Now open in Manchester: Tick Tock Unlock

"Tick Tock Unlock" logoIt seems to be a law that when a new exit game opens in central Manchester, it must be almost exactly half a mile from another exit game that exists. Not half a mile from every other exit game in central Manchester, as that would first have required central Manchester to be tetrahedral, then this new one would require it to be… ((sound effect: searches)) pentatopal, apparently. Such existence in higher dimensions sounds like one of the plotlines from Exit Strategy, but that’s not important right now.

Just to the west of Salford Central railway station, about half a mile or so away from two other games, Tick Tock Unlock opened in (technically, Greater) Manchester on October 15th. In fact, the site is located within an arch of a railway viaduct leading to the station; it is the fourth site within the Tick Tock Unlock brand, and the second to be set in just such a railway arch. The site currently hosts a single room, which has a 60-minute time limit and is designed for teams of three (£16/player, £48 total) to six (£14/player, £84 total). The game itself is a new one for the brand, entitled Project Pandora. Sounds hopeful – but maybe wisest not to open any boxes while you’re in there. No, wait, that’s probably not how it works.

You have come far, you and your team of survivors. Now here you are, where it all started, where it could have ended. Where it will end – if only you are brave enough, if only you are clever enough to put the pieces together of Doctor Maria’s final work.

Yet nothing is ever easy, as you have no doubt discovered on your journey to this almost forgotten laboratory, and the lab itself will be no different – for there with you will be the final test-subject, its chains weakened by the unrelenting strength of the living dead.

Early team photos have the teams posting while carrying prop knives, cleavers and the like. Fingers crossed that you don’t end up needing to use them on the final test subject!

Coming soon to Glasgow: Tick Tock Unlock

Tick Tock Unlock's new Leeds locationThe famous Tick Tock Unlock recently announced on their Facebook that they will be expanding to a third location, this one in Glasgow. It’s a huge metropolis; although it’s long been served by Escape and the brand new The Room, surely it’s big enough to support three different sites. (It does remain to be seen whether four different competitors can all thrive in a city outside London, though.) The Facebook message suggests that it’ll be opening in about a week’s time. (Tick Tock Unlock had a tease where they were inviting people to guess their new location, but you could look at a jobs site and see them recruiting for quite a convincing clue…)

If you’re very observant, you might be aware that the graphic above isn’t actually of the new Glasgow location. Instead, it’s of the Kings House office building in Leeds to which the original Tick Tock Unlock location has originally moved. Inside Media suggest that the location has taken 1,719 ft2 of space, which is a very decent size and promises much for the future. Tick Tock Unlock have already hinted at a “new game coming soon”; for now, they have already opened a second room of their original Blueprint game, enabling always-popular head-to-head competition. This site has long suspected that the original Tick Tock Unlock in Leeds was one of the busiest single-room locations in the country, so opening a second room should help people get to experience the game that has gained such high ratings on TripAdvisor at the time they want to play it. Exciting times!

Unrelatedly, this site has a very strong suspicion that the vast majority of locations up and down the UK and Ireland are doing excellent business this Easter; it’s still cold enough that people are attracted to indoor activities, and the Easter weekend is a traditional time to get together for fun with family and friends. Considering that locations tend to be busier on Saturdays than on any other day of the week, and considering how quickly the market is continuing to grow, this site would bet fairly good money at short odds that more people are playing an exit game in the UK and Ireland today than on any other single day previously. That said, if it is indeed a record, it’s probably one that’s going to get broken again before much longer!

On the move

moving-houseThis site isn’t going anywhere, but there are a few exit games moving and shaking at the moment:

  • The justifiably renowned clueQuest have completed their move to a new location, half a mile or so up the road from King’s Cross station. (According to the lower half of this blog entry, they reopened on March 11th.) Their new location is in what seems to be a safe and pleasant neighbourhood in south Islington. This site popped by a couple of days ago and work was well and truly in progress, particularly on the outside – but looking through the open front door down the smart-looking corridor suggests that the building has as much depth, and as many hidden depths as you would hope.
  • Tick Tock Unlock have been massively busy with their new Liverpool location, but their first site in Leeds has been very difficult to book with its single room and would likely have sold many more spaces if it possibly could have done. Accordingly, this Tweet suggesting we are looking forward to moving to our new venue next week sounds like a great step forwards. This site hopes that every site relocation is a positive one!
  • Over in the north-west, Clue HQ have launched their Blackpool location, with a brand new game entitled Detonation. (This site understands it’s about the Greek financial crisis… now there’s a beta-minus joke.) In truth, the new room sees teams on the trail of a criminal notorious for blowing up anyone who attempts to track him down. The game is intended to have a slightly lower difficulty level than their famously fiendish tests in Warrington, but early reviews point to another winner.

