Museum of Intrigue [Summer 2018 Review]

A day at the museum.

Location: Syracuse, New York

Date Played: September 3, 2018

Team size: 1-¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ; we recommend groups of 2-4

Duration: offers 20, 40, & 60 minute games

Price: $15 (20-minute), $25 (40-minute), $29 (60-minute) per ticket or $75 per day pass

Ticketing: Private games in a shared space (see below)

REA Reaction

The Museum of Intrigue was a new, exciting, and brilliant concept: one large space housed a variety of adventures.

In this puzzle- and adventure-filled museum, a collection of unusual artifacts and exhibits and an eccentric staff of characters facilitated roughly 20 games, known as stories. Each story spanned multiple sections of the Museum of Intrigue. The space was always alive and filled with other players.

The Museum of Intrigue had an assortment of entertaining and worthy games. If they can ruggedize their build and mind a few more details, this establishment could be a masterpiece. The potential is there, and much of it has already been realized.

The open-ended artifact theft game The Heist justified the existence of Museum of Intrigue on its own… but don’t make this your first story. You’ll want to have a better handle on things before attempting it.

If you’re anywhere near Syracuse, the Museum of Intrigue is a must-visit. If you’re a serious escape room player, buy yourself a day pass. We’re already trying to figure out when we can return.

The exterior of the sunken ship in the Museum of Intrigue.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Really cool space to explore
  • Each story offers a unique challenge
  • A wealth of secrets to reveal within the gamespace
  • Impressive variety of gameplay options available
  • Fantastic actors
  • Playing our own adventures in a vibrant, shared environment

Story

The Museum of Intrigue was an immersive space that housed exhibits and actors which together facilitated roughly 20 different “stories.” Each purchasable story supplied its own narrative and goals pertaining to the museum.

Depending upon the story we selected, we were investigating a strange phenomenon, seeking a lost, stolen, or missing item, playing a game against one another, or in one unusual instance… robbing the museum in front of the staff and other guests.

The story selection display at the Museum of Intrigue.
The story selection display.

Setting

The Museum of Intrigue was a large museum-like environment containing a variety of different exhibits featuring unusual things. It almost felt like a museum of escape room themes: science lab, tomb, lost ship, rain forest, art gallery, Victorian England, and Medieval Europe, among others.

The level of detail in the set design varied heavily from exhibit to exhibit. Some were incredibly detailed and expansive.

The crypt in the Museum of Intrigue.

Additionally, there were costumed, in-character actors wandering the Museum of Intrigue facilitating games and helping players. These characters were as important to the experience as anything else in the museum.

A Museum of Intrigue mystic character posing in front of the story display.

Gameplay

Museum of Intrigue was a unique puzzle and adventure amusement with multiple games happening simultaneously as different teams explored the museum, solving their own stories.

The level of difficultly varied heavily among the stories, which ranged from simple scavenger hunting (Still Life), to competitive gameplay (Witch Hunt), to more traditional escape room-esque stories (The Lost Exhibit, The Breath of the Maya, The Wandering Knight), to a short and complex puzzle hunt (Enigma).

While stories were categorized by time commitment, this was not an escape room and gameplay was not dictated by a gameclock. We could take our time exploring, strategizing, and adventuring as we played through a story.

Visitors may purchase individual stories or a day pass to play their fill of different stories.

A dinosaur fossil on the wall, and a sandpit with dinosaur bones at the Museum of Intrigue.

Analysis

+ Museum of Intrigue’s actors were phenomenal. Each had a unique look, backstory, personality, and voice. This impacted how the characters interpreted each story and their role within it. We found ourselves seeking out specific characters because of the nature of a given story. The actors accepted any premise we threw at them, no matter how far-fetched, and turned it into a part of the story. This was exceptionally well executed.

A Museum of Intrigue character posing in an antique carriage.

+ The space felt alive. We played while other groups were busy having their own adventures. If someone was in our way (or vice-versa), it was a momentary obstacle that never hindered our experience. The other players piqued our curiosity about the other available stories.

