greatest up to now. It takes place indoors and out, and options actors and a few very real-looking dinosaurs. Players tackle the position of rangers in a dinosaur park – the animals have escaped and groups have 75 minutes to get to security.
Expert’s verdict “The closest you’ll come to starring in your own film.”
• From £18.75pp, groups of two to eight, over-eights, thepanicroom.internet
Escapologic: Nottingham and Leicester
Most escape rooms are thrilling and difficult – however not scary. Escapologic video games are completely different: they’re designed to thrill. Butcher is the scariest of the lot – set in a serial killer’s lair full with bucketloads of blood, darkish areas, sudden noises and sudden actions. It is as a lot a check of nerve as logic – one in 5 folks drop out earlier than the hour is up. Best for followers of horror movies – and grown-up households solely.
Expert’s verdict: “The scariest game I’ve ever played!”
• From £16pp, groups of two to 5, over-18s, escapologic.com
Coastal Challenge, Pembrokeshire
One for adventurous escape roomers who are able to take issues to the subsequent stage: a 24-hour survival game close to St Davids in Pembrokeshire. In Much Better Adventures’ Coastal Challenge, groups have to crack codes and unlock clues to seek out tools that may assist them on every stage of their journey – a journey that features abseiling down cliffs, coasteering and climbing, kayaking and fishing, and swimming in sea caves. There is a component of bushcraft, too: contributors construct campfires and seaside shelters earlier than spending an evening below the celebrities.
Expert’s verdict “When one hour of mental challenge isn’t enough …”
• From £215pp, subsequent one eight September 2019, groups of 4 to eight (particular person bookings welcome), over-16s, muchbetteradventures.com
Lady Chastity’s Reserve, Brighton
Photograph: Leo Manning-Jones
One for adults solely: Lady Chastity’s Reserve is an escape game performed in secret rooms in a pub in Brighton (and some pubs in London), and contains clues, comedy, immersive theatre and sordid secrets and techniques. Players discover Lady Chastity’s lair and attempt to win a bottle of her aphrodisiac wine. The Brighton venue is the World’s End, which has three flooring of video games, from retro arcades to digital actuality cubicles. There is one other high Brighton escape game on the identical highway: Bewilder Box within the Hobgoblin pub options Red Dwarf’s Norman Lovett and Knightmare’s Hugo Myatt.
Expert’s verdict “As much an experience as an escape room.”
• Brighton video games from £21pp, groups of as much as six, over-18s, handmademysteries.com