Trapped Puzzle Rooms – Witchcraft Alley [Review]

Escapiosa!

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Date Played: May 30, 2022

Team Size: 1-10; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $34.99 per player for 1-2 players to $25.99 per player for 6+ players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Witchcraft Alley was a magical journey into a land of dark spells and wizarding consumerism.

As the newest and shiniest of Trapped Puzzle Rooms’ in-person offerings, Witchcraft Alley balanced densely creative puzzles with a myriad of magical effects and cool transitions. Trapped has always seemed to excel in the puzzle department, and this room was no exception. But Witchcraft Alley also provided a genuine sense of exploration and discovery that was somewhat lacking in Trapped’s previous creations and the Twin Cities escape room scene on the whole. Whereas Trapped’s earlier rooms each followed a predictable progression through 1-3 rectangular spaces, Witchcraft Alley played more with the floor plan and achieved a higher level of environmental storytelling.

Prior to visiting Trapped’s Minneapolis and St. Paul brick-and-mortar locations, I was already quite familiar with their work through having played their entire remote catalog: 9 audio escape rooms and 5 tabletop puzzle games, including their recent Kickstarter game Ruff Bluff. If you’ve read my Hivemind reviews of any of those games, you’ll know I’ve been a big fan.

Witchcraft Alley matched the level of wit, polish, and charm I’ve come to expect from Trapped’s virtual offerings. If there were one primary area for improvement, it would be the inclusion and development of some memorable characters — which was perhaps the strongest feature of Trapped’s Audio Escape Adventures yet was all but absent in Witchcraft Alley.

A wall of crystal balls, dramatically lit.

I love seeing how escape room companies mature, and Witchcraft Alley illustrated a particularly compelling evolution. Witchcraft Alley might be seen as the spiritual successor to Trapped’s related-in-theme Wizard’s Tower, which Lisa and David reviewed back in 2017. I also played Wizard’s Tower during my visit, and the room has held up quite well; yet Witchcraft Alley has leveled up in almost all dimensions.

Witchcraft Alley is a strong must-play if you are visiting Minneapolis, and I believe it’ll serve as the new benchmark for the local escape room scene.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Aspiring wizards and Harry Potter fans

Why play?

  • The puzzles
  • The magic
  • The immersive set

Story

A dark wizard had cast a spell on the wizarding world. We had to recover six cursed objects hidden throughout the shopping district in order to cleanse the world of this evil spell.

The door to "Furgin and Forks Magical Antiquities"

Setting

Witchcraft Alley was set in a magical shopping district. A brick-walled alleyway with talking portraits opened into a magical antiquities shop and apothecary. The space was filled with whimsically labeled curiosities.

A display with 7 bottled magical components each with a different look and label.

Gameplay

Trapped Puzzle Rooms’ Witchcraft Alley was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around solving puzzles and casting spells.

Analysis

➕ The set was packed with delightful magical moments and special effects. There was a sense of adventure around every corner, even after it seemed we’d fully explored the space. The puzzles were elegantly integrated into the set and rarely looked or felt extraneous.

➕ Witchcraft Alley presented a fun approach to spell-casting. It was consistently clear where, when, and how a spell could be cast, and the skill was just varied enough that I built up a sense of mastery throughout the game.

➕ The puzzles creatively pulled from a range of influences, both from the escape room and puzzle hunt canons. Packed with satisfying ahas and layered solves, this was the strongest, most polished puzzling yet of any of Trapped’s in-person offerings.

➖ A sound-based puzzle was a bit more finicky than it needed to be. It was a strong puzzle in concept, but some automated assistance with alignment could have made it feel a smidge less tedious.

➕ The gameplay was guided by a clear meta structure. A few twists and tricks along the way helped keep things interesting, even when the path forward seemed clear.

➖ Witchcraft Alley pulled off its coolest tricks throughout the game, and the ending — though cute and appropriate — felt visually anticlimactic in comparison.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot across the street and metered street parking nearby.
  • Witchcraft Alley is located at the North Loop (Minneapolis) location.
  • Witchcraft Alley was previously called Diagonal Alley. Only the name changed, and the gameplay is still all the same.

Book your hour with Trapped Puzzle Rooms’ Witchcraft Alley, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Trapped Puzzle Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

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