An 'adrenalin rush' game that 'gets the brain cells working' in what could be the 'quickest hour of your life'.
These are just some of the comments on TripAdvisor for Escape, an Edinburgh code-breaking game in which a team of up to five races against the clock to solve a series of puzzles and escape a locked room.
Since opening the doors six months ago, the St Colme Street business has welcomed over 8000 visitors.
Until mid-August, it held the number one spot on the travel website’s Things to do in Edinburgh section until it was knocked down one place by The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a position owner Daniel Hill is still delighted with.
"I'm amazed at how many people we have had play our games,” Daniel said.
“It's fantastic to see teams of all different ages participate and enjoy them. The feedback we have received has been absolutely superb.
“I'm genuinely surprised we were able to achieve such a high rating on TripAdvisor so quickly.
“This is the first in Scotland,” Daniel added. “If you look at cities like Budapest, they have 62 live escape games in the city at the last count.
“It is a massive thing in Eastern Europe and Asia and is just filtering into the UK.”
A simple idea that will test your brain power
One turn of a key and the door is locked. A group of game-loving enthusiasts then have 60 minutes to solve many puzzles, riddles and brain teasers using their powers of observation and problem solving to escape the room.
Enter the Classic Live Escape Room and you will be greeted by a 'normal' living room. But look behind the clean and minimalist design and a burrow of hidden drawers, locked boxes and objects lie waiting to be found.
“We have a classic game and a theme game,” Daniel said.
“The theme game [called the Da Vinci Room] is a bit harder. You have to steal the Holy Grail then escape."
“The idea is that you play the classic games first and then move on to the harder theme game," Daniel continued.
“The easiest reference to it is game shows like Crystal Maze and The Krypton Factor or a sanitised version of Saw.”
'It is a bit like Big Brother'
Tucked away in the basement of an A-listed Georgian New Town property, Daniel took a side-step away from his teaching training in mathematics and previous studies in architecture to focus on his gaming goal after a friend opened a similar business in Europe.
Since opening the Edinburgh branch, the 34-year-old said it has been fascinating to see how different people respond to the quick-thinking, clue-busting challenges.
“It is all about the time pressure,” he said.
“We monitor the games by watching them on CCTV and use a code delivery system in the room which could be through TV stations. It is a bit like Big Brother.
“The first clue always gets them to explore the room.
“Children are really good because they are clearer thinkers. If adults go down the wrong route, they try and figure out why whereas kids will just try something else which, in this kind of situation, is beneficial," Daniel said.
“It is a bit like a game show,” he added. “When you put people under the spotlight they sometimes freeze.”
The current code-breaking record in Edinburgh for the classic game stands at 31 minutes and 26 minutes for the Da Vinci Room.
The classic game has an average success rate of between 40% and 45%.
Since opening the doors for the first time in the capital six months ago, Escape has set up in Glasgow and Newcastle and has dreams of expanding the business further in Edinburgh.
“We have been speaking to some people about doing pop-up events, maybe somewhere like the vaults in Edinburgh,” Daniel said.
“We spend all of our time getting everything online on our phones. What this does is generate a bit of interaction.”