Farmington Underground – Enchanted Realms [Hivemind Review]

Enchanted Realms is an actor-driven scavenger hunt created for families by Farmington Underground in Farmington, ME.

7 illustrated characters from Enchanted Realms: Little Bread Riding Hood, Singerella, Jackie Beanstalk, Rhyme-punzel, Captain Book, Prince Farming, & Sleeping Foodie."

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Video-based experience
  • Interactive NPCs (actors in Zoom rooms)

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection and lots of random items from around your house, including from the kitchen

Recommended Team Size: You can play with any size family/ household. This experience is designed for families with children.

Play Time: standard ticket is 1.5 hours, VIP tickets is 2.5 hours

Price: $35 per household for a standard ticket, $55 per household for VIP experience

Booking: This show runs again on April 10, 2020.

Description

This game is more of a scavenger hunt than an escape room experience. Your mission is to solve a who/ where/ how mystery by gathering information from various storybook characters. To earn information from a character, you first watch a pre-recorded video of the character explaining a task for you to complete. When you complete the task, you dial up the character on a live, personal Zoom call and present your solution. If the character approves of your solution, they give you a piece of information for the meta-mystery and then send you on a second quest.

Each quest is a simple STEAM activity that uses materials from around your house. These activities cover a range of interests and skills, from dancing to building to cooking. Each activity also comes with differentiation options that let participants choose their challenge level. However, there are very few “correct” answers in this game; it’s mostly about completion.

The game mentions that you’ll need common household objects. Players should rest assured that there are no specific items that are required. You will be able to complete the tasks as long as you have objects in your house.

A character in an elf hat, greeting us.

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.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

The most significant thing I can say about this game is that my children (5 and 8) absolutely loved it. They giggled. They schemed. They collaborated. They listened. They had a different Saturday than the previous 52 Saturdays, and I didn’t have to do anything to make it happen.

The activities in this adventure are nothing special; they’re common tasks that kids have likely done in other contexts. However, the simple storylines within the game imbue these mundane actions with new significance. Then, the real magic comes in presenting these accomplishments to the live storybook characters. The actors clearly enjoy interacting with children, which helps even bashful kids ease into the conversations. Ultimately, my kids did things for these characters that they would never do for me. I wish I could hire this crew to motivate school assignments!

Unfortunately, there are some logistical issues that detract from the experience. The intro videos for each character frequently froze for us, breaking the immersion and frustrating the kids. I heard from other players that this was a common problem. Fortunately, you can skip the videos and read a text explanation of the activities, so this doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. After all, the live conversations at the end of each activity are the centerpiece, not the videos. Alas, we also encountered some significant bottlenecks in waiting to talk to a couple of the characters, and there’s no shortcut for that. Because of these issues (and possibly even without them), the 2.5 hour VIP experience seems necessary if you care about actually solving the mystery that glues together the game. If you do opt for the 1.5 hour experience, consider skipping the secondary quests from each character in favor of meeting them all at least once. They’re all entertaining, unique, and worth a visit.

Overall, this was a low-maintenance activity that delighted us in spite of its imperfections. My kids have been begging to play again, and I might just let them.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

I really loved the concept of a family-friendly immersive experience that I could play with kids. I feel quite conflicted about this experience because while the idea was really fun in theory—kids complete quests then get to chat with fairy tale characters—the execution was somewhat lacking. Low production value, tech issues, and low energy from the characters all made for a somewhat lackluster experience. I still think it’s a fun activity for house bound kids, however, so I’m giving it 2 stars. There is potential to make this an amazing kids theatre experience with a little tightening up. I played this with a 6-year-old.

Immersion: I appreciated the different takes on fairy tale characters, like Singerella and Captain Book. The storyline was fun, but I think execution was lacking. Costumes, backgrounds, and props needed a lot of punching up. There are definitely ways you can make a background look magical and less like someone’s couch or kitchen. A trip to Michaels and a little creativity would go a long way.

Puzzles: The activities were very fun! A really creative mix of things like dancing, cooking, easy puzzles, building towers, and scavenger hunt.

Avatar: For an experience that’s marketed towards kids, I found the actors to be relatively low energy and not particularly suited towards interacting with kids. My niece did love Captain Book though, and said he was her favorite part of the experience. He had great energy, maintained a full character, and was very good at getting her to talk and giggle. My advice is to get the kids names ahead of time or perhaps have everyone wear name tags so the characters can call the kids by name (which children love).

Tech: Part of my frustration was that the introduction videos on the website ran very slowly. It took about 5 minutes for each video to buffer and load, which is a very long time when an entire family and fidgety kids are waiting expectantly. Perhaps giving alternate links to a private video on Youtube might be helpful in the future.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Enchanted Realms was an absolutely adorable kid-friendly way to spend an afternoon. This fairytale-themed experience combined a self-navigable web interface with easy-to-follow instructions and links to live character interactions over Zoom. With each character I visited, I was met with either a challenge, a task, or a craft. In exchange for completing each step, I was given one tidbit of information to help me narrow down my list of magicians, places, and spells to find the correct answer for each. It was like a cross between a scavenger hunt and a day at summer camp all done safely from my living room. Families with young children will love this playful adventure. Kudos to the team behind it for creating a lovely and whimsical story world for players of all ages to enjoy!

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

If I were a kid stuck in quarantine, Enchanted Realms is exactly the Saturday afternoon activity I would have loved to do. This experience was an absolute joy, filled with fun activities, bright character interactions, and yummy mug cake recipes. In my eyes, the best part of the experience was that you could play it at your own pace – you got to choose what activities (and at what difficulty) you wanted to do, when you wanted to do them throughout the show, and how involved you wanted to be. Your family can decide as you play which activities are best suited for you, and only do those interactions (but you’ll have time to do them all!). The VIP version of the game does not add any more content, but gives you more time to do the 16 activities. My only complaint is that even on hardwired gigabit internet, the videos were buffering quite a lot, and we had some trouble connecting to one of the actors. Other than those little tech issues, we had an absolute blast making pink mug cakes, drawing frogs, and building a tower as high as the sky!

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Enchanted Realms was admittedly not designed for me. It was basically an actor-driven scavenger hunt and an assortment of kid-friendly challenges… but I had a really fun time playing this with Lisa.

The actors were engaging and amusing. The game was playful and childish. My only issues were the waits to see some of the characters, and some buffering issues on the character videos. (These videos should be hosted using better tech.)

Overall it was a ton of fun. For one of the challenges, we were asked to write 4 lines of a song… about cheese. So, I’ll leave you with our masterpiece.

A Whole New Curd
(To the tune of A Whole New World)

I can serve you gouda
Creamy, savory, yummy
Tell me princess, now when did
You last let your tongue decide?

Disclosure: Farmington Underground provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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