+ The Museum of Intrigue was a brilliant concept. It was smart to build one massive set and fill it with a couple dozen games. They packed so much variety into the gamespace. Additionally, the games could be readily swapped without requiring the company to rebuild entirely new gamespace.

A close up of the ship in the Museum of Intrigue's heavily weathered texture.

+/- A large portion of the set looked beautiful with an incredible level of detail and weathering. At the same time, some of the set looked lackluster. The shifts in quality happened from object to object. I could stand in one place in the museum, look at three different items and see three different levels of build quality ranging from incredible to meh.

The Museum of Intrigue's art gallery with paintings and sculptures on display.

+ The Museum of Intrigue’s stories had us exploring every inch of the space. We picked up on details while doing one story that eventually helped us solve a later one. We loved this.

A view into the Museum of Intrigue's ship, it's filled with nautical artifacts.

– Because of the depth of exploration required for these stories, we often found ourselves looking behind or inside of set pieces where we’d find unpainted wood and exposed wires. The lack of finish broke immersion (and also made it easier for disrespectful players to break components). The nature of these games demanded that every inch be designed or entirely obscured.

– Some of the interactions lacked robustness in their build. Given the throughput model, robust builds were crucial. I wasn’t really looking for it, but it seemed like every hour or two I noticed a staff member hot-fixing something.

Machinery in the lab exhibit at the Museum of Intrigue.

+ There was something for just about everyone: scavenger hunt-style games, pure puzzling, code breaking, competitive play, and others. We had a ton of fun with many different types of stories.

– Some of the stories that we tried (Enigma and Witch Hunt, for example) felt incomplete. In these instances, we felt there was an issue with game flow or a missing game mechanic.

The Museum of Intrigue intern character looking overwhelmed next to a table of props.

– Museum of Intrigue lacked some details that would enhance the player experience and add polish including:

  • an overarching story or meta mystery for the entire facility.
  • a means of keeping track of what stories an individual or team has completed. (We suggest a passport or a stamp card like at Boda Borg.)
  • a better system for hiding some of the props that the actors bring into individual games. (Most were lying out on a table near the front desk.)
  • an elegant way to signal when a game was closed or otherwise out of service. (This was indicated with a piece of red masking tape. “Exhibit closed” or “coming soon” signs would have made the operation look more clean and professional.)

A view into the Museum of Intrigue's attic, a storage space filled with assorted items.

The Heist story was pure genius. The open-ended adventure of artifact-stealing was amazing. This story took advantage of things that escape rooms cannot by making the open set, the other patrons, and the staff into randomized obstacles that could chaotically help or hinder.

+ The Museum of Intrigue was a joyous adventure. I want to go back! I cannot wait to play the rest of the stories and I’m looking forward to their continued iterations on this concept.

Tips for Visiting

  • You must interact with the staff in order to play/solve these stories. Embrace it.
  • Serious escape room players should consider a day pass. You will want to play more than one game.
  • If you are paying per story, take your time and enjoy the entire game. There’s no reason to rush.
  • Parking: Destiny Mall has ample parking, Museum of Intrigue is located on the third floor next to the AMC Movie Theater
  • Food: Destiny Mall is loaded with food options. Take your pick. Or head into downtown Syracuse and visit Funk N’ Waffles.
  • Accessibility: Destiny Mall is equipped with elevators. Feel free to discuss other accessibility questions with the staff at the Museum of Intrigue. They will likely be able to accommodate most accessibility requirements.

Book your session with Museum of Intrigue, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Museum of Intrigue comped our tickets for this experience.

2 thoughts on “Museum of Intrigue [Summer 2018 Review]

  1. Holy Smokes! Destiny Mall had 4 games from 5 Wits (Very Good) and another escape room company with ten rooms (low end outfit with no rooms I could recommend) when I visited last year. Now the mall has this Museum based escape room complex. That is three very different models on how to do escape rooms.

    1. Not bad for a city with very few escape room-like companies.

      Two really interesting and fun places… and one that no one should visit.

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