A whole from fragments.
Location: San Diego, CA
Date played: December 3, 2017
Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-5
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $35 per ticket, minimum purchase of 3 tickets
Story & setting
J. D. Howell’s mind was shattered and he was lost within himself. The scientists of Streeper Industries tasked us with entering the broken man’s thoughts and puzzling them back together.
Set within a bepuzzled parlour representing our patient’s mind, we worked to gain access to various compartments in beautiful antique furniture. All of this was overseen by an in-room and in-character gamemaster perched behind a casino card table.
The set wasn’t complicated or detailed, but it was atmospheric. It set a mysterious mood.
This was not a typical escape room; we had to earn everything within The Parlour.
“Fragments of thought” in the form of poker chips served as our currency. We earned them by scavenging as well as solving puzzles. They in turn could be traded to our mysterious gamemaster for the keys to new puzzles or hints.
Our goals were to earn the door key and exit with as many “fragments of thought” as possible.
The Parlour was almost entirely puzzles. The minimalist set and deliberate lighting focused all of our attention on the gameplay. The puzzles were engaging.
“Fragments of thought” were both in-game currency and a scoring mechanism. We played a game of puzzles and of resource management and optimization. The Parlour even included bonus options, to further complicate that puzzle. We enjoyed this additional dynamic.
Our gamemaster was a character in The Parlour. He was a gate to the puzzles, confirming solutions and distributing new challenges. With some he played a more involved role than with others. He was a calculating and mysterious puzzle purveyor.
The Parlour had an inventive and amusing introduction and conclusion. The fail state ending was hilarious. We escaped, but it might have been more entertaining to lose.
Unlocking the puzzles through currency and a gatekeeper created a different dynamic, unlike most escape rooms. That said, the room wasn’t entirely for ambiance. When a new puzzle opened, we had to turn back to the room to start making sense of it. The Parlour merged traditional escape room dynamics with other forms of gameplay.
Our gamemaster was a character, but his persona felt forced. He was not a natural actor. This strained the game at times because the puzzle purveyor was a pivotal part of The Parlour.
Some of the items we unlocked in The Parlour needed a bit more polish. Puzzalarium could enhance the overall experience by replacing scraps of paper with more refined components. This was especially true for the small and hard-to-read items written by hand.
Should I play Puzzalarium’s The Parlour?
The Parlour was a puzzler’s paradise. The setting was moody and atmospheric, but set wasn’t the show. The puzzles and gameplay were the focus… They more than carried the escape room.
Everything within The Parlour was an abstraction meant to facilitate gameplay. In a lot of ways, The Parlour was more akin to a tabletop game than it was to most escape rooms. We had currency and stakes; much of the gameplay occurred on a card table. It felt different because it was different.
If a puzzle-driven game in an elegantly simple environment sounds like a good time, then Puzzalarium’s The Parlour will be an absolute delight regardless of your level of escape room experience.
Book your hour with Puzzalarium’s The Parlour, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Puzzalarium provided media discounted tickets for this game.