I think I heard about Sense8 for the first time 2 years ago and so cool to finally see a trailer of it. It’s written and produced by the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski: being a huge Matrix and Babylon 5 fan I can’t wait to see how this new show turns out!

As you might have noticed from some of my recent tweets and blog posts, I’ve gotten slightly addicted to escape rooms… I love the idea and I’m working my way through the list of London rooms. Hopefully I’ll be able to add another to my list if this Kickstarter campaign is successful: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/enigmaescape/enigma-escape-the-live-escape-game-experience-in-l.

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I really like the sound of what Enigma Escape have planned. Here’s a snippet from their Kickstarter page:

Have you researched into your competitors? Yes. Most of the games we played were actually rather fun. However upon reflection, none of the games we played actually made any sense. They were really just puzzles hunts…find all the keys to open all the padlocks and you’ve escaped. Some games tried to integrate a story, but the story quickly became irrelevant and we were left with the same ol’ puzzle hunt. Don’t get us wrong, hunting for puzzles can be fun, but we feel that a live escape game can be so much more than this.

How are you different? We wanted to create games that are both fun to play and make a lot of sense. That’s why our games will be entirely story-driven. We’ll tell you a story of how your team became locked in, then whatever happens next is your story. All the puzzles that prevent you from your escape are natural, meaning that if you think logically, you’ll reveal the solution. Designing the puzzles in this way allows us to create a sense of realism to your scenario. Even if you’ve played live escape games before, you’ll definitely find our take on the game a real challenge. And what makes us the most different, is that we’ve created games that are immersive – see below:

Why are your games ‘immersive’? We want to pay tribute to the origin of live escape games (the escape video game), so we’ve created an experience with video game like features to make you feel more ‘immersed’. These include watching cinematic videos before and after the game to round up the story; background music to set the atmosphere; sound effects at key moments during the game; and other things that you’ll just have to wait and see…

I’ve enjoyed the other rooms I’ve done so far, but I definitely agree that the story is just a backdrop and not really part of the experience. I love the sound of having appropriate background music and sound effects, plus having puzzles that feel part of the story just makes sense to me.

They’ve only got 48 hours left to go and have so far reached £4,628 of their £5,000 goal. They’re almost there! There’s a range of different rewards, most of them offering 2-5 player games when the room has opened. I backed the 5 player one, but I’m so tempted to do the [SPY] level: you get to watch how the staff room works while another team plays!

This is going to be a short review, but I couldn’t resist writing up something about before it disappears from London. I finally managed to go last Saturday and it’s brilliant.

The title of this post says “theatre” review, but Grimm Tales is so much more than your typical theatre show. Their site describes it as “an immersive storytelling experience that will plunge adults and children alike into the subversive world of the Brothers Grimm“. And that’s pretty much spot-on.

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Five fairytales are told over several floors of an old, creepy converted warehouse, with the audience moving from room to room with each story. I loved the set decoration and the costumes: it’s the right balance of dark and twisty. Hallways filled with creepy portraits and paintings, stairwells filled with old wedding dresses, just walking through the venue gives you shivers.

I loved how the fairytales are told in actual fairy tale form. I ended up buying Philip Pullman’s adaptation on which it is based and the dialogue is lifted straight from it. Since the rooms are quite small, you also actually get to see all the actors up close and it’s awesome seeing their expressions from that distance.

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I was familiar with three of the five fairytales, but I have a feeling most people won’t know most of them. I liked that they didn’t pick the obvious ones though, and it really highlights how weird some fairytales can be.

If you’re interested in going, hurry! Tickets are only available until April the 11th.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but I thought I should try to revive it again. Each month I’ll share some of the upcoming movies that are being released in cinemas that I’m looking forward to.

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Furious 7

Do I even need to explain what Fast & Furious 7 is? If you’ve been living without TV or the internet for the past 14 years, it’s the 7th instalment of the widely popular heist and street racing movie series. I’ve always enjoyed the movies; the plot tends to be rather silly, but I always like how they’ve pretty much embraced their over-the-topness.

