Deadlocked Escape Rooms – Tunnelling Through Time [Hivemind Review]

Tunnelling Through Time is a point-and-click escape game created by Deadlocked Escape Rooms in Reading, England, and all proceeds go to the Brunel Museum.

And… today is Matthew and Theresa W’s 100th Hivemind Review!

Tunnelling Through Time title card over Zoom. Performer looking nervously behind her while in a large cavernous space.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click
  • Video-based experience

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 90-120 minutes

Price: £15 donation to the Brunel Museum

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You are at the Brunel Museum which showcases how the Thames Tunnel in London was built, and through some unfortunate events, you’ll end up time traveling. At least now you get to explore the true stories of the Thames Tunnel.

This is an online puzzle game with strong video elements that drive the story. After watching a scene, you interact with a point-and-click section containing several puzzles related to the narrative.

A man in a top hat and dated suit with a ghastly expression on his face.

Hivemind Review Scale

Deadlocked Online – The Movember Virtual Moscape Room [Hivemind Review]

The Movember Virtual Moscape Room is a point-and-click adventure game created by Deadlocked Escape Games (Reading, England) in collaboration with Movember.

Movember "It's about to get hairy" logo.

Format

Style of Play: point-and-click adventure game with light puzzle hunt elements

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, Facebook access

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 90 minutes

Price: £15.00, a third of which is donated to Movember

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

In the game, your goal is to bring a razor to the protagonist so he can participate in Movember. Gameplay relies on social media snooping combined with custom digital puzzle games. The audio and video content from the characters adds a lot to the experience.

There is a regular mode, and an “extreme” mode that uses most of the same solutions, but the way you get them is different, with the regular version connecting the dots a bit more concretely. We’ve noted which version each reviewer played.

Guess a number puzzle from the puzzle pack.

Hivemind Review Scale

Deadlocked – The Cyphstress [Hivemind Review]

The Cyphstress is a point-and-click adventure game created by Deadlocked (Reading, UK) in collaboration with Siren Craft Brew.

Cyphstress Online Escape Room promo illustration, depicting an woman with keys, and clocks in her flowing hair.

Format

Style of Play: point-and-click adventure game with audiovisual components

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Note that you need to have accounts on common social media platforms.

You’ll want to have your computer’s sound on.

Also, one part of the game unexpectedly asks you to play on two devices with a video chat. This is definitely worth doing.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: two 90-minute sessions, which can be played as one long session

Price: £10.00 for standalone game & £35.00 for bundle pack with The Cyphstress beer (which does not ship to US)

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Note that the booking page requires a UK postcode in the billing information. If you aren’t in the UK, you can look up a random UK postcode and use that.

Description

This is a story-driven series of puzzles presented as a point-and-click adventure game, integrated with other online mechanisms, including audio clips, and social media. As the story unfolds across two chapters, characters give you tasks to perform by tracking down information across these channels. You submit solutions in several different ways.

An assortment of Siren Beers.

Hivemind Review Scale

Deadlocked Escape Rooms – The Insiders [Hivemind Review]

The Insiders is a digital puzzle game created by Deadlocked Escape Rooms in Reading, England.

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

A control panel with a variety of buttons, switches, and displays.

Format

Style of Play: light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: Computer with internet connection, printer, scissors, pen and paper. Recommended to use a touch screen computer / tablet for one of the puzzles. Note that it’s extremely challenging to photoshop-hack around the printing and we do not recommend playing without a printer.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 3 sessions played over about 1 week, with each session at 60-90 minutes

Price: £9.99 and that £9.99 cost can also be redeemed against the cost of a live escape room once Deadlocked Escape Rooms reopens

Booking: Your adventure begins with a cryptic message within your confirmation email, as soon as you purchase.

Description

This is an online puzzle hunt with a storyline. Gameplay included social media sleuthing, printable paper puzzles, video games, some light ‘hacking,’ and a digital scavenger hunt. It’s basically a digital puzzle sampler pack.

A web page for a corporate job posting.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Richard Burns’ Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I really liked this game. The storyline was interesting and developed. There was mystery, suspense, twists and turns. I liked the anticipation of waiting to be contacted between the puzzling sessions. The puzzle volume, quality, and variety were beyond what I had expected. The Insiders includes several hours’ worth of content including print-and-cut, online sleuthing, and even classic video game dexterity puzzles. The game difficulty is perfect for a lone player of some experience, but there were several sections with parallel puzzles that could keep a small team occupied. The hint system was very well done. Great overall value.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Insiders provided three sessions of extremely varied puzzle play, essentially a sampler pack that shows the range of what online puzzle hunt/ escape room hybrids can be. The variety of puzzles kept the game interesting nearly the whole time; they did not lean on one puzzle structure more than once. Unfortunately, some of the puzzles that could have been fun and interesting wound up going on for too long or had directions that were too vague. These missteps brought the fun to a near stop, replacing fun with tedium. Any puzzle can become frustrating if it goes on for too many iterations. The value is definitely there, considering the amount of time I spent with the puzzles. If some of the computer-based puzzles were streamlined, this would be something I’d recommend fully, quarantine or not.

