Moriarty’s scavenger hunt.
Location: Buffalo, NY
Date played: January 21, 2017
Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5+
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $25 per ticket
Story & setting
It seems we were searching Professor Moriarty’s gameroom in an effort to find an antidote and save the world.
While this setup was explained to us prior to the game, it wasn’t at all relevant to the gameplay. We were in a massive scavenger hunt.
The room felt a like an antique store. It had items hanging all over the walls, displays loaded with toys and other assorted oddities, and a card table in the middle of it all.
This was our first visit to one of the many The Great Escape Room™ venues around the United States. They have taken a slightly different approach to escape games. The game had different color-coded sections and each color had a certain number of corresponding pieces scattered across the room. For example, Pink – 36, Blue – 5, Green – 7, Black – 15, Yellow – 20, and Red – 8. This meant there were 36 pink pieces, 5 blue pieces, and so on.
As we played the game, we searched for the items with the corresponding colored dots, which were hidden all over the place. Once we uncovered enough of the pieces to solve a color, it was time to puzzle.
We had to earn our hints by finding 3 dice hidden about the room.
Moriarty’s Gameroom was first and foremost a scavenger hunt. I cannot recall a game where the team had to search as hard, as long, and as thoroughly as The Great Escape Room™ demanded.
To make it clear how much searching was involved, we:
- only found 2 of the 3 dice
- burned both of our hints to find missing objects
- spent 95% of the game searching
- escaped at the buzzer having still not found 2 items and the aforementioned dice
We found most of the puzzling straightforward, once we had everything in hand. This was more complex when we attempted to solve puzzles where we were missing an item or 5.
We appreciated the counts for each color set. This design made success possible, given the incredible amount of searching necessary to play Moriarty’s Gameroom.
Our gamemaster, who was in the room, didn’t betray the locations of things, but knew exactly what we had and had not found. When we asked for hints she never hesitated to point us in the direction of something insanely well hidden that we had not yet found. I was impressed that she was so on the ball.
While kids cannot play Moriarty’s Gameroom alone because there are plenty of items hidden out of their reach, it was an exceptionally kid-friendly game. I have to imagine that it would be useful to have a few children in the room to hunt for the unfindable.
While the use of colored dots and item counts helped immensely, The Great Escape Room™ used them in slightly confusing ways. There was an item with a clear green dot on it that wasn’t part of the green dot puzzle. There were items that had dots on them that were critical, but didn’t count towards the total number of items with that colored dot. Finally, there were a few dots attached to the physical space that did not count either. This added unnecessary confusion.
Some of the items were frustratingly well hidden. This was one of those games where our experience and gentleness with an escape room set betrayed us.
When we did get to puzzle, some of the puzzles required a few logic leaps that didn’t really make a ton of sense. There were times where the clue structure was barely present.
It was especially annoying to have to hunt for our clues in a game that was primarily about searching.
Should I play The Great Escape Room’s Moriarty’s Gameroom?
We’ve had a lot of readers write in and ask us to review The Great Escape Room™. Those requests have clearly implied that we would be disappointed. I cannot speak to the other games or locations that The Great Escape Room™ has to offer, but… we had fun. We certainly kept busy.
Moriarty’s Gameroom was different and we like different. It was heavily search-centric. It lacked story, immersive set design, and the kinds of puzzling that we are normally drawn to.
However The Great Escape Room™ knew what it was; it was a scavenger hunt. A few confusing issues with the colored dots notwithstanding, it succeeded in what it set out to do.
Beginners, families, and teams with children will have a lot to do. If they go in knowing that their job is primarily to search, and secondarily to puzzle, then their expectations will be aligned with reality.
Experienced players need to be aware of what they like and what they do not. If you’ve played a few rooms and made it this far down the review, then I think you should be able to make the judgment call for yourself.
The decision to play Moriarty’s Gameroom is a value judgment. How much do you like this type of gameplay?
Personally, I would stop into another The Great Escape Room™ venue if I have the chance… But I don’t mind searching.
Book your hour with The Great Escape Room’s Moriarty’s Gameroom, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: The Great Escape Room 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.