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Escape Room Enthusiast Survey Visualization

What a fun community! The 2019 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey Visualization was created in an entirely different style when compared ...

June 12, 2021

District 3: Haunted (Regina, SK)



We have not heard of many rooms from the Province of Saskatchewan (Canada) so when District 3 reached out to us, we were excited to see what they had to offer.  From their site:

"The family of this home is searching for a good trustworthy group of people to housesit their manor for the Winter. During your time there, you learn about the caretaker and the family, the manor's secrets, and that maybe this isn't the dream stay you were after.

Set Design, Technology & Puzzles 

Haunted was a physical escape room that was adapted for online play. The set that the game took place in was ordinary but the host was extraordinary! He was comedic and quick on his feet, all while holding the webcam and opening locks for us. We particularly liked how the game was set up and the little touches that moved the story along. The puzzles themselves were standard and consisted of quite a few padlocks. The telescape technology, which we have started to become accustomed to, allowed us to examine clues at our leisure via a web browser and we also used it to enter some codes to solve puzzles. There was also an intricate story line that drove the story but as usual, I personally find it difficult to follow when trying to solve things. 

Memorable Moments 

I have a sweet spot for when actors in a game try to be funny or dramatic. It's almost an extra bonus to see someone playing a fun role in a game and this was definitely the most memorable part of the experience.  

Room For Improvement

There were a few instances where we had to listen to audio clues that, if taken out of order, made things complicated. 

Overall Thoughts

A great gamemaster/actor really made the difference in this game. If you are looking for a somewhat creepy (but not really), puzzly experience you should try out Haunted!

  • Set design: Average
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: +$19/player
  • Number of players: +2, (we recommend 2-4), private
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★
See their website here: http://www.district3.ca/

Disclosure: District 3 comped the tickets for this game

May 19, 2021

2020 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey

2020 Survey
Screenshot of the Interactive Dashboard

Lee-Fay and Errol have once again compiled the results of the annual Escape Room Enthusiast Survey and this time the focus was on online games. I tried to recreate the results and insights that Lee-Fay and Errol captured in the PDF report which is quite a different take from the 2019 visualization version that was much more of a creative endeavor. 

As always, the visualization is best viewed on a large screen and you should click around on various charts and filters to see how things turned out.

Click the this link to access the 2020 Online Escape Room Enthusiast Visualization

Click this link to see the survey results document.

May 9, 2021

EscapeSF: King Arthur & Gingerbread House (San Francisco, CA )

We got to play our first in person escape room of the year at EscapeSF, located in Chinatown in San Francisco. It was such a great feeling to be able to physically touch things in an escape room rather than just viewing it through a computer. We ventured out to play the newly released King Arthur's Legacy and also a Christmas popup, Gingerbread Cottage Escape, that was never released due to Covid-19 shutdowns last year.  From EscapeSF's site:

"King Arthur's Legacy
Ages past and the Knights of the Round Table are no longer in Camelot. The gift of Lady of the Lake is waiting for the hero and Merlin the Magician keeps its secrets. You must assemble a company and get to the Excalibur. 

Gingerbread Cottage Escape
Ding! Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked gingerbread cookies around the holidays...except when YOU are the gingerbread cookies. *Kids friendly"

Set Design, Technology & Puzzles 

King Arthur's Legacy
The set design in this game was on par with what one would expect in an office space right in the middle of Chinatown, however, the props that were used were great. The swords that were used were custom made from Russia and they were really heavy to lift! There were some neat surprises that we didn't expect and this reminded us of how much we loved playing physical escape rooms. EscapeSF was also the company where we played some of our very first games back in 2016 so it was great feeling to come back. Many of the puzzles were based on observation and ciphers that are prevalent in escape rooms.

Gingerbread Cottage
This game was designed for kids and we were told it was super easy but we loved the Christmas theme and how cute it was! The set was basic, but effective given that it was made for children. Experienced players would get out of this 45 minute room in 15-20 minutes so it's best to play with kids.

