Escape Games at The River – The Great Candy Challenge [Review]

Sugar rush

Location:  Rancho Mirage, CA

Date Played: January 7, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Great Candy Challenge was a sweet family-friendly escape room. The game had a Willy Wonka-esque premise: find the keys to the candy factory, complete a series of candy-themed challenges, find the secret ingredient, and the factory will be yours.

I loved the first area of the set. The decor reminded me of a summer evening in an idyllic suburban backyard.

Once we entered the factory, things began to feel a bit like a generic, candy-themed escape room. The puzzles were still fun but weren’t quite as well integrated with the environment. The room was filled with sweet recipes, but they were used in non-diegetic puzzly ways rather than to actually “make” any candy. Once we’d freed all the gummy bears, a final interaction was visually satisfying but lacked a real conclusion to the story.

The Great Candy Challenge was an enjoyably whimsical room that’s a standout option for families and children. For enthusiasts, I recommend prioritizing Treasure Hunters: Station 13 and Mutiny: Skull Island, but The Great Candy Challenge would make a great add-on to your visit if you have the time… or if you have a hankering for some sugar.

A well in a fenced in area lit in colorful light and surrounded by assorted objects as well as large lollypops.

Who is this for?

  • Players with a sweet tooth
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Families

Why play?

  • You can eat unlimited candy in the room!
  • You can swing on a swing!
  • Sweet playtime for kids and kids at heart

Story

We were challenged to find a set of giant keys to enter a candy factory. If we could then puzzle our way to unlocking the secret ingredient, we’d become the new owners of the candy company.

Setting

The Great Candy Challenge started in a sweet outdoor area abutting the entrance to a candy factory. A picket fence, water-filled well, and a swingable swing hanging from a tree evoked a strong sense of childhood nostalgia.

Inside, the candy factory was packed with candy and candy-themed items. Oversized neon-lit gummy bears taunted us from within their locked acrylic boxes.

Closeup of Laffy Taffy beside a large glowing gummy bear.

Gameplay

Escape Games at The River’s The Great Candy Challenge was a standard escape room with an easy-to-moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling, making connections, searching, and (optionally) consuming candy.

Analysis

➕ The first area of the room looked like a suburban backyard. A functional swing, a stone bench, and a tree stump provided a plethora of interesting seating options. A water-filled well fit the atmosphere very… well. Oversized lollipops hinted at what was to come.

➕/➖ The second area of the room, the candy factory, was packed with many sweet elements, but it felt somewhat underwhelming in comparison to the first area. This largely stemmed from our expectations when encountering a “factory” — a space you’d expect to be vast, industrial, and contain all sorts of candy-making equipment. Instead, this smallish room looked more like a side storage area or a cottage workshop than a factory.

🍬 The Great Candy Challenge did not disappoint when it came to candy. Once we entered the factory, jars of various wrapped candies were available for our unlimited consumption.

➕ The puzzles were simple, fun, and cleanly designed. Keys to unlock the factory and then glowing gummy bears served as good physical progress indicators.

The Great Candy Challenge was a great game for families, with many interactions that were clearly designed to be accessible to younger players.

➖ The ending sequence lacked a cherry on top. Once we obtained the secret ingredient, we wanted something to wrap up the narrative — a final interaction that would allow us to use the secret ingredient and receive our promised prize of candy factory ownership.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot for The River shopping complex.
  • All the food at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen in Palm Desert was on the spectrum of delicious to mind-blowing. My non-vegan teammates equally loved it, and we returned for both lunch and dinner.

Book your hour with Escape Games at The River’s The Great Candy Challenge, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Games at The River comped our tickets for this game.

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