Freeing SG – Back to the Future

For starters, I would say that this is a rather atypical freeing sg room, and for the right reasons. It has several cool moments and fun hands on tasks in addition to logical puzzles, and wraps everything up nicely with a rather cohesive storyline that I liked. Most other freeing rooms have storylines or descriptors that are essentially there for display; this room actually makes creative use of the story to provide a well-rounded experience.

The puzzles are logical and there is a decent mix of them. Most importantly, they are well integrated into the setting and largely connected to the story. There is quite a hefty chunk of reading to be done, but you shouldn’t skip over it as it would be crucial towards developing the storyline and your overall experience in the room. However, there is an annoying flaw with one of the props. That actually resulted in us completely skipping a lock and that did absolutely nothing to hamper our progress (more on that later). Other than that, there were a decent number of puzzles to engage your team for the most part of the hour (unlike a number of their newer rooms) so that was certainly appreciated. Do note that people who can read Chinese, or at least recognise Chinese characters might have an easier time.

As this room is set in the Singapore of the old days, there isn’t much in the way of technology or automation, but freeing does what it does well to include many fun hands on puzzle solving aspects. The physical tasks as well as the nature of the room setup might (and I believe have already) unintentionally encourage teams to be more creative than they should to achieve certain desired outcomes. This might not necessarily be bad (since it’s sort of part of the escape process) but as mentioned above we completely skipped over a locked box due to this. The ending is also really cool.

Yes, this is a room that I enjoyed as it was creative, logical and cohesive, in addition to the couple of cool surprises which you must experience, especially if you’re a seasoned escape room player. It is good for 2-3 players and is on the tougher end of freeing’s rooms.

On a side note, I attempted this room with the author of the blog escapingsg.wordpress.com and had a great time! Do check out her review when it comes up.

Difficulty: 7/10

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Technology: 6.5/10

Logic: 8.5/10

Overall enjoyment: 8.5/10

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Breakout Games – The Forgotten Treasure

Breakout’s newest room is special in the sense that there are two unique versions of it that are playable in the same game space, and if you complete one under half an hour you get to play the second completely free of charge! The corollary is that there are a couple of red herrings around, but this room is simple so it shouldn’t affect your gameplay by much.

Just like all other breakout rooms, the puzzles are original, creative and very satisfying to solve. Despite this room being really easy for experienced teams such that the 30 minute target is highly realistic and achievable, it still boasts a couple of cool moments of realisation, which is what I like most about their rooms in general. Both versions of this room are about equal in difficulty level, although I prefer the ‘lights’ version to the ‘letters’ version, as the company names them. You should play both, though.

There is barely any use of technology, which is classic breakout style, but this fits the storyline and setting well, and doesn’t make the room any less enjoyable. Surprisingly, there is some physicality involved, which is out of the blue for breakout’s rooms but nevertheless makes a nice change.

When I played this room one part wasn’t set up properly, and on top of that there was a spoilt lock. Kudos to the staff, who handled the situation professionally. I guess this room is rather new and might have some ‘teething’ issues which I can forgive easily. Hopefully it won’t happen to other teams.

This is an easy room yet has a decent number of puzzles to solve. I would say 2-3 people is best as the space isn’t very big. It is one of the most logical rooms out there for beginners, and experienced teams will also enjoy themselves.

Difficulty: 2/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Technology: 1.5/10

Logic: 9.5/10

Overall enjoyment: 8.5/10

Freeing SG – Old Changi Hospital

In this room, you are tasked to explore the abandoned hospital in search of evidence of the creation of super-soldiers, and escape the place before time runs out. Just like the other rooms at this plaza singapura outlet, this room is rather creative in its own right.

The setting is appropriately creepy and well done up, and technology is used sparingly, and I would say, to good effect. This is in line with the fact that this room is supposed to be antique and run down. The best and most dramatic part of the room came a little too early on, but is still a great surprise that alone makes this room good. This is my favourite part of escape rooms in general, and they still managed to catch me off guard here! A keen sense of observation will point to something perculiar and this is very well in the theme of exploring an unknown place.

