Submachine 1: The Basement


Play the game by going to Mateusz Skutnik’s website.

If you get stuck, read the walkthrough further down the page to find out how to complete the game.

Bells_1       BasementSub1

Screenshots taken from Submachine Wiki licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0


Aims: for students to develop their reading and listening skills and their vocabulary and pronunciation by completing a running dictation
Resources: free version of Submachine 1: The Basement, one computer with Adobe Flash player per 2-3 students, typed walkthrough
Age: 8-10, 11-14, 15-18, Adult
Level: A2+
Time: 20 minutes plus optional extension


Before the lesson

  1. If you haven’t tried this activity before, go to the TeachingEnglish website to find out what a running dictation is and how it can support learning.
  2. Prepare a running dictation for Submachine 1: The Basement using the following instructions:

    Running dictation

    1. Go two rooms to the left and then up the ladder. Get the valve – the small round thing – hidden behind the pipes and pull the switch down.
    2. Go back down the ladder and then three rooms to the right. Go up the ladder and pull the switch down.
    3. Go back down. Then go one room to the left and go down the ladder. Go down another ladder. Pull the switch down.
    4. Go down again. Then go right. You should be in a room with bells. Ring the fourth one, then the first, then the second. Click the box to open it. Get tile D.
    5. Go back one room to the left. Then go up two ladders. Now go one room to the left and then down one room. Pick up the ancient coin. Go back up one room and then one room to the right so you’re in the room with the picture of the lighthouse on the wall.
    6. Go one room to the right. Then go down one room and one room to the right. Now you should be in a room with an old radio. Click the right-hand button on the radio so the drawer opens. Get the spoon.
    7. Now go left one room, up one and then left again. Then go down two ladders and go into the room on the left. Click on the lock with four squares on the right.
    8. Now click on the ancient coin and look at the number. Enter this number in the lock and the box will open. Click on the box and get the electrical fuse – the long white thing with red lines. Then go out of the door on the right.
    9. Look at the top-left of the room and look at the silver rectangle. Look at the lines on the three circles and remember them. For example they could be horizontal-vertical-horizontal, like this: (-) (l) (-).
    10. Go up two rooms and then one left. You should be in a room with pipes and three tubes connecting them. Click on the bottom part of the tube which has circles with three horizontal lines like this: (-) (-) (-). Change the circles to match the pattern you saw on the silver rectangle. Then go back one room to the right so you are in the room with the picture of the lighthouse on the wall.
    11. Go up one room and then left one room. You should be in a room with a long pipe going down. Get the valve and put it on the pipe. Then turn the valve. You should hear the sound of steam and water from another room.
    12. Go right one room, down one, right one room and down one more room. Then go right one room. You should be back in the room with the radio. Go down the ladder.
    13. The pipe should be broken. There should also be an old pearl on the floor next to the pipe. Get it and go back up the ladder.
    14. Now go one room to the left. Place the fuse in the empty spot. You should hear the sound of electricity from another room.
    15. Now go up one room and then one room to the left. Then go up one room and two to the right. You should see a generator. Pull the switch down and it should create an electric field.
    16. Go left two rooms, down one, right one, down one, and then one more room to the right so you’re in the room with the radio. Now go up one room. Get tile C from the circle.
    17. Now go down the ladder and then left, up, left, up and then two rooms to the right so you’re in the room with the generator. Place the spoon in the electric field and it should explode. Then wait for the small door at the bottom of the generator to open and get tile A.
    18. Now go four rooms to the left. You should be in a room with a clock. Place the old pearl on the end of the rope on the clock and a small door should open. Get tile B.
    19. Go back two rooms to the right. Put each piece of tile on the diamond on the wall.
    20. You should see an elevator. Go in and push the top button.
    21. Wait a moment and then push the bottom button. Congratulations! You’ve escaped!
  3. Stick the instructions on a wall outside the classroom or at least quite far from the computers students will be using.

During the lesson

  1. Explain that students are going to work together to solve a game where they have to escape from a building, and that they will do this as a running dictation. In this running dictation, student A is the runner and must run to the instructions, read and remember as much as possible, and then run back and tell student B what to do. Student B is the mouse operator, who must listen and do exactly as A says. Student A must not touch the mouse and student B cannot operate the mouse unless student A is next to him or her. In addition, student A cannot touch (or photograph!) the instructions, and student B cannot move from the computer. Students must use English at all times! Use instruction-checking questions to make sure all students have understood.
  2. Do the first instruction as an example, where one student A runs and reads the text and returns to tell student B, who carries out the first step with the valve and the switch.
  3. Tell students to start the running dictation. Monitor students closely and apply time penalties if they are breaking the rules. Ask students to switch roles after a few minutes, so student A gets to operate the mouse and B gets to run.
  4. Stop the activity once one team has completed the game.
  5. Invite the winning team to present their answers to the whole class, with one student repeating the instructions in English and the other operating the mouse. Encourage them to indicate important objects in the game.


Depending on your students and the time available, you could:

  • give students the whole list of instructions to read and follow at their desks, possibly with gaps to fill in or with deliberate mistakes to find
  • invite students to play some of the other games in the Submachine series and write walkthroughs for other students to read
  • tell students the key words in the story – spoon, radio, coin, pearl, fuse, etc. – with accompanying pictures, and ask them to predict the content of the game before they start the running dictation.


Do you feel you could use this lesson idea with your students? If so, how would you integrate it into your curriculum? How would you make sure your students used English?

Can you think of any other ways of using Submachine 1: The Basement in the classroom?



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