Memorable Moments 

King Arthur's Legacy had a fun physical puzzle that fired us up and made our day. Gingerbread Cottage was just really cute and it's hard to forgot the Gingerbread man that you are trying to build. It reminded me of the same character in Shrek.

Room For Improvement

We felt that the ending of the rooms lacked a grande finale that we often crave from an escape room. Also, the set design could have been more elaborate to provide a more realistic feeling of being in King Arthur's world. 

Overall Thoughts

We enjoyed the first in person room we played in 2021 and while the games were not groundbreaking, they were definitely some solid fun.

  • Set design: Average
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: +$115/game
  • Number of players: 2-7, (we recommend 2-3), private
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★ (both games)
See their website here: https://escapesf.net

Disclosure: EscapeSF comped the tickets for this game

April 18, 2021

Claustrophobia: Dream Factory (Online, Moscow, Russia)

Dream Title

Claustrophobia invited us to play another large scale Zoom game called "Dream Factory". Like their first game we played (World Domination), there were six teams (four-five players per team) but this time each team represented a different movie studio. Each studio plotted towards achieving the biggest box office hits. This was more of a strategic game and not a traditional escape room as there were no puzzles to solve. We also teamed up with Room Escape Artist Hive Mind reviewers because of the scale of the game (see their review here). 

In every round of this game, each studio had to choose the genre of movie they wanted to produce, attempt to sign a celebrity to play the star, invest in advertising, tap into the paparazzi or buy marketing forecasts for industry intel.  Teams would meet in Zoom breakout rooms to discuss their selections in secret and then at the end of each of the five rounds, all teams would meet up and present their ideas.

Here is a breakdown of what each team had to be aware of.
  • Movie Stars: Each round you had to submit a single bid for one of four celebrities. If you were outbid, your movie would have no star and be adversely affected in terms of ticket sales. We asked if we could bid on two stars but were told that we probably shouldn't.
  • Genre: Each round, a genre was also chosen and the box office forecasts for each genre could be known ahead of time if money was spent on a marketing forecast. The tricky part was that the box office dollars were split equally by all studios that had the same genre so it could be better to choose a less popular theme in order to get the full earnings potential.
  • Paparazzi: Some celebrities would be caught in some scandals, thus affecting their movie box office performance. A studio could avoid this actor if they paid money for some intel.
  • Advertising: This somehow affected your revenue as well but it wasn't quite clear as to how much of a difference it made.

Highlights and Memorable Moments

Every round, each team had to present their film and it was fun but also quite stressful to come up with anything coherent in as little as eight minutes! At the end of the presentations, teams voted for what they thought was the best movie of the round and a score was presented. The goal of this game really wasn't to "win" but more to have fun with some ridiculous story telling. Once a studio had a box office lead, we noticed that they never got any votes for best movie, despite getting the most laughs or having the most clever punch lines. This was one of those games where everyone could team up and slow down the leader by simply not awarding them any votes. Nonetheless, this experience provided a ton of laughs and was highly dependent on the personalities of the individuals who participated. 

One of the movie hits was an extremely inappropriate, but hilarious NC-17 rated blockbuster that was concocted by some dirty minds.

Dream Factory
Really amazing group of people!

Room For Improvement

While there was a scoring system in the form of box office revenue, it wasn't quite clear how this was affected by the different elements in the game. How bad was it to not have a movie star or to not put any resources into advertising? We didn't have a clue. There was also some text that was still in Russian but we were able to Google translate it pretty quickly. 

Another aspect that should be considered was that shy people found themselves standing back as an observer. Perhaps a game mechanic that made everyone present something could have mitigated this?

