Time Emporium – Wizard’s Tower [Review]

Wizard’s Tower is one of the best games in Fort Collins, CO. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in Fort Collins.

Spellbound secrets.

Location:  Loveland, CO

Date Played: September 26, 2021

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player for 2-3 players, $28 per player for 4+

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration:  At least 1 player needs to fit through a small opening

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Time Emporium’s Wizard’s Tower took us back in time to the library/ workshop of a mystical wizard. With an aesthetic loosely reminiscent of the 1963 Sword in the Stone film, this room was full of wonder: magnificently twisty bookcases lined with colorful books, drawers, and vials; a hefty dose of wand-driven spell casting; and a sword embedded in a stone.

Our experience in Wizard’s Tower oscillated between wondrous and convoluted. This largely stemmed from Wizard’s Tower‘s approach to difficulty and signposting. The individual puzzles in Wizard’s Tower were excellent overall — varied, fun, challenging but fair, and on-theme — and many led to satisfying environmental ahas.

Yet much of the room’s difficulty also came from having a ton of puzzle elements visible from the start of the game. It was tricky to find where the threads for each of multiple parallel puzzle paths started, especially without any initial onboarding sequence to orient ourselves in the space. While we still enjoyed the challenge of many of the puzzles, the relative lack of a difficulty ramp-up or narrative progression somewhat undermined the game’s high ambitions.

Wizard’s Tower had a fantastic set and some standout gameplay mechanics. It was a really interesting game with some flaws, but has the potential to be amazing with further refinement.

The doorway into a wizard's study, a window looks out over the countryside.
Image via Time Emporium

Who is this for?

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

Story

We traveled back to a fantastical version of medieval times, where a wizard possessed the original time “medallion” in the form of a sword. If we could pass this wizard’s challenges and prove our mastery over the five elemental runes, we’d be worthy to pull the sword from the stone.

Setting

Wizard’s Tower took us to a whimsical study full of twisty bookcases, colorful tomes, magical creatures, strange portraits, monster hands holding torches, a bubbling cauldron, and a strange sort of upside-down staircase.

A sword in a stone served as the meta centerpiece for the game. Compared to the stones in which most escape room swords are entrapped, this one was more of a medium-sized boulder.

The room had a rich variety of textures, colors, materials, and lighting.

A large spellbook surrounded by books, wands, and potions, in a wizard's study.
Image via Time Emporium

Gameplay

Time Emporium’s Wizard’s Tower was a puzzle-centric escape room with a high level of difficulty.

This difficulty mostly came from multiple puzzle trails being available in parallel from the onset. Once we determined what was in play and which elements went together, the individual puzzles themselves were of more moderate difficulty.

In addition to standard escape room mechanics of solving puzzles and making connections, we also used wands to cast spells, which triggered new abilities and game states.

Analysis

➕ The set of Wizard’s Tower was delightfully whimsical, showcasing a sword in a stone, monster hands holding torches, and curvilinear bookcases which I’d love to have in my own wizard’s study. This aesthetic was alluring and consistent.

➖ Upon closer inspection, certain parts of the set were a bit less robust in build quality and showing signs of wear, with some pieces precariously hanging on with hot glue. Nothing was outright broken and it was clear Time Emporium has tried to keep things in tip-top shape.

Wizard’s Tower included a whopping FIVE Cryptex® Security Boxes, each of a different length. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many of these beautiful premium boxes in one place.

Wizard’s Tower got an A+ on its magic report card. As we solved puzzles, we unlocked new magical spells which we could cast around the room to produce magical effects. Once we got the hang of this, we felt like real wizards.

➕ There was an impressive quantity of puzzles in the game, and most of the puzzles individually were well designed and fun to solve.

➖ The room’s difficulty largely came from excessive parallelism and a lack of an onboarding puzzle(s), and the resulting chaos wasn’t always fun. I’m by no means against parallel puzzling generally, but in the case of Wizard’s Tower, four puzzle paths available from the start undercut themselves. A somewhat more sequential flow could have let each puzzle shine and given more space for a narrative to arise through the progression of newly unlocked spells.

➕/➖  I appreciated Time Emporium’s efforts to weave all their rooms into a single time travel-centric world, including one puzzle in Wizard’s Tower which portrayed a direct crossover with Time Emporium’s other rooms. There was also room for improvement in this: in Murder in London and Secrets of the Pharaohs, the objective was to retrieve a time medallion, yet in Wizard’s Tower it was to retrieve a sword from a stone, which purportedly functioned as the original time medallion. Had the sword perhaps featured a time medallion, like the others, embedded in its hilt, this time medallion thread could have hit home stronger.

➖ As we looked closely to attempt to read tiny, faded text in a large book, we accidentally saw something else before we were supposed to.

➕/➖ Some non-human characters were wonderful but underutilized. A stronger presence for these creatures would have served as the perfect foil to the wizard character throughout more of the game.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot.
  • This game is at the Loveland location.

Disclosure: Time Emporium comped our tickets for this game.

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