The Secret Chambers – The Poe Adventure [Review]

“There is no beauty without some strangeness.” – Edgar Allen Poe

Location: Arlington, TX

Date Played: July 18, 2021

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player (you must pay for a minimum of 4 even if fewer play)

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: at least one team member must be able to navigate stairs and tight crawl spaces; the gameplay included dexterity challenges

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

As soon as we stepped into the lushly decorated Poe manor and met our disembodied gamemaster, it was evident that The Secret Chambers was deeply invested in delivering a haunting and haunted experience. The décor and gameplay delivered an immersive exploration of the world of Edgar Allen Poe that, while suitably chilling, was not overtly terrifying. Anyone comfortable with Poe’s works would be comfortable with this room.

A skull on a railing in an ornate room with portraits hung on purple walls.

Small design details contributed enormously to the smooth flow of this experience. Sound effects drew our attention to the next points of interest, clear labels helped us associate information efficiently, and there was even a way to track our progress. Being comfortable with our pace was invaluable because it gave us permission to fully absorb our surroundings. The main detriment to the room’s flow was a bottleneck in the middle of the experience; spatially, there was only room for two players to participate, leaving larger parties with little to do.

From a gameplay perspective, the puzzles and tasks were simple yet satisfying. Indeed, experienced players shouldn’t expect a challenge here; this “adventure” (like others we played at The Secret Chambers) was more about participating in an immersive environment and delighting in its revelations. Our favorite puzzles delivered joy via interactions with one-of-a-kind set pieces that required unusual feats of collaborative dexterity.

Despite the extensive thematic coherence of the props and puzzles, there wasn’t a strong rationale for why things were happening. Regardless, this room’s impeccable atmosphere and captivating interactions make it well worth your time if you’re near the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Fans of Edgar Allen Poe
  • Any experience level (but must be older than 10 to play)

Story

It’s a matter of historical record that Edgar Allen Poe died of indeterminate causes. The law office of Hoggs, Frogs, Bogs, and Co. had enlisted us to investigate his mansion for clues that might solve this mystery.

Setting

This investigation occurred within Poe’s delightfully macabre Victorian mansion, which he apparently chose to decorate with both obvious and esoteric references to his work. You don’t have to know anything about Poe’s writing to enjoy the luxurious, creepy ambiance. However, the more you know, the more you will thrill at the details. I felt vindicated for subjecting my team to orations of Poe-related Wikipedia articles prior to this adventure and recommend that you do likewise, at least for the works cited on the room’s website: “Masque of the Red Death,” “The Raven,” “Tell-Tale Heart,” “Hop Frog,” “King Pest,” “Maelzel’s Chess Player,” and “Berenice.”

A coffin beside an organ in a very dramatic and ornate purple room.

Gameplay

The Secret Chambers’s The Poe Adventure had a low-to-moderate level of difficulty. As the title suggests, this escape room was more of an interaction-centric experience than a set of complex puzzles.

Core gameplay revolved around light puzzling, following instructions, connecting objects with their uses, and dexterity challenges.

Analysis

➕ The room design was handsome and immersive, setting high expectations for the entire experience as soon as we entered.

A grandfather clock that looks like it has been stabbed with sticks.

➕ The way that the set incorporated the in-character gamemaster was perfectly aligned with the tone of the room. Afterwards I wished that I had found more reasons to interact with them.

➕ The room included a simple yet effective way to gauge our progress. I wish more rooms had a similar mechanism.

➕ Although the puzzles weren’t challenging for experienced players, they involved satisfying interactions and revelations. This gives the room broad appeal.

➕ Two collaborative dexterity puzzles involved stunning set pieces that were thrilling to interact with.

➖ Certain knowledge about Poe might enable players to inadvertently shortcut a bit of the puzzling. In one case, this might cause them to miss an experiential detail of the room. To avoid this, refrain from using outside knowledge.

➖ One small set piece felt fragile to the point that we hesitated to interact with it as designed. This artificially impeded our progress.

➕ The finale was a fitting and impressive sequence of revelations delivered in dramatic fashion. We applauded.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: There is plenty of parking at this location.

Book your hour with The Secret Chambers’s The Poe Adventure, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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