Durham Escape Rooms – The Golden Idol [Hivemind Review]

The Golden Idol is a light puzzle hunt game created by Durham Escape Rooms in Whitby, ON.

Durham Escape Rooms website depicts a cardboard box and a series of numbered books.


Style of Play: light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: Not timed, but about 45 minutes.

Price: CAD 20 plus tax

Booking: Book online and play at your leisure.

It’s a little difficult to find this game on the booking site, and once you start, it’s not clear where the game begins. We ended up watching Durham Escape Rooms’ real life escape room rules video… which we thought was the opening of the online game… and it was hilarious… until we realized that it had nothing to do with the game that we were playing.


The Golden Idol is a light online puzzle hunt with narrative elements accessed through a website. We used Zoom to collaborate.

Story, "Upon opening the book you are immediately drawn into a myriad of sketchs and random doodles. Had your friend gone mad? Or is there something more here...""

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

The Golden Idol leads solvers through a random slew of generic kids’ placemat puzzles, wrapped in a cute variant on an Indiana Jones plot. This game would likely be fun to solvers under the age of 10, but I wouldn’t recommend it to an older audience looking for an engaging puzzle or narrative experience. The puzzles were all fair and solvable, though a few could have been better refined to improve implicit answer confirmation. Overall, I found the game to be disappointingly neutral; while I didn’t find it to have many particular design flaws, the puzzles were just mind-numbingly unremarkable and forgettable, each a basic trope presented transparently without variation, layers, or attempt at creative obfuscation.

Diana Kobrynowicz’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

I really wanted to like this game. Playing with a group of friends made the experience fun in and of itself, but that alone isn’t enough to recommend this game.

I liked the mystery adventure theme and the twist on the ending was cute. Unfortunately, gameplay felt janky, and I never felt like we got into a flow. There were just too many disconnects to make this work as a game, especially one you paid for even if the cost was relatively low. I couldn’t even recommend this as a free experience. The cohesive experience just wasn’t there.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Golden Idol was a nice, entry level puzzle hunt that felt suitable for families or perhaps beginner puzzlers. It followed a fairly linear format with some clever devices on its website. Though not terribly challenging (and at times a bit unintuitive), the overall experience was fun and would probably make for a good team building challenge.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

As a light online puzzle hunt, The Golden Idol was sloppy. There were too many instances where we had to take a leap or a guess as to which interpretation of the solution was the one that would work.

I honestly got a kick out of the story of The Golden Idol, especially where it landed. It was cute. This was a good idea that begged for better execution. There are too many strong online escape games for me to recommend this one, even if I found parts of it charming.

Go to the booking page, click “private tours” below the place where you’d put in a promotion voucher, and then you’ll see the game as one of the options. When you click to book, it will look like you have to sign up for a start time, but you don’t. You can start as soon as you sign up and you can pick any day.

Disclosure: Durham Escape Rooms provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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