Cryptology Barcelona Escape Room Tour

The second leg of our European tour, we chose Barcelona. The post of the first leg in Budapest can be found here. This blog post is to talk about the trip, logistics, Mark’s opinion of the games – hopefully spoiler-free, but some nuances of the game which may be better left as a surprise if you are going may play the game. The ratings for the game are in their subtitle, and are out of 7.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

We saw some escape room enthusiasts and some friends recently recommend a trip there. There was also the TERPECA (Top Escape Rooms Project) which had quite a few games in the top 100, and the fact the flight cost £20, it was a no-brainer.

We were led to believe that the Escape Rooms in Barcelona are more about the experience than the time, and now in hindsight I do not recall a single clock in the games we played.

The Escape Room Planning

Unlike Budapest, the escape rooms in Barcelona were quite spread out. I used the TERPECA list to get destinations in the city we could do in the 24 hours we were there. With travel time it made this quite a tricky logistics exercise! I calculated that if we did 5 games in the day, they averaged 13km or 37 minutes apart, with transport! I added extra time for faff and food, and a held my fingers crossed my logistics worked!

InMortal Room: El Diamante De Almas: 10am – 6/7

When I booked this, I didn’t think or clock on to that fact that it was a “scary game”. The game seems to be quite out from “the thick of it” and is a 15 minute walk from the Metro.

We were greeted in the most unique way we have experienced an Escape Room so far! It really sets the scene amazing well for the game.

The game transitions between quite a few rooms/locations, and the puzzles throughout are varied and well-executed. For those a little nervous about a scary game, there’s just the perfect amount of humour in the game to make this an amazing experience.

Looking back on all the games we played in Barcelona, this one carries the most memorable moments, and this is very much down to the GM we had. In character throughout, and a very good debrief at the end where he was just himself. His English was amazing and he is a credit to the industry.

This game set the bar very high for the day, Mark rates this as 6 out of 7.

Inmortal Room

Enigmik: La Cerveceria – 1pm 6/7

We were a team of three, and this game said for a minimum of four. We asked if we could do it via email, and yes we could (although we had to pay for the four). What was pleasing though is that there were parts of the game where you really should have needed 4 players, it’s not just done for profiteering sake.

We opted for a cab because of the 15 min walk to the Metro, this location was 11km / 24min from the previous. This game felt in quite an urban area, and we had time to go to a local café and have a nibble and a drink. The game was around the corner, and our mission was to brew beer!

This game had some great physical moments, and a great technological interface for the brewing part of the game. This was a solid escape room, no ambiguity and with varied tasks. We also had a clue system which was a tablet/phone hung around our next. We were also given an RFID wristband which gave us a specific role in the brewing process, a great touch!

The conclusion of the game had an ice-cold beer rise up as we talked through the game. Another great game which is well-deserved of the 6 out of 7.

Enigmik - La Cerveceria

Escape Barcelona: Tomb Hunter : Akasha’s Legend – 5pm 7/7

The Metro was our choice of transport to get to this game, there was another 15 minute-or-so walk from the stop, to a more residential area over the Besós River. We had some time to kill, so we sat in the February sun by the river.

The mission briefing email stated we needed to have a particular mark (tattoo) on us to be able to enter this game, a great touch. The game started as soon as the door opened, and were led blindfolded to the game. Another GM who was integral to our experience, and her English was good.

This game was something else. The set production, the things that happened, the size of the game… all things which surpassed anything I had ever seen before. I would have loved to have seen the floorplan to this game, because it’s genuinely huge! The finale of this game I thought was superbly done, and made the most memorable experience of the trip for me.

When I booked this game I asked if their Alien game was free for when we could play it, it was unfortunately booked (the Alien was the second rated on the top 100 list from this company). I can see why this got the top Spanish game, and the 6th in the World. The good side of this though, I want to go back and see more from this company. This game easily achieved the 7 out of 7.

Maximum Escape: Ulysses Spaceship game by Maximum Escape – 7:30pm 6/7

Compared to the other games we played, this game felt like a commercialised chain. Not saying this as a positive nor a negative comment, the other 3 games we had played seemed to be from a small and passionate team. These had Whatsapp notifications, flyers everywhere, and a reception that showcased all their games. The location of this game really seemed to be in the thick of it.

The GM greeted us as herself, excellent English, and then went off to get changed to get into character for our mission briefing. She escorted us down into our game and left us to our own devices.

The game had some good video (I can’t recall if we watched a screen or had VR helmets for the intro), tactile puzzles, and parts where the group needs to split to communicate with each other. The clue system you carried around with you, and I found it marvellous! A space game should have some good tech in it, and I think what was used was very well implemented. The game set in some of the latter parts of the game was amazingly well done. Another game very well deserving the 6 out of 7, I would be keen to see more of the games they offer.

Maximum Escape: Ulysses Spaceship

Unreal Escape: La Mina – 10pm 5/7

Not that I knew this when I booked it, but this game was a 10 minute walk from our AirBnB. Another quite residential area of Barcelona, this was the last game of our whole trip.

This game starts of in a small room, and we had trouble (this is not a criticism, the puzzles were well-designed and they do not jump in to help you when they understand their game and know you will get there in the end) getting out of this first bit. It broke out to another medium sized space. After solving a few things here, boom, the game opened up to a truly massive game. It had some good puzzles in here, a nice touch of tech!

I am only giving this 5 out 7, and I still feel 8 months on this is correct. I think the other games were of outstanding quality, and this is not saying this is not. Do not confuse the 5 out of 7 with this not being great, I would recommend this game for anybody and everybody. It feels (only in comparison to what we played) a little dated.

European Escape Room Trip

Escape Trip

Why?

To celebrate the completion of the latest Nottingham room, Daylight Robbery. Cryptology decided to go do an Escape Room trip to some venues that had been recommended in Barcelona and Budapest. As one-third of the escape team was from Yorkshire we decided to choose our next destination from Budapest based on nothing more than price.

Daylight Robbery Movie Poster
Daylight Robbery

Advice and Meat…and Beer

Our number one piece of advice for potential travelers is to not to book your flight in the middle of a major storm, Ciara tried her best to ruin our best-laid plans and we had to delay one of the escape rooms by a couple of days due to late flights. Instead, we arrived in a chilly Budapest in the dead of night and ventured out for some food to fill our souls ready for the next day of escaping or attempting. We discussed over a 52000HUF platter of meat, rice, and chips what the next day would hold and how it would stack up to the rooms we had done in the UK. Between the group, we have over 100 escape rooms under our considerably expanding belts.

A sharing platter of meat
Meattttt

Escape Budapest

We started the day with a walk to the first venue, Mystique Room. They had a large array of rooms to choose from, from which we chose; The Cube, The Time Machine, Alice and The Pharaohs Burial Chamber. In all of the rooms, the set design was fantastic and you felt like each one was its own micro-world. My only bugbear was the use of a walkie talkie in all areas. A walkie talkie does not fit in with the theme of the majority of rooms and let’s be honest they are a pain to understand/listen to and sometimes get forgotten. The standout game from this venue was ‘The Cube‘ a pristine build, with no padlocks and a real feel of the futuristic.

Mystique Escape Room - Cube
Escape Cubed
Mystique Escape Room - Time Machine
Nearly ran out of time

Enigma and Scooters

After we had finished at Mystique we quickly realised that walking the distance to the next venue, Enigma, was not achievable. How could we get all the way across Budapest without the need for running (it has been a while since I last run). Then, like a white a green flash a Lime scooter flew passed. Yep, we were sold, downloading the app and finding the three nearest scooters we spent the next several minutes giggling like little schoolboys as we flew at an entire 22km/h towards our next escape.

Lime Scooters
Take my money!

We arrived just in time and the lovely host ushered us in and we were briefed on what was required. I will say that as a venue this seemed a little run down, but the puzzles were so strong it made up for our initial reservations. A good mix of puzzles that at times made teamwork an absolute necessity. I also got to slide across the floor like a slug and I can proudly say I am quite….sluggish.

Enigmak
Teamwork, makes the dream work!

Back on the scooters to find some food and some beers as we had a little time before the next game that had us excited. Mark had mentioned that this game was something else. We turned up to the venue and I saw a slide, I knew this would be good. The host Dave was an enthusiast and gave an impassioned brief that really set the tone for the rest of the games, oh yeah the games, Santa Muerte and Secret Subway at E-Exit. WOW, what a game I don’t remember a point where our jaws either came off the ground or we weren’t giggling at the thought of what was next. A true masterpiece of tech, story, and theme. I will not say more otherwise….spoilers!

Locked In Escape Rooms

Our final games of the Day were at A-Room and their sister company Locked In and we did House of Escobar and Research Base. House of Escobar was the standout performer and was a room that as a group we clicked with. Strong puzzles, great theming and a thoroughly enjoyable game. After this, we needed refreshment in the shape of a pint glass and painkillers for our backs and feet. We ventured to the Ruin bars to sample the local ale. Although to be fair there were more Brits than locals it seemed and it is one hell of a crowded area.

Food and Drink
Purely medicinal

Making Up for Storm Ciara

The next day we decided to catch up on the missed game on the first night, White Mission and this was one that has been in Budapest for a while and had no backstory. You simply go in and have to get out, as a traditional premise for an escape room as you can get. The game was anything but traditional. Although I seemed to only see a small number of puzzles as I was the only one who had not done a specific puzzle, the game was enjoyable and worthy of the time.

The Blind Exhibition

We also got back on our beloved scooters and headed over to the Buda side to check out the Blind Exhibition. I was confused as to what this would be, but after a slightly awkward start where nobody really knew what was going on (All our faults as we had gone with no idea what was involved), we were given a tiny impression of what a blind person goes through living in a city and what they experience. Our host was great and even got us a drink at the end in a pitch-black bar. I would say this is a must-visit as it is an educational and fascinating experience.

The Blind Exhibition Budapest
The Blind Exhibition

Barcelona Bound

That night we flew to Barcelona, without hiccup this time. Tomorrow would bring a different style of an escape room.

RyanAIr
The flying tin can

To be Continued…….

Stuff that, Christmas is Coming!

With Black Friday on the horizon and Cyber Monday swiftly calculating your bank accounts demise. There is something else that gets my festive juices bubbling, Christmas dinner.

Must have the TV for £0.01 less!

Turkey, roast potatoes, sprouts, stuffing, pigs in blankets, a glass bottle of wine and pulling crackers. The fact you get out your best cutlery, fancy table cloth that makes only one appearance a year and glasses that you need a mortgage if you smash is all part of the most festive part of my Christmas. Even getting butter in the turkey and giblets for the dog is an enjoyable festive experience.

You put what, where?

All this food creation needs a soundtrack and in our household, it is Christmas classics, and the most festive sound known to humankind…the sound of siblings screaming over each others presents. If you are not a fan of festive tunes why not stick on Where Eagles Dare or any film with snow in it as let’s face it, there will probably be no White Christmas.

Some of you may find enjoyment in other parts of Christmas and that is fantastic and we would love to know what is your favourite part of the festive period?

I also have one small request for this Christmas. I’d like (along with an epic meal and family) is no matter our differences in opinions, faith, and views just have a great time with those that you love and be understanding to those you don’t.

OH and visit an escape room! I had to slam it in the post somewhere.

Merry Christmas

Getting Critical of ‘The Crypt’ (Part 1)

The golden chest fills the frame whilst light hides behind a distant curtain. Candles line the walls dimly glowing and showing the hieroglyphics above

We relocated a year and a half ago allowing us to make new games and more escape rooms. However due to this we closed one of our favourite games, The Crypt. We learnt a lot from designing and running this game for two years so keep reading to take away our most valuable lessons.

Sudden Immersion: Getting everyone involved in a snap
The opening of The Crypt was gripping.
After a ten minute briefing the games master would blindfold the players and line them up immediately creating tension. Any uncertainty of how immersive or exciting the game was washed away and replaced by suspense. Then we handcuffed them.

Continue reading “Getting Critical of ‘The Crypt’ (Part 1)”

Building a Team at Cryptology

Build your team

What is Team Building?

Team Building, as the name would imply,  is an activity where colleagues work together to build workplace unity. Companies all over the world use a variety of techniques and strategies to help employees to get to know each other and advance their problem-solving skills, boost creative thinking and unify as a team towards a common goal.

Team

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The Last Straw?

However, some of these activities fail to attain these simple goals. I remember I once did a training day where I had to make some sort of structure out of straws. There was nothing wrong with this approach to business team building, but I couldn’t understand how my employer thought that this would be in any way interesting for those of us actually taking part. The majority of thoughts were simply towards the bar at the end the day or the coffee break (love a good biscuit!) where we could all keep in our own groups and question why we were here.

Murder Mystery with your team at Cryptology Sheffield
The Mysterious case of Hugh Dunnitt, Cryptology Sheffield

Cryptology’s solution

We see our escape rooms as part of the solution to this. Your team is placed in a themed immersive environment where you must work together, communicate and use your problem-solving skills to complete the room. You, for want of a better term, BUILD A TEAM! After you have all done the escape rooms, you can use our meeting room facilities to analyze, discuss and absorb what your mind has just gone through.

Meeting facilities at Cryptology Nottingham suitable for up to 20 people
Conference facilities, Cryptology Nottingham

Due to the way we design our rooms, there has to be more than just one over-exuberant employee taking part to solve the puzzles, but there are various difficulty puzzles to ensure that it is an inclusive team event.

Cypherdyne v1.5 an office like no other
Cypherdyne v1.5 Escape Room, Cryptology Nottingham

An event for all!

During Cryptology’s time in South Yorkshire, we have had; football teams, McDonald’s, banks, local businesses, council departments, and one person booked so she could assess her team that she had recently inherited. All of them went in knowing very little and with an air of pessimism that this was just another straw-building event, but on completion, these same people couldn’t believe that they had never done an escape room before and were excited to book again for their next team building event. Most importantly in my eyes is that whether you are successful in escaping or not, you ALL get something out of the experience.

Team Building in Sheffield in First Contact Escape Room
First Contact Live Escape Room Experience, Cryptology Sheffield