Seven Forces – The Summons [Review]

A wonderful Masonic secret.

Location:  Cincinnati, Ohio

Date Played: December 29, 2018

Team size: 4-6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private booking for your team, but other teams play at the same time

Emergency Exit: Yes

REA Reaction

This multi-team gala was puzzle-driven, beautifully staged, and wholly interactive. It incorporated group challenges, private team experiences, and an auction.

With The Summons, The Seven Forces introduced a new and exciting format. This large scale escape room-style event was unlike any other we’ve played to date.

In-game: A stage at the front of teh room features an assortment of strange pieces of technology and mystical artifacts.

The environment was energetic. When we weren’t solving puzzles, we were participating in various group activities. The dynamics were intriguing and constantly changing.

If we told you any more, it would spoil the game for everyone.

If you enjoy escape games, we strongly recommend The Summons  to anyone who is anywhere near Cincinnati. You could play The Summons without any experience, but if you feel comfortable with escape room-style gameplay, you’ll probably enjoy it more. There’s a lot to do, and the smarter you play, the more you get to see.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Escape room-inspired gameplay in a new staging
  • Up to 48 people can actively engage at once
  • Group dynamics
  • The Cincinnati Masonic Center

Story

We had been summoned to an underground gathering of criminals for a gala and auction at the Cincinnati Masonic Center.

We knew that there would be other criminal crews, a competition, and an auction. Beyond that, we were told to dress classy.

In-game: A large waiting room in the Masonic Temple. The room is elegant and looks old but very well maintained.

Setting 

Set within a few rooms of the gorgeous and imposing Cincinnati Masonic Center, we gathered with 4 other groups of classy criminals and a few characters to outwit others within this area.

In-game: The ceiling of the ballroom features beautiful woodwork and intricate light fixtures.

We’ve written before about the difference between an immersive set and the genuine artifact. This place was the real deal. The level of detail in its design and layout harkened back to a century ago when ornate detailing and overt displays of craftsmanship were highly valued.

In-game: View of the room from the stage with 8 different tables, and a balcony full of seats above.

The seating along the side gave the game an almost gladiatorial feel (even if there weren’t onlookers in the seats.)

Seven Forces also constructed a number of movable structures within the game, as they could not make any true modifications to the actual building.

Gameplay

Seven Forces’ The Summons was an unusual multi-group escape game that was approachable to play and challenging to win.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and group dynamics.

The introduction of group dynamics was what made this game especially interesting.

In-game: close-up of a game table with large puzzle components resting atop it.

Analysis

➕ The puzzles were approachable, but still challenging. They felt like the right difficulty level for the experience. Hints were readily available.

➖ Many of the puzzles didn’t feel grounded in the mythology. There was opportunity to more intricately link the puzzle play with the worldbuilding.

In-game: A wooden locker with sliding doors and a series combination locks.

➕ We didn’t need to solve every puzzle in The Summons to win the game, or even fully participate in the entire game. Small teams could have an equally fulfilling experience.

➖ At times The Summons bottlenecked. There were limited actors with multiple responsibilities.

➕ The Summons fostered elaborate group dynamics. It really shined in this regard. I have to imagine that based on the individuals playing in that booking, any given game could be wildly different from any other.

In-game: Close-up of a large metal device that displays the word, "Disarmed" beside a mystical artifact.

➖ We found one late-game moment ill-advised. Although The Seven Forces took precautions to ensure this scene went smoothly, the payoff wasn’t worth the risk. It felt hollow and could be reworked into a more powerful and less risky scene.

➕The Cincinnati Masonic Center was the perfect stage for this adventure. Its majestic allure supported the narrative of The Summons. It was a fun environment to explore.

In-game: Close-up of a door handle that looks demonic.

➕The Seven Forces used inexpensive components, but combined them cleverly into puzzles. Together with the beautiful staging, this delivered an experience that felt far more grand than it maybe should have. We were impressed.

➕The Seven Forces built temporary structures into the gameplay. The air of secrecy surrounding these spaces and the experiences within added to the ambiance and excitement of The Summons.

➕/➖ Every team received a private puzzle, which was delivered in an alluring manner. We solved ours quickly, but the puzzle was missing a bit of clue structure.

In-game: two sides of an ornate 7 Forces coin.

➕ In The Summons, solving puzzles had a tangible reward in the form of currency, in addition to more puzzles. The reward funneled back into the overarching gameplay. It worked brilliantly.

➕ We learned how to play The Summons by playing it. The Seven Forces designed earlier interactions to set up later ones. It all came together spectacularly.

➕/➖ The final puzzle was an interesting beast. From a puzzle design standpoint, it was probably the weakest of the night. Conceptually, the interaction was absolutely brilliant.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is street parking in this neighborhood.
  • Review our tips for playing escape rooms with actors.
  • Come in costume and get into character for The Summons. It’s worth it.

Book your hour with Seven Forces’ The Summons, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Seven Forces provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.