The puzzles are logical and decent, but nothing outstanding. A few of them might feel unconnected to the plot, but at least there isn’t much guesswork or ambiguity here. Again, there are only a few things to solve, so experienced teams might finish the room very quickly once they get past the beginning. On that note, my advise is to NOT ask for a hint early on if you happen to be stuck – there isn’t really anything time-consuming later on and the biggest satisfaction is to get past the early game without help.

A decent room with a couple of minor scares/surprises along the way, and good for three people. I just wished that they had a few more puzzles towards the end.

Difficulty: 5/10

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Technology: 7/10

Logic: 8.5/10

Overall enjoyment: 7/10

Xcape – Annabelle

After playing the morgue and having a great time, I had to play Annabelle. I thought Annabelle was scarier than the morgue despite having not watched the latest movie (heard it’s terrifying though). It was an extremely well crafted game, and all the technology worked, delivering surprises and jump scares out of nowhere to further engage you with the story.

Expecting a more execution based game like the morgue and the apartment (seems to be a trend in scary rooms where each action you take is apprehensive and waiting for the next trigger to occur), I was pleasantly surprised to find a fair number of creative and logical puzzles to be solved in Annabelle. There was a decent variety of them, and I particularly enjoyed the puzzles where you had to interpret cryptic instructions. There were, of course, the more execution based tasks, but those are normally followed up with a well timed jump scare that can throw you off despite you being mentally prepared for what might come.

Here comes the tech. When everything worked, it made for a seamless experience that was scary and thrilling. The supernatural aspect of this room is highlighted pretty well, and one absolute stunner near the endgame made me go wow even after playing 50 escape rooms, which is rare. The physical aspects of the room are also great, with multiple secret compartments that need to be revealed throughout the game. This is what I personally enjoy in an escape room, discovering hidden spaces when you seem to have met a dead end.

Yes, this room is scary, and there are multiple high impact points throughout the game to keep you on your toes. However, it also contains a fair number of interesting puzzles and fun physical aspects. Having at least one person who is physically able and one brave person would help immensely. One of the best escape rooms I’ve played so far.

Difficulty: 7/10 (varies based on how brave your group is)

Atmosphere: 9.5/10

Technology: 10/10

Logic: 8/10

Overall enjoyment: 9.5/10

Freeing SG – Jurassic

After a pleasant experience with the enchanted wardrobe, I was back to play another freeing sg room and the dinosaur lover inside me, of course, picked this room which was only a few days old at the time of playing.

The setting was well done, with many items reminiscent of high-tech labs in Jurassic Park (movie). Progressing through the room also made you feel like scientists in your workplace, achieving exactly what is in line with the plot and room description. The use of number keypads and multiple access cards only helped to make things more realistic. Also, there are fun things you have to do that aren’t typical in an escape room, mostly because you would expect them to be part of a singapore science centre exhibit, but I appreciate this as part of what makes this room unique.

However, I have a gripe with the puzzles in this room, mainly because some guesswork is required to interpret what is required of you. There is enough ambiguity to leave you frustrated, and the fact they only give one free hint means that you might be poking your head in the wrong direction for a huge part of the hour if you burn your hint early on. Also, there are too few puzzles in this room, though some of the good physical aspects make up for this.

As a dinosaur lover, I still feel this room is worth playing, but I was kind of disappointed in the few possibly ambiguous matching puzzles. To puzzle lovers out there, this probably isn’t the room for you. Tech is way up there and you should try to have fun with multiple mechanisms the room boasts. Also shout-out to the background music which sounds like something straight out of Jurassic Park.

Difficulty: 4.5/10

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Technology: 8.5/10

Logic: 4/10

Overall enjoyment: 6/10

Encounter – The Boutique

My final room at encounter leads me around to a mystery surrounding the death of a boutique staff. Just like the apartment and hospital, the boutique tells you a compelling story through what you see (and hear!)

The puzzles presented in the boutique might be tedious or frustrating at more than one point, and this is probably the weakest part of the room. Other than that, they make good use of the surroundings and a keen sense of observation is required to pick up the subtle hints. Apart from one rather creative puzzle in the middle (which is unfortunately very frustrating), there isn’t much out of the ordinary.

