We could all do with a bit of escapism from reality at the moment, as England enters its third national lockdown.
On Monday 4 January, prime minister Boris Johnson announced the new strict measures, which come into force at midnight on 5 January and mandate the closure of all non-essential shops, gyms, bars and restaurants.
The rules mean that, once again, we have to get creative with how we socialise with our friends online and, if you’re looking for an alternative to Zoom quizzes, we’ve found it: virtual escape rooms.
Escape rooms are a popular choice with groups who love a challenge, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, they’ve closed their doors for the foreseeable. The good news is that many of them have moved online instead, making socialising with your friends an adrenaline-pumping experience.
Other games have also become popular, so if you need some inspiration, we’ve rounded up the best apps that you can play games on with friends and family here.
As with physical escape rooms, the mission is as the name suggests – to escape the room – through a series of problem-solving missions and teamwork. Here are a few of our favourites.
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Harry Potter fans will be pleased to hear about this free escape room, created by an American librarian in Pennsylvaniaâ.
You can explore the school of witchcraft and wizardry without leaving the sofa. The game starts right where it should, as first-years who have just been assigned to their houses.
There are team-building exercises, trivia questions to answer and puzzles to solve that you can do as an individual player, or in a team with your friends.
Visit the Hogwarts Digital Escape Room now
Here you can play solo or with a team to complete tasks that will take between one to two hours.
There are five themed rooms to choose from: space race, cabin fever, a night at the theatre, school’s out and out of hours. Each has a different storyline and series of puzzles to complete and clues to collect.
Based on general knowledge, it’ll put a pub quiz with a poor connection to shame. Each game costs £8.99 to play.
If you’re experienced with escape rooms, try playing Out Of Hours (£8.99), where your mission is to investigate a rogue CEO and their dodgy dealings.
Visit Trapped In The Web now
Unlike escape rooms offline, there is no time limit to complete The Panic Room, so you and your team can take as long as you like.
CSI: Grounded (£20) piqued our interest. Avery Stone died 30,000ft up in the air on a private company jet, everyone on board is a suspect and you and your team have to solve the puzzles to find who the killer is.
You can choose your game by difficulty level, how many players can join and the age appropriateness. Prices start from £15 and there’s no expiry time on it, so you can play it whenever you want.
Visit the panic room
This Japanese game is retro in style but the premise is simple: you’ve woken up drunk, locked in someone else’s bedroom and you need to get out before the timer is up.
It’s free to play and involves clicking around for hidden objects and clues to help you escape.
It’s a good one to play on your own if you want to kill some time.
Visit The Crimson Room now
While the Durham-based escape room stays shut, it has taken its game online.
Users are tasked with finding the identity of a mysterious Mr X, a dangerous agent dropping clues in your path.
It recommends using all the resources on the internet at your disposable, from Twitter, Youtube, Google Maps and local websites in your hunt for answers and will take you between 45 minutes and two hours to complete.
If you need an extra helping hand, it’s encouraging you to email [email protected] or talk to the Mr X team on Facebook.
It’s free to play and is easy to involve a team or play on your own if you prefer.
Visit Mr X now
While its doors remain closed, Escape Live is still bringing its child friendly, no player limit escape rooms online.
It has 15 different rooms to choose from, with themes including sword in the stone, Shakespeare’s script, pirate’s blunder and prison break and prices start from £15 per person.
For any Peaky Blinders fans, get in quick and book a slot in The Raid (from £25 per person). This is a child-friendly version (for aged 10-plus) where your goal is to find incriminating evidence against the Shelby family before Major Campbell and his men raid the bookies, all while Tommy, Arthur, Polly and John are attending business matters in London.
Visit Escape Live now
Reading-based escape room Deadlocked has pivoted to online experiences in light of the lockdown, launching The Insiders (£9.99).
The three “episodes” take you into the Wexell Corporation, and your aim is to find the mole at the company who has been working against them using sensitive information.
You can play alone or in a team and it recommends allowing a break of three days in between each episode. Perfect for scheduling your next few online meet ups with friends.
Visit Deadlocked Escape Rooms now
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