Just in case you’re looking for something fun to do at home now there’s a 10pm curfew in place…
Updated on 22 September 2020: For a little while there, it seemed as if life was slowly getting back to normal. Or as normal as they can be, anyway, in the age of Covid-19.
Earlier this month, though, social gatherings of more than six people became illegal (with some exemptions). And now the government has confirmed that a 10pm curfew is coming into play from Thursday 24 September. Which means that, yes, pubs, bars, and restaurants in England will be closing in a bid to try and prevent any alcohol-fuelled breaches of social distancing rules.
With that in mind, then, might we turn your attention back to the world of online escape rooms?
That’s right: during the heady days of the OG coronavirus lockdown, a number of live virtual escape rooms were launched in a bid to allow players the chance to join in from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.
Here are just a few of the many, many options available to play online. And remember, this list (originally published on 24 April) is constantly being updated with new escape rooms, so please keep checking back.
Trapped In The Web offers a number of different escape room options, but Cabin Fever ticks so many boxes for us. It’s intermediate, so the ideal difficulty-level for Goldilocks players (aka not too easy, not too hard), it’s well themed, and it’s a bargain at just £8.99.
The synopsis keeps things simple and to-the-point. “You wake up on a cruise ship as the only passengers. Solve the puzzles to make your way through the ship and get yourself back on dry land!”
It’s a little like Lost, eh? Minus the confusing smoke monsters, polar bears, and hatches.
Cabin Fever can be played solo or in a team, costs £8.99 to download, and can be found at www.trappedintheweb.com/escape-rooms.
The Hogwarts Digital Escape Room
Oh yes. Blending Harry Potter knowledge with problem-solving skills, this uniquely challenging puzzle works much the same as an IRL escape the room game: you and your teammates need to work together to uncover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in order to – you guessed it – escape the room.
Launched by Peters Township Public Library in Pennsylvania, the (free!) escape room begins by placing the player in the role of a first-year Hogwarts student.
“You were just sorted into your dream house and you had dinner with your new classmates,” reads the introduction. “It is time to head back to the common room and get to know your roommates.”
However, it isn’t long before the house prefect announces that you and your new classmates must take part in a “fun team building activity” before you do anything else.
“Next thing you know, the room is completely dark and you hear a door slam” – but can you escape without using any magic at all?
It’s worth noting that, while this escape room is filled to bursting with Harry Potter references, the questions can be answered by pretty much anyone.
Which means. yeah, muggles, wizards, and squibs alike can join in and have fun.
Interested? Then join the game for free here.
The Insiders takes you deep inside the Wexell Corporation, in order to track down the company mole working against them. Can you find out who’s been sneaking around where they shouldn’t?
Ranked by escape room enthusiasts as one of the best online games right now, The Insiders is a unique, play-at-home escape room spanning across multiple days.
Each of the three story-heavy ‘episodes’ – all of which promise to be as challenging as they are immersive – lasts approximately 90 minutes each. Which means you and your pals can either play through for hours or schedule in weekly dates to tackle it in stages. Win.
The Insiders can be played solo or with friends, costs £9.99 to download, and can be found at www.deadlockedrooms.com.
Victoria’s Last Challenge
Another recommendation from the escape room community, Victoria’s Last Challenge is a live escape room which allows you to control the games master via a remote video link.
As explained on the Facebook page for 11th Hour Escape Rooms: “Using live streaming (via Zoom or WhatsApp), you will control the actions of avatars in the room. One or two people (us, the owners) will be in the room and will be completely directed by you from your sofa or kitchen table!
“You will see from our viewpoint inside the room. So tell us where to look and what to do… figure out the clues and riddles as we go. We will guide you with hints if needed.”
The experience lasts 60 minutes, is suitable for 1-4 players, and prices start from £20. You can book your slot at www.11thHourEscapeRooms.co.uk/bookings.
A dangerous and unidentified agent is taunting you with clues… but can you track him down in this FREE online treasure hunt?
To play, you should use sites such as Google Maps, Twitter, YouTube, Google Maps, and local websites in order to help your search for information. And don’t worry: the team at Escape Rooms Durham are on hand to help if you get stuck.
Start the online treasure hunt at www.www.escapedurham.co.uk/mr-x now.
The B.R.U.C.E Project
As per the trailer, this is something like a multiplayer point-n-click adventure crossed with an Escape Room. Aka The B..R.U.C.E. Project.
Tipped to be one of the best online escape rooms out there, this game is for a team of players of up to six people (although 2-4 is the optimum number). You’ll need a good working connection, a laptop (it doesn’t work via phone or tablet), and some code-cracking pals.
The experience, which costs £15 to download, is available to book at www.bewilderbox.co.uk/onlineescaperooms.
This game sees five priceless treasures taken by five notorious thieves, with players taking on the roles of Scotland Yard’s finest detectives as they hunt them down.
All you’ll need to play Stolen is a phone, laptop or tablet, internet connection, and a printer. Oh, and 2-6 willing detectives, of course.
The experience, which lasts around an hour, costs £14.99 to download and can be found at www.escapehunt.com/uk.
The Grimm Escape
When a team signs on for The Grimm Escape, they are greeted by an online guide (dubbed the fairy godparent) who introduces the story, begins players on their journey, and provides hints to teams that require assistance.
The aim? To break the witch’s spell, of course. Ideally, before it’s too late…
This fun game, which is playable via Zoom, is available for companies, groups, and teams of all sizes. It’s run by Seattle-based company Puzzle Break, but they’ve said that anyone from anywhere in the world can book a game slot.
It costs $25 (just over £20) per person, and so far virtual game slots are selling out within 12 hours of availability. Book yours at www.puzzlebreak.us now.
“Alex” didn’t strike you as crazy when you met him. In fact, you seemed to get on pretty well – that’s how you ended up at his apartment. Now, though, you’re locked in his bathroom, things have gotten weird, and you need to figure out what’s going on, fast.
This game starts at £55. Players can book a live game slot here.
Fancy something deeply unsettling? This game sees you wake up on the floor of a dentist’s surgery, completely alone. There are no windows, but you get the feeling it’s dark outside… and you can’t remember much. In fact, you can’t remember anything.
Will you figure out what went wrong before the clock runs out?
This game starts at £55. Players can book a live game slot here.
Treasure of the Aztecs
In Treasure Of The Aztecs, you take on the ultimate adventure as you race against the clock on a global treasure hunt through the ages to locate Montezuma’s, the last emperor of the Aztec’s, lost treasure. Turn your hand to deciphering ancient Aztec riddles, sift through clues from the Age of Discovery, and you might just uncover the historical find of the century - an epic gold hoard beyond your wildest imagination.
The game starts at £14.99, and you can book yours here.
This article was originally written in April 2020, but has been updated to include new escape rooms.