Escape Reality is a large chain of escape rooms, prominently UK based, but also boasting locations in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Dubai. Typically, our experiences with the biggest chains having been brilliant, and all we’d heard about Escape Reality was that they had a controversial clue system, which was a bit of a put off. This weekend, we finally caved in, and decided to risk the much discussed clueing system to take on two rooms, the first of which was Down the Rabbit Hole.
“You and your friends were enjoying yourselves at a party when, suddenly you found yourselves transported into another world. Whether it was the drink, the food or some bizarre phenomenon that caused this rapid change of fate doesn’t matter now as you are all in danger. This dimension does not work as you would expect, in fact things can go quite topsy-turvy very quickly if you are not careful. You may not realise at first but there is an evil twist to the game. Have your wits about you, this room will try its best to tease and taunt you. Your team’s challenge is to escape sane and unscarred, whilst finding your way around this peculiar place.”
The game starts in a small space, decorated nicely with some great wall art, something which continued to impress throughout the game. From that small space, you move into a larger space, and then another space, and then another space, and so on. It was an impressively large game, taking place in a surprising number of rooms, each with a different feel and wonderland theme. There were some nice twists and turns as you went through all of the rooms, never knowing what was around the corner – the weird and wonderful feel of Wonderland was created to a high standard.
The puzzles in the game fit into the theme nicely, from time pieces to hats, and tea parties to games, the room was doused in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspiration. The puzzles were well varied, and pretty much of all them were challenging. We didn’t really fly through any of the puzzles, but did manage to work out most of them ourselves. We did have to call for help three times though – in the first instance, the wording of a puzzle threw us off track, in the second we were being downright thick, and in the third we had absolutely no idea what to do with what we had in front of us. The finale to the game was simple but great, giving us a proper panic moment with seconds to go.
Overall, this is a nicely themed game with some unique puzzles, most of which were really clever, but a couple of which could do with some fine tuning.
Host: Our host was Pateek, and it was refreshing to be able to have a proper escape room chat with someone while being at a larger chain. After both games, we shared some feedback, and majority of which he was aware of and was trying to sort. He seems very passionate and proactive about the games here, and it’s nice to see.
Clue System: Ah, the ‘controversial’ clue system… You’re given an iPad to carry around with you, which displays your time, and can scan icons next to puzzles to give you a clue (which adds five minutes onto your final time – you still get a full 60 minutes in the room, no matter what). In addition to this, there’s a switch next to the entry door (which by the end of this game is miles away!), which summons a game host to the room to help you. A host coming into the room is always a big no, as is getting a penalty for using a clue. Carrying an iPad around is, in my opinion, better than the screen method, as it means you don’t have to keep going back to look at a screen when you want to check the time or receive a clue. It’s just the clueing method that’s a bit of an annoyance though.
Success? Yes, we escaped in around 59 and a half minutes, with an additional time penalty for using a clue taking it up to over 64 minutes.