NorCal Escape Co – Fox Tail Saloon [Review]

Fox Tail SaloonΒ is one of the best games in Sacramento, CA. Here are our other recommendations forΒ great escape rooms in Sacramento.

Where’s my gold…en lager?

Location:  Yuba City, CA

Date Played: November 14, 2021

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $120 for 4 players to $160 for 8 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Crawling (for at least 1 player)

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

NorCal Escape Co struck gold with Fox Tail Saloon. This 45-minute beginner-friendly room stood out for its compelling set, slick design aesthetic, and environmentally-appropriate puzzling.

Moreover, the story in Fox Tail Saloon β€” the search for Billy the Kid’s hidden gold β€” so wonderfully tied into local history. Yuba City is in the heart of the “Sierra Nevada Goldfields” and is steeped in mid-1800s California gold rush culture. I love when escape rooms pull inspiration from local history, and it’s not a far stretch to imagine this saloon fitting right into this region 150 years ago.

Fox Tail Saloon included a distinctive approach to search-centric gameplay. In many escape rooms, searching can feel arbitrary or out of place for the set. In Fox Tail Saloon, the searching was naturally incorporated into the environment in such a way that I’d totally believe Billy the Kid hid these clues himself. Each time we found something, it felt intentional and loosely supported the story.

The puzzle sequence was parallelizable and felt quite light overall. With a fairly low puzzle count, much of the game was spent wandering around the space until one player discovered something. That said, this game was more about interacting in a cool historic environment than tearing through a large quantity of puzzles.

Closeup of two drink coins for the Fox Tail Saloon beside a 6 shooter.
Image via NorCal Escape Co

NorCal Escape Co has gained the most recognition for CONDEMNED2: The Box, but in my opinion, Fox Tail Saloon is equally worth a play. This game would be a delightful introduction to escape rooms for beginners, and its elegant aesthetic would also be of interest to more experienced players.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level (especially newbie-friendly!)

Story

After a big stagecoach heist, Billy the Kid had stashed his treasure in a nearby saloon, but he was murdered before he was able to return for it. We visited the saloon, hoping Billy had left some clues behind that’d lead us to his treasure.

Setting

Fox Tail Saloon was set in an Old West saloon. A long hallway decorated with vintage photographs and tacky wallpaper opened up into the main saloon. This place was the real deal, and I felt an urge to kick off my boots, order a pint at the bar, and play cards for a few hours. The build quality was very high, and everything felt intentional and period-appropriate.

Famed photos of people on the saloon wall.
Image via NorCal Escape Co

Gameplay

NorCal Escape Co’s Fox Tail Saloon was a standard escape room with a low-to-medium level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and making connections.

Closeup of a bottle of whiskey and a red cash register.
Image via NorCal Escape Co

Analysis

βž• The set in Fox Tail Saloon was really compelling. Beautiful woodwork, a faux stonework fireplace, a long bar, poker tables, and clanky metal cups made for an environment I’d have enjoyed spending a few hours in β€” especially if the bar had been serving!

βž• When we first entered the Fox Tail Saloon, it felt like we were entering a genuine old saloon, and it wasn’t immediately obvious that anything was a puzzle. As we explored the environment, puzzle elements subtly revealed themselves. Many of these puzzles revolved around searching, but this style of searching made sense for the environment and felt like a departure from traditional escape rooms’ random object collection.

❓/βž– The gameplay in Fox Tail Saloon was mostly parallelizable, and there was a low number of puzzles in the room. After a core discovery, the puzzle structure became transparent. Especially for a newer team, this was a smart design choice for a 45-minute game. However, some more experienced teams might find the game to be light on content.

βž• A few interactions had us interact with normal elements in the environment in unexpected ways. They yielded some delightful moments and were smoothly implemented.

βž– I wanted a little bit more out of a meta element. It worked fine in context, but as the core puzzle of the game, it felt a bit too straightforward in presentation and mechanic to be sufficiently climactic. Additionally, an element of this puzzle worked fine but seemed visually inconsistent.

βž• The room concluded with an expected but highly satisfying reveal.

βž• The hint system made use of a vintage telegraph (or teletype?) machine in a really cool way. Even when we didn’t need hints, it was fun to play with this mechanic just to see how the hints were delivered.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your 45 minutes with NorCal Escape Co’s Fox Tail Saloon, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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