Technology is not overused in any way yet fits perfectly into the boutique setting, at exactly where you might find it employed in a real life boutique. Speaking of setting, encounter shines in this aspect, building up suspense and playing with your curiosity as you discover more secrets about the place and the story. Just like their other rooms, the revelation of the biggest part of the mystery delivers a rude shock and will leave you trying to weave together the rest of the story after the game.

Although this game isn’t exactly horror-themed, there are a couple of nasty surprises here and there which add to the uneasy atmosphere. Then again, having played the hospital right before this room, I was extremely wary of opening doors as the effect of their other rooms was still there. Although this room is spacious, a good number would be 3 due to the linearity.

Difficulty: 6/10

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Technology: 6.5/10

Logic: 7/10

Overall enjoyment: 7.5/10

Freeing SG – The Enchanted Wardrobe

After the extremely disappointing experience with failing technology in freeing’s galactic survival room, it’s been over half a year before I returned to try one of their new rooms. I was pleasantly surprised: my preconceptions and expectations of this slightly clichéd room type were exceeded in more ways than one. What was not so surprising: their tech failed again. Oh well.

Having had similar experiences in haunted?, zero hour, the whitechapel murderer, 27 club, and probably some other rooms I’ve missed out, I entered the ‘here we go again’ mode when the game started. However, this mindset was quickly thrown aside when we discovered more and more things about the room. (comparable to the forgotten temple by lockdown?) The puzzles were largely simple but were well integrated into the storyline, giving you a real sense of adventure and progression as you slowly uncover parts of the room. I might have gripes about the logic at some parts where guesswork is required, but I’ve realised by now that this is probably the typical freeing puzzle and as long as they aren’t completely unsolvable I’m willing to overlook that for the other amazing parts of this room.

Technology is way up there, and this room really reminds me of lost sg (also reminiscent of their Alice in wonderland room), in a good way, of course (play and you will understand why). Technology did fail once and wasn’t sensitive enough on another occasion, but since the puzzles weren’t difficult we knew we got it right and called the staff right in to resolve the error. I guess this makes it less frustrating than assuming that you’ve got the puzzle wrong and waste time trying again when your failure to progress is actually caused by tech malfunctioning. Since this room is new and the technology issues seem easily resolvable (just like when I first played their Alice in wonderland room), I managed to put that behind and enjoy the rest of the room.

Yes, this room is great, and you should play it as soon as possible so that you’d get a higher chance of technology not wearing out and failing. For newbies, the easy puzzles combined with the cool technological flourishes makes for an amazing experience, and for veterans, there are fun twists and surprises that makes this worth playing. The room is big enough to hold around 4, but due to its linearity I think 2 players is best.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/10

Atmosphere: 9.5/10

Technology: 9.5/10

Logic: 6.5/10

Overall enjoyment: 9/10

Encounter – The Hospital

After playing the apartment, I had to play their sequel room, the hospital. The story was so compelling (also thanks to the setting) that I had to find out more about what happened to the family. This room manages to do that convincingly without relying on narrative text, which is what impressed me most.

To set things straight: this is more of an escape room than the apartment, in the sense that you will have to solve puzzles instead of mostly completing tasks to move through the room. Most of the puzzles are interesting and unambiguous. However, I find that the logic was slightly questionable at a few points which require guesswork. I might have overlooked a clue or two, though, and forgot to confirm this with the gamemasters on the way out.

Nevertheless, this room isn’t about the puzzles as much as the storyline, which is propelled by the rich and detailed setting. Much like the apartment, the items and whatever else you observe around you tell a story, so do take a step back from intense puzzle solving to appreciate the various touches of this room. The suspense is well built throughout (one of the best traits of encounter as an escape room company) and this leads to a shocking revelation at the end, which is one of the best I’ve experienced. As this room is a sequel to the apartment, you really should play the rooms in that order as there are important references here to your previous experience in the apartment.