Some other matters arising:

1) The ninth weekly episode of online play-along-at-home-on-an-app game Quiz The Nation takes place at 8pm on Sunday night; it’ll be the last one for now, and the last chance to play for free in order to earn money prizes and further playing tokens for when it returns in a month and a half. The tech has improved (though do make sure the app has access to your device’s microphone) and the operators have earnt a good reputation for paying out the advertised prizes quickly. Not in this direction, yet, though that’s not exactly their fault.

2) As previously discussed, Engima Escape are crowdfunding through a Kickstarter appeal. They’re making more progress than other UK exit game Kickstarters of previous years, and at least one unsuccessful crowdfunding project has nevertheless turned into a very successful live site. Nevertheless, their appeal could surely do with some more love if you’re in a position to give, whether you’re in a position to play the game or not.

3) Mark at QMSM should be either very proud or very ashamed of his most recent post, and this site is only 96% sure it’s the former.

Exit games in the news

Newspaper graphicThere have been several interesting news stories recently about exit games, well worth a round-up:

  • Today, The Star (of Sheffield, not the Daily national recently focusing on Big Brother, Channel 5 and the proprietors’ other business interests) had a cheerful piece about The Great Escape Sheffield, which TripAdvisor reviews place as number one activity in the city. It’s fascinating to hear more about the background of the people behind the game and get a sense of their influences. The suggestion that a local university offered considerable assistance is particularly interesting and shows what might be possible.
  • On Sunday, Isle of Man Today discussed a trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh where the Glasgow highlight was a trip to Escape, which TripAdvisor reviews also place as number one activity in the city. It sounds like they had great fun in both cities.
  • A couple of weeks ago, The Daily Telegraph had an enthusiastic and pleasant, though unsurprising, article about a trip to HintHunt, mentioning some of the other fixed-location sites in London at the end. As great as the games that get the lion’s share of coverage are, other games in London are also available.
  • Further afield, The Varsity of Toronto take a slightly wider cross-section of the games available there. The proprietor of LockQuest has interesting things to say (particularly in the context of this Twitter exchange…) – though, as ever, the media is far bigger than the mainstream media and you’ll find far more in-depth coverage from the amazing local bloggers who you’ll find in the blogroll here. For instance, everyone’s drooling over this timeline of the 45 (!!) exit games in the greater Toronto area, which looks so gorgeous as to put the counterpart UK timeline somewhat to shame.
  • The written word is far from the only medium; the IntoConnection series of vlogs had a global top three of the genre, in the opinion of a Dutch site proprietor polite enough not to nominate his own.
  • A really exciting blog post recently has been part of InterviralsBlog February series, with a look at the history of room escapes. It’s got people thinking, talking and researching…

Lastly, the very best of luck to Clue Finders of Liverpool! The last week has seen players taking up trial slots, with the first paying bookings expected in a day or two. Liverpool is the place to be right now, what with Clue Finders opening and Tick Tock Unlock taking its first bookings on Saturday onwards!

Five exciting news stories make a post

"Top News" newspaperLittle or no connection between these, but they’re all good news. In no order:

  • Tick Tock Unlock have been rocking Leeds for most of 2014, and after the gentlest of wild goose chases, they have announced that they will be opening a second location, this time in Liverpool. Liverpool has long been one of the biggest gaps in the market waiting to be filled (though certainly partly served by a short train ride to Warrington for Clue HQ) and if Tick Tock Unlock can serve up something that gets as good reviews at the other end of the M62 as they have done in Leeds then Merseyside is in for a treat. More news as soon as it becomes available.
  • One of the “more likely than not” predictions for 2015 has come true already with the tremendous development that Asa and friends have started the Escape Game Addicts weblog, which has got off to an enticing start. One day and two posts old, this looks extremely promising. It’s clear that the team are having great fun and this site looks forward to them putting it into words. They’ll be doing something slightly more hands-on than this blog can do at the moment, by necessity, and are based in a really happening part of the country. See the above post! The site goes straight into the blogroll and further posts are awaited with bated breath.
  • Speaking of blogs, Toronto Room Escapes has been absolutely crushing it for a while. The Year In Review post is an excellent place to start and the Themed Thursday series of really in-depth (and well-thought-out, and showing the benefit of considerable experience, and just plain smart) theoretical game ideas (with, even better still, occasional feedback from others in the industry) is already a highlight of the week. Tomorrow is Thursday; excellent!
  • This weekend’s MIT Mystery Hunt was won in just under 40 hours by team Luck, I Am Your Father, the evolution of the Beginner’s Luck team who won in 2009. (57 teams took part, possibly with as many as 11 getting through the metapuzzles and having the fun of finding the hidden coin.) Initial reports suggest that this year’s event is likely to be remembered favourably even by the MIT Mystery Hunt’s off-the-charts standards. The theme was, loosely, “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”, and some wit noted that the promised 20,000 puzzles were exactly delivered… if you take 20,000 in base 3! Many thanks to the setters, team One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish, principally associated with MIT’s small Random Hall dormitory. If you want more familiarity with the MIT Mystery Hunt and its conventions, this presentation is as good as it gets and is far too good to save for another 359 days.
  • Finally, coming up later in 2015, BBC Two will be launching Beat The Brain, where dear old Uncle John Craven will give teams of four contestants “logical problems, visual puzzles and memory challenges, rather than trivia questions“. Some puzzle TV shows in the past have been spectacular; others have relatively missed the mark. Fingers crossed that this one proves another critical and popular hit!

Looking ahead to 2015: new exit games and new rooms

Red "Coming Soon!" ink stampThis site has already looked forward to puzzle events and puzzle competitions that it knows about for 2015, though even since then there have already been two additions to the calendar. So what developments are planned for 2015 on the exit room side of things?

NEW SITES

The Escape Room Manchester opens on 15th January, and bookings are still available for day one if you want to play Prison Break or The Secret Lab there; if you want to play Slaughter House, The Mummy or Room 13 then you’ll have to wait a day or two longer. As well as having five exciting-looking games to choose from, as previously discussed, the prospect of what the site might stage at its exclusive bar is an enticing one. The discount code ESCAPE20 will earn you 20% off your booking!

A little later, a holding page announces that a new business called Clue Finders is set to open on 22nd January, though no location has yet been made public. This site looks forward to further announcements and learning more when information becomes available. Additionally, a recent announcement that the official launch of the Breakout Games Aberdeen web site is imminent also tantalises; the location in Aberdeen has been posted as a teaser and this site eagerly anticipates finding out the specifics. As the announcement says, “There will be a launch offer to celebrate the new opening so keep a keen eye on the Facebook page for more information coming very soon“.

Slightly later still, this site has already looked forward to the launch of The Mystery Cube in Wimbledon. Bookings are not yet available but the statement on the site that “Cube Missions between 24th January – 7th February are half-price! Simply use the coupon code: MYSTERY CUBE” goes a long way towards setting people’s expectations. No connection with Phillip Schofield, but this site looks forward to giving the game a trial run.

NEW ROOMS

As previously announced, Breakout Manchester suggested about three weeks ago that they will be opening their fifth room, Infiltrate, in mid-January. As it stands, it’s already been quite heavily booked and the earliest that you can still book to play it is a single slot available on January 20th. The site also posted a job advertisement on Gumtree which hints at further developments to follow. It’s going to be an exciting year for them.

Clue HQ have recently leaked a series of teaser images leading up to a big announcement of their plans to launch a third room; it’s worth browsing around the in-character National Bank of Money site to get more of a feel for the world in which this game’s story is set, and this site’s interview with Clue HQ proprietor Stuart Rowlands reveals a little more. It’s clear that many people are eagerly awaiting this!

Tick Tock Unlock posted an exciting start-of-the-year message reflecting on the progress they have made in their first seven months or so of business. (It’s great to hear that they have attracted players from 6 to 91 years of age, for instance!) They would have a strong claim, by a number of metrics, to be the most successful single-room site in the country. The message concludes “(…)keep your eyes peeled as we will have some very exciting news to share shortly“; always great to read!

This site will be keeping an eye out for new games and new rooms and will take delight in bringing the news to you when it can. It’s always fun to be surprised when new games take off and turn out to have been running for a while already before the word got this way; who knows when that will happen next?