Dream Score
From Claustrophobia

Overall Thoughts

I always appreciate the large style online games (+30 players) as it's incredibly difficult to craft an activity where so many people, for the most part, can actively participate in. Dream Factory's free flowing structure opened the door to whatever was in the minds of its participants which led to something entertaining and hilarious. It was almost like watching an Improv show where all the participants were winners. We recommend playing this game with people who don't take themselves too seriously and who perhaps have a tad of silliness in them.
  • Difficulty: Just have fun!
  • Number of players: 12-35 (we recommend 24)
  • Duration:  1.5-2 hours
  • Overall Rating: ★★★

Disclosure: Claustrophobia comped the tickets for this game

March 27, 2021

The Secret Library: Escape Atlantis (Online)

Escape Atlantis

Secret Library's newest game, "Escape Atlantis", was the first escape room game that we played in 2021. It has been a slow year and we are really hoping that things pick up soon and that everything returns to normal. Nonetheless, we happily took our group of six players into this game with no prior knowledge of what to expect which was a rarity for us! From Secret Library's site:

"Escape Atlantis is a traditional escape room with challenging puzzles and a unique storyline within the Secret Library narrative universe. This experience ventures beyond the common videoconferencing experience to include an integrated floorplan to encourage immersion and autonomy. Search for clues and work collboratively as you uncover the mysteries surrounding this ethereal realm of knowledge. This experience utilizes interactive features to bring you into the story even before the event even begins."

The layout of the game was something that we had not seen before in the previous online escape rooms played. There was a mini-map of Atlantis where we could click on different locations in order to "travel" there. Once at the location, we had access to puzzle elements and the input mechanic was typically typing in the answer. The novel part was that people in the same room were able to see and talk to each other with what seemed to be some sort of Zoom video integration. When players left the room, you could no longer communicate with them so this was a pretty realistic way of simulating a physical escape room. The game also utilized videos in order to tell the story throughout the experience. 

The puzzles in the game were standard for escape rooms and involved logic, ciphers codes and pattern recognition. 

Highlights and Memorable Moments 

The technology used to move people around the virtual space was great. Popping in and out of a location and seeing who was in the room with you provided a strong sense of connection that we normally take for granted when everyone can always see each other. The finale also provided some inadvertent laughs as we botched the last riddle with some ridiculous logic. 

Room For Improvement

The puzzles were similar to puzzles that you would find on paper in an escape room. The puzzles were all fair and logical but we felt that they didn't leverage the online medium in a way that other online escape rooms did. Also, looking at puzzles pieces on multiple tabs was a bit clunky.

Overall Thoughts

This game would be great for players who like a traditional "point and click" game and who are itching to get back into playing escape rooms. 

  • Set design: 2D Map
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: $100/game
  • Number of players: Up to 8, (we recommend 3-4), private
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating (For Online games): ★★★★
See their website here: https://www.secretlibrary.io

Disclosure: The Secret Library comped the tickets for this game

February 1, 2021

World Domination (Online, Claustrophobia/Tulleys Escape)

Global dominance banner

One of the world's largest escape room creators, Claustrophobia, has created an online game called World Domination, where six teams (four to five players per team), each representing a different country, plot towards achieving...world domination. We played the English version of this game via Tulleys Escape Room in London, where we actually had the pleasure in 2019 to play their wonderful physical escape rooms

In this game, each country can focus on growing their economy, which in turns gives them more money to spend on actions the next round, or developing a nuclear program and bombing other cities. There are 6 rounds and before each round, there is a 15 minute negotiation period where teams can decide how to spend their money and also visit other countries to negotiate whatever nefarious plans they may have. As countries develop their cities, their average standard of living score increases but if a city is bombed, that city's score goes to zero. The country with the highest score after six rounds is the winner. This online game takes place via a Zoom conference call.

Each country can spend their money on the following actions:
  • Develop their cities and helping grow their economy (more $ for the next round)
  • Put a shield on one of their own cities
  • Research nuclear technology (eventually make and launch bombs)
  • Improving the world ecology
  • Sanction another country to reduce their economy

Highlights and Memorable Moments

The game is not an escape room but more like a game of Risk mixed in with a lot of behind the scenes negotiations. The people that you play with will have much more of an impact on how entertaining the game is even when compared to an escape room where your teammates are really important. The fun really happens when you act as an ambassador and visit another country's zoom chat to try and strike a deal or get insights. Improv and charm will go a long way and if you are not comfortable with that, it might be a bit awkward. At the end of each round, the UN Speaker (i.e. game master) will show the status of the standard of living for every city and this is how everyone can see if some countries have been investing their economy or...weapons!

Zoom screenshot of the group

As the President of each country voices their opinions for the state of affairs, many things can be taken out of context which is actually how real life politics works. For example, our President was making small talk and congratulating the countries with the highest standard of living with no ill intentions, yet we found out that those countries thought we were trying to paint a target on their backs. It was really fun to see some people doing their best to act Presidential and everyone in our game happened to be really polite and almost too nice. It would have been funnier to have a bad boy who did crazy stuff. :)

It was amazing to get such a big group of people together and to interact with them in such an engaging manner. My country, the Bahamas, was able to coordinate precise attacks on two of the top cities in the game to radically change the leaderboard. The final round had TONS of bombing with basically every country losing at least one city. Here were the results of the game:

Game Leaderboard
Game Results

Room For Improvement

From a technical aspect, some players got stuck in another country's Zoom meeting as you had to press the help button and wait for a UN representative to transfer you back to your own country's Zoom break out room. This was generally fine for all but the final frantic round where everyone was trying to strike deals. It was difficult to get a meeting with another country because the UN representatives were super busy and it was nerve wracking to see the clock ticking down while your game depended on reaching out to another country to take down the leaders.

There was some dead air in between rounds when the Presidents of each country were allowed to openly discuss things. I think that more prompting by the UN for each country to at least give some words each round would have made things more interesting. Of course, this is where having colorful people in the game makes things super funny.

One more round, for a total of seven rounds, would have been preferable as all the action takes place towards the end. 

Overall Thoughts

World Domination was a unique and entertaining experience. The group dynamics is even more fun when you know the majority of the people in the game. While there were some frantic moments and some logistics that can be improved upon, the game really worked well with such a large group and the more extroverted the people, the funnier it will be! If you can wrangle a sizable crowd or want to celebrate an event, this would surely be memorable and enjoyable.
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: £9.95/person
  • Number of players: 12-35 (we recommend 24)
  • Duration:  1.5-2 hours
  • Overall Rating: ★★★

Disclosure: Tulleys Escape Rooms & Games comped the tickets for this game

January 5, 2021

2020 Escape Rumors Achievement unlocked Medalists

2020 was a crazy year and we wanted to look back at the positives and announce a short list of top escape rooms that we played.  The winners below are a mix of both traditional physical rooms and online based games.

Achievement unlocked medals are awarded every year to the top escape rooms played by Escape Rumors. There is no limit in terms of rooms awarded and they are sorted alphabetically.

The escape rooms with direct links have reviews. Feel free to contact us at info@escaperumors.com for any comments or questions.

Escape Rumors Achievement unlocked Medalists

Frost Base Z (Rabbit Hole, Denver, Colorado)
Frost Base Z takes place on a magnificent frozen base straight out of the movies!

Ghost Patrol (Trivium, Emeryville, California) - Review to come
The clean design along some great puzzle evolution all the way to the finale makes Ghost Patrol a satisfying experience from beginning to end!

Plight Of The Margo Part 1 & 2 (ConTRAPtions, For Collins, Colorado)
This puzzle-heavy escape room has the most intense starship set design we have ever seen, along with some serious equipment to go along with it!

Pursuit of Assassin Artist (Omescape, Online)
Pursuit of The Assassin Artist delivers a top of class experience with a novel game mechanic that will reset your expectations of an online escape room!

Starlight Motel (Escape Artist, Greenville, South Carolina)
Some fun actor interaction, sprinkled with some tense moments within a creepy motel is what makes this room standout when compared to others in the genre!

The Truth About Edith (Mad Genius Escape Co., Online)
The Truth About Edith blends a whimsical storyline, fun mini-games and a 97 year young lady all into a comedic and delightful experience not to be missed!

Virtual X-Caper (Agent November, Online)
If you are looking for a lighthearted, witty and genuinely hilarious online escape room, you should definitely play Virtual X-Caper!

Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to 2021!