Release Date: Friday 3rd April

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While We’re Young

This stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a middle-aged couple, who’s career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives. The trailer had some funny moments in it, so really curious to see how the movie turns out!

Release Date: Friday 3rd April

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The Water Diviner

I’ve seen a lot of tweets from people who loved this movie, so definitely going on my to-watch-list. Based on the book of the same name, it’s set in 1919, after the end of World War 1. An Australian farmer, Connor (Russell Crowe), travels to Turkey to find out what happened to his three sons, who went missing during the Battle of Gallipoli.

Release Date: Friday 3rd April

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The Last Five Years

I’m a sucker for musicals, plus I love Anna Kendrick’s and Jeremy Jordan’s voices! I haven’t seen the Broadway musical the movie is based on (mainly cause it never hit London), but it’s about the five-year relationship between a rising novelist and a struggling actress.

Release Date: Friday 17th April

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The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers! I’ve tried to stay away from most trailers of this, but I so want to see it. I’ve even already booked my IMAX tickets!

Release Date: Friday 24th April

Others:

  • The Duff – Monday 6th April
  • Hot Tub Time Machine 2 – Friday 10th April
  • John Wick – Friday 10th April
  • Lost River – Friday 10th April
  • Woman In Gold – Friday 10th April
  • Child 44 – Friday 17th April
  • Last Knights – Friday 17th April
  • A Little Chaos – Friday 17th April
  • The Salvation – Friday 17th April
  • The Falling – Friday 24th April
  • The Good Lie – Friday 24th April
  • Stonehearst Asylum – Friday 24th April

It’s been more than a couple of months since this happened, but I really enjoyed this talk from Konnie Huq at the last Ada Lovelace Day Live at the Royal Institution. Konnie discusses the influences of science and art on her life and performs a poem/rap about the perils of technology (if you only want to see the rap skip ahead to 9:30):

Yay, a new Chronicles of Ixia book! I was pretty surprised when they announced this book; after the first trilogy with Yelena and Valek (the Study trilogy), I wasn’t expecting Maria V Snyder would revisit this world. We then got the Glass series and now Shadow Study, which is part of the new Soulfinder series.

I loved this world Snyder has created, so I’m curious to see what will happen this time around!

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Here’s the description from Amazon:

When Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. She survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia.

Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, dissent is rising. And Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger.

As Yelena tries to uncover her enemies, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. And now she must find a way to keep not only herself but all that she holds dear alive.

Shadow Study is available from Amazon.co.uk for £5.59 and from Amazon.com for $7.59.

I’m slowly realizing there are too many awesome TeeFury designs, and I cannot buy them all *sniff*. This latest one from John Sumrow should satisfy the Venn group of Doctor Who fans and art buffs.

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It’s available from TeeFury for the next 5 hours only!

I’ve gotten completely addicted to escape rooms this year. The idea is simple: your team gets locked inside a themed room filled with hidden objects, puzzles and various other things, and you need to escape the room in 60 minutes by solving all the clues. It’s pretty much the real life version of those flash games from the 90s.

There are at least 8 escape room companies now in London alone, providing 15 rooms all together, each themed and setup in a completely unique way. I was curious though? How do these rooms compare to each other? So I’ve decided to take on the bothersome task of trying out all these rooms with the same team, and reviewing them here!

Escape Land - Live  Escape Game

The first room our team got to do was Escape Land, organized by Escape Games London. I got kindly invited by Sandor from Escape Games to review their room, so on a gloomy Thursday our group made our way to Bethnal Green to get locked in.

★★☆☆☆ Story

The story behind this room is that your group got sucked into a time tunnel and end up in the home of two steampunk scientists. You need to escape the room before the rest of their Illuminati friends arrive. This is all explained on their website, but when we got to the place there wasn’t really an intro to set the scene of the story.

The story element doesn’t get much better when you enter the room. Throughout the room there were several letters involving clues and puzzles, but not much to build the story of why you are there and why you need to escape.