All the news from the UK’s exit games

Newspaper imageSix months ago today, this site posted its first two posts: one with the by now very familiar map, and one with a quick introduction. Back then, this site was aware of eight sites open in the UK and Ireland, and would later discover two more that were open at the time but not yet known; now, there are at least eighteen.

The Timeline tells the story of the ten openings over the last six months – and, as much as there were two open sites that took a while to make themselves known, who knows how many others there are, already open but waiting to be discovered? On the other hand, some things never change; perhaps Brighton (surely a rich market to be exploited!) will eventually get an open site some day to turn its red map dot yellow. It’s time to take a look around and catch up with some news stories from the sites – as it happens, mostly pretty northern sites.

In Belfast, The Gr8 Escape (website still under construction) have announced to their Facebook page that at the end of this month, they will be closing their two rooms down to replace them with a ninety-minute two-room extravaganza, potentially capable of seeing a dozen players at a time, themed around Hallowe’en and running through October. Sounds like a smart and distinctive move; fingers crossed for the results.

In Leeds, Tick Tock Unlock have similarly hinted at changes to come within months; “Our building has been recently bought out and will be converted to something else next year so sadly no scope to expand there; we will be moving to another one soon.” The site’s reviews are great, so surely this will be a case of onwards and upwards to bigger and better things.

In Warrington, Clue HQ have also posted a Facebook announcement that their second room will be entitled The Dungeon of Doom. (Surely it’s tempting to add a bundle more “o”s to the last word and pronounce it so that it takes two and a half seconds to say… that can’t just be us, can it?) The “Like”s have rolled in apace. No details on timing, other than “coming soon”. The room is also intended to be harder than their first Bunker 38 room, and they’re open about Bunker 38‘s difficulty rate, with only around 10% of teams making it out. Gulp!

In Macclesfield, Escape Quest also post news to their Facebook page, this time construction photos showing them making good progress towards their opening, projected for November. Additionally, they have posted the story behind their first game. The site will have a time travel theme: a smart choice, as different rooms become thematic as representing different journeys. The first room will be set in Victorian England in 1873. It’s not immediately clear whether the atmosphere will tend towards realism, steampunk or some other form of fiction, but all could work well.

Exciting times! If the next six months are nearly as active as the past six months have been, it’s going to be great fun to follow!

July 2014 Dealwatch: coupons and discounts to play exit games for less

"Sale" graphicSome exit games offer opening discounts, to help fill their rooms early before the word gets far and wide. Some offer opening discounts organically; others offer discounts through social buying schemes. Here’s a quick run-through of the deals that this site could find that are still valid. (Ground rules: terms and conditions doubtless apply and this site takes no responsibility for deals that fall through for whatever reason. These are not exclusive in any shape or form.) This month, there’s one new, one change and a couple of deletions.

  • Keyhunter of Birmingham have a Groupon deal active. £15 for two players, £19 for three, £24 for four or £29 for six. Codes are activated 48 hours after purchase and are valid for 90 days after purchase.
  • NEW! Escape of Edinburgh have a Groupon deal active. £24 for a team of up to five, restricted to new customers only. Codes are valid for 60 days after purchase.
  • Tick Tock Unlock of Leeds have a Groupon deal active. £22.50 for three players, £30 for four or £35 for five, restricted to new customers only. You must book by e-mail, including a contact phone number. Codes expire 90 days after purchase.
  • Cipher Entertainment of Leicester remain closed in preparation for their second season, but they have a Groupon deal active all the same. Deals are only available for the one-hour version of the game. £19 for four players, £24 for six or £29 for eight. You must book by phone and arrive 10 minutes early. Codes expire 90 days after purchase and exclude public holidays.
  • Ex(c)iting Game of Oxford have a Groupon deal active. £24 for five people or £47 for six to nine people, restricted to new customers only. You must book by phone. Coupons listed as valid until 8pm, so presumably are not valid for the 8pm-10pm game available daily, and expire 90 days after purchase.
  • Clue HQ of Warrington officially open a week today, but already have a Groupon deal active already. £29 for three or four people, £32.50 for five or £36 for six. You must book online. Coupons are valid from 28 June-28 September 2014. There’s also a similar deal at Wowcher, though this charges £29 for up to four, £39 for up to six, is valid until 15 October, and terms and conditions are presumably slightly different.

Those are all the active deals, discounts and coupons this site could find; if you know of others, please send them through – and if your site has a offer not listed above, please don’t take it as a deliberate attempt to disrespect and this site will happily spread the good news. (Alternatively, if you would prefer that this site does not list your coupon, that’s fine too and please get in touch.)

