A rare vintage.
Location: Lewiston, NY
Date played: January 22, 2017
Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $20 per ticket
Story & setting
In the wine cellar of an eccentric collector, we had to search for the legendary million dollar bottle of wine.
While the story was simple, the set was not. We were in a beautiful wine cellar. There were faux stone walls, barrels, crates, and large racks with bottles. The Wine Cellar looked authentic.
We were mentally prepared for the Wine Cellar to turn into a vaguely horror game with organs in the wine or whatever… but Reality Rooms Niagara resisted that trope and played their adventure clean. It was refreshing.
There was a solid mix of puzzles in the Wine Cellar. We ran into some trouble with the puzzling due to a need for outside knowledge to draw a few key conclusions.
Throughout the game, the environment, props, and embedded technology played a regular part in the puzzling experience, which helped to keep our attention on the excellent set.
The set was pretty fantastic. It looked and felt like a wine cellar.
I had seen an image of a wine cellar in Reality Rooms Niagara’s brochure at a local restaurant prior to our visit. I cynically thought that it was a photo of a real wine cellar and not the game. (A fair number of companies pull that kind of move in creating the marketing materials.) I was dead wrong. That was an in-game photo and I could not be happier about it.
The use of the various props was clever and felt natural in the game’s environment.
The conclusion of the game was entertaining.
While the puzzles themselves were plenty sound, a few of them required outside knowledge due to weak clue structure. We were pretty caught off guard by this and thought we were missing information within the room. The requirement of outside knowledge is a cardinal sin in escape room design and was by far the biggest opportunity for improvement in the Wine Cellar.
There was a puzzle that triggered technologically before we had completed the interaction. We were utterly baffled by this. In fact, we thought we had broken something or that it happened by accident. As a result, we spun our wheels for a while not sure what to do. It turned out that everything behaved as expected, suggesting that the tech in the room could benefit from a little bit of iteration.
Should I play Reality Rooms Niagara’s Wine Cellar?
The Wine Cellar was a wonderfully low-key adventure. It never attempted to add hefty stakes or turn dark. It was simply a beautiful environment in which to puzzle through to an incredibly sensible conclusion.
It had its flaws in the form of outside knowledge and a finicky technological implementation, but both of these flaws are fixable. I hope that Reality Rooms Niagara addresses them because while the Wine Cellar was a lot of fun, it could be pretty magnificent with a little bit of adjustment.
I recommend experienced players stop by to enjoy the atmosphere and puzzling.
Beginners could take on the Wine Cellar, but I suspect that they would need to use hint liberally to make progress because the clue structure got a bit tenuous at times. It was a good game, but its more confusing elements could sour the experience for less unseasoned players.
On my next trip to Buffalo, I am eager to return to Reality Rooms Niagara. Cheers!
Book your hour with Reality Rooms Niagara’s Wine Cellar, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Reality Rooms Niagara comped our tickets for this game.
The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.