★★☆☆☆ Atmosphere & Set Design

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here, but compared to some of the other rooms I’ve done, the atmosphere of the room could have been better. The room is decorated with a desk, a set of drawers and two creepy mannequins that all look steampunky, and the walls are covered with various steampunk puzzle elements. But it doesn’t look polished or coherent enough; it doesn’t feel like you’ve just walked into the home of two steampunk scientists.

Now I wasn’t sure whether to mention this here or in the next section about puzzle design (bit of an in-between area, I guess), but all the locks were actual locks. Some used keys, some used code combinations, but they were all still I-can-buy-these-from-Amazon-style locks. Which also meant that the result of each puzzle was either a key or a number code. With the steampunk theme I was hoping for some more interesting contraptions, like using cogs or hidden switches to open wall compartments or doors.

★★★☆☆ Difficulty & Puzzle Design

While the locks themselves didn’t feel very steampunk, the puzzles certainly did make use of the steampunk theme, using pipes, cogs, vials and more. There was a good selection of different types of puzzles; some logical, some physical, some mechanical. Our host boasted that with their 16 puzzles, they had more than any other escape room.

This also meant that since we were with 5 people, all of us were constantly busy working on some puzzle. I liked that there were several puzzles which needed at least 2 people, meaning you really had to work together to solve it. We all had our own brilliant aha-moments, where we each finally figured out something.

I don’t want to go into spoiler-area detail of any of the puzzles, but I did enjoy the ones that I solved. As I said in the previous section, my only disappointment was that the result of every puzzle was a key or a number code. This also meant that if you had figured 2 out of the 3 clues/digits of a number code, you could easily brute-force the solution for the last digit.

B-zYuW6UYAAC6ve

In the end, we managed to escape the room in 39:08 minutes. I don’t know what the current standing record is, but it sounded like we had set a pretty fast time.

I really enjoyed escaping from the Escape Land room. It’s not as polished or immersive as some of the other rooms, but I think the puzzles are entertaining and fun to work on. It’s a great way to spend an evening with a group of friends!

Disclaimer: I got invited by Escape Rooms London to review their room. All thoughts and opinions are my own though.

The videos of the talks from the last Playful are slowly being shared. I really liked this one from Steve Lloyd about how we relate and define ourselves through objects:

It’s also at Playful that I experimented with sketch notes for the first time! Here’s what I did for this talk:

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I’m still learning how to do these notes, but it’s been so much fun!

Yay, another InCryptid story is out! This fourth book features Alexander Price again, cryptozoologist and brother to the main character from the first two books, Verity. This time he’s off to Australia to help with an infestation of werewolves (as you do).

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I love the look of this! I’ve really enjoyed all the past books, so can’t wait to see what happens next. We’ve now gotten two books with Verity, two with Alexander… I wonder: will we be introduced to someone else next? Will it go back to Verity? Or will it feature someone we already know?

Here’s the description from Amazon:

Endangered, adjective: Threatened with extinction or immediate harm.

Australia, noun: A good place to become endangered.

Alexander Price has survived gorgons, basilisks, and his own family – no small feat, considering that his family includes two telepaths, a reanimated corpse, and a colony of talking, pantheistic mice. Still, he’s starting to feel like he’s got the hang of things…at least until his girlfriend, Shelby Tanner, shows up asking pointed questions about werewolves and the state of his passport. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Australia, a continent filled with new challenges, new dangers, and yes, rival cryptozoologists who don’t like their “visiting expert” very much.

Australia is a cryptozoologist’s dream, filled with unique species and unique challenges. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with Shelby’s family, who aren’t delighted by the length of her stay in America. And then there are the werewolves to consider: infected killing machines who would like nothing more than to claim the continent as their own. The continent which currently includes Alex.

Survival is hard enough when you’re on familiar ground. Alex Price is very far from home, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: he’s not going down without a fight.

Pocket Apocalypse is available for £5.28 on Amazon.co.uk and for $7.99 on Amazon.com.

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