Paragon Escape Games – Return of the Pharaohs [Review]

“Ra, save us!”

Location: Mesa, AZ

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27-$30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: There is sand on the floor throughout the entire experience. (You do not have to dig in it.)

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We’ve seen a lot of Egyptian tomb escape games, and Return of the Pharaohs was a special one.

In addition to its gorgeous set, Paragon Escape Games created fantastic gameplay loops that had us really exploring their game world, and working for our solves. From a gameplay standpoint, this may be my most memorable trip to escape room Egypt.

Imposing statue of Thoth in an Egyptian tomb.

My one gripe with Return of the Pharaohs was that there was a lot of text that could be translated, but didn’t need to be. The game did a good job of making it clear through translation when we didn’t need to continue, but there were times where I just wished that it wasn’t even on the menu. There was plenty of content and challenge in this game without it.

On the whole, Return of the Pharaohs was as stellar as it was memorable. If you’re in Phoenix, this is a must-play game, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for future games from Paragon Escape Games. I have a feeling that they are going to be a company to watch in the future.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Indiana Jones fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • An absolutely gorgeous Egyptian tomb set
  • Unusual and clever game design
  • Fantastic effects

Story

We were the souls of Egyptian gods trapped by Set, the god of chaos. We had to free ourselves from Set’s trap, our only ally was Ra, whose powers were waning.

Statues of Egyptian gods inside of a tomb.

Setting

Return of the Pharaohs had an enchanting set. I mean… how gorgeous is that starscape?

Pillars inside of a the entry way to an Egyptian tomb. Overhead is a beautiful, starry, night sky.

Throughout our time in Return of the Pharaohs, we truly felt like we were in another world, there was so much detail and love poured into this game. It didn’t matter where you looked; it was evident everywhere.

Gameplay

Paragon Escape Games’ Return of the Pharaohs was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, solving puzzles, and communicating.

5 amulets, each with a different colored gem mounted to a pillar.

Analysis

➕ Every inch of this set was beautiful. It was exquisitely carved and painted. It was incredible to behold. Furthermore, it was interactive. When large set pieces gave feedback it felt magical.

➕ The clue structure was strong. Paragon Escape Games varied the amounts in sets of objects, giving us subtle, clear direction as to what could or could not be associated. This was top notch puzzle mapping.

➖ The volume of hieroglyphics was intimidating, especially at the beginning. If Paragon Escape Games added a bit of wear (appropriate for an ancient tomb) to render irrelevant painting illegible, the escape room would be a lot more approachable.

➖ One early puzzle felt under-clued and caused the first act to bottleneck.

➕ Paragon Escape Games reused some of our favorite props. Return of the Pharaohs introduced these early, drawing our attention to them with a flourish, and teaching us how they worked. Reuse was not only clear later, but welcome. This added an element of mastery to the puzzle experience.

➕ In Return of the Pharaohs, an unusual set detail caught our attention early, and turned out to star in an unusual and delightful puzzle.

➕ The props were hefty, and beautiful. They were as detailed and carefully crafted as the rest of the set.

➖ Minor inconsistent image rendering caused us a bit of late game confusion.

➕ Puzzlers will appreciate deeply layered puzzles that span the gorgeous set and require teamwork and communication.

➖ We’d love to see a character-driven hint system, bringing Ra more deeply into this experience.

➕ The soundtrack, lighting, and effects added ambiance and intensity to this adventure.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Paragon Escape Games’ Return of the Pharaohs, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Paragon Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

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