In other news, thanks to everyone who filled in our survey a fortnight ago. There weren’t loads of responses, but the ones supplied were appreciated, especially when people left comments as well. Posts on exit games were most popular, then posts on puzzle hunts, then general-interest articles, then ones on puzzle competitions least popular. Good to know!

Remember that there are some good ways to follow articles posted to the blog: subscribing to the syndicated feed in the reader of your choice is probably easiest, but we also post links to new articles to our Twitter account and our Facebook account.

Dealwatch: coupons and discounts to play exit games for less

"Sale" stickerOne frequently-used technique to help brand new exit games to fill their rooms early before the word has got out too far is to offer discounts for a while after the site opens. It’s probably no bad thing for advertising purposes that the coupons are still easy to find online even after the validity deadline has expired, and you can see how many sites that are now booked up almost completely weeks in advance started off by offering social buying deals. Here’s a quick run-through of the deals that this site could find that are still valid. (Ground rules: terms and conditions doubtless apply and this site takes no responsibility for deals that fall through for whatever reason. These are not exclusive in any shape or form.)

  • Keyhunter of Birmingham have a Groupon deal active. £15 for two players, £19 for three, £24 for four or £29 for six. Codes are activated 48 hours after purchase and are valid for 90 days after purchase.
  • Tick Tock Unlock of Leeds have a Groupon deal active. £22.50 for three players, £30 for four or £35 for five, restricted to new customers only. You must book by e-mail, including a contact phone number. Codes expire 90 days after purchase. There’s also a similar deal at Dealmonster where tickets are a flat £30 and expiry is a constant date of 9th January 2015 rather than 90 days after purchase; terms and conditions are presumably different to the Groupon ones.
  • Cipher Entertainment of Leicester are currently closed in preparation for their second season, but they have a Groupon deal active all the same. Deals are only available for the one-hour version of the game. £19 for four players, £24 for six or £29 for eight. You must book by phone and arrive 10 minutes early. Codes expire 90 days after purchase and exclude public holidays.
  • Ex(c)iting Game of Oxford have a Groupon deal active. £24 for five people or £47 for six to nine people, restricted to new customers only. You must book by phone. Coupons listed as valid until 8pm, so presumably are not valid for the 8pm-10pm game available daily, and expire 90 days after purchase.
  • Clue HQ of Warrington officially open a week today, but already have a Groupon deal active already. £29 for three or four people, £32.50 for five or £36 for six. You must book online. Coupons are valid from 28 June-28 September 2014. There’s also a similar deal at kgb deals, though this charges £39 for six and terms and conditions are presumably slightly different.
  • XIT of Dublin have a LivingSocial deal available on their BOXit room. €35 for four people. You must book online. Coupons are valid until 27 October.

Those are all the active deals, discounts and coupons this site could find; if you know of others, please send them through – and if your site has a offer not listed above, please don’t take it as a deliberate attempt to disrespect and this site will happily spread the good news.

Opening in Leeds on Monday: Tick Tock Unlock

"Tick Tock Unlock" logoThis site has previously featured a preview of Tick Tock Unlock, an exit game coming to Leeds very soon. Their Facebook site suggests that a booking has already been made for May 19th, and the opening date has been confirmed on Twitter, which is sufficiently convincing to merit a place on The Timeline and the exit game details page. However, the web site suggests that bookings are currently available from Wednesday 21st May onwards, so it may well be that they have plans for the rest of Monday and Tuesday.

There have been some gorgeous photos added to their Facebook site recently; it’s well worth clicking through to see the rest of the album. The details within the room look atmospheric and delightful. The photos say that “You can step into the professor’s office but the leaving will not be so easy…” Private e-mail reveals a little more that can be exclusively revealed. The game is entitled Blueprint and here’s its background:

“Conspiracy theorist and history professor, James Watson, has vanished under mysterious circumstances. He was once considered the bright star of academia before he uncovered the web of criminal reality lurking in plain sight. What started as a drive to unmask the criminals very quickly took over his life. His obsession, which led many to call him delusional, consumed him; some even questioned his sanity. That is, until he vanished without a trace. If you are reading this, you already know too much and they are coming after you next.

You are the last remaining hope to uncover the truth from his delusions. Solve the mystery, escape in sixty minutes – Tick Tock Unlock.”

Extremely promising and tantalisingly close!