Quest Tavern – The Witch’s Cauldron [Review]

Which witch was which?

Location: Pomona, CA

Date Played: December 19, 2021

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $40 per player for 2 players to $32 per player for 8 players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [B] Mechanical Release

REA Reaction

Quest Tavern is an escape room company centered around a fun premise: in a RPG-esque fashion, adventurers gather at the town’s tavern, and from there they are sent off on a variety of fantasy-themed quests.

A cabinet lit red and filled with strange occult objects.

The Witch’s Cauldron was Quest Tavern’s first attempt at designing an escape room, and their lack of experience showed. A loose story premise about obtaining a cure from a local witch’s abode very quickly fell apart in the actual game. The set was sparse and showed its age. Nevertheless, the puzzles were simple and logical, and the game flowed quite nicely overall.

While Quest Tavern’s first quest wasn’t the grand adventure we’d hoped for, it demonstrated the early seeds for Quest Tavern’s newer and more ambitious experiences: The Last Supper and The Bridge Between. With the continued addition of more tech, more varied sets, and more ambitious narratives, I’m excited to see where Quest Tavern ventures next.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Adventure seekers
  • Newbies

Story

A local witch had an affair with a married man, and when things ended poorly, she released a plague on our village. She planned to perform a deadly ritual tonight, and we entered her lair to obtain the cure.

Setting

The Witch’s Cauldron took place at a local witch’s abode. Various enchanted objects, anatomical diagrams, and creaky old furniture filled the space — along with the bodies of past adventurers.

A skeleton hanging beside a large metal door with bars.

Gameplay

Quest Tavern’s The Witch’s Cauldron was a standard escape room with a low-moderate level of difficulty.

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

A fireplace and lantern in a dim corner.

Analysis

➖/➕ A sparse set showed a fair amount of wear and didn’t particularly conjure the feeling of a witch’s lair, beyond a generally dingy ambience and a smattering of loosely thematic props. That said, it was minimalist in such a way that it was always clear what was part of a puzzle.

➕ The puzzles were simple and straightforward, and they flowed fairly well. With a reasonable balance of parallel gameplay, most players had something to work on throughout the experience.

➖ The game had a split start, with “hunters” on one side and “gatherers” on the other. The narrative distinction between these two roles fell apart pretty quickly, and there was an unfortunate imbalance between the sides. The hunters, who were put in restraints at the start of the game, encountered a frustrating counting puzzle. Additionally, the mechanical backup release for the handcuffs was a twist-to-unlock carabiner that was quite tight to unscrew and posed a potential safety concern in the case of an emergency.

➕ A cute, simple puzzle was amusingly dolled up and had me in stitches.

➕ A sensory puzzle was cleanly implemented and enjoyable to solve.

➖ Multiple combination locks opened with random letter sequences. These were unsatisfying as puzzle answers, especially when they were close to or anagrams of real English words.

➖ A fog machine was a bit excessive and smelly, obscuring visibility without really providing any magical effect.

➕/❓ The lobby of Quest Tavern was great. It was designed to feel like a D&D tavern from where we’d been sent off on various quests, and our gamemaster was dressed accordingly in a bartender/ barmaid costume. While I loved the intention behind this immersive framing, I wish it had been carried a few steps even further to make this feel less like an escape room waiting area.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot.

Book your hour with Quest Tavern’s The Witch’s Cauldron, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Quest Tavern provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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