Yes, this is a scary room, and although it is generally tamer than the apartment, the scares are more ‘in your face’, and rapidly develop as you approach mid game. Like the apartment, this room is expansive and has you opening multiple doors on the way out. The fear of opening doors expecting a nasty scare has already been built up through the apartment and plays heavily with your mind in this room, especially with disturbing imagery around that suggests something unpleasant in the room.

Like the apartment, this room is a very well-designed one that both beginners and expert players will be able to enjoy. Focus on the storyline and setting is as strong as ever, and no other escape room company in Singapore has been able to replicate this level of detail. Encounter’s design team are friendly enough to discuss certain questions you might have about the storyline so do drop them an email if you would like to find out more even after completing the room.

Although the room is big, I would recommend about 2-3 players as the early part might be squeezy, and also for the heightened thrill later on. You might miss out on certain happenings with too many players around, and those are certainly the highlights of this room.

Difficulty: 5/10

Atmosphere: 10/10

Technology: 7.5/10

Logic: 7.5/10

Overall enjoyment: 9.5/10

Encounter – The Apartment

I’ve heard many great things about this room, and have been dying to try it out for a long time. I finally got down to it and was still pleasantly surprised despite my sky-high expectations.

This isn’t so much your typical escape room where you scramble around to find things and solve puzzles the second you enter. Rather, you should expect to be performing tasks that tie in seamlessly with the very well thought out storyline. The room feels alive, and literally responds to you, and the suspenseful atmosphere that gradually builds up after you move through the various ‘stages’ keeps you on your toes.

I was wowed once I entered this room for its extremely detailed setting – you can find exact replicas of many items from the 80s and nothing seems out of place. The creeps start to come in when uncanny things occur – lights, sounds, movements and more. I did become extremely wary before opening any doors (and there were quite a number of rooms to explore) as I never know when I would get a nasty scare. This effect builds up and affected me even when I was playing their other rooms, the hospital and the boutique. Although you know you’re playing in a controlled environment, the effects are so well-timed and so believable that you get completely immersed into the setting and the storyline.

If you look at the ‘puzzles’ or rather tasks by themselves, this room is actually really easy (also partially due to its linearity). However, the fear factor changes this alot as you might not want to look where you have to, or search for something you might not like to see. Yes, there is quite some searching involved but you will generally be directed at what needs to be looked for (nothing tedious) so don’t be put off by that.

Needless to say, this is an excellent room, and is one of the most, if not the most, well-designed rooms in Singapore. Engage the storyline to a far deeper extent than you normally would in other rooms, and you’ll find yourselves asking questions long after the room is over.

About 4 people would do well here, and of course having brave people will be key at certain stages. Any more than that and the fear factor might be diminished. I might have to note that the pricing for this room is far higher than any average room in Singapore (even encounter’s other rooms), and this is exaggerated to quite a steep extent for groups of less than four. Nevertheless, no matter how many people you have on your team, this room is well-worth the price and you should definitely play it.

Difficulty: 3/10

Atmosphere: 10/10

Technology: 7.5/10 (the setting is in an old abandoned house, and tech is only used at certain appropriate junctures to achieve some creepy effects)

Logic: 9/10

Overall enjoyment: 10/10

Escape Hunt – The Whitechapel Murderer

After being pleasantly surprised by what was offered in 27 club, I decided to try out a second room at escape hunt, and I wasn’t disappointed. While the price might be steep, this room has several cool and new things to offer to justify that.

The puzzles were nicely tied to the storyline, and required you to think like a detective at some points. I personally enjoyed an early puzzle as well as one near the end, which were original and very satisfying to solve. However, at some points the logic was weak and there was one major red herring that was annoying. Anyone who took the obvious clue would have a fair idea of what to do yet the puzzle boiled down to guesswork in the end.

Technology was used in more than one way, which led to a big ‘wow’ moment in the room. Several unexpected things occured here and there, which added to the thrill and fun. Although the use of tech might have been questionable in the 1800s(?) setting, this room doesn’t overdo it, which is good.

The room is fairly sized and good for about three people. It has very slight creepy touches but nothing really scary.

Difficulty: 6.5/10

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Technology: 9/10

Logic: 7.5/10

Overall enjoyment: 8/10