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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!