The Ministry of Peculiarities – Hope End [Review]

Update: If you want to hear more about Hope End back us on Patreon at the “Search Win!” level to get access to a Spoiler’s Club Episode about this game. Reality Escape Pod co-hosts David and Peih-Gee talk all about it with the creators, spoilers and all.

Hope EndΒ is one of the best games in Los Angeles. Here are our other recommendations forΒ great escape rooms in Los Angeles.

Family, am I right?

Location:  Azusa, CA

Date Played: March 3, 2022

Team size: 4-12; we recommend 6

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: from $50 per player for teams of 4-6 to $42.50 per player for teams of 11-12

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

When I was planning our trip to Los Angeles, multiple people who had already played Hope End told me that they’d be willing to come play it again… that was a clue that we were in for something special.

Blending immersive theater and escape room, Hope End was an instant classic in the booming Los Angeles escape room scene.

Hope End had so much happening, from the lobby experience and briefing to the intimate game intro, straight through to the finale.

The set design was thoughtful and beautiful, and the world building was backed by a nuanced script, and fantastic acting. Finally, all of this was tied together with smart and original game design.

Entrance to Hope End has beautiful wood work covered in ivy, a stained glass window separates a door to a light room and a door to a dark room.

The Ministry of Peculiarities is an exciting new entrant into the escape room world, and when I hear that they have a new game opening, I will begin figuring out my next trip to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is one of the premier escape room markets in North America, and Hope End is one of the must-play games in this region.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Supernatural mystery fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Brilliant actor performances & interactions
  • Strong set design
  • Creative interaction design
  • Compelling storytelling

Story

110 years ago, tragedy struck the Hope family. One by one, they each died, each under dubious circumstances. Over a century later their family home remains uninhabited except for the spirit of Mrs. Dolores Wright whose presence has rendered the beautiful home unsellable.

We had been contracted through Ministry of Peculiarities to investigate the home.

A beautiful stained glass window.

Setting

The lobby of The Ministry of Peculiarities’ was completely in-world, and felt like a blend of a detective’s office and a museum of curiosities.

At the onset of the game, we were ushered to the exterior of the mansion, Hope End, which looked like a church and a house had had a baby.

As Hope End began, our team was split into a light room and a dark room, each with its own sense of style.

A light room with a shelf covered in pots and vases.A wall of plaster death masks in a dark room.

The rest of the game world was set within the mansion, and was an eccentric and beautiful world complete with many fiddly contraptions and creative interactions.

Gameplay

The Ministry of Peculiarities’ Hope End was a theatrical escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, solving puzzles, and interacting with the character.

Analysis

βž•  The actress at the center of this experience gave a phenomenal performance. She flowed beautifully from scripted narration into unscripted improv. In the opening moments, she delivered the most powerful split start reveal we’ve encountered, pushing up against our boundaries, but never crossing them. It was an intense opening act.

βž•/βž– The onboarding for the split start gameplay rung true. The game taught us how to interact within it. We only wished for a speaker that would have enabled more teammates to join into any given early solve.

βž• Hope End made us care about the characters. Through the gameplay, we learned their names and their motivations. The puzzles and interactions supported the narrative, and the narrative informed our actions. Hope End embodied “show don’t tell” storytelling.

βž– One puzzle dragged. A few tech glitches combined with slightly ambiguous cluing at a time when all action converged on one puzzle. While this design was justified as it provided key story beats, the gameplay dragged.

βž• In this old manor, mechanisms felt like mechanisms and tech felt like magic, as it should. We especially enjoyed how The Ministry of Peculiarities retrofit vintage items with modern tech.

βž• The decor was exquisite and of the world. We especially loved the larger set pieces in the final act, and how they framed one puzzle, and helped another slide into place.

βž– One late-game puzzle required us to crowd around a small set piece and the solve was underwhelming. We’d intuited the outcome long before attempting the puzzle because one key item was already accessible… it kind of poisoned the moment.

βž•/βž–  David has been waiting for a particular interaction to make an appearance in an escape room with narrative justification. Here it was! He only wished for more effective tools.

βž• In the final act, the interactions in each character’s subplot represented them wonderfully. We adored the props, and the dramatic flourishes that gave us glimpses into their world.

βž• Hope End provided stellar small-group and solo moments. You’ll find humor and drama in these interactions.

βž• In Hope End, we had the illusion of free choice… more than once. And there are multiple endings, so at least once per game, the choice really did belong to the players.

βž•/βž– At Ministry of Peculiarities, we entered the game world when we walked in the front door, off the parking lot. The actor in the lobby gave us a hell of a pre-show. Little unnecessary details brought his character and this fiction to life before the game even started. That said, The Ministry of Peculiarities struggled with the magic circle. It wasn’t entirely clear when the game had begun… until it was.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: There is a parking lot.
  • This is a game about ghosts, but it is not a horror game.

Book your session with The Ministry of Peculiarities’ Hope End, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Ministry of Peculiarities comped our tickets for this game.

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