A collections of papers, cipher dials, and a pink paper bowtie.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.
  • + Lots of content with multiple hours of playtime for a low price
  • + Very wide variety of well-constructed puzzles, including printable, website interactions, papercraft, and digital games
  • + Storyline is interesting and puzzles progress the story, instead of simply being tacked on to a theme
  • + Digital interactions were fully custom, looked good, and operated well
  • – One puzzle was fun… for the first iteration. It required far too many repeat solves and became a grind.
  • +/- The same puzzle (almost) requires two people to solve, so playing with a friend is recommended
  • +/- The game is in three parts with a several-day gap in between, but since there is no timer, self-paced would be better

Theresa Piazza’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Full of content, but not my cup of tea. Meant for hardcore puzzlers, The Insiders is a game jam-packed with puzzles of all shapes and sizes. Yet after most solves, my teammates and I found ourselves more thankful the task was completed than celebrating that we had bested a puzzle. It’s clear that Deadlocked Escape Rooms poured a lot of time and effort into this game, using so many different formats to keep things interesting for players, but it didn’t deliver an engaging experience for me. My favorite part of this game was interacting with our handlers between chapters, as having to correspond not only helped us believe the story, but also added a bit of levity to the experience.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I think Deadlocked Escape Rooms has set a new standard for what online puzzle games can be. From the minute I received my booking confirmation email, I was suddenly thrust into a world of tech espionage and intrigue. We were tasked with infiltrating a corporation, and boy, with the level of detail they put into world-building, I started to find myself looking over my shoulder, convinced that secret agents were tracking my moves. The puzzles were very fun, in a range of difficulties and styles. In fact, the entire experience felt very fresh to me because despite the numerous puzzles, none of them felt stale or repetitive.

There was only one part that I found frustrating, and it’s mainly because it’s a type of puzzle that puts a lot of pressure on you to input correct codes in the correct sequence, and it gets more and more complicated as you proceed, with a reset if you mess up. However, as with any challenge, there was also a huge sense of accomplishment after I finished (and I also needed a large glass of wine to soothe my frayed nerves afterwards!).

I think this is a top-tier online puzzle game with detailed world-building and a large variety and type of puzzles. It was like eating at a gourmet buffet of all my favorite puzzles.

Deadlocked Escape Rooms – The Time Machine [Review]

There’s no such thing as too much Energen

Location:  Reading, United Kingdom

Date Played: March 7, 2020

Team size: 2-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: £25 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Great Scott! This game was fun.

Structurally, Deadlocked did something utterly genius with Time Machine. While it was functionally a 90-minute escape room, narratively it was a 60-second escape room. Because time travel. It’s the kind of idea that’s so good that I know tons of creators will read this and wish that they had come up with it.

In-game: A spaceship's interior, through the window a sun burns bright.

From a gameplay standpoint, Time Machine was delightful. Experienced teams won’t need anywhere close to 90 minutes to complete this game, but the lengthy clock was a lovely affordance for newer teams.

The set was a mixed bag. It looked really good for a homemade set, but it looked noticeably homegrown. The power of Deadlocked was in what they did with their sets to create magic, surprise, and drama… which they did regularly from the moment we entered the door.

If you’re in London, we highly recommend hopping a train to Reading for a game or two. Deadlocked’s Time Machine was a fantastic game crammed with love and ingenuity.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The intro
  • The core conceit of the game
  • Smart and smooth scene transitions
  • The primary gameplay loop was super clever

Story

The crew of the Wexell Corporation’s Time Machine had vanished during its maiden voyage. To make matters worse, they had also created rifts throughout the timeline, profoundly altering history.

Along with our trusty robot sidekick Wexie, we had to traverse the timestream and right the wrongs of the previous crew.

In-game: Wexi overseeing the timeship.

Setting

The Time Machine had a crafty and innovative set. The magic of this game was in its transitions and scene changes.

Upon closer inspection, the seams and reclaimed materials didn’t look sharp. It had a decidedly homegrown look about it that still worked, even when there were ample opportunities for more refined construction.

In-game: Closeup of a homemade looking spaceship made from tubing and reminant hardware.

Gameplay

Deadlocked Escape Rooms’ The Time Machine was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: Energen tubes, the "Next Generation of Energy."

Analysis

➕ At Deadlocked Escape Rooms, we were greeted in character. The introduction to The Time Machine was high energy and hilarious. The acting was phenomenal.

➕ The Time Machine was a 60-second escape room, but we had 90 minutes to solve it. Brilliant concept. We loved this little twist on the escape room format, which was explained clearly and humorously. The gameplay supported the concept. Although we encountered some looping game mechanics, they never grew old or tiresome. The setup added pressure, which upped our energy.

➕/➖ The set did a number of incredibly cool things. However, while we appreciated that Deadlocked Escape Rooms built The Time Machine with reclaimed materials, the set construction was sloppy. The seams showed.

➕ Overall, we enjoyed the puzzles and the gameplay.

➖ The puzzle flow of the final act felt a bit choppy relative to the smoothness of the rest of the game.

➕ Deadlocked Escape Rooms minded the details of the scenario they’d dreamed up, which built cohesion in the game world. These were small details that made us smile.

The Time Machine used a small physical footprint well. As the game progressed, Deadlocked Escape Rooms build in new intrigue with personal touches and fun reveals. One late-game reveal was game-changing.

➕ Our robot helper Wexie was adorable and entertaining. She joked with us, establishing her own character. Her hints were a lovely part of the experience.

Tips For Visiting

  • The Time Machine is at Deadlocked Escape Rooms’ Reading location.
  • One teammate needs to be able to crawl.

Book your session with Deadlocked Escape Rooms’ The Time Machine, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Deadlocked Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.