The GCHQ Puzzle Book [Review]

logo-4Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Cryptic puzzles, decryption.
Year released: 2016
Difficulty: 7 to 10.

The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is UK’s signals intelligence agency. They are also the proud inheritors of a legacy spanning all the way back to World War 2 when their predecessors from the Government Code & Cypher School, then located in Bletchley Park, spearheaded Allied efforts to break German military encryption enabled by Enigma machines.

img_9309The people in this field, as exemplified by those such as Alan Turing, were intelligent, driven, determined and sometimes considered misfits of their time. They certainly provided a juxtaposed archetype of the British Spy, who is normally stereotyped as a suave action hero (martinis shaken not stirred). It should perhaps be no surprise then that GCHQ would launch a puzzle book. Apparently their workforce loves solving puzzles. Who would’ve thought?

Last Christmas, Pa and I bought a copy to try out and see just how the brains of these people tick.

Continue reading “The GCHQ Puzzle Book [Review]”

BreakOut: Trapped in My Own Mind [Review]

logo-bigLocation: BreakOut, near Chinatown, Singapore

Date completed:  September 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping (with extra time).

Creativity: 8; Difficulty: 8 (for two people, less with more); Atmosphere: 4.5; Fun: 8.5.

Requirements:

  • Very basic English
  • 2-8 players (we recommend 4-5)

Imagine how tiring it would be if every night you had the same dreams, filled with puzzles that do not let your mind rest. To break this cycle of being Trapped in My Own Mind, we took a more proactive approach to the problem by deciding to solve all the puzzles so they wont spin my brain anymore!

This scenario for an escape room is the result of a partnership between Singaporean companies BreakOut and Nomis Piy. Although Trapped in My Own Mind does not have a strong plot, it is a great puzzle room. The game is filled with a myriad of challenges to solve that range from the cute and easy to the mind-boggling, so there is something for everyone!

Continue reading “BreakOut: Trapped in My Own Mind [Review]”

Orz Escape: Secret Invitation [Review]

orzLocation: Orz Escape, Melbourne CBD, VIC, Australia

Date completed:  April 2016 (5 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 7.5; Difficulty: 9.5; Atmosphere: 5; Fun: 7.5.

Requirements:

  • Intermediate English
  • Good numeracy and mathematics
  • 3-6 players
  • 45min room

A Secret Invitation has been given for your investigation team to an abandoned laboratory connected with a serial killer. The team moves in quickly and somewhere along the way, things go awry. There are 45 minutes to escape the predicament.

After confronting evil clowns in the Vanished Carnivale and an odd Endless Dream at Orz Escape, we took up the Secret Invitation to find out more about this serial killer.

Continue reading “Orz Escape: Secret Invitation [Review]”

Escape Room 51: Escape Room 51 [Review]

logo51Location: Escape Room 51, Penrith (Sydney), NSW, Australia

Date completed:  August 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 6.5; Difficulty: 6; Atmosphere: 6; Fun: 7.5.

Requirements:

  • Intermediate English
  • 2-6 players

It was just another day at the Mystic Hotel, until a bomb threat was unveiled. You are part of the bomb squad and have one hour to disarm the bomb. The big problem is: where is it? Your wits will be your best ally in this mission!

Escape Room 51 is located in Penrith, approximately 1 hour’s drive from Sydney city centre, but near other radical adventures: sky dive simulators, go kart races and jet skis. It was just a matter of time until the first escape room popped up in the area – and the mind behind it is surprisingly young!

Continue reading “Escape Room 51: Escape Room 51 [Review]”

Stranger Things: Kotaku Australia online puzzle hunt

logoEdit note: This post has been edited as the puzzle competition ended on 11 Aug.

Location: Kotaku Australia
Launch date: 19 July 2016
Ended: 11 August 2016

One of our friends recently alerted us to a team up between Kotaku Australia  and Enigma Room from Sydney where they released six puzzles from 19 July to 6 August to promote Netflix’s new series Stranger Things. People who solved the ‘final boss’ metapuzzle had a chance to win $6000 worth of prizes from Netflix.

This was an interesting series of puzzles which included a mixture of basic encryption, observation and knowledge of computer games, particularly those from Nintendo, to break through the layers. The third puzzle was particularly punishing. All of them combined reminded me more of ‘easy’ level puzzles found in hacker challenges like those from DEFCON rather than the sort you see in an escape room.

Continue reading “Stranger Things: Kotaku Australia online puzzle hunt”

Puzzle Room Brazil: Upside Down Room [Review]

puzzleroomLocation: Puzzle Room Brazil, Praça da Árvore district, São Paulo (SP), Brazil

Date completed: June 2016 (4 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 6.5; Atmosphere: 8; Fun: 8.5

Requirements:

  • Fluent English or Portuguese
  • 2-6 players
  • At least one player with good eyesight

 

Called Inverso do Universo (Inverse of the Universe) in Portuguese, the Upside Down Room has a simple but effective premise – in this escape room, everything is upside down! Players have 60 minutes to break through nine planetary gates to restore everything to normal and turn the world back to the right way up.

Looking at puzzles from a different angle is absolutely necessary and literal in this place!

Continue reading “Puzzle Room Brazil: Upside Down Room [Review]”

Escape Room SP: Side B [Review]

Escape Room SPLocation: Escape Room SP, Vila Mariana district, São Paulo (SP), Brazil

Date completed: June 2016 (4 players). Failed, but we got SO close!

Creativity: 6.5; Difficulty: 7.5; Atmosphere: 6.5; Fun: 8

Requirements:

  • Fluent English or Portuguese
  • 4-10 players

 

You are called to inspect the lab of a scientist who has gone missing. Apparently, he was very fond of travelling. Or were all those maps and postcards related to his research? Looks like he was making tests with light – and trying to reach the speed of light by different means. It does not take long for you to put two and two together and realise that your fellow scientist is not only lost “somwhere” but is also lost “sometime”.

As a Tardis is not available, you do have a hard task ahead! You only have one hour to find where and when he is!

Continue reading “Escape Room SP